This page will cover the best volleyball shoes available right now. I’ll keep it updated as I review new and better options.
What type of shoe is best for volleyball?
The best volleyball shoes let you move around the court and jump at full speed, and protect your feet and joints at the same time. Traction, lockdown, cushioning, stability, heel-toe transition, and support are all key features in a performance volleyball sneaker. No shoe is perfect, but the ones in this list are close. You can’t go wrong with any of these:
Best Volleyball Shoes 2023: 1st Place
Nike Lebron 20
The Nike Lebron 20 is an enormous shift in the Lebron sneaker line. The days of huge Air cushions and heavy, cumbersome designs is over. Lebron wasn’t even wearing the Lebron 19s on the court. The Lebron 20, on the other hand, is extremely popular, and for good reason. The best part: they perform just as great on the volleyball court.
When you put your foot into the Nike Lebron 20, you notice the comfort immediately. The sphere liner collar is plush around your ankle, and the upper can lockdown without being crazy tight. The knit is comfortable and the laces lay wide across the top of your foot. I’ve heard lockdown complaints but I didn’t have any problems at all. I also tried these with insoles, and still felt secure inside the shoe, even with my foot sitting higher in it. The Lebron 20 has a bit of an outrigger to it, and with great lateral containment, the stability along the net or playing defense is great. I thought there were traction issues at first, but once the outsole broke in, the rubber was sticking to both wooden and plastic courts. I’m a habitual shoe wiper but with these, it didn’t feel necessary. I still did though.
I am writing a whole separate paragraph here to discuss the premier feature of this shoe and the reason it costs a steep $200: the cushioning. In the words of one of my co-testers, Stanley Tse, here, this is “the McLaren of sneaker cushioning” (Duke4005 likened it more to a Jaguar). I’m gonna skip past a car analogy and just say the Nike Lebron 20 has quite possibly a perfect cushion setup. A forefoot Zoom Turbo unit is top-loaded, which means you can feel that spring every time you jump. In the heel, you need impact protection, so they put a 13.5mm (read: huge) zoom unit under your heel. The rest of the midsole is full-length Cushlon. The Lebron 20 is bouncy where it needs to be and cushions your landings at the same time. This sneaker feels amazing to jump in and easy to move in – ideal for a volleyball shoe.
The Nike Lebron 20 is almost perfect. But not quite. It does have a carbon fiber midfoot shank, but I still noticed some pain in my arch that usually comes from shoes with a lack of torsional support. Partway through a long day of play, I opted to put insoles in to add a little more support through the midfoot, which I don’t always need to do. This might not bother everyone though. The elephant in the room is the pricetag. The Nike Lebron 20s cost around $200, which is about as much as you can pay for basketball/volleyball shoes these days. You are getting an incredible shoe with top-tier tech for that tag. But I can see that price pushing many people to options that are almost as good for a fraction of the price.
Price aside, the Nike Lebron 20 is a premier option that manages to overtake sneakers with some other better features simply by having such incredible cushioning and traction. If these are in your budget, these are the ones to buy, and are therefore the best volleyball shoes in 2023. (Don’t forget to check out our full performance review here. It’s for basketball but it still applies for this shoe.)
Best Volleyball Shoes: 2nd Place
Puma made themselves known with the Clyde All-Pro being widely considered the best performance shoe of its release year. LaMelo Ball’s first signature MB.01 shoe is its spiritual successor. With great tech, a plush on-foot feel, and some fantastic colorways, you’ll want to check out this sneaker. Whether you’re playing men’s or women’s volleyball, front row or back row, the MB.01 is one of the best volleyball shoes available.
The Puma MB.01 has a translucent outsole(on most colorways). This soft rubber grips aggressively into wooden courts and clean plastic courts. The midsole is Puma’s Nitro foam, which isn’t necessarily the best tech by itself, but it feels great on these sneakers. They are bouncy but your landings still feel protected. The lockdown is basic but effective, with a standard lacing complementing a solid heel counter. Stability is very good in this shoe, assisted by the lockdown and the way it cradles your foot in the insole. It’s a very comfortable sneaker with a soft, plush upper that remains breathable.
The secret ingredient that makes the MB.01 one of the best volleyball shoes is their outsole shape and structure. The outsole wraps smoothly around the lateral edge of the shoe, which results in a very smooth transition in your penultimate step. This specific, aggressive motion is so crucial to volleyball and it’s where a lot of basketball shoes tend to fall short. The MB.01 encourages your foot to take that sharp contact angle and roll smoothly and safely through the step.
The only issue I found with the MB.01 concerned the translucent rubber on dusty, plastic courts. I wasn’t slipping, but it didn’t feel as sticky as on wooden or clean courts, I found myself hesitant to move at full speed. This was solved by wiping, but you’ll probably be wiping a lot. I realized I was wiping my shoes between every point. If you play on quality, clean courts, you can ignore this section.
The MB.01 is a can’t-miss-sneaker and has been a go-to for a while now. It fits TTS and is available in some crazy colorways. Read more about it in the WearTesters performance review.
Best Volleyball Shoes: 3rd Place
Nike KD 15
The Nike KD 15 is Kevin Durant’s 15th signature sneaker. The KD line has been super popular and a high performer for years now, and the KD 15 is no different. Read on to find out why this is a top contender when choosing a volleyball shoe.
The best feature on the KD 15 is the same as it was on its predecessors: the cushioning. A full-length Cushlon midsole surrounds a full-length Air Zoom Strobel unit that is right underneath your foot. You can see the Air Zoom Strobel if you remove the insole, and your foot can definitely feel it. I find myself using these when I need the cushioning. Knees are sore from a heavy leg day? Played the first day of a tourney yesterday? Playing on a ¼” plastic sport court in a cement convention center? Slip on the KD 15 and you won’t feel a thing. The Nike KD 15 manages to be soft and absorbant while still having bounce back. The fact remains that Air Zoom Strobels feel great, and Cushlon does too. This is truly a top-tier cushioning setup.
The other feature that stood out to me with the KD 15 is the rounded edge on the outsole. This is something that is way more noticeable in volleyball than in basketball. That rounded edge lets you be aggressive and really throw that penultimate step out in front of you, rolling through to your final, pushoff step. These shoes feel great to jump in.
The first problem I have with the shoe is its bulk. The KD 14 had a similar feeling on foot, although the KD 15 does have a better lockdown. It’s not a particularly heavy shoe, but the upper material is pretty thick, and the collar is pretty substantial. Neither of these are inherently bad, but I did find them feeling a little clunky at times. This is just a preference thing, though.
The other issue I have with the Nike KD 15 is a small stability concern. I played in these shoes for hours on end, and on a few separate occasions, I would land and feel the shoe wobble. I figured out what was happening: The cushlon is so soft, and when combined with the Air Zoom Strobel unit, landing at certain angles would cause the edge of the shoe to over-compress under your weight. This would make an otherwise stable shoe roll a bit underneath you. This is not as big of a deal as it sounds, as I only had it happen a few times in many, many hours of testing. In all but one of these occasions, I had a different insole in the shoe, which may have been sitting weirdly on the Air Zoom Strobel.
Overall, the Nike KD 15 is an excellent shoe that should be considered one of the absolute best options available. The elite cushioning setup in this shoe is so valuable in volleyball that I almost always have them in my bag. If I start feeling my feet and knees getting sore, I’m putting on the KD 15s and the pain goes away. Find a full performance review of the Nike KD 15 (for basketball) here!
Best Volleyball Shoes: 4th Place
Nike Kyrie Infinity
The Kyrie Infinity is the 8th of Kyrie Irving’s signature sneakers. Though it shares a lot of its aesthetics with its predecessors, it has some key improvements that make these Nike’s best volleyball shoes.
The Infinity’s best feature is noticed as soon as you take a step: the cushioning. The forefoot Zoom Air unit feels bouncy right where you want it to. Jumping feels responsive and explosive but soft on the landing. The shoe is extremely stable, with a rather wide forefoot and a traction system that wraps up around the edge of the foot. This makes it feel great when cutting in for an approach jump, with a smooth transition as you roll through the motion. The lockdown on this sneaker uses bands that wrap tighter around your foot as you pull on the laces. This works extremely well, and your foot will not be moving anywhere it shouldn’t. As a last note, the traction gripped perfectly on wood and plastic courts, even with some dust.
That crazy lockdown actually leads to the only cons: comfort and fit. This shoe is very, very snug, and gets tighter when you tie the laces. This feels secure and is great for not slipping inside the shoe, but it can be very uncomfortable depending on your foot shape. The toebox was a little narrow for my fairly narrow foot. If you have a wide foot at all, or even just a more neutral foot shape, I would consider going up a half size.
Despite some minor discomfort, these are great sneakers. The traction, stability, lockdown, and cushioning are top-tier, making them Nike’s best volleyball shoes, and a great option on the court. Find a full review here.
Best Volleyball Shoes: 5th Place
ASICS Sky Elite FF 2
ASICS is one of the biggest brands in volleyball-specific shoes, and the Sky Elite FF 2 is their top model. These are the best ASICS volleyball shoes, and are extremely popular at even the highest levels of volleyball.
As you’d expect from ASICS, traction is great on both wood and plastic courts. The lockdown is effective (but not the most comfortable) due to the DYNAWRAP holding the forefoot in place and a substantial heel counter. The combination of solid lockdown and a wide outrigger provides good stability. Cushioning has been a concern in past ASICS volleyball shoes, but that is not the case here. The Sky Elite FF 2 combines comfortable but soft GEL with a responsive FLYTEFOAM midsole. This setup feels better than expected to play in, and still had my knees feeling okay by the end of playing. The main draw of this shoe is the TWISTRUSS plate. It’s primary purpose is to provide torsional support, but it also functions to help your heel-toe transition during an approach jump. These shoes are designed specifically for volleyball, and they do their job.
The DYNAWRAP is the only real con, because although it does provide most of the lockdown for the shoe, it does it all in one ¼” thick ribbon. This means you can really feel it around your forefoot when you push off laterally. It didn’t hurt, but it was uncomfortable at times. The other issues are on ASICS’ end: the shoe can be hard to find in some sizes due to supply issues, and the colorways are very basic.
Best Volleyball Shoes: 6th Place
Mizuno Wave Momentum 2
Mizuno is probably the most popular volleyball shoe company and they know what they’re doing. With the Wave Momentum 2, Mizuno combines their signature Wave Plate technology with an improved cushioning setup and better materials. Here’s what you can expect from the best Mizuno volleyball shoe.
The first thing I noticed with the Wave Momentum 2 was the cushioning. As soon as you put the shoe on, you can feel the dense and responsive Enerzy foam. It provides way more bounce than its predecessor did, and is a massive upgrade. A wide outrigger provides excellent lateral stability, which is another area that the Wave Momentum was lacking in. The traction was adequate. I did not slip at all on plastic or wood courts. Lastly, the Wave plate does make for a smooth heel-toe transition as you take your approach.
For the first Wave Momentum, I wrote “It’s soft enough to protect your joints, but it doesn’t have much bounce.” With the shift from U4ic to Enerzy, the problem has reversed itself. The Wave Momentum 2 is bouncy, but not soft at all. I found it to be a problem on thinner court floors that don’t provide as much additional impact protection. The other issue is the lockdown. The laces and heel counter are fine, but the toebox is a little wide and very high. The length of the shoe was True-To-Size for me, but I still felt lost in the toebox. I’d still recommend this shoe, but maybe consider a half-size down if you have a narrow foot.
Let us know what you think. Did we leave anything out? Is there another shoe that you’d put on the list? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments, Twitter, Instagram, or our Discord community.