Basketball shoes are constantly changing and evolving. That statement encompasses over 50 years of product development, from the simple Converse Chuck Taylors that started it all to the iconic Air Jordans in the 90s and their high-tech successors.
But it doesn’t answer one pivotal question: Can you use basketball shoes for other sports? The simple answer is a resounding yes, but beyond that things get complicated in a hurry, mostly because it’s based on your individual needs, but also on the technology behind the shoes.
So let’s take a deeper dive and deal with the particulars. We’ll start with running, because that’s one of the most obvious crossovers, and after that, we’ll move on to consider some other sports.
Can You Run In Basketball Shoes?
In theory, running is a natural thing to do in basketball shoes. After all, pro basketball players usually end up running about three miles a game, depending on the pace and their individual position, so how can running not be a great fit as a crossover sport.
Turns out it’s complicated. Running isn’t a bad idea if your basketball shoes have a good cushion, but it’s important to remember that your heels are absorbing 2.5 times your body weight, and unlike basketball, running is very much a repetitive motion activity.
So that’s one factor. Another is how far you’re looking to run in your basketball shoes. They’re not built for distance running, though, so anything over 10 miles a week will likely exceed the design capabilities of your basketball shoes. Basketball shoes are made to handle sprints, sudden stops, and starts, and jumping along with regular running, so there’s a lot more variety.
Usage also matters as well. Running will shorten the life of your shoes if you’re playing a lot of gym hoops, and you may detect a considerable loss of traction if you do a lot of running in your hoops shoes.
Finally, there’s the matter of the surfaces you’re on when you run. Concrete is ten times harder than asphalt, and the heel cushioning in basketball shoes is flat and hard because it’s designed to absorb shock when you land after a jump. This kind of cushioning doesn’t really help when running-in facts, it’s really just an extra load. And basketball shoes are also designed to be rigid, which means they lack the flexibility that runners need in their shoes.
Can You Use Basketball Shoes for Tennis?
Tennis is another obvious possibility when it comes to your basketball shoes, so it’s natural to wonder if you can double dip in the combination of this sport. So is it a good idea to use your basketball shoes for tennis?
The answer is “sort of.” Basketball shoes definitely aren’t optimized for tennis, but they do address some of the same issues in the way they’re designed. Both basketball shoes and tennis shoes are designed to support lateral movement, which is a common thread in both sports.
They’re also solid when it comes to sudden changes of direction, which is another integral part of tennis, and the extra ankle protection can be helpful for those tennis players who are prone to ankle sprains.
Beyond that, though, they’re a bad idea. Tennis shoes are designed to be wide at the base with heavy soles, and they’re also built to withstand the wear and tear of hard court tennis. Finally, they usually have durable toes, because tennis players often drag their toes as they stop and start.
Basketball shoes, meanwhile, are designed for smooth wooden floors. The abrasive surfaces of a tennis court will tear up even a high-quality basketball shoe in no time, so you’ll be shortening the life of your basketball shoes and stretching your budget in the process, too.
So the final answer here is that you can sub in your basketball shoes in an emergency and use them every now and then, but mostly you want to stick to sport-specific shoes when you play tennis.
Can You Play Volleyball in Basketball Shoes?
With this one, we have a match, mostly.
The biggest difference between volleyball shoes and their basketball counterpart is that the volleyball shoe has a gum rubber sole that’s designed to stick while you’re moving, and they also have a thicker midsole that often contains gel, form or air to provide absorb shock while jumping.
Another big difference in volleyball shoes is weight. They’re lighter to promote higher jumping, and they don’t have to absorb the impact of starting and stopping the way a hoops shoe does.
But there is plenty of common ground here. Both kinds of shoes are designed for jumping, pivoting, and moving laterally, and basketball shoes will handle a lot more of the starting and stopping than a typical volleyball shoe.
So the final answer is that it’s fine to use your basketball shoes for volleyball if you don’t mind the extra wear and tear that’s going to come with any kind of dual-use.
If you’re serious about your volleyball, though, it’s best to go out and buy a specialized shoe. The lighter weight will make a world of difference in your jumping, and you’ll come to appreciate the extra midsole support over the course of an entire volleyball season.
Are Basketball Shoes Good for Weight Lifting?
The last sport we’ll consider here is weight lifting, and generally speaking, basketball shoes are a good fit for this.
The answer here is once again a yes, mostly. The combination of stability, comfort, and ankle and heel stability is ideal for weightlifting, but there are a few compromises.
Specifically, the soft, elastic sole of a basketball shoe may rob you of some of the force and power you need to generate for squats and deadlifts.
Also, the elevated heel height of some basketball shoes may prevent you from getting close to the ground, which is what you’re after when you’re lifting.
But the heel height varies tremendously among basketball shoes, so be careful to take this into account when you make your choice. Other than that, you should be fine using your basketball shoes for lifting, especially if you only want to do this occasionally.