Can I play basketball in running shoes?

A lot of people try to save money by having shoes and clothing that are multipurpose. For instance, maybe you want to go for a run to the park and then play basketball when you get there. The problem is that, especially when it comes to athletic shoes, specific shoes tend to be made for a specific purpose. In this case, basketball shoes are made for basketball and running shoes are made for running. But does that mean that you can’t play basketball in your running shoes? 

You can play basketball in your running shoes, which share many of the traited needed such as ankle and heel stabililty. However, running shoes may lack the durability needed to play basketball.

The goal here is to help you understand the difference between running shoes and basketball shoes as well as going into detail about whether or not you can play basketball in running shoes. I also wrote this post comparing sneakers and running shoes if that interests you.

What’s the Difference Between Basketball Shoes and Running Shoes?

The first thing that I would look at is the distinct differences between basketball and running shoes. This will help you to see why you should stick to only using these shoes for the activity that they were designed for.

Running Shoes

Running shoes are specifically designed with the following in mind: 

  • Flexibility, due to the frequent up and down motions.
  • Lightweight
  • Better gait control.
  • Anchoring tread.
  • Adequately cushioned soles.
  • High level of comfort

Running shoes are made with comfort in mind, keeping the runner safe and offering enough support to prevent injuries when they run. There are a variety of different options that you can choose from in this category, such as trail running or road running. Road running shoes are very comfortable and lightweight options that are made for long distance running. These shoes were not made to handle the sudden movement changes that are required if you are going to play basketball. They are made to offer shock absorption, which is important for when you are running to prevent injury and make it more comfortable so that you can run farther. 

Basketball Shoes

  • Solid foot support
  • Strong tread
  • Flexibility in multi-directional movement
  • Ankle stability
  • Heel support

Like with running shoes, basketball shoes are made specifically with basketball in mind. Basketball can be a very intense sport, where you are required to randomly change directions at any given moment during the match. There’s a lot of stopping, running, and jumping in basketball, which is why basketball shoes are made to offer the ability to change your direction and offers the stability and support for your heels and ankles. This is very different from running shoes, which were only really made for you to run in one direction. 

Can You Play Basketball in Running Shoes?

You can play basketball in your running shoes, but this isn’t something that is recommended. By wearing your running shoes while playing basketball, you could negatively impact your performance, reduces comfort levels, and could potentially put you at risk for injury. If you want a multipurpose shoe that you can play basketball in and run in, cross-trainers can be the best compromise that you make.

When talking about running shoes, you are talking about a shoe that offers a lot of breathability and is made from a thin, lightweight material. They will offer you enough cushioning for shock absorption when running and are made to be as flexible as they can be for a more comfortable running experience. These are reasons why they aren’t going to be the best options for you if you are playing basketball. For basketball, you want something that offers a little more durability, giving you the protection that you need on the court.

All you need to do is take a running shoe and put it next to a basketball shoe to see a clear difference between these two options. Running shoes have a smaller silhouette to them when you compare them to a basketball shoe. The basketball shoe is taller and bulky in its shape. These shoes also tend to be stiffer, which is perfect to keep you safe when playing basketball but not great for running. Basketball shoes are made to be rigid to protect your ankle and heel while you are constantly changing directions while running on the court. You just won’t get the same level of protection with running shoes.

Can You Run in Basketball Shoes?

While you may be able to get away with playing basketball in running shoes, you won’t necessarily be able to run in basketball shoes. Running requires a lightweight shoe that offers comfortable soles so that you can run for longer distances. It may be too uncomfortable for you to run in basketball shoes because they are so stiff, bulky, and heavy. 

A point that keeps being made over and over again here is that it’s always best to stick to the shoes that are made for whatever activity you are doing. These shoes have been designed to ensure the highest level of performance while protecting you from common injuries that can occur in whatever activity that you are doing. A multipurpose shoe like the cross-trainer can be a good idea to invest in if you really want a shoe that you can use for both running and basketball. However, it’s going to be the best idea if you just stick to the shoe that works best for your activity.

Be sure to try on shoes to see how they fit and feel, because you want to be sure that your shoes are best helping you with whatever your activity of choice is. 


As you can see, you can wear running shoes while you are playing basketball. However, that doesn’t mean that this is going to be the best idea for you. You should stick to using sport appropriate footwear, such as basketball shoes for playing basketball. If you do want a more flexible option, you can consider options like a cross-trainer shoe as this is made to be a versatile option. Otherwise, while it isn’t recommended, you can play basketball in running shoes.

About Me

Hey, I'm Mark and I've been running for around eight years. I'm by no means an elite runner. I'm in the mid-pack, doing what I can to improve and learn along the way.

I've learnt a few tricks along the which I share on this website and my Instagram: