Volleyball shoes require a few elements in order to perform well on the court. In particular, traction, stability, cushioning, weight, and a sure fit are the most important. Other factors such as durability and breathability are good things to look for as well, but shouldn’t be deal breakers. But if you’re just starting off with the sport, you might want a little more detail and advice on how to choose volleyball shoes. What exactly constitutes good traction, cushioning, weight, or fit? And you should also know, the way you play volleyball will determine what type of shoes you’ll need. Whether you are an attacker, a defender, or more all-around, there are certain volleyball shoes that fit each mold of player. What are they? You’ll find out in our guide on how to choose volleyball shoes. Enjoy!
How to Choose Volleyball Shoes
What separates volleyball shoes from a lot of other athletic shoes is the superior traction they provide on the court. Hardcourts can be slick, and you’ll appreciate the amount of grip once you’re out there making those quick movements. A lot of volleyball players even look to increase the traction of their shoes even more to prevent sliding. On the whole, however, outsoles should be fairly soft and slightly flexible rubber to help provide you with good footing. There should also be ample amounts of tread and many companies create their volleyball shoes with intricate tread patterns for great traction.
Most volleyball shoes are are very lightweight so players can remain agile. Women’s shoes typically run around 9 to 11 ounces, while men’s shoes can be anywhere from 11 to 15 ounces. However, this really depends on who makes the shoe, the style, materials used, and the size. Many volleyball shoes consist of either synthetic materials and mesh for light weight and breathability. Of course, there are other variables at play when choosing volleyball shoes so it’s important to find a good balance between the other qualities for a shoe that fits your playing style.
Lateral & Ankle Support
When learning how to choose volleyball shoes, it’s important to talk about stability as well. Stability is a crucial factor as volleyball requires lots of side-to-side movements. That’s why lateral and ankle support are extremely important to look for in volleyball shoes. Quick side-to-side movements can put a lot of strain on your ankles, and the last thing you want is to sprain your ankle. Along with great traction, the midsole plays a big role in supporting the ball of your foot. The midsole should be extremely strong while also allowing for some flexibility so that your feet aren’t locked in one position. Defenders should look into shoes that have excellent stability in all directions to aid in holding your ground when blocking shots.
Comfort & Fit
For most shoes, whether athletic or just casual, high comfort and a good fit are number one priorities. Volleyball shoes are no exception. They should not cause any discomfort at all, whether standing still, walking, running, changing directions quickly, or jumping. Your foot should not be able to move inside of the shoe, but should be able to bend naturally when on the ball of your foot. So, they should fit snug but not tight, with no more than a finger width of space between your toes and the end of the shoe.
Volleyball also consists of a lot of jumping around, which can be tiring to your feet without proper cushioning. Landing on the hard ground after a high jump and take-offs can cause a good amount of shock, and over time is not good for your ankles and ligaments. Thus, cushioning in the heel/forefoot and via the midsole/insole should be excellent for the most impact absorption. Cushioning also provides general comfort for if you play volleyball for long, whether it’s every day or for all-day tournaments.
Playing volleyball for long stretches of time isn’t easy on your feet, especially when it gets all hot and sweaty. That’s why many volleyball shoes are very breathable in order to maximize comfort. If your feet overheat easily, you’ll want an extra breathable shoe so that your feet don’t run out on you for negligence. Shoes should keep your feet cool and dry so that you can perform at your peak while feeling fantastic. What makes for a breathable shoe? Air flow, whether it’s mesh, airy synthetic, air vents/holes, or moisture wicking materials.
Durability is often something people will ask about when first learning how to choose volleyball shoes. Volleyball shoes should be reinforced in the right places to keep the upper from wearing out prematurely. Durability is directly tied to a tough upper and long-lasting outsole. If you play volleyball more frequently, expect a shoe to wear out more quickly. Under normal conditions, a high quality volleyball shoe should last at least one full season if played 4-5 times a week. If you play more casually, your shoes should last you a good deal longer, perhaps a year or more. What happens to most shoes over time is either the traction loses its edge, support diminishes around the ankle/laterally, or materials just start to fall apart.
*** Tips on How to Choose Volleyball Shoes ***
- Understand what the different parts of a volleyball shoe are for first
- Shoes should fit snug but not too tight (no more than one finger width of space between toes and end)
- Volleyball shoes should have tons of stability in all directions, whether forward, left, right, and backwards
- Mesh, synthetic or moisture wicking materials, and air vents provide breathability to keep your feet comfy
- The rubber sole should be soft while remaining slightly flexible to adapt to your natural movements
- There should be ample ankle support to keep your feet from moving around in the shoe
- Cushioning is crucial for landing/jumping, so look for it in the midsole, insole, heel, and forefoot
- Low profile shoes are comfortable yet let you move quickly
- Outsoles should provide superior traction on hard courts; look for excellent tread
- Laces allow the most adjustment in foot tension; most volleyball shoes use laces exclusively
- Weight is extremely important for keeping you agile; shoes should be light w/o skimping on other qualities
- Asics and Mizuno arguably make the most popular volleyball shoes