Volleyball season is upon us. Day in and out, game after game, you jump, move in all directions, and land each attempt. It is safe to say your body, and shoes, take a beating.
It’s essential, if not vital, to focus on this aspect of your uniform. If your knees are shot or an ankle twists, you are not useful to your team, and you risk being out of the game even longer.
Some people grab any old pair of runners or cross-trainers, and head out to the volleyball court. But having a specific pair of volleyball shoes is an important piece of equipment that is often taken for granted.
But what shoes are the best for you? Read on to find out what we recommend for the top 5 best women’s volleyball court shoes for indoor games.
The Nike Volley Zoom Hyperace lands as our top pick of volleyball shoes. Right off the bat, testers claimed the Hyperace only took about 1-2 days to break-in, which is significantly less time than most volleyball shoes. The shoes provide ankle support without being stiff, and those with previous ankle issues even claimed they rolled their ankles less. Further, these kicks have added rubber spikes around the outside, providing even more traction for quick directional changes.
Coming in with quite a lower price tag, the ASICS Women’s Gel Rocket 8 provides various components to provide players with the best options. By utilizing a Trusstic system, the shoe remains lightweight and combines with a gel cushioning to support the feet from shock and stress due to continuous jumping. Reliable traction mixed with affordability land the ASICS in our number two spot.
Features of volleyball shoes
There are endless factors driving consumers to purchase one shoe over another, but in the end, only some make or break a purchase. Below find a detailed explanation of the four main categories and variables to consider: Construction, Soles, Uppers, and Cost.
Take a few minutes to review these so when you purchase your volleyball shoes, you don’t end up with buyer’s remorse by the end of your first set.
The construction of volleyball shoes breaks into 4 parts. While each of these could be a totally separate category, they normally blend a little bit into each other. For the ease of breakdown, we put them into one for you.
a) Support and Cushioning
The inner sole of the shoe proves support through padding and cushioning. Both the forefront and the rear footpads must withstand the jumping in volleyball, not to mention constant standing during games.
Proper support will keep the players secure when they need to be but also allow for shock absorption. Read: less jolting of the body tends to lead to less injury from strain.
Too much padding can hurt performance. By weighing down the shoe or providing too much lift in the wrong areas, the body can actually shift during play in a way and cause overuse. Make sure the padding feels natural in landing and you are not manipulating your landing in unnatural ways.
Because of the jumping, moving, shifting, and start and stop actions, stability is necessary to protect the ankles. Many shoes have stability for forward motion like running but not necessarily all the directions that are necessary during volleyball. Make sure to try your volleyball shoes on and jump around like you would in a game. Do your ankles feel supported or wobbly?
Imagine trying to jump with ankle weights. It is evident that it would be much harder than jumping without the weights. Volleyball shoes must be lightweight. After a game and tired legs, the smallest additional pressure will be felt when trying to jump so eliminating as much of it as possible will show an increase in jumping performance.
Beyond jumping, quick moves are needed to respond to incoming spikes, serves and returns. By maintaining a low weight, your response time will be faster than if you were attempting to turn while using shoes that were working against you, keeping you steady in one place or moving forward.
d) Design and Fit
A volleyball shoe should allow your foot to have a range of motion, fit securely without slippage or rubbing inside of the shoe, and feel snug. Generally, people go up to about ½ a size so when the foot swells from all the jumping, the shoe does not become too tight.
Some shoes give a bit more room for ankle braces. To be sure of the fit, take your ankle braces with you and try them on with the shoes. It isn’t a bad idea to take the socks you typically wear, also. This way, you ensure the fit is proper to your needs.
We listed the soles of volleyball shoes in a different category because they are that important. In fact, many companies use gum-rubber soles due to the high traction this type of rubber causes. Gum-rubber also tends to be skid-free, which is a highly desirable perk when jumping and sliding cause skid-marks of polished wood floors of a court.
With the constant direction
changes, grip is vital. If you slip all over, you tend to be more likely to find
yourself the proud owner of an injury. Many sports stores carrying shoes have a
hardwood floor by the shoes, allowing you to test the actual grip. If you do
not have this option, breathe easy knowing that most volleyball shoes are
focused on this grip so you will likely not have to worry too much if you can’t
fully test them before buying.
The midsole of the shoe absorbs shock and allow for changes of direction. Make sure you feel it support these movements without being stiff. Flexibility and strength are key for this area of the sole.
In the upper part of the shoe, breathability rules. Many shoes are made of a mesh component to allow airflow in and out of the shoe. Others use a blend of synthetic materials, such as Nylon, to allow the moisture from sweat to release instead of percolating inside the shoe base. Vents have even been added to some volleyball shoes to help with cooling.
While airflow is critical here, it must be done in a way that does not compromise weight. Keeping lightweight, flexible, and tear-proof is key. With constant movement, the shoe cannot be so thin with mesh that the toes quickly tear the material with the continuous, all-directional movements.
So strength, durability, and lightweight equate to a winning combo. With the heat generated from constant movements, a shoe can quickly morph into a foot sauna. No one is looking to spike in those conditions.
As much as we would like it not to be, unless we are in the upper 1% of the world, price is a factor. Volleyball shoes can be as cheap as $40 and run as high as the $100s. Factor in how much you are willing to pay and weigh it against how much injury recuperation will cost. Is the tradeoff worth the risk?
Top 5 Best Women’s Volleyball Shoes:
As noted earlier, the Nike Volley Zoom Hyperace is our winner for top shoe. Going up on the side of the foot, just high enough to help with rolling ankles, the shoe still manages to allow for flexibility. It’s sleek black and white design stands out against the three white options.
The Hyperace runs a bit narrow, so those with wider feet will either need adequate time to break the shoe in or look for a different pair. They utilize Nike’s Zoom Air Cushioning to allow for the shoes to remain lightweight and responsive to your stops, go, jumps, and multidirectional moves.
Aside from traction and solid grip created by the durable rubber tread, the shoes feature a heel cage. This cage provides further stability and support on the court. The midsole is constructed with foam and also features Nike’s Zoom Air Cushioning.
The Hyperace’s are made from textile and synthetic construction. The blend keeps the shoes both lightweight and cool.
This is the one disadvantage to this shoe, as it ranges as one of our higher-priced options.
The ASICS Gel Rockets are a low top option of the volleyball shoe. Throughout the years, ASICS became somewhat a staple brand for volleyball, and these shoes are one reason why. Coming in at a lower cost, they are affordable for those playing volleyball and needing solid shoes but do not have the ability to splurge on the Nikes.
The Gel Rockets, as no surprise, use a Gel Cushioning System to reduce shock during jumping and movements. This GEL system is found at the forefront of the shoe. This added cushioning takes pressure off the toes when propelling and landing.
Like many volleyball shoes, gum rubber is used on the sole of the shoe, creating traction without skid-marks. Asics also promotes its Trusstic System Technology, which focuses on reducing the weight of the sole unit without compromising the structure of the shoe itself. This technology allows for quick transitions between moves.
The upper material is made from synthetic fibers and mesh. Breathability and lightweight, the shoe remains cool during play. Warning: this area has been known to tear with use and flexing of the foot/toes constantly. Socks can be worn to help with this.
The Gel Rockets are about half the cost of our number one pick. This means while you build up your gear for volleyball, you can throw in a pair of shoes simultaneously.
Depending on the sales, these volleyball shoes can either run you to the top of the range or mid to low. Coming in more variety of colors than the previous two options, the Mizuno Women’s Wave Lightning Z3 provides a look for everyone.
Utilizing Dynamotion Groove and Mizuno Intercool features, the Wave Lightning’s combo allows the shoes to be flexible and cool, all at the same time. They feature a parallel wave plate to enhance lateral moves and weigh 8.8 oz, making them one of lighter options. The shoes also have the added feature of being able to accommodate an ankle brace.
The soles were redesigned to have a smoother kick-off, higher acceleration, and a softer landing. Using Dura Shield to help with acceleration, the approach shot has potential of coming on stronger. With Sensorpoints in the outsole, the landing and steps are targeted. Further, they use XG Rubber, which gives them a non-marking sole.
The uppers consist of synthetic material and feature Air Mesh. These allow your foot to remain puddle-free even in the most intense matches. Future, they boast an Anatomical Cup-in-sole to provide increased comfort.
Mizunos tend to run with a high price tag. However, if you can snag these on sale, they’re a steal for a quality, brand-trusted volleyball shoe.
The Mizuno Women’s Wave Tornado X is a low-cut shoe excellent for middle blockers and is constructed to be used for both practices and games. The shoe has quite a range of prices with sales landing them at either the high or low end. Make sure to shop around to score a deal before purchasing.
The Wave Tornado X provides more support to the lower foot than expected. Using dynamiting-fit technology, the shoe not only addresses the impact of jumping, but also the stress caused by just wearing shoes. The technology allows a whole-foot approach to the stresses during a game.
Infinite Wave Plates, as well as Dynamotion Fit, focus on support mixed with flexibility. Noting the dynamic motions of a volleyball player, the shoe strives to meet the demands head-on.
The soles are constructed of XG Rubber and are non-marking. This rubber allows for easy grip and traction. Finally, the AP+ midsole foam provides necessary comfort when landing jumps.
The uppers of the shoes are constructed of Air Mesh, allowing for increased air flow and cooler feet. Like the previous Mizuno shoes, these volleyball shoes use Anatomical Cup-in-sole to provide additional comfort and support.
As stated, Mizunos aren’t the cheapest option. But they are a quality shoe.
Many reviews claimed the Adidas Performance Crazyflights are a bit on the larger size and to go down a size from what you normally buy in volleyball shoes. That said, if you need an ankle brace, these shoes are perfect for accommodating that necessity. Adidas website shows limited color options for this style of shoe.
The Crazyflight Bounce uses a variety of Adidas’s technology adding features such as boost™ and ADITUFF™ technologies. The Crazyflight Bounce strives to remain lightweight despite its added features.
The rubber sole is asymmetrical to provide balanced support. The forefront is wider for more stability.
The upper part of the Crazyflight Bounce is made with mesh consisting of TPU foil reinforcements. This addition creates additional support for running and jumping. The mid-sole has EVA stabilization rims, which provide extra cushion for impact.
These tend to be in the mid-range of cost.
What others are saying
The best way to tell if a shoe is going to be a goodie is to review what your peer group is saying. In the order we listed above, let’s check out some comments.
The Nike Volley Zoom Hyperace has, to no shock, mostly good reviews. Wearers claim their comfort level out of the box is unmatched, and they hold up to the test of time. The biggest complaint is the shoes are a little narrow but many further state that after time, they loosen up. This leaves the wearer with a few options, grab a larger size, or wait it out.
With the Nike Volley Zoom Hyperace, flair really isn’t the high priority – fit is. While they feel amazing, several wearers find the shoe to be a bit boring. Peer trick: add your own personality to the shoe by switching the laces out for some fancy, bright ones.
While the Hyperace may run narrow, the ASICS Women’s Gel Rocket 8 have the opposite warning. Many wearers warn the toe box runs wide and when sizing up, the toe box seems to be too wide for comfort. Also, as stated before, some mention the lateral movements wears the upper mesh out quicker.
On the other end, some reviewers really appreciate the extra room in the toe box. The outstanding grip is mentioned throughout the reviews, and touted alongside this claim is the durability of the shoe. So, while these claims are in direct contrast to the nay-sayers, they greatly outnumber the complaints. Many reviewers stamp this as the shoe they have returned to time and again.
The Mizuno Women’s Wave Lightning Z3’s reviews mention heavily their ability to be compatible with an ankle brace; however, make sure to try them on. Reviewers warned they were a bit on the snug side. For some wearers, the angles of the laces made comfort wane, as well as reduce the stability. Most reviewers stated the gum rubber helped the shoe stick to the court and remain lightweight. Many reported repeat purchases of this shoe.
The Mizuno Women’s Wave Tornado X has reviews stating the shoes run quick small, and even a ½ size up can still be too small. Some even describe the shoe as feeling as if they are standing on a platform when wearing the Wave Tornado X’s. Other love them and rave about the grip, as well as toe protection. Make sure to try these on before buying.
When compared to some of the other shoes, the Adidas Performance Women’s Crazyflight Bounce doesn’t have the same grip, per the reviewers. They run a little big, so if you are wearing ankle braces, you should be fine. Overall, for the price, the shoe is solid for volleyball, but it wasn’t quite the game-point with reviewers that our first shoes are.
Which volleyball shoe will you choose?
So there’s our top 5 choices. The best way to know which is the best for you is to try them on, and even do some shuffle steps and jumps.
- Nike Volley Zoom Hyperace
- ASICS Women’s Gel Rocket 8
- Mizuno Women’s Wave Lightening Z3
- Mizuno Women’s Wave Tornado X
- Adidas Performance Women’s Crazyflight Bounce
So, grab your shoes, lace-up, and we’ll see you on the court.