Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Basketball?

Athletic shoes are usually pretty versatile so they can be used in several different settings. As an example, plenty of athletes like using cross-training shoes or running shoes for different activities.

Tennis shoes are known for their versatility as well. They are constructed for the courts, but can they be used for a different court?

Basketball and tennis share a lot of the same movements, so a lot of people throughout the years have given them a try. What they find is surprising.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Basketball? The majority of athletes will find that they can wear tennis shoes for basketball just fine. They work the best outdoors, since most soles are very thick and durable on tennis shoes. Instead of tearing through basketball shoes, which are almost exclusively designed for the hardwood indoors, players can get more wear out of tennis shoes.

Differences Between Tennis & Basketball Shoes

Tennis and basketball shoes share some similarities, but it’s important to know the differences. These are some of the main differences athletes will notice when giving tennis shoes a try while playing basketball.


Most people think of basketball shoes as being high tops. There are some low-cut basketball shoes, but that’s a trend that’s only started in the last few years. When it comes to tennis shoes, they’ve embraced a low-cut for a very long time.

It’s virtually impossible to find a high-cut or even a mid-cut tennis shoe these days. Players love having the ankle flexibility of a low-cut shoe, and there’s still enough support so the players don’t feel like they are slipping around.

What helps is that since tennis is not a contact sport, there are fewer chances of accidentally rolling an ankle. Taller and heavier basketball players seem to rely on high top shoes more than guards.

Anyone who loves high-top shoes would likely have to settle for a mid-tennis shoe to have a somewhat similar feeling.

They might not feel confident enough to wear tennis shoes when they play because of the perceived lack of ankle support. Studies show that modern low-cut shoes still have the chance to offer outstanding ankle support, but it becomes tougher and tougher when colliding with other athletes mid-game.


The uppers for tennis shoes need to be a little bit more durable because of the way players move around the court.

More than ever before, tennis players have to slide into shots at different angles. That means bending the foot in certain areas and providing as much protection as possible while pulling these moves off.

An upper on a tennis shoe won’t breathe as well as an upper on a basketball shoe, but it acts as a better shield if another player makes a wrong step.

Anyone who uses basketball shoes to play tennis will likely notice that the upper starts to tear apart pretty fast. There is very minimal foot-dragging in basketball.


The sole is a very durable part of any tennis shoe. Hardcourt tennis shoes need to specifically hold up under quite a bit of hard play. If the goal is to wear these tennis shoes on an indoor basketball court, it might be overkill. For outdoor courts, the sole is perfect.

Basketball shoes are built for the indoors, as they aren’t nearly as rough on the soles as outdoor courts. What ends up happening is that a lot of players use their basketball shoes outdoors.

They wear out quickly, and it leaves them frustrated. Manufacturers love that shoppers have to buy basketball shoes more frequently, but tennis shoes are a way around this.

When using tennis shoes for basketball, make sure that they have hard court soles. There are clay court and grass court soles for tennis shoes as well since those are playing surfaces used around the world. The vast majority of tennis shoes are designed for hard courts, especially in the United States.


With tennis lacking the popularity of basketball, there just aren’t as many options for different colors. Basketball shoes can be found virtually anywhere, at all different price points. For tennis shoes, they are pretty limited, and they tend to run a little bit higher overall in price.

Another struggle that people run into is that they won’t necessarily find shoes for clay courts. There might be only one or two releases from a company per year for clay court players, even though there are a growing amount of clay courts around the United States and elsewhere.

In the major cities, there might only be a few different stores that actually carry performance tennis shoes in stock. Most have to turn online to find exactly what they need before heading to the courts.

Can Basketball Shoes be Worn for Tennis?

Now that we know that tennis shoes work for basketball, can basketball shoes be worn for tennis? While they also work to a degree, playing with basketball shoes is a little more complicated.

It works fairly well as long as people are fine with a lack of durability. Hard courts will specifically tear through basketball shoes with ease.

Basketball shoes don’t provide much value on clay or grass courts. The grip won’t be there for athletes moving around on these challenging surfaces. Players trying to play with non-specific shoes on these surfaces will likely fall more often than they’d prefer.

Are Tennis Shoes The Most Versatile Type of Athletic Shoe?

Tennis shoes can do just about everything fairly well, making them a versatile option. Some outdoor basketball players prefer using tennis shoes over basketball shoes, since they have a more durable outsole.

That’s not to say that tennis shoes should be worn for everything, as there’s enough specialization out there for all different types of athletes. However, when in a crunch, they do work better than most others.

Final Verdict: Should Players Use Tennis Shoes for Basketball?

Indoor basketball players will likely find tennis shoes a little bit too bulky for their liking. This is especially true with the outsole, which is purposely made a little thicker than one is used to.

Outdoor basketball players can use tennis shoes much more easily. They perform in a lot of the same ways, and the durability is there too. Maybe the most challenging thing is finding them in stores or online, since they aren’t sold as much as basketball shoes.

Shoes are more specialized than ever, but there are still some instances where crossing over with shoes comes into play. Since basketball shoes are designed for indoor courts first, an outdoor court shoe made for tennis could actually be the better option when playing outdoors.

Chris Davis

I'm Chris, the guy behind BasketballJoy. I've played basketball for 20+ years and have been a full-time coach since 2017. On this website, I share everything I know about the most beautiful sport in the world - Basketball.

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