Basketball Shoes VS Running Shoes – What’s the Different

I’ve made the mistake myself, even though I knew better, of playing basketball in running shoes. I ended up with blisters on my toes and bruised toenails.

Let me say this loud and clear, running shoes are not made for basketball!

Running shoes are made for movement in a straight line. They provide the cushioning and support your feet need for the constant impact they receive from the ground. However, running shoes do not provide much support, if any, for lateral movement. And for those of you who play basketball, you know that lateral movement is a big part of playing basketball. If you try to make a quick cut or lateral move in running shoes, you could end up twisting an ankle or spraining a knee.

Running shoes also provide little support for the ankle. Most basketball shoes are mid or high tops and provide ample support for you ankles. Have you ever seen a high top running shoe?

Running shoes also have different traction than basketball shoes. The traction featured on basketball shoes is made specifically for basketball courts. They provide a solid grip, but still allow for fluid movements.

Running shoes have a different type of traction that doesn’t work as well on the basketball court. The traction can be a bit excessive and could cause your foot to “stick” which could lead to injuries.

Although both basketball shoes and running shoes are considered, “Athletic Shoes” they are designed for very different purposes. Your safest bet is use running shoes for running, and basketball shoes for basketball. Otherwise you could end up seriously injured.

How to Pick the Best Basketball Shoe for You

Let me start by saying this, there is no “one size fits all”. Each and every person has different needs when it comes to which basketball shoe is best for them.

There are two main things to think about when you are deciding which basketball shoe is best for you.

1 Your Size and Weight

Heavier and taller players need shoes that offer more support and stability. Shorter and less heavy players don’t need as much support and stability.

2 Your Style of Play

If you’re a post player (center, or power forward) you again need a shoe that gives your my stability. If you are guard or player that likes to run up and down the court, you want a lightweight shoe that gives you support in your lateral movements.

Once you know your size/weight/style of play, you can continue to narrow down your search. When comparing shoes, focus on the attributes. Some attributes will be more important you than others. And not everyone places equal value on the same attribute.

The main attributes to look at are:

1. Traction System

Some basketball shoes are made specifically for indoor play and don’t have traction that will hold up on an outdoor court. Other shoes are made for both indoor and outdoor. Do you play a lot of outdoor basketball or indoor basketball, if indoor basketball then have a look on our best indoor basketball review post. 

2. Cushion

Some cushion is better than others at absorbing and impact. Some shoes have added cushion in certain areas like the heel or the forefoot. Where do you need the added cushion?

3. Material

Some material is rigid which is good for the bigger players. Other material is light and less restrictive which allows for great flexibility for those who make quick lateral moves.

4. Fit

Some shoes run tighter than others. Do you have a wide foot?

5. Support

Again, this comes down to your individual needs. Some players like a lot of ankle support and will opt with the high top shoes. Other players prefer flexibility and want low top shoes that don’t restrict your movement but still give your support in the midsole.

6. Price

Basketball Shoes VS Running Shoes

Although there are some steals out there, you will usually have to pay a higher price for shoes that score high marks in the categories I previously mentioned. It all depends on your needs and how much you want out of your shoe.

As this site grows, I will continue to review shoes. Again, I will do my best to simply state the facts and let you choose which shoe works best for you and your particular situation.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can basketball shoes be used as running shoes?

Basketball shoes are designed for the player to have continuous ankle support while running, jumping, and making quick turns. They are not good for running long distances because they are not designed with the cushion and padding that running shoes provide to the wearers arch and sole of the foot.

Do basketball shoes make you play better?

The shoes do not actually improve your basketball skills. Basketball shoes do give you the confidence you need to foget about hurting feet or ankle injuries and make the higher jumps, and turn quickly when running. The right shoe can make your game more enjoyable with less injury.

Can you run long distances in basketball shoes?

You could run long distances wearing basketball shoes but they do not actually have sufficient cushioning in the sole and arches to protect your feet while running long distances. Basketball shoes are designed to prevent ankle injury and running shoes are designed to cushion your feet while you run.