Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide

Been shooting hoops with runners or pushing your mileage on the track in a pair of LeBrons or Jordans? You might be doing yourself a disservice. No matter what’s your athletic level, I cannot stress enough how important it is to educate yourself on everything there’s to know about basketball shoes vs. running shoes.

Before you take your hoop kicks for a run or vice versa, let me break down the differences between these two types of shoes, explain if you should wear athletic sneakers that aren’t tailored to that sport, and recommend some options if you’re not looking to get different shoes for different activities.

SHOW TABLE OF CONTENTS

Basketball Shoes vs. Running ShoesPin

I. BASKETBALL SHOES: KEY QUALITIES

Here are the most important principles to know about basketball shoes and the reasoning behind their design features

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Basketball ShoesPin

A basketball shoe is “beefier” than your traditional runner sneaker.

Both sports aim to supplement different types of movements based on the activity, though some design choices can be quite similar. This is especially true nowadays, as the norms for modern basketball footwear are rapidly shifting to compete for the lightest, most mobile, and most comfortable possible.

Big brands like Nike and Adidas share their patented shoe technology (cushion, materials, etc.) between shoe types, so athletic footwear across different sports are the most similar to one another today than ever before.

HOWEVER, for basketball shoes, maintaining the necessary structure, support, and sport-specific components is still vital which is why hoop shoes and runners can NEVER be made or feel the same.

With that, here are the main qualities of most basketball shoes you’ll come across.

STRONG STRUCTURAL BUILD

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Structure 1Pin

Basketball requires intensive, reactive, and rapid movements to be performed such as quick accelerations or decelerations, multiple jumps in a short timeframe, changes of direction laterally, and many more. Because it’s such a dynamic sport, footwear has to account for that.

Basketball players need a good base of structure with their footwear that can properly support their foot’s movements and various angles being thrown at them constantly.

Even though a lot of today’s hoop shoe market is creeping into the light and minimal waters more and more, most of the shoes still have some form of a structured build.

Multi-layered material design, additional compounds that are infused into the base build for strength, or synthetic/plastic reinforcements on key areas (such as laterally) are just some of the examples of how hoop shoes are beefed up to be able to account for the torque you generate while playing.

You’ll rarely see a basketball sneaker that’s just all pure knit or woven.

There’s always something to hold it together more tightly or something implemented to account for the material’s weaker spots whether it’s durability-wise or performance-wise.

HEAVY FOCUS ON CUSHIONING

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Cushion 1Pin

I could debate all about the physiological/anatomy effects of cushioning for athletes for hours but it’s no denying that basketball shoes focus on providing the player with cushioning more than virtually any other sports sneaker. Maybe besides volleyball shoes.

While you’ll see some models built with a more minimal and low-profile cushioning system that emphasizes speed and precision (think of Kyrie or Curry shoes), a huge portion of the market still offers kicks that are bouncy, provide lots of impact absorption, and makes the overall ride more enjoyable for the wearer.

Of course, basketball is a jump-heavy sport, so it only makes sense for companies to heavily market their cushion technologies and how much they help you on the court.

But if you want a real take, cushioning does NOT actually decrease your chances of getting injured. At least there are no studies done to prove this yet.

Check this study out and you’ll see that there’s still no proven correlation between the amount of cushion and the amount of impact load for the athlete to handle.

Still though, lots of players prefer to have a good amount of feedback underfoot just because it makes each movement feel better, causing a sense of explosiveness and springiness which is a good thing for basketball.

HEAVIER WEIGHT

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Weight 1Pin

Because of generally more structure, more cushion (which usually means more foam used), additional support components such as plastic torsional shank plates, and thick rubber outsoles used to handle traction – all of this makes basketball shoes among the heaviest of sports footwear on the market.

But once again, don’t get too caught up in that statement or the weight numbers of hoop shoes simply because the times are changing.

Gone are the days when a full-on leather tank like a Penny shoe or a Jordan Retro was the norm for basketball. Things are getting very light & flexible without completely compromising other components.

A 15 oz shoe barely feels like one today just because of how well-crafted they are by designers who were perfecting their compound formulas for years, and also consulting with the players themselves.

But with that, hoop shoes are still noticeably heavier than running sneakers (with a few exceptions), and putting a modern running sneaker on after taking off a pair of LeBron 18s will in fact feel feathery.

SMALL HEEL-TO-TOE OFFSET

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Offset 1Pin

This one’s quite simple: hoop shoes usually utilize a more flat platform which promotes stability. You won’t see a drastic heel-to-toe drop-off on any basketball sneaker. The usual amount varies from 4 to 9 mm.

Basketball involves more varied movement patterns than just linear running as lateral & medial patterns have to be accounted for in a much bigger emphasis.

You don’t need your forefoot propelling you forward (as running shoes often do) as much as you need that extra lateral stability when ankle sprains and similar injuries are so common in the sport.

VARIED ANKLE CUT

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Ankle 1Pin

High-tops were the gold standard for basketball footwear in the past but nowadays, you’ll see all kinds of ankle cuts. Low-tops have been popularized thanks to the Nike Kobe line, mid-tops are still the most common choice while high-tops have been slowly disappearing from the market.

And then there are all kinds of variants in between those streamlined choices, so this one comes down to personal preference.

Go for lows if you like your ankle to move freely and you prefer that extra mobility but some folks prefer a more classic mid-top design since they like to tighten the area around their ankle & heel for extra confidence.

WIDE PLATFORM

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Platform 1Pin

Lastly, you’ll often see that a basketball shoe simply looks quite wide. This isn’t always the case but it’s pretty common. The forefoot area usually covers the most ground and this is to provide further stability.

The more ground your shoe covers along with the foot, the more stable you’ll feel even during movements that require unusual angles. But again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but times are in fact changing.

You’ll find more narrowly-constructed basketball shoes today as some athletes simply prefer a tighter base that feels faster and more mobile. After all, the more material is used, the more your foot has to work to move with the shoe.

Think of KD shoes to illustrate that – those are really damn narrow and often a no-go for my crazy wide feet. However, it’s not hard to find a shoe that’s got a wider base since that’s still the norm and that won’t exactly change as it’s a feature that a lot of players require to perform safely.

II. RUNNING SHOES: KEY QUALITIES

Here’s all you need to know about the use and design reasons behind running shoes & how they differ from basketball kicks

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Running ShoesPin

Time to flip the coin and break down runners.

There are several types of running sneakers for different types of terrain: there are track shoes, runners for the road, and trail shoes. Each of those are built slightly differently since they need to accommodate for different variables while you’re running.

However, most running sneakers share a very similar foundation that can almost always be recognized even across different manufacturers.

Let’s talk about those base qualities you’ll generally find on most running shoes and how their design principles differ from basketball shoes.

MINIMAL & FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Structure 2Pin

Earlier I mentioned how the trend for basketball shoes is shifting towards being light, mobile, and comfortable. Well, for runners, this is what it’s ALL about.

Sure, running sneakers also have their support features implemented since running can also be a taxing activity, especially if you’re running on abrasive and/or uneven surfaces like trails.

But the main focus is to provide an experience that’s as light, flexible, and distraction-free as possible. Making the build flexible to allow for smooth strides even on unforgiving surfaces matters a lot. The shoe has to move seamlessly with the foot while you’re running under dynamic conditions.

It can’t be a SHELL ON your foot (like a basketball shoe can in a way) – it has to be an EXTENSION OF your foot.

You’ll also want to stay comfy since you’ll be performing sporting activities for long periods of time. That’s where pure knit, woven or lightweight mesh builds come in handy as you’ll see that often among running shoe models.

So yes, running shoes are made to be as minimalistic as possible, while still offering a foundation of security and durability. It’s by far not as apparent as it is on the basketball shoe market though.

RESPONSIVE RIDE

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Cushion 2Pin

Since running doesn’t require the athlete to constantly jump, land from higher altitudes, or drastically change directions, the focus for cushioning becomes less about impact protection and more about responsiveness and movement propulsion.

There’s still some form of shock absorption on runners since most brands use the same cushion technology between shoes. Nikey uses Zoom Air & React for a lot of their footwear for example. But even if you come across the same tech on a runner, the compounds are altered in a way to be denser, lighter, and lower to the ground.

This still keeps the energy return properties of the cushion but reduces weight, keeping you fast and low to the ground. Every millisecond matters in the sport of running and the cushion system has to account for that.

So, running sneakers will feel noticeably less bouncy but faster than basketball kicks. They’ll also feel less “mushy” as the foam used will be denser. You’ll also often feel slapped much lower to the ground.

LIGHTWEIGHT

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Weight 2Pin

Unlike basketball, even a few ounces of extra weight DO matter if you’re running long distances as foot & leg fatigue kicks in.

Due to a more minimal structure, less cushion, subdued support components and usually a fully synthetic upper, you’ll find that pretty much all running shoes are very lightweight. There’s no reason for them not to be and this will remain to be the case in the market.

Trail runners will be a tad bit heavier due to their beefier outsoles to handle harsh terrains and slightly more structure throughout the upper but the overall feel will still be lighter than your average basketball shoe.

APPARENT HEEL-TO-TOE OFFSET

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Offset 2Pin

Running footwear is designed to propel you forward upon each stride which allows the movements to feel fast & sharp.

This is done by, of course, making the sneaker lightweight, allowing the forefoot portion to flex a great deal, and also by implementing a more noticeable drop-off from heel to toe. You’ll commonly find a 7-10mm+ drop-off in most runners.

This mimics the running motion and encourages the foot to propel forward causing a very energetic sense of stride.

But this also means that the shoe is allocating your feet in an unnatural position. Research is still not conclusive on this topic, as studies haven’t found a direct correlation between running performance, injury rates, and shoe drop-off height.

So at the end of the day, going with what you prefer is the way to go. Opt for a flatter running shoe if you want more stability or you’re experiencing some forefoot issues like pain.

Otherwise, sticking with a traditional runner that has a noticeable drop-off is not something you should avoid as there’s still no research to prove otherwise.

STREAMLINED LOW-TOP DESIGN

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Ankle 2Pin

Basketball shoe catalogs might offer all kinds of ankle cuts to choose from but runners will always go with a low-top design.

This is done purposefully. Remember, even the smallest amount of extra weight can matter for a runner. Mobility is also taken into account – most runners would never like the idea of extra material around the ankle getting in the way while they run.

Ankle height DOES NOT account for greater ankle support, so there’s no reason to include an extra collar when mobility is such an important factor.

Yes, you heard me right. The whole idea of “the higher the shoe, the better the support” is a myth that’s been busted many times over. Check out my guide on this topic specifically for basketball shoes if you’re interested to learn more.

MORE COMPACT/NARROW PLATFORM

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Platform 2Pin

Opposite from hoop shoes, runners feature a more sleek, compact design that isn’t as preposterously wide in the forefoot. Remember that they also utilize less cushion, so lateral stability isn’t as big of an issue even for a more narrow platform.

A more narrow base encourages a quick linear stride which is what athletes prefer. There are some running sneakers that have a wider base but even if you’d take those, an average basketball sneaker would still usually have a wider overall platform to ride on.

III. BASKETBALL SHOES FOR RUNNING?

Now that we’ve learned about both shoes, let’s break down IF and WHEN you could consider wearing hoop shoes for a run

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Basketball Shoes for RunningPin

Now that you’re aware of the qualities both types of shoes usually have and their key differences, chances are you already know the answer to the question “Could I wear a basketball shoe for running?”

I’ll say this – when compared, it’s SAFER to wear a hoop shoe for running than it is to wear a running shoe for basketball. But that’s only if they’re put against each other – I’d generally encourage people NOT to do it in both cases. Even if you’re not a professional athlete.

Caring about your health is enough in my opinion.

WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID IT WHEN YOU CAN

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Don't Do It 1Pin

So why shouldn’t you run in basketball shoes? There are a few things where basketball footwear simply doesn’t align with the mechanics of long-distance running.

Firstly, hoop shoes are heavy in comparison and you’ll definitely feel it if you’re running respectable distances. Foot and leg fatigue will kick much faster than it normally would. I’ve been there – trust me.

Secondly, your gait will feel off in a traditional basketball sneaker that sports a flat platform and a minimal drop-off. Each step can feel slappy and choppy and that will negatively affect performance.

And thirdly, the overabundance of cushioning as well as the lack of needed mobility can easily result in discomfort and even pain. The more cushion you’ve got underfoot, the more your muscles and tendons have to work to keep maximum effectiveness while sinking and popping out of the mushy foam.

If you’ve tried to run in a basketball shoe before – I’m sure you had your shins completely destroyed once or twice. I used to run in my single pair of hoop shoes (I think they were the D Rose 773 III if I remember correctly) since I couldn’t afford a second pair.

My shin muscles were absolutely on fire, even if it wasn’t that long of a run.

Your body will at least partly adapt to it eventually but there’s no reason to sacrifice performance and cause unnecessary fatigue.

Still, some of you will still probably do it. Whether you can’t afford a pair of additional sneakers for your runs or you’re just not able to take them with you for one reason or another, I’ve outlined some scenarios where it would be closer-to-okay to do it.

I still don’t recommend ideally but if you don’t have a choice, I HIGHLY recommend sticking to these scenarios.

EXCERCISE W. RUNNING ELEMENTS

If you’re doing a workout that involves some agility work – it might be okay. Sprints, short interval training – that type of stuff should be fine as short distances are covered.

If your workout is focused on basketball strength, movement quality and involves some agility training or basketball-specific movements, then I could see this as a scenario where there’s no reason to take your hoop shoes off. As long as you’re not running long distances on unforgiving terrain during your workouts – you’re good.

SHORT & OCCASIONAL RUNS

For those that would still like to go for runs in their hoop shoes, make sure to stick to shorter distances and also space out your runs in the week if you’re feeling heavy foot/leg fatigue. Listen to your body and react accordingly.

The term “short run” will mean different things depending on what kind of runner you are. For me, it’s anything under a mile, so that’s where I’d draw the line if I were to run in hoop shoes.

Now, that might not be relevant for you as you’re an experienced runner with muscles and tendons that are adapted to a heavier load. In that case, you probably know what a short run means for you, so stick to that.

Even if you’re not feeling unusual discomfort DURING the run, you might feel the aftereffects the next day, so be careful when you’re not using the footwear designed for that sport.

STICK TO LESS ABRASIVE SURFACES

Basketball shoes have a thicker rubber sole than a traditional runner and they’re also usually equipped with a stiffer last. Those two things mean that your foot won’t exactly be able to react to uneven terrain as naturally as it could with a more flexible runner.

This is one of the main causes of shin pain, fast foot fatigue, and other forms of discomfort and you should avoid this when possible. While in basketball shoes, sticking to tracks, asphalt, and other surfaces that aren’t as abrasive will reduce the chances of such discomfort.

As long as you’re combining short distances, proper recovery time in between runs, and a proper surface to run on, it’s doable with hoop shoes on.

WARM UP & COOL DOWN

Before each and every run (ESPECIALLY if it’s with basketball sneakers), you’ll want to prime your body for the load that’s to come. Make sure to do some dynamic stretching for your legs, upper body, ankles, and even feet.

This will ensure a smoother experience, reduce the risk of injury, and might even decrease your chances of getting fatigued quickly.

After a run, make sure to properly cool down as well. This means deep breathing, static stretching and if you can, thrown in some foam rolling. Roll through your quads, glutes, shins, hamstrings, and even feet.

This helps push lactic acid out of your muscle tissue, thus enhancing the rate of recovery.

IV. SHOE RECOMMENDATIONS

If you really want to do it or can’t get running shoes – I’ve cooked up some potential options


Perhaps you want to save some cash by buying a single pair that’ll work both for hoops and running? While, again, I wouldn’t ideally recommend that, I’ve got some options that resemble the qualities close to a proper running shoe. It’s not a perfect solution but it can work.

I’ve actually got a list of the best minimalist basketball shoes – so anything from that list should pretty much do the trick but I chose three specific shoes that I think are the best candidates to achieving a close-to-a-runner feel.

CURRY FLOW 8
Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Curry Flow 8Pin
image source: underarmour.com

Stephen Curry’s independent Curry Brand debuted the Curry Flow 8 and I still think this is undoubtedly the closest you can get to a running sneaker. The whole build actually feels like a runner and it sports most of the qualities you’d need to run effectively.

It’s still not the perfect solution as it’s still a basketball shoe but this one’s probably the best you’re going to get.

The Curry Flow 8 offers responsive but extremely well-balanced Flow cushion, an outsole that’s completely made out of foam, and an ultra-lightweight knit upper.

It’s also got a noticeably over-average heel drop-off for a hoop shoe, it sports an internal bootie design for great lockdown and the step transitions with these are buttery smooth. It’s one hell of an experience.

Of course, there are a few downsides if we’re talking running. I’m really not sure if this foam sole would last long if you’ll be running on the road or on trails since there’s no rubber here. Another thing is the cushion. It might be a bit too much for a run but it’s definitely not as much as you’d find on a KD or a LeBron.

If we’re talking basketball shoes vs. running shoes here – the Curry Flow 8 blurs that line the most.

Retail price: $160

My rating: 8.3 (click for the full review)

Weight: 12.5 oz / 354 g. (size 10.5 US)

Build: knit w. synthetic side panels

Drop-off: 9 mm.

Cushion: full-length Flow

NIKE KOBE A.D. NXT 360
Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Kobe AD NXT 360Pin
image source: nike.com

A very pricey feat but an incredibly comfortable sneaker, no denying that. I’ve had a ton of fun playing in these and this one probably comes as a close second as the best shoe for running.

The Kobe A.D. NXT 360 will impress you the most with its feathery build as it’s even lighter than the Curry Flow 8. The drop-in midsole cushion is great, even for running as the heel-to-toe strides are super smooth with these.

The 360 degrees of Flyknit was a huge marketing focus for Nikey with this one and I must admit – it really is awesome. It’s nothing but knit that’s strategically open-based in some areas, while tighter in others for security.

Support should be fine for linear running and I didn’t have major issues with traction either.

For downsides, there are a couple. These feature a much lower drop-off and even though the awesome cushioning setup smooths it out, you’ll still feel that your foot needs to work a bit more to achieve a quick stride when compared to something more traditional.

And these translucent outsoles used are super unreliable, even for basketball. It would be best to completely stay away from trails with this one and stick to tracks and good condition asphalt/concrete or softer surfaces like a forest path.

Retail price: $200

My rating: 7.8 (click for the full review)

Weight: 11.58 oz / 328 g. (size 10 US)

Build: 360 degrees of Flyknit

Drop-off: 4 mm.

Cushion: removable React & Lunarlon midsole

NIKE PRECISION 5
Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Precision 5Pin
image source: nike.com

For a budget-friendly option, check out Nike’s Precision line and particularly, the 5th model. The Precision 5 doesn’t resemble running shoe qualities as well as the first two shoes do but considering the price, it actually does a decent job.

The shoe features a very low-profile EVA midsole cushion that’s absolutely fine for running as you won’t sink into the midsole with these due to the foam’s dense nature. The upper is a super thin textile resulting in an incredibly light basketball shoe.

Now, the step transitions with these aren’t as awesome as on the Kobe’s or the Curry Flow 8. It’ll be a bit more slappy due to the low drop-off and a stiff last.

However, the upper is very mobile, flexible, and comfortable to wear for long periods. Traction should also last a while since more durable rubber is used here. A common (and ironical) scenario for cheap shoes from Nike.

Retail price: $70

My rating: 7.5 (click for the full review)

Weight: 11.83 oz / 335 g. (size 10 US)

Build: textile w. synthetic overlay at the back

Drop-off: ~5-6 mm.

Cushion: EVA foam midsole

V. RUNNING SHOES FOR BASKETBALL?

Let’s flip the coin: here’s my take on whether you could rock runners for hoops

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Running Shoes for BasketballPin

Onto the opposite side of the spectrum. Now that you know you might just get away with running in some hoop shoes that better resemble running sneaker qualities, what about playing basketball in running shoes?

I’m afraid the situation’s a little bleaker this time. Not only it’s not comfortable and not efficient to wear runners while hooping, but it can also be quite dangerous and I absolutely DO NOT recommend doing so in any scenario.

You see, basketball shoes could be looked at “beefed up runners” if we’re simplifying things. They offer some of the qualities certain running sneakers do and then add some extra components on top of it to better fit the movements of basketball.

That’s what causes the discomfort and suboptimal performance if you’re going on a marathon in them.

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT DO IT

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Don't Do It 2Pin

Running shoes completely LACK certain features that are found in basketball shoes which can be extremely important in ensuring your safety.

You’ll be lacking proper stability (in most cases) as lots of runners are quite narrow, torsional protection is much weaker to allow for greater flexibility and the general sense of lockdown isn’t as apparent on running shoes.

The lack of proper structure throughout the upper is what can potentially cause ankle sprains and a general feeling of insecurity as you could easily blow through a shoe’s material if you’re a heavier, more explosive player that’s rocking a runner which relies on a knit or a woven.

And even if none of those statements were true, a lot of road & trail runners don’t align with the surfaces where you’d play basketball. Try playing on hardwood or a synthetic rubber surface (a common cheap alternative for hardwood) with a trail runner and you’ll be sliding all over the place.

That’s a lot of no-gos. But just like before, I know some people probably will do it. Let me detail some scenarios where you could potentially pull off wearing a runner while performing basketball activities.

EXCERCISE W. BASKETBALL MOVEMENT ELEMENTS

Working out in runners while performing plyometrics, some basketball-related movements, etc. is fine. Plyo’s don’t require playing ball, so jumping with some minimal dynamic elements will be alright. If you’re going on a court and picking up a basketball, that’s where the line should be drawn.

VERY LIGHT, CASUAL SHOOTAROUNDS

For a casual Sunday shootaround with your guys – it might be fine too. Of course, this will depend on how intense your “shootarounds” become as we all know what can happen.

As long as you’re not playing actual basketball, not doing any intensive drills, or performing high-flying moves to impress your friends, you should be fine.

It’s still a suboptimal solution and ideally, I’d advise putting on a pair of hoop shoes regardless. But if we’re talking safety, you’ll be safe.

STICK WITH THE APPROPRIATE SURFACE

If you’ll be playing outside on old-school concrete, you probably don’t want to take your runners inside a track afterwise as the outsoles will be banged up, compromising traction on less abrasive surfaces.

Trail runners won’t do much good for indoor play as mentioned earlier, as their soles usually don’t work for rubber. At least that’s my experience with those.

So, it’s best to stick with one particular surface or at least stay in a similar level of abrasion for one pair of runners.

ADDITIONAL PROTECTION

If you’ve had issues with your ankles in the past or perhaps you’ve just recovered from an injury and your ankles are weakened due to it, it might be a good idea to put on an ankle brace, especially if you’re intending on shooting around with runners.

It’s not ideal to wear ankle braces for long periods of time and regularly but they’re fine as long as you wear ’em only when you need to.

I’ve got a list of the best ankle braces for basketball where I also break down the do’s and dont’s of ankle braces.

VI. SHOE RECOMMENDATIONS

If you really want to do it or can’t get basketball shoes – I’ve cooked up some potential options

NIKE ZOOM PREVAIL
Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Zoom PrevailPin
image source: nike.com

A fairly versatile running sneaker that should get you through a casual hoops session. Once again, I do not recommend rocking these for a full-blown basketball game due to a lack of proper support and structure but for something more casual, you should be good to go.

The Nike Zoom Prevail has a cushion setup that’s pretty good for basketball as it’s not a completely minimal approach. The mesh build is definitely nothing that you can call structured but these utilize a 3 Flywire cable system that pulls down on internal cables to enhance lockdown.

A must-have feature if the build isn’t there to hold things together.

Traction should be fine on all surfaces since conventional rubber is used. I doubt it would work that well indoors but if you’re shooting hoops in the park – it should bite the surface pretty well.

Retail price: $110

Weight: 9.5 oz / 269 g.

Build: mesh

Drop-off: 8 mm.

Cushion: Cushlon & React midsole + forefoot Zoom Air unit

ASICS GEL-KAYANO 28
Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Gel-Kayano 28Pin
image source: asics.com

Asics is one of the most reputable running shoe brands you can find and I found their Gel-Kayano 28 model to be among the closest for shooting some hoops.

It features fantastic gel-based cushion that not only offers a sufficient level of impact protection but also awesome ride comfort.

There’s also a strong focus on support here. It’s got Asics’s DuoMax system, external heel counters for heel & ankle lockdown, and an engineered mesh upper that doesn’t overly stretch and it’s one of the stronger choices among the runner’s catalog.

These will also last a while outdoors since they’re using an AHAR Plus outsole which is significantly more durable than standard high abrasion rubber.

A balanced option for those looking to go for runs, perform workouts and also shoot some hoops on the side.

Retail price: $160

Weight: 10.9 oz / 308 g.

Build: engineered mesh

Drop-off: 10 mm.

Cushion: forefoot & heel GEL Technology + FLYTEFOAM BLAST midsole + OrthoLite X-55 insole

NIKE AIR ZOOM TERRA KIGER 7
Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7Pin
image source: nike.com

Probably the best shoe for some hoops out of Nikey’s running catalog right now. The Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7 features some things that are pretty close to being great for basketball. And if you stay within the casual side of things, you might find this one really good.

The shoe features a React midsole and a forefoot Zoom Air unit for cushion. It’s not as much as on the Asics model but cushion is no big deal for casual shootarounds – you’ll be comfortable.

One thing that’s great about these is the low drop-off. At just 4.5 millimeters + fantastic cushion, you’ll be getting a smooth ride but also one that’s pretty stable.

These are also a bit wider in the forefoot which, again, is great for basketball-specific movements.

The Kiger 7 utilizes an open mesh design and it’s probably the weakest point if we’re talking basketball. It doesn’t have a lot to hold someone’s foot in during a lateral movement.

Make sure to stay within the non-intensive level when you’re in the park.

And don’t take these indoors if you’ve already played outside as the extremely tall rubber grooves of the outsole will probably result in you sliding like crazy. I haven’t personally played in these but that would be my guess based on my experience with similar shoes.

Retail price: $140

Weight: 10.91 oz / 309 g. (size 10 US)

Build: open mesh

Drop-off: 4.5 mm.

Cushion: React midsole + forefoot Zoom Air unit

VII. TENNIS SHOES: HOOPERS LISTEN!

That’s right. If we’re talking hoops or playing tennis: both tennis and basketball shoes will do the trick

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Tennis ShoesPin

Yep, tennis shoes are actually excellent for basketball. If you have a pair lying around and you’re not sure about them – it’s definitely an option.

Tennis and basketball share many movement patterns and levels of intensity. Both sports require rapid, high-intensity movements like accelerations, quick stops, lateral changes of direction, and jumps.

This is why you’ll see that a lot of the descriptions and tech specs of tennis sneakers ring very similar to basketball models.

They’ll be equipped with proper structure throughout the upper or generally use stronger materials, you’ll find the same cushion specifications, heel-to-toe offsets aren’t as apparent as on runners, and you can definitely find tennis shoes that promote stability.

I personally own a couple of pairs of tennis shoes and mainly play basketball in the NikeCourt Air Max Wildcard as well as generally train in those. A FANTASTIC option that will last a long time, keep you supported, and provide ample impact protection.

They’re a little narrow for my wide feet so I occasionally experience some discomfort but not enough to put a halt to a game/session.

But if you’re looking to get a tennis shoe that will be able to handle basketball, most of the stuff will do the trick. The NikeCourt line is a good place to start.

VIII. BASKETBALL SHOES VS. RUNNING SHOES: CONCLUSIONS

Let’s put the debate to rest

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: ConclusionPin

I hope that by now, the basketball shoes vs. running shoes debate is settled for you. I did my best to include as much practical information as I could and I hope you enjoyed it!

Basketball and running shoes do share some similarities and their base is often built very similarly. There are PLENTY of differences though even if they’re subtle. Subtle details matter in both sports.

Hoop shoes are more structured, heavier, utilize a flatter platform, and offer more cushion to provide impact protection. Running sneakers are much more minimal and light, take advantage of a more noticeable heel drop-off and use cushioning in a firmer, low-to-the-ground manner.

You CAN get away with running in a basketball shoe. Performance will definitely not be optimal and you might even experience heavy discomfort if you’re running longer distances.

However, it’s still a doable scenario as you’re not exactly putting your body at risk.

It’s very different if we’re talking playing ball in a runner though. Runners lack the critical security features basketball kicks implement which is why I’d never recommend playing an actual game or even doing more intensive drills in a running shoe.

If it’s a workout with some basketball-related movements – sure. But if we’re talking about something more serious, you already know what I think.

LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!

Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: Your TakePin

Last but not least, it’s time for you to share your thoughts! I’m interested to hear what’s your take on this whole thing. Perhaps you’ve been running in basketball shoes for a while now and feel different about it?

I was actually doing so several years back but I can honestly say it’s not for me. Probably not for most people either.

Anyways, if you’ve got any additional questions I haven’t answered in the guide – I’m always here to answer ’em.

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

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4 thoughts on “Basketball Shoes vs. Running Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide

  1. Just because of the heavier weight, I would not want to use a basketball shoe for running.  When I look for a new pair of running shoes, I look for a shoe that is super lightweight with good cushioning.  I don’t think I would like the high ankle of a basketball shoe.  Seems like these two shoes are very different.

    1. That’s absolutely true and I agree with you on that one. I’ve seen and read that plenty of people do run in basketball shoes though and that’s why I thought I’d make a guide with my take on the whole thing. You CAN do it, it’s just better if you don’t.

  2. Until reading your article, I had not really thought about needing different shoes for jogging and some of the sports I play at my level like basketball.  It makes senses that the lighter more compact shoe would be better for jogging.  More of a concern for me is that I do have ankle pain and it might be from wearing running shoes while playing ball.  The shoes that you have listed are reasonably priced when compared to a generic brand offered in box stores at $35.  I am going to do more research on a couple of basketball shoes and use your links.  Thanks for giving me this information.

    1. Awesome – great to hear! If you are able to do it, always have the shoes for the sport. Hooping in running shoes is something that’s very difficult to recommend.

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