Do You Really Need Basketball Shoes? (Here’s The Truth)

An old saying states,” the right tool for the right job,” and the same applies to sports. To be safe and effective in any game, you need the right gear and footwear – but do you need basketball shoes to play the game?

Yes, you need basketball shoes. As the only piece of gear for the sport, it’s critical as it supports the feet and ankles, prevents the risk of injury during the twists, turns, and landings, and gives a proper grip on the court when running, stopping, and turning.

Let’s investigate why you would be advised to get proper basketball shoes and the benefits they offer if you are going to play; plus, let’s look at why sneakers or other types of sports shoes are not suitable for basketball.

You Need Basketball Shoes To Protect Your Feet

Basketball is similar in some ways to squash, tennis, and racquetball as they are fast-moving with sharp turns, stops, and starts, and to be effective on the court, your shoes need to be suited for that type of movement.

The biggest concern with basketball, aside from colliding with a post or being knocked over or fouled, is your feet, ankles, and knees, and if you don’t have shoes that give you the kind of traction and support you need, your ankles and feet will be screaming at you the following day!

The high-speed movements and sharp turns mean that your ankles and feet need proper support, and basketball shoes are designed to deliver this to players at every level.

If basketball shoes were not necessary, the pros wouldn’t use them, and if you have played the game in sneakers and then in basketball shoes, you know the difference in performance you get when wearing the correct footwear.

Mid- and mid-cut shoes offer good protection for the ankle, and the additional support allows the feet to move freely during the game. These shoes are lightweight and not overly expensive, so you can afford to buy a pair to play in.

Basketball Shoes Have Spring

Jumping in basketball is integral to the gameplay, and good basketball shoes have springs in them to aid in lifting off the ground. Whether you’re dunking or defending, you get good support from basketball shoes that you won’t get from other sports shoes or sneakers.

Not only that, but basketball shoe designers and manufacturers spend millions in research to understand the body’s biomechanics during the game and then apply that data to design their shoes better to optimize performance.

Higher-cut shoes, for example, provide greater support to the lower leg overall, but these tend to be heavier than mid-cut shoes.

The other side is that basketball shoes act as shock absorbers for players when landing, which is another critical support element for your body. Landing on shoes that don’t offer shock support causes jarring and impact into the bones and joints.

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Sneakers When Playing Basketball?

Sneakers are designed for general everyday wear and are suitable for traction on surfaces like concrete, vinyl, wood, etc.

Basketball shoes are specifically designed to provide traction on the wooden floor of the basketball court if you are playing indoors. In contrast, outdoor play provides impact support and extra traction that prevent potential injuries.

Suppose you think about the forces involved in basketball, like the acceleration and torsional forces experienced by the legs and body. In that case, sneakers are not created to withstand those types of forces for very long, and under continued usage, those shoes will split and fail.

Not only that, but they don’t provide the type of support for the feet and ankles that basketball shoes do, and this is not due to their quality but rather to the fact that they are not designed for this type of wear and tear.

Moving at speed up and down the court, a basketball player wearing sneakers would have a high probability of tripping and falling as his shoes lose traction or his ankles turn over due to the lack of support and traction.

Research by sports scientists at the University of Utah shows that basketball players change direction every two seconds and can run as many as 105 short sprints during a game.

When you consider those stats relative to running shoes or conventional sneakers, people wearing those and participating in those activities don’t see the same intensity in movement and directional change as they do in basketball.

Are Basketball Shoes Bulkier Than Running Shoes Or Sneakers?

Due to their design and function, basketball shoes will be bulkier than sneakers or running shoes. While they will support the runner’s feet, ankles, and legs, they would not do well in events where jumping and turning would be required. Remember that running shoes must be light as the runner must carry minimal weight.

Can You Play Basketball In Running Shoes?

Would you consider running a marathon in basketball shoes? No, probably not, and the same applies to playing basketball in running shoes. Again, it comes down to the inherent design and function of the shoe in terms of performance and protection.

If you run a marathon in basketball shoes, the likelihood of injury or severe discomfort is high. The shoes are not designed for this application; the same applies to playing basketball in running shoes.

Running shoes are designed for the road, not the court, and are tailored to support the feet with the repeating impact of running at a steady pace without the rapid change of direction found in basketball.

Their sole traction would not cope with the surface of a court and would lead to imbalance, a lot of uncoordinated movement, and the risk of injury. So, while you could conceivably play basketball in running shoes, it is not recommended.


Aside from the physical skills of ball handling, fitness, stamina, and flexibility, basketball shoes would be the next essential item for any player as they would allow you to execute the movements in the game with accuracy and consistency without the concern that you could slip and fall at any moment because you aren’t wearing the correct footwear.


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