There’s no question that a lot of us are aware of the fact that some people can’t purchase more than 1-2 pairs of reasonably expensive athletic shoes to cater to different sports or activities. Talking about two in particular: running and basketball – can we actually use running shoes for basketball?
It would save us money, increase convenience, and eliminate the need to scratch your head and do your research to get a quality basketball shoe when you only play once in a while.
So spending those extra $120 isn’t suitable for everyone, especially when you already got a runner in your closet.
Putting all that aside, I wanted to make this article breaking down this subject and explain how both sports’ shoes work, share my own experience and make sure you’re balling on the court as comfortably and safely as possible.
Let’s break this down!
> IMPORTANT UPDATE: I put together a completely reworked guide on this topic. It actually covers both perspectives: running shoes for basketball & basketball shoes for running. I highly suggest reading that one instead.
SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
So you got a good running shoe that feels safe and comfortable for you overall. We all know it’s pretty safe and efficient to also train and do related sports activities in a runner.
For basketball though – it’s not always that simple.
Let me explain why.
Let’s take a good quality, reputable brand running shoe. Usually, you’ll see two types of them in the market – road runners and trail runners.
Road runners are softer, more flexible, offer less support but make sure you’re feeling as free, light, and comfortable as possible.
Trail runners are a bit more rigid, offer more support, and also provide a thicker, more reliable outsole to prevent damage for your feet, as you’re running on uneven roads or trails with obstacles.
RUNNING SHOE VS BASKETBALL SHOE
Taking either type of the two – the main aspects of a running shoe are:
- Very light
- Thin, flexible upper material
- Minimal ankle support
- Thin, flexible outsole
- The shoe sits low to the ground
Of course, these can be a bit different depending on the running shoe but the gist of it is always the same.
Now, the main aspects of the basketball shoe are:
- Medium-heavier weight
- Usually more rigid, durable and less flexible upper material
- Profound ankle support
- A high, thick outsole
- The shoe sits high on the ground
As you can see, the aspects are pretty much opposite between the two sports sneakers. And for a good reason.
Yeah, this does not mean that all those key points are 100% for all basketball and running shoes as the new school era is constantly bringing in lighter, thinner, and more flexible basketball kicks these days but they’re still aiming to sacrifice the least amount of support and safety possible.
NOT EVERYONE’S EQUAL
Now, judging from my list of key aspects of both types of shoes, I still can’t state that you strictly cannot play basketball in your runners.
You can. But everyone’s different, and everyone’s playing basketball on a different level, everyone’s body build is different, then there are age differences, play styles, and more.
The main areas of alert when considering to play ball in a runner is generally the cushioning (impact protection and foot comfort), overall foot support, ankle protection, and sometimes even traction.
Yes, playing in it will, in fact, feel comfortable if you’re used to running shoes, your foot will be very well ventilated and your movements won’t feel restricted at all.
However, especially for someone with more of an athletic background will find that the support runners offer isn’t always adequate and the midsole cushioning is oftentimes very minimal and does not translate well on a basketball court.
I’ve had running shoes where I was even sliding all over the place due to the outsole not really made for an indoor wood court.
There are many more aspects and details that should be taken into account but that would be too much to cover and would probably end up being boring for you, so let’s sum it all up and talk about the main scenarios where I’d recommend and not recommend playing ball in your road or trail runners.
IF YOU’RE A PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER
The answer, in this case, would be a big no-no.
Pro players, no matter the league or level, play a substantial amount of 40 or 48-minute games. Enough to cause various injuries and safety risks if you’re constantly not having enough shock absorption, foot lockdown, and your ankles are pretty much open for anything.
I know this might sound obvious for someone who’s already a pro or getting there but just wanted to get it out the way and let others know that we gotta protect our joints, ligaments, and our long-term health overall.
Even if that means saving up and spending that cash.
IF YOU’RE A COLLEGE OR HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER
Pretty much the same thing as for professionals – I highly do not recommend playing in anything other than quality basketball shoes.
You’re still a young gun, some of you guys’ bones and muscles are still growing, so you don’t want to damage that process by wearing something that does not preserve your knees, aid your jumps, cuts, and often decrease overall performance.
It might not yet feel damaging or cause injuries as you’re on your peak youth performance and health but that adds up, so you want to think smart.
IF YOU’RE A HARDCORE BASKETBALL FANATIC
Let’s say you’re not a pro, you’re not a high school or college player – you’re just a casual baller but you play a lot and love the game.
You put a lot of hours per week. Not as much as a pro or a high schooler but still like to show up often.
This one will also depend on your age, weight, and playstyle but I’d generally still stay away from anything other than basketball sneakers.
If you’re still a young individual, not playing anywhere major – as long as you’re not a very physical, athletic player and you play lower to the ground, you can try out playing in runners, especially if you’re saving cash.
For anyone who’s coming up in reasonable age numbers or someone who’s athletic and like to play explosively – I’d stay away from runners. Pro or not, there’s still a bigger chance of hurting yourself.
IF YOU PLAY OR SHOOT AROUND OCCASIONALLY
If you only play a game or two per a few weeks, or just like to have some fun shooting around with your friends or family – sure.
This is where you can definitely consider saving cash and playing with your runners, as you’re not putting your body on as much physical demand and you’re not really damaging yourself casually hooping from time to time in a good pair of runners.
Just pick something up from a reputable brand, a traction pattern that will actually grip the court and see if you can find a more rigid and reliable upper. These criteria are usually found more often on trail runners.
DO YOU PLAY IN RUNNING SHOES?
That is it for today’s article! I hope you found this insight valuable and from now on, you’ll consider if you really want to put your basketball hours in running shoes.
Do you have any questions? Perhaps you’re playing in running shoes for a while now and would like to share your personal experience?
IMPORTANT UPDATE: I put together a completely reworked guide on this topic. It actually covers both perspectives: running shoes for basketball & basketball shoes for running. I highly suggest reading that one instead.
Leave a comment down below and I will get back to you as quickly as possible!