Can You Use Volleyball Shoes for Tennis? (+The Difference)


can you use volleyball shoes for tennis

Let’s face it, volleyball and tennis shoes look very similar! This makes many people involved in both sports believe that they can use volleyball shoes for tennis without any issues. But, how true is this? Indeed …

Playing tennis wearing volleyball shoes with a low to average intensity won’t feel different than specific tennis shoes since both of them are almost the same weight on average. However, once you increase the intensity of play, you won’t get the necessary level of grip on tennis fields that tend to be more slippery.

In this article, I really go deep! I breakdown the pros & cons of using volley shoes for a sport like tennis. I also give you a detailed comparison between both shoes so you will understand the difference and cases where you can utilize each one of them.

Using volleyball shoes for tennis (Pros & Cons) …

Weight and stability

Pros

  • Both volleyball and tennis shoes are lightweight and designed to aid fast lateral movement.
  • Both types of shoes should also offer some traction on slippery surfaces.

Cons

  • Volleyball shoes will not offer the same degree of grip on slippery surfaces like grass.
  • Tennis shoes, in some cases, are heavier (Check this example here at Amazon) because they incorporate more materials to provide cushioning and stability.
  • The weight distribution can differ between the two.

Bottom line, wearing volleyball shoes on a tennis court provides additional risk of sliding and, potentially injury.

Durability

Pros

  • A pair of volleyball and tennis shoes should both last a full season if well maintained.

Cons

  • Volleyball shoes are not designed to be used outside. Their gum rubber soles are intended for use on indoor hard courts, and they will quickly become damaged on outdoor surfaces (This makes them unsuitable for wearing in grass, clay, or asphalt)
  • They can easily be damaged by dirt. Even in an indoors environment, any sweat or accumulated debris should quickly be wiped off.

Cost

Pro

  • A good pair of volleyball shoes usually costs less (Check this model’s price here at Amazon) than the tennis equivalent. So that’s a good option if you are on a low budget.

Cons

  • With both types of shoes, good quality shoes made by well-known manufacturers are made with better quality materials and this is reflected in the price tag.

Design

Pros

  • Many of the material and manufacturing techniques are similar with both type of show.

Cons

  • Volleyball shoes are constructed in such a way that they facilitate the movement involved in the rapid, lateral changes of direction that the sport entails. However, tennis shoes are designed to aid forward motion and do not need the same support in the ball of the foot.

Differences between Volleyball and Tennis Shoes …

Weight

Both tennis and volleyball shoes tend to be lighter than other types of sports’ footwear because speed around the court in both games is essential to success.

However, there is also the need for stability and traction when sliding around, and, if the shoes are too light, balance can be compromised.

Some tennis players may prefer a heavier shoe on a surface like clay, than on a hard, indoor fast court.

Height

A volleyball shoe will be lower in height and flatter to the ground than a tennis shoe. This is because of the movement involved in both sports.

Volleyball involves a lot of changes of direction and darts form side to side. A shoe, therefore, needs to provide stability and traction.

Tennis, by contrast requires a lot of forward movement, and there is a lot of pressure put on the front of the foot. To help protect the foot, the heel of a tennis shoe will often be elevated, meaning they will be taller than a pair of volleyball shoes.

Used material

Volleyball shoes are usually made of a nylon and mesh, while the soles are made of gum rubber. Synthetic leathers may also be used on the panelling for durability and also to provide protection around the toe area.

Tennis shoes will be made of a range of synthetic and man-made materials and rubber (but not of the gum variety) on the soles, because there is not the same need for grip on the courts. A number of models use GEL technology in the instep areas.

Durability

In both cases, the durability of a pair of shoes is partly determined by how much use they get. Typically, a pair of tennis shoes can last a year or even longer than that, if they are well maintained …

Similarly, volleyball shoes should last a season if they are cleaned on a regular basis and are not worn outside or for purposes other than they are intended.

However, it is never a good idea to play in worn out shoes. They can lead to soreness in the ankles.

Talking  about durability, there is a common practice where some amateurs use volleyball shoes for lifting because they think they are durable enough for such hard practices. Well, if you know somebody doing so, try to tell him to avoid that as this could damage their volley shoe.

Sole

The sole of a volleyball shoe is made of gum rubber because this helps provide traction and stability on a hard indoor court.

By contrast, the sole of a tennis shoe is usually made of carbon rubber, blown rubber, or a combination of the two.

Heel Collar

The heel collar – or cuff – surrounds the ankle at the top of the shoe. It is thicker than the rest of the upper and is often padded for extra comfort.

The heel collar on a tennis shoe will extend further up the back of the angle on a tennis shoe than the volleyball equivalent. This is because playing tennis exerts much greater pressures on the ankle area than volleyball, so more protection is needed.

Toe Cap

The toe cap of a tennis shoe offers foot drag protection, and, in some models is made of leather to give a classic appearance.

In addition, some manufacturers add extra rubber material to the front of the shoe as a further protective measure. Volleyball shoes, by contrast, tend to be constructed from synthetic materials in this area.

Comfort

Tennis shoes tend to be stiffer than volleyball shoes because they need to support a wide range of movement.

That means that they can take a little time to wear in before they feel comfortable. Volleyball shoes should fit well but not too tightly, and there should always be room for the foot to move within them.

Can you use volleyball shoes on grass?

Volleyball shoes should not be used on grass because they are specifically designed for use on indoor courts.

Using them for a purpose for which they were not designed or in conditions for which they were not intended is a guaranteed way of wearing them out quickly.

That is equally why indoor volleyball shoes should not be worn for playing the beach variety of the game. The sand will quickly damage them and the soles are not intended to deal with the grittiness and grubbiness of sand.

For one thing, grass will stain and discolour them in such a way that will be very difficult to clean off afterwards. And then there is all the dirt and debris that may be picked up on grass.

Unless this is cleaned away immediately, it can become embedded in the shoe and this becomes difficult to remove.

Another thing is that grass, when it is wet or greasy can be very slippery, and, while the volleyball shoe is designed to provide traction, it is not the same movement as occurs on a grass court, which can be unpredictable and abrupt.

Indoor volleyball shoes tend to be flat and lower in height than shoes typically designed for grass surfaces, meaning that they do not offer the same degree of ankle protection. Wearing volleyball shoes, therefore, increases the risk of injury.

In rare instances, volleyball is played on grass and, in such circumstances, it is better to use an ordinary outdoor athletic shoe (check this model for example here at Amazon) because the essence of the sport will be different from the indoor variety.

Can you use volleyball shoes in other sports?

Although basketball and volleyball shoes essentially have the same purpose, to provide traction to prevent wearers slipping around, there are still differences between the two.

Indeed, Basketball shoes go higher and are designed in such a way that they protect the ankle. For this reason, although basketball shoes could be used for playing volleyball, the same principle does not apply in reverse. Volleyball shoes do not offer the ankle protection required to play basketball.

Again, volleyball shoes are also not designed to be used outside. So all outdoor sports and activities are not something where you can use them …

The same can also be said for other contact sports like lacrosse and hockey. In fact, even walking around the block in a pair of volleyball shoes is not recommended because of their susceptibility to wear and tear and the likelihood they will collect dirt.

I also get questions about other sports like pickleball … Indeed, I personally don’t recommend using volleyball shoes for pickleball! This would cause some damage to your shoes.

Final Thoughts …

I totally understand that sometimes people might want to use a shoe designed for a specific sport or activity in a different sport or activity. Lack of budget or lack of availability could well justify that …

However, remember that when you are dealing with a sport that really requires high pace and intensity, this simply means that injury likelihood just gets higher. So it is totally worth it to reduce that is by using specific gear, accessories and clothing. Not to mention the comfort that will definitely come with them.

Finally, for more similar information, I highly invite you to learn about what you can wear in case you have no volleyball shoes!

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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