Comparing Basketball Shoes to Running Shoes – What Should You Wear?

With only dedicated sports footwear, players can attain good comfort and the power to enhance their performance at that particular sport. Wearing shoes specialized for a niche different from yours might work to some extent; however, only your sports shoe can ultimately prove best. The same is the case with the Basketball shoe vs. Running shoe duel.

Even though there’s quite a bit of running in basketball and similarly quite a bit of basketball-like moments in the running sport, both are two very different sectors of intense play and thus require special shoes.  

Wearing the right sports sneaker will help prevent sports-related injuries and induce better performance on the court or the track. This post compares the two most popular types of sports shoes: basketball shoes and running shoes. 

Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes: Quick Comparison 

Basketball Shoes

Running Shoes

Cushioning 

Medium to Heavy Cushioning, Mostly on the Entire Inside Body 

Light to Medium Cushioning, Mostly on Toes, Arch and Heel. 

Stability and Support

Supports Sudden Cuts, Lateral and Multi-directional Movements

Supports Forward Stance, One-direction Movement

Sole and Traction 

Thin to Moderately Thick Sole (depending on the type of shoe) with Herringbone-Like Tractions 

Usually Very Thick Sole, Deep Lug Traction

Can Running Shoes and Basketball Shoes be Interchangeable?

Wearing Running Shoes For Basketball

Running shoes are specially designed to aid straight-line movement. The support and cushioning potential packed within them aren’t meager but somewhat suited to counter just the constant impact that your feet get from the ground. 

This is exactly why all the cushioning done inside a runner’s shoe is mainly found around the toe, heel, and sometimes arch region. In basketball, unlike typical runners’ constant up and down movement, players are bound to make multi-directional actions. Thus if you try making a deep cut with running shoes on your feet, you might end up spraining some bone.

Running shoes also house little to no support for the ankle. Whereas, on the other hand, no matter what type of basketball shoe you own, all of them provide ankle support that’s at least higher than what’s offered by running shoes. 

This is because runners need sneakers that are lightweight and could allow simple movement. Basketball players, however, require adequate arch support for their zig-zag dribbling and dashing around the court, and that is why only the right basketball shoe can help. 

Moreover, tractions crafted on a running shoe’s outsole are also not supported for playing basketball. Of course, running is a sport mainly conducted on concrete tracks and so are its special shoes made. Basketball also needs traction but is not as strict as the ones found beneath running shoes. 

After combining all these points, it is safe to say that you can not wear running shoes for your court unless you are caught in an emergency and are left with no choice. However, then you should be prepared for the consequences it may have.  

Wearing Basketball Shoes for Running 

Running shoes might seem useless for basketball players; however, they are the only weapon runners can take on the track. Without a specially designed runner’s shoe, a runner will not obtain the flexibility he needs to outclass others on track. 

In terms of flexibility as a whole, even basketball shoes are an excellent choice, but be mindful of the fact that in running, flexibility is needed only for making a forward sprinting stance. Hence this special requirement can only be fulfilled by none other than a running shoe only. 

Another reason that makes a basketball shoe non-effective for running is its tractions. Basketball shoes are mainly designed with soft soles to promote non-slip action, whether outdoor or indoor court. On the split hand, running shoes have grippy soles to aid the runners in their forward stance running mainly conducted on concrete tracks.

The table briefly describes how a running shoe outsole differs from the outsole of a basketball shoe: 

Shoe Outsole

Running Shoes

Basketball Shoes

Structure

Tough and Very Thick

Moderately Tough, Usually Thick in Outdoor Shoes, Thin in Indoor Shoes 

Material

Heavy-duty, Very Dense Material (Usually Rubber, or Eva for Indoors) 

Dense Rubber Material 

Traction 

Deep Indentation, Multi-directional Lug Patterns 

Herringbone Traction Pattern to aid Non-Slip Movement 

Despite the shortcomings of basketball shoes compared to running shoes, you can still wear them for short tracking, especially on short indoor track courts. This is because though a basketball shoe isn’t as flexible for a one-direction stance as a runner’s shoe, their sufficient cushioning makes them harmless. 

In other words, basketball shoes won’t let you outclass your fellow runners or achieve a strong pace on track; however, they’ll still prove less prone to injuries than a pair of running shoes when employed in a basketball court. 

Things To Consider: Basketball and Running Shoes Buying Guide 

Mind Your Size and Weight  

Whether you buy running or basketball shoes, keeping your weight and size in mind is always wiser. Taller and heavier wearers require shoes that offer more stability and support and are durable than the rest. Less bulky and shorter wearers don’t need as much support and stability.

Moreover, it would be best if you also keep watch of the shoe toe box. Whether you are purchasing a runner pro shoe or the one that could aid you on the basketball court, make sure that the shoe toe box is wide and comfy for your toes to splay while they are inside. 

A shoe that fits your overall body structure and mass, especially the feet, will always account for better performance.

Identify your Court/Track Requirements 

Basketball shoes come in multiple styles, all designed to suit different types of courts. For instance, a particular type of basketball shoes work best with glossy marble-made indoor courts while the other best serves the harsh outdoor court.

Outdoor basketball players should look for more heavy-duty basketball shoes that come with more cushioning, support for lateral movements, and strong tractions. In contrast, players who perform more on smooth surfaces can wear not-so-powerful basketball shoes with enough support, light cushioning, and simple tractions. 

Similarly, running shoes also vary according to what type of track they best perform on. Though mostly all running shoes come in low-top design, what differentiates them from one another is the support, built material, and traction system.  Go with solid tractions, thick support for heel and arch, and overall solid construction if you run outdoors. 

Traction Matters

Whether you want help making lateral actions on court or power a forward stance throughout the running track, a decent traction system is essential. We recommend going for running shoes with lugged tractions no matter where you run. 

For basketball players, choose according to your playstyle and court. Go with heavier tractions if you play on rugged surfaces, or else simple tractions will work. 

Cushioning and Support are Necessary 

The most comfortable basketball shoe is always the best choice for players. As basketball involves instant changes in speed and multi-directional movements, cushioning for almost every area of your feet is very necessary. However, for runners, shoes that maintain a good balance between cushioning, stability, and ground feel are always the ideal picks. 

Choose the Best Material 

When purchasing shoes, the most durable material should be your utmost priority. However, when finding the best shoes for running, durability is not the only thing you should be considering. Running is all about more fluidity in pace, and that can only be achieved when the shoes affixed to your feet are light in weight. 

Thus along with the material’s durability, make sure the material makes for an overall light structure. On the other hand, basketball shoes should also be made of durable material so that you don’t feel the need to buy new pairs every year. For both types of sports, also ensure that the material is breathable enough as your feet will definitely undergo considerable sweating. 

Recommended Products

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
PEAK High Top Men's Basketball Shoes
Adidas Men's CF Lite Racer Byd
Under Armour Men's Lockdown 5 Basketball Shoe
ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 7
Under Armour Men's Lockdown 4 Basketball Shoe


1. PEAK High Top Men's Basketball Shoes


PEAK High Top Men's Basketball Shoes

This NBA Star preferred shoe is the best basketball shoe for dusty courts. The breathable PEAK high-top style shoes are breathable and have an endless fashion look like none other. Being perfect for rugged courts, this shoe’s weaving technology and design perfectly match the aggressive playstyle. 

What's of more interest is the unique honeycomb traction pattern beneath the thick rubber outsole. Though it's excellent in providing excellent grip on uneven surfaces, the treads tend to trap a lot of dirt, making regular shoe care sessions necessary. 

PROS



  • Unique construction to boost durability 

  • Prevents ankle roll injuries

  • Honeycomb tractions perform great on outdoor courts 

  • Good price


CONS 



  • The rubber outsole attracts a lot of dust



2. Adidas Men's CF Lite Racer Byd


Adidas Men's CF Lite Racer Byd

The CF Lite Raver Byd is one of the most comfortable running shoes in town. As they don't take much time to get used to the user's feet, CG Lite shoes are ideal for beginners or intermediate runners who want to concentrate more on running than footwear. 

The most notable thing about this product is its solid fit despite maintaining a very lightweight overall structure.

PROS



  • Sock-like fit 

  • Comfortable and Stretchy 

  • Premium design and durability


CONS



  • White sole gets dirty quick 

  • Weak lock mechanism



3. Under Armour Men's Lockdown 5 Basketball Shoe


Under Armour Men's Lockdown 5 Basketball Shoe

Thanks to its comfortable and lightweight style and immense tractions, the Lockdown 5 shoe is a worthwhile investment. The sneakers are best for players who want a lightweight shoe that won’t break the bank. 

Under Armour has designed the Lockdown 5 especially for Guards who need a mobile basketball sneaker. However, people with broad ankle zones might face issues wearing these.

PROS



  • Wide toe box keeps the wearer's foot in a natural posture

  • Good value for money

  • Multiple design options 

  • Light in weight


CONS



  • A bit tight on the ankle side



4. ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 7


ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 7

ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 7 is one of the top beginner-friendly trail sneakers with a decent price tag that won't break your bank. Its specifications are not very amusing when it comes to performance. However, the comfort and heel support packed within is similar to what is found in top-tier shoes. 

If you’re in search of entry-level shoes for trailing that are robust overall, you can list the ASICS GEL-Venture 7 as a top choice.

PROS



  • Very comfortable

  • Budget-friendly

  • Sufficient traction

  • Wide toe box 


CONS



  • Upper not very breathable



5. Under Armour Men's Lockdown 4 Basketball Shoe


Under Armour Men's Lockdown 4 Basketball Shoe

In search of a basketball shoe that has excellent airflow? With a unique airflow mechanism, Lockdown 4 is the best for breathable basketball shoes in town. Though the overall construction is solid, the Under Armour Lockdown 4 sneakers are very light in weight and thus a top choice for players who require fluidity in pace. The rubber outsoles are intact and have excellent traction to aid quick maneuvering. 

PROS



  • Breathable design prevents sweat and stink

  • Available in stylish color combinations

  • Comfortable support for the foot and ankle


CONS



  • Not a flexible fit for wide feet players



Final Word

Are basketball shoes better than running shoes, or is it the other way around? The answer is straightforward. None is better than the other. Both are great athlete shoes best for serving the sports for which they are specially designed. 

If you’re playing just for fun or are not that often a runner, you can probably get away with mixing basketball shoes with running shoes or vice versa. However, for hardcore members of both sport, using basketball and running shoes interchangeably might render harmful impacts. 

With that said, your surest bet is to use running shoes for running and basketball shoes for basketball. Otherwise, you could end up seriously injured. If you are a basketball player looking for an ideal pair of basketball shoes, we recommend PEAK’s High Tops. For runners, the Adidas Men’s CF Lite Racer Byd is the way to go.