Volleyball demands agility, precision, and quick movements. These dynamic actions also put players at risk of knee and ankle injuries. That’s where volleyball shoes come into play.
Volleyball shoes offer a range of features to enhance performance, stability, protection, and comfort on the court.
In this article, we will explore what makes volleyball shoes different. We will also explore their purpose, design, key features, and why they are indispensable for every volleyball player.
Why Does Volleyball Require Special Shoes?
Volleyball involves quick lateral movements, sudden changes in direction, and jumps. All of these place stress on the feet and ankles.
Regular athletic shoes do not provide the support, stability, shock absorption, and cushioning needed to perform at optimal levels. Wearing regular shoes for playing volleyball would lead to serious sprains or ankle injuries.
Volleyball shoes are specifically designed to cater to these requirements. They help players maintain agility, along with reducing the risk of injuries.
Materials Used to Make Volleyball Shoes
The materials used in the construction of volleyball shoes play a significant role in determining their performance, durability, and overall comfort.
The upper is the part or parts of a shoe that cover the toes, the top of the foot, the sides of the foot, and the back of the heel. It also includes tongue, collar, back, quarters, and vamp.
The upper of volleyball shoes is made from breathable and durable materials like synthetic mesh and nylon. These materials allow air circulation and keep the feet cool, dry, and comfortable throughout the game.
Volleyball shoes have padded collars, crucial in providing support and preventing friction. They are made with EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam to enhance comfort and reduce pressure points.
Similarly, the tongue is also made from EVA foam to enhance comfort and prevent discomfort caused by tight lacing.
Inside the Shoe
The interior of a volleyball shoe primarily consists of two parts: the insole and the midsole.
The midsole, a part of volleyball shoes, acts like a cushion. It is the layer of the volleyball shoe that connects the upper part to the bottom part of the shoe. Its main function is to lessen the impact when players jump and land, a frequent move in volleyball. This is important because repetitive jumping can strain the feet and joints.
The midsole is made of cushiony materials such as EVA foam to absorb the impact and reduce the strain on the body of volleyball players caused by jumping.
The insole, also known as the footbed, is the layer of the shoe that sits directly under the foot. Constructed from a soft, shock-absorbing material, it provides cushioning for comfort.
In the context of volleyball shoes, some of these materials are EVA foam and polyurethane (PU) foam. These materials not only offer comfort but also provide orthotic support. Moreover, they have the added benefit of helping to absorb sweat, keeping the foot dry and comfortable during gameplay.
The outsole, or the base of the shoe that touches the court surface, is a crucial component of volleyball shoes. Volleyball shoes are outfitted with a gum rubber sole. Gum rubber is a material derived from natural latex. Not only is this rubber exceptionally durable, but its stickiness also provides excellent traction on gym floors, preventing slippage and helping to reduce the risk of ankle injuries. Importantly, gum rubber is non-marking, helping to protect the gym floors.
This specialized outsole rubber compound is sometimes referred to as high-performance or non-marking rubber.
Most volleyball shoes incorporate a unique herringbone or chevron pattern on the sole. This pattern enhances lateral movement, stability, and traction on the court. Crafted to endure the constant stop-and-go and sliding actions that characterize volleyball, the gum rubber outsole significantly contributes to the durability of the shoes.
What Makes Volleyball Shoes Different from Other Shoes?
Here are some key factors that differentiate volleyball shoes from other athletic footwear:
Most volleyball shoes incorporate a unique herringbone or chevron pattern on the sole providing excellent traction. This pattern also enhances lateral movement and stability on the court.
These patterns on the outsole are crafted to endure the constant stop-and-go and sliding actions that characterize volleyball. The gum rubber outsole significantly contributes to the durability of the shoes.
Cushioning and Shock Absorption
The insole and midsole are the parts of the volleyball shoes that provide cushioning. Volleyball demands a lot of jumping, so volleyball-specific shoes often have thicker midsoles than other athletic shoes. A thicker midsole provides superior cushioning with two primary benefits. Firstly, it enhances bounce, aiding players in reaching higher jumps. Secondly, it offers ample impact protection or shock absorption to lessen the strain on the feet and joints.
In some shoe models, the foam cushioning is further enhanced by gel or air cushions, depending on the manufacturing brand and specific shoe line. For example, some Asics volleyball shoes use FlyteFoam™ and GEL™ technologies for maximum cushioning.
Playing volleyball is physically demanding, resulting in sweating and heat buildup in the feet. Volleyball shoes are made from breathable materials like mesh and nylon to promote airflow and prevent heat buildup.
Volleyball shoes also feature moisture-wicking or sock liners that absorb moisture and keep the feet cool. These linings also help reduce friction and minimize the risk of blisters or discomfort.
Volleyball shoes are designed to be lightweight to facilitate agility and quick movements on the court. The lightweight nature of volleyball shoes allows players to move swiftly without feeling weighed down or restricted.
Volleyball shoes prioritize lateral stability, as the sport involves frequent side-to-side movements. They feature supportive uppers and reinforced toe caps to stabilize and prevent excessive foot rolling during quick lateral transitions.
Flexibility is a vital feature of volleyball shoes that allows movement and agility on the court. Materials like synthetic mesh in the upper and flex grooves on the outsoles ensure that the feet can move freely.
The specialized insoles and midsoles of volleyball shoes offer excellent arch support and promote proper foot alignment. Excellent arch support also helps to distribute pressure on the feet evenly so that the ball of the feet and heels don’tdon’t get injured during high jumps.
Additional Protective Features
The toe cap of volleyball shoes is made from reinforced materials like rubber or synthetic overlays. This is because the toes and sides are high-stress areas, and synthetic overlays protect them against abrasion.
This reinforcement protects the toes during jumps and serves as a shield against impacts. The toe cap also provides stability during lateral movements.
Volleyball shoes also have a shank, a long piece of material inserted between the insole and outsole. It is made from materials like TPU, fiberglass, and carbon fiber and adds support and stability to the shoes. It provides an extra layer of protection against impact and pressure on the midfoot area.
It helps distribute forces evenly, reducing the risk of discomfort and injuries caused by excessive stress on the foot.
Volleyball shoes have a supportive component made from TPU around the heel, known as the heel counter. It provides structural support for the heel, ensuring stability and reducing the risk of injuries from falling.
How to Choose the Right Volleyball Shoes?
Selecting the right volleyball shoes is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention. Here are some factors to consider when choosing volleyball shoes:
Fit and Comfort
It’s important to try on various sizes and styles of volleyball shoes to ensure an optimal fit. Look for a snug but not overly tight fit, striking a balance between stability and freedom of movement. Consider the shape of your foot and any specific needs, such as arch support or wide-width options.
Consider the weight of the shoes. Lightweight options enhance agility and speed, allowing quick movements without feeling weighed down.
Position of the Player
Choosing the right volleyball shoes is not only about finding a comfortable and supportive pair. The specific needs based on your position on the court are also important.
- Setters are the main contributors to the offense of the team. They require shoes that provide excellent stability for quick changes in direction. Look for lightweight shoes with responsive cushioning that facilitate quick movements and enable precise setups.
- Outside hitters are also called left-side hitters and are the lead attackers. Need shoes that offer a combination of stability, support, and cushioning. Look for shoes with reinforced construction in the upper and midsole for easy jumping.
- Middle blockers are also called middle hitters and are the first line of defense. They benefit from shoes that offer strong lateral support and cushioning. Look for shoes with a wider base and added cushioning in the forefoot to provide stability during blocking and quick lateral movements.
- Liberos only play on the back row of the court. They require shoes that provide agility. Look for lightweight, flexible shoes that allow swift backcourt movements. Cushioning in the heel can also help with shock absorption during diving and defensive plays.
- Opposite hitters are responsible for both offense and defense. They need shoes with ample cushioning in the forefoot for jumping and hitting, along with sturdy construction in the upper to provide support during lateral movements.
How Often Should Volleyball Shoes Be Replaced?
The lifespan of volleyball shoes depends on factors such as frequency of use, player position, and court conditions. As a general guideline, consider replacing your shoes every 6 to 12 months or when you notice signs of significant wear and tear.
What are the Most Popular Volleyball Shoe Brands?
Some popular brands recognized for producing quality volleyball shoes include Mizuno, ASICS, Nike, and Adidas.
What is the Difference Between Volleyball Shoes and Basketball Shoes?
Volleyball and basketball shoes are designed differently to cater to the specific demands of each sport. Volleyball shoes are built to handle high-impact jumps, with nearly nine times a player’splayer’s body weight concentrated on the forefoot during landings. They also offer structured flexibility and are lighter, enabling swift movements and abrupt starts and stops.
On the other hand, basketball shoes focus on cushioning for comfort during play. They are often heavier, affecting agility on the court. While recent basketball shoe designs use softer materials for flexibility, these can weaken with the constant lateral movement in volleyball, impacting performance and durability. Therefore, each shoe type is optimized for its respective sport’s unique movements and impacts.
Can You Wear Running Shoes to Play Volleyball?
Wearing regular running shoes is not recommended for volleyball.
Volleyball involves repetitive jumping and landing, which can strain the joints and feet. Specialized cushioning in volleyball shoes helps to absorb the impact of landings. Running shoes cannot offer the same level of cushioning, potentially leading to discomfort or increased stress on the body.
Flexibility is an important feature of volleyball shoes. The specific design of volleyball shoes better facilitates the quick movements required in volleyball. Running shoes may lack the necessary flexibility in the sole and upper construction, hindering the player’splayer’s ability to move swiftly.
Durability is also a crucial factor to consider. Regular running shoes are not built to endure the specific stresses and abrasive nature of volleyball, resulting in faster wear and tear.
In conclusion, volleyball shoes play a vital role in players’ performance, comfort, and safety. With their specialized features, such as traction, support, cushioning, flexibility, and breathability, these shoes are designed to meet the unique demands of volleyball.
When choosing volleyball shoes, it is essential to consider factors such as fit and durability. Additionally, understanding the specific needs based on your position on the court can further guide your selection. Investing in high-quality volleyball shoes is an investment in your performance and overall game enjoyment.