Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes: What's The Difference?

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You may have wondered 'basketball shoes vs running shoes: what's the difference?' if you're into sport and fitness.

As touched on in our guide to whether basketball shoes are good for running, getting the footwear right for your particular sport is key to avoiding injuries and comfort.

With that being said, we've put together this guide to talk you through some of the similarities and differences between them and conclude with our opinion on which is best.

Let's begin...


Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes - Price

First and foremost, it's worth noting that the price of both basketball shoes and running trainers will vary from brand to brand depending on the technology incorporated and the materials used.

Generally speaking, you can pick up a mid-level pair of running shoes suitable for beginners, like these Brooks Revel 5's featured in our best running shoes list, cheaper than you can a pair of mid-range basketball shoes like the adidas Dame 7's.

Basketball shoes vs Running shoes Brooks product image of a pair of grey running shoes with blue midsoles and details.
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Image Credit: Brooks

However, in both cases, if you look at some of the latest and most advanced models, like these adidas 4DFWD's, you can end up spending quite a bit more depending on your size.

All in all, you'll probably find most running shoes to be slightly cheaper than basketball sneakers which may be unsurprising given basketball footwear tends to use more materials.


Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes - Lightness

In both cases, the top manufacturers in each sport typically try and design their shoes to be as lightweight as possible to maximise athletic performance.

A 2018 study into basketball shoes found wearing lighter sneakers had a 2.1% and 1.6% positive effect on jumping and sprinting which is one of the reasons you'll find a lot of basketball shoes, like the Jordan XXXVI's featured in our best basketball shoes list, are made from weaved fabric.

Basketball shoes vs Running shoes Nike product image of a pair of black sneakers with white soles.
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Image Credit: Nike

However, we believe you're more likely to find running shoes to be lighter than basketball sneakers, for example, a pair of Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%'s weigh just 210g, whereas adidas Harden Vol. 5's, built primarily for agile point guards, weigh over double at 460g.


Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes - Comfort

In terms of comfort, it's mainly about getting the right fit which we've spoken about before in our 'how should basketball shoes fit?' guide.

We mention, to maximise comfort, Clarks recommend leaving about one finger's width of space between your longest toe and the end of your shoe which is something that can also be applied to running shoes.

Running shoes will also typically come with a lot of padding in the soles which, arguably, make them more comfortable as they absorb as much shock as possible with each stride you take.

Nevertheless, basketball shoes will also include a lot of cushioning like Zoom Air technology to distribute the force upon landing a jump, however, they also tend to be quite stiff in order to protect your ankles.

Basketball Shoes vs Running Shoes: What's The Difference?

On the whole, we feel you'll likely get the best athletic performance out of the footwear that has been designed for the sport in question.


For example, a 2017 report from Morgan Stanley estimates that Nike invested about $2.5 billion into overall research and development of its basketball shoes across a 5 year period so, one can assume, its sneakers will be as finely tuned as possible to be the best they can be for playing in.

In terms of everyday use, as mentioned in our 'are basketball shoes comfortable' guide, we feel running shoes may be more suitable as they are typically lighter and built for forward motion which is more akin to the typical movements of everyday life.

However, if you check out our guide 'are basketball shoes good for the gym?', we note that, although they may not be the best for running, basketball sneakers might be suitable for weightlifting.