Basketball Shoes VS Running Shoes- Which Ones Are Better?

Choosing the right shoes is crucial for any sport.

The ideal shoe can help prevent a serious nagging injury. However, some would argue there is a minimal difference among the various sports. Let’s take, for example, basketball shoes vs running shoes.

Basketball involves a lot of running with sudden change directions. So, why not just wear basketball shoes for running? You might also be considering using running shoes for basketball.

If you’re in sports and fitness, you obviously want to make the best decision between the two. Whatever choice you make, getting the right footwear is critical to preventing ankle injuries.

Wearing basketball shoes for running is a NO as you change directions frequently.

While both sports involve running, there are many movements in basketball. This simply means wearing basketball shoes will be very different from wearing running shoes.

Basketball shoes are uniquely designed to protect players’ feet from the many movements.

In the post below, we try to help you decide the best choice between a running shoe and a basketball shoe.

You’ll notice a difference in the weight, structure, and design of the shoes the moment you hold them or when you run and change directions.


Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes – Differences and Similarities

You may wonder, basketball shoes or running shoes, which is the best choice? Running shoes are designed to be comfortable and lightweight. These two features make them ideal for long distances. Basketball shoes are designed to be thicker, heavier, and taller to offer protection due to sudden changes in movement and stopping quickly.

With that being said, running kicks are considered non-basketball shoes.

Basketball Shoes Vs Running Shoes

I’ll guide you further by looking at the major differences and similarities between these shoes and how to choose the right fit for every sport.

On a sidenote, we have a similar article that discusses whether basketball shoes are appropriate for wrestling.

Basketball Shoes Or Running Shoes – Comfort

Let’s look at the comfort levels of both shoes. Both shoes are extremely comfortable with lots of padding and that’s why NBA players fancy them.

On the other hand, running shoes tend to have the edge when it comes to comfort since they are designed to provide flexible support.

When running, you need to absorb as much shock as possible with each stride you make. Lifting your feet and landing them on the ground with each stride hugely impacts your feet.

This is why most shoes for running have a lot more padding to absorb shocks as you land your feet on the ground or when stopping quickly.

Nonetheless, basketball shoes also come with a good level of cushioning for shock absorption. The cushioning is needed when landing after a dunk and to endure long distances. It also helps when you walk in your shoes every day.

For instance, most basketball shoes feature Zoom Air Technology that is a great option to distribute the landing force evenly on the feet.

In addition, wearing basketball shoes offers better stability and support than wearing running shoes. The stiffness helps protect the ankles while playing. This also impacts their comfort levels.

With that being said, not all basketball shoes are good for playing basketball these days. For example, the legendary Jordan 1’s are obsolete for today’s standards.

Furthermore, some basketball shoes are perfect for others sports. Check out our article on “Are Basketball Shoes Good For Badminton” for more information.

Basketball Footwear Or Running Footwear – Lightness

The two sports are athletic, and manufacturers are always trying to design lighter shoes with either low top or high top look.

Lightweight shoes are ideal in sports since they help maximize athletic performances and many other movements.

Does the weight of basketball shoes affect the speed and jumping performances?

A 2018 study on basketball shoes found a direct relationship between the shoes’ weight and the speed and jumping performances of athletes.

When you dunk, it’s easier when you wear lighter shoes.

There was a noticeable difference in the jumping and sprinting performances of athletes with lighter shoes as opposed to those with heavier shoes.

Thus, if you hold a running shoe in one hand and a basketball shoe in the other hand, you’ll feel the difference.

Nevertheless, a basketball shoe is a little heavier than a running shoe. The extra weight is designed to offer protection to the feet and ankle due to the numerous movements in the sport.

Ask basketball players and they will tell you of the extra guard on agile points on basketball shoes.

Running shoes, on the other hand, are extremely lightweight since athletes don’t make sudden turns and many other movements.

You also don’t want to be lifting a heavy foot with each stride. They feature a low top designed to provide flexibility. Sure enough, wearing the right socks helps a lot.

Basketball Shoes Or Running Sneakers – Price

The price differences are not huge, with basketball shoes costing more than running shoes.

However, it’s important to note that price differences come down to the shoe brand, construction materials, and technology used.

air jordans shoes
These Air Jordans will cost you roughly $180 depending on the model.

If you choose entry-level running and basketball shoes for beginners, the basketball shoes will cost slightly more.

The price difference comes down to the extra features that are incorporated into basketball shoes for protection. 

Generally, basketball shoes tend to use more materials than running shoes.

As noted earlier, both shoes are comfortable and lightweight. On the other hand, basketball shoes tend to weigh more due to extra guards for protection.

A basketball game involves short runs hence the extra protection and support. The right shoes must offer excellent ankle support.

Apart from the shoes, you need basketball sneakers and other appropriate basketball wear to match your teammates.

There are a few instances where you might need to wear running shoes that are heavy duty. It all comes down to the type of running you want. Below are two common types of running shoes to consider.

Trail Running Shoes

If you’re into off-road running, then normal light and airy running shoes are not recommended. Instead, you need to wear running shoes for training.

trail running shoes

These are rugged shoes with aggressive soles to offer more traction.

You need to consider your running trails and choose a great option of shoes for ankle support. If the trails are wet and mud, chances are you might slip and suffer injuries.

Shoes with more traction prevent slippage. Trail running shoes are a little heavier than road shoes for running.

Despite the extra features to withstand the rough terrains, trail running shoes tend to be lighter than basketball shoes.

Road Running Shoes

We also have road running shoes that are designed for long-distance running on smooth surfaces. Road running shoes are extremely lightweight, airy, and comfortable.

The shoes running types are ideal for running on pavements and tarmacked roads where the surface is smooth.

A typical road running shoe is what you see professional athletes wear. These shoes offer excellent cushioning and stabilization over long distances. 

Remember, you’ll be making repetitive strides, hence the need for stability and cushioning. They are lighter than trail running shoes with a more flexible sole.

Are Running Shoes Good For Basketball?

While you can wear running shoes and train in them, the short answer is that running shoes are NOT good for basketball.

a basketball game

When you consider the positives and negatives, it doesn’t make sense to play basketball in running or jogging shoes.

Basketball shoes for running are lightweight and comfortable. They can spring off surfaces and move with speed. However, they have a huge negative impact on performance, comfort, and safety.

In fact, the only positive feature of running shoes that works for basketball players is the cushioned sole.

Even then, the sole of running basketball shoes is still lighter and easily bendable. Basketball shoes for running in the long run carry huge injury risks.

A simple land from a basketball game rebound can cause an injury when wearing running shoes. In addition, basketball shoes are high-heeled, bulky, and stiff for added ankle protection.

Most professional basketball players run an estimated 105 short sprints in a single basketball game. They also tend to change direction every 2 seconds.

This is on top of other motions like jumping, sudden stopping, and sudden running. Most basketball sneakers require exceptional heel and ankle support.

Basketball shoes for running can work, but they are not good for long-distance running. Most assume they can run using basketball shoes.

This is because a basketball game involves a lot of running. Yes, you can run in basketball shoes, but it’s never recommended as the feet cannot endure long distances.

Basketball shoes for running only provide the needed stability and cushioning for short runs and quick movements. In simple terms, running basketball shoes are designed for the sport, while running shoes are designed for long-distance runs.

For a basketball game, you need appropriate wear from basketball sneakers to proper shoes.

You’ll never find NBA players wearing running shoes on the court. In fact, most feature specially designed shoes for basketball courts. Such surfaces require thicker and wider shoes with enhanced traction.

While shock absorbing is crucial for running and basketball, it should be more for basketball. However, heavier runners might need more shock absorbing too.

The difference might seem a little in your eyes. In the long run, the enhanced traction impact on your safety, performance, and comfort is huge!

Running a few miles on your running basketball shoes may not be a big deal. However, if you make it a habit, the shoes will negatively affect your performance and even cause you ankle injuries and torn skin.

Such surfaces that are in contact with the body require great padding and cushioning for extra comfort.

When playing basketball, your shoes may run a few meters around the basketball court and make stops. The same does not happen in running, where you’re concentrated for long distances.

This particular sport requires the right basketball wear with shock absorbing abilities.

Furthermore, the tall design of basketball shoes interferes with your form when running. However, on a basketball court, they can prevent an ankle injury.

Basketball shoes are also heavier and can weigh you down over long miles.

These soles are designed for optimal traction on the court as opposed to the flexible running shoe sole. This also affects your gait and slows you down, despite the good shock absorption.

That is why, running shoes are appropriate for basketball referees, whose main job in terms of physical activity is to run on the court.

How To Choose The Right Shoe For You?

Choosing the right basketball footwear for you can be a daunting task when you don’t know what to consider. How do I know what shoes are right for me?

The right shoes should feel comfortable right away! In addition, the shoes need to be long and wide enough at the toes.

When choosing the right basketball footwear, you need to consider different factors for different shoes. If you’re looking for running shoes, the general rule is to have a thumbs width between the end of your shoe and the top of the toe.

There is a sport specific shoe for every foot and every runner. Make sure you understand your foot pronation for the right fit and to prevent ankle injury.

Pronation is the rolling of the feet from heel to toe. You also need to understand your foot arch type. We have the low, normal, and high arch types.

Now that you know your foot arch height, know your gait. How does your foot behave when you run?

Measure your feet and start choosing a matching shoe. Heavier runners may need bigger and heavy shoes.

When picking the right sport specific shoe for running, consider stability, motion control, and cushioning for the right fit. For a basketball shoe, you want to consider a shoe with a wide and flat outsole for optimal balance.

In addition, consider basketball footwear with a superior grip to secure the feet and prevent sliding on the court.

Such shoes feature outsoles with herringbone patterns for superior traction. You also need to consider extra shoe features.

Some of the latest shoe brands feature advanced features that make the shoes exceptionally comfortable.

Are there any advanced incorporated technologies? However, be advised such technologies greatly increase the prices. You can check the video below for more information on how to choose basketball shoes.

If you want to engage in both running and basketball playing using the same pair of shoes, then consider a cross-trainer.

Are Cross-trainers Good For Basketball?

Cross-trainers are good for basketball if you can’t choose between running shoes and basketball shoes. The safe choice is to always choose the right shoe for the right sport.

corss trainer shoes

However, if you want to engage in both running and basketball and don’t want to buy separate shoes, then consider comfortable cross-trainers. Cross-trainers are comfortable and work excellently for both sports.

We don’t recommend basketball shoes for running and running shoes for basketball. You either buy two separate pairs for each sport or get a pair of comfortable cross-trainers.

Are Basketball Shoes Wider Than Running Shoes?

Basketball shoes tend to be a little wider than normal shoes to cater to lateral compression. Most basketball shoes feature a broad toe box to prevent toe squeezing during forward motion.

sports shoes for basketball

However, a running shoe can be wider than a basketball shoe depending on a person’s feet. Persons with wider feet tend to choose wider shoes.

Basketball shoes can run large or small depending on the person’s feet.

There are specific wide basketball shoes to cater for a wide-footed basketball player. However, some are true to size. We recommend measuring your foot width before choosing a suitable basketball shoe.

For a basketball player, the forward motion and sudden stops can strain the ankle and cause an ankle injury. This is why basketball shoes are wider to provide ankle stability during the forward motion.

Wearing running shoes or inappropriate shoes when playing basketball is not recommended for safety reasons. Sports scientists affirm that using the wrong footwear for a basketball player can lead to hip, ankle, leg, and lower back problems.

Running shoes feature thin materials and are lightweight.

They don’t provide the right amount of cushioning and protection to the feet, ankle, and heel as basketball shoes. When playing basketball, you need heavy duty, specially designed, solid and rigid soles to withstand sudden stops and jumps.

Landing from a huge rebound in the court requires excellent shock absorption that is not available in running shoes.

We don’t recommend wearing running shoes for a basketball game since they don’t provide ankle stability.

Ideally, the right choice of basketball shoes vs running shoes comes down to choosing the right shoe for a particular sport.

Getting the right basketball wear can prevent ankle injuries on a basketball court. This means getting the correct basketball sneakers and avoiding inappropriate shoes.

If you can’t manage both pairs of shoes, sports scientists recommend comfortable cross trainers to play basketball and run on the road. Nowadays, there are specially designed shoes for almost every sport.


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