Our Top Pick for 2018: Mizuno Women’s Wave Bolt 4 BK-SL Volleyball Shoe
Read our full review.
Every sport has its own specific needs when it comes to proper equipment and clothing. Volleyball is a sport that is growing in popularity. It has unique requirements for shoes. To understand the demands made of a volleyball shoe, you have to examine the game itself.
Volleyball is a fast-paced game that requires quick later movements, as well as short bursts of speed and intense vertical bursts. Volleyball shoes have to be able to give players adequate ankle support while still leaving the foot and ankle flexible enough to move freely. The right pair of volleyball shoes can leave you free to play the game to the best of your ability.
#1. Mizuno Women’s Wave Bolt 4 BK-SL Volleyball Shoe
The Mizuno Women’s Wave Bolt 4 BK-SL Volleyball Shoe (Mizuno) is a low top, lightweight, durable volleyball shoe perfect for players of any skill level. Mizuno has a long tradition of providing high-quality volleyball equipment. They have, once again, hit the mark with this shoe.
The Mizuno has a rubber sole. The game of volleyball requires players to make quick lateral movements when digging the ball. Players also have to run in quick bursts and stop for a fast vertical jump. During a fast-paced game, one slip can mean the loss of a point. These types of movements require excellent traction and grip from players’ shoes. Rubber soles are flexible and soft enough to give traction and a good ‘grip’ on the floor. This aids players as they dig a ball or set up for a spike.
The rubber can also withstand the vertical pressure placed on the shoe to accomplish these moves. A common stress point for volleyball shoes is the seam that attaches the sole to the uppers. The rubber helps absorb the stress put on this point to help prevent tearing at this seam.
Low top shoes, such as the Mizuno, do not provide extra ankle protection like a high top but many players prefer a low top shoe for the flexibility it leaves in the ankle. Players with ankle problems may need to use a separate ankle brace to provide the stability they need. But for those that have only one injured ankle, a low top shoe allows one ankle to still be free to move without constriction.
Mizuno uses a parallel wave construction in the design of this shoe. This special construction helps to evenly distribute the shock of jumping, diving, stopping, and starting. When the pressure is shared equally throughout the shoe, tears are less likely to happen at stress points. It also helps in the stability of the shoe.
Blocking and hitting require a lot of jumping, which, throughout the course of a match, can cause players to become fatigued. The Mizuno has an AP+ lightweight midsole that cuts down on the overall weight of the shoe. A lightweight shoe means less stress on the knees and less weight to be moved with every jump. It can also help keep player movements quick and strong.
For extra traction, the Mizuno uses dynamation flex grooves. These grooves help the rubber sole to get the best grip possible on the floor. When making lateral movements, starting and stopping require special stability. All players benefit from good traction and grip, but for positions like setters and back row players moving fast with quick reactions is absolutely essential. The flex grooves also provide stability in the forefoot of the shoe. Without stability, players can slip, fall, or twist an ankle.
A mesh, synthetic upper provides good ventilation for the foot. The Mizuno also has a trendy metallic sheen with glossy, patterned overlays. It can be found in five different color combinations. It looks athletic and attractive. While appearance doesn’t affect the performance of the shoe, it can affect a player’s mental state. When a player feels and looks their best, they play with confidence.
The Mizuno is a comfortable shoe that performs well on the court. Mizuno shoes, in general, tend to have a narrower fit than other brands. Keep this in mind if ordering online. If not, be sure to try the shoe on for the best fit.
#2. ASICS Women’s Gel Rocket 7 Volley Ball Shoe
The ASICS Women’s Gel Rocket 7 Volleyball Shoe (ASICS) provides a high-quality volleyball shoe that can withstand the pressures of the game. ASICS is another manufacturer with a tradition of making exceptional volleyball shoes. They don’t disappoint with this one.
A natural gum rubber sole provides superior traction. When making lateral movements, the gum rubber grips the floor, making those movements swift, dynamic, and explosive. Natural rubber gives a more natural grip than synthetics. There won’t be any slipping with this shoe.
Liberos and other back row players are going to appreciate a sole that gives them a good ‘grippy’ foundation for starting their passes and digs. Setters need that grip to explode to the ball and get the ball in the perfect position for hitters. Hitters can also benefit as they have to transfer their forward motion into an explosive, dynamic jump.
The ASICS uses a unique, trussic system in its design. This system reduces the weight of the sole while maintaining the structural integrity of the shoe. Volleyball players put a lot of force on their shoes and can quickly tear through a shoe not intended for volleyball. This system provides a lightweight shoe that decreases player fatigue while also providing the extra stability for the foot and toughness needed in the shoe.
Forefoot gel cushioning absorbs the shock of jumping and quick lateral movements. For those with bad joints or prone to injury, the more shock absorption in the shoe the less wear and tear on joints and ligaments. Shock absorption also reduces overall fatigue, giving players the ability to play at their peak performance for longer.
The uppers of the ASICS are mesh and synthetic leather. The mesh is not quite as extensive as the Mizuno but still provides adequate ventilation. This shoe comes in 10 different color combinations. While all combinations are not available in all sizes, there are bound to be many options in the right size. Price varies depending on the size and color chosen.
With all these color choices, ASICS has opened the door for players to show their personality while on the court. Many teams purchase matching shoes and with the many choices available with this shoe, individual players and teams are going to be able to choose a shoe that looks good with their uniform and shows personality and style.
ASICS offers cleaning and drying instructions for their shoes to prolong the life. The ASICS can be hand washed with water, anti-grease soap, and a toothbrush. Motions should be gentle so as not to damage the shoe. You can stuff paper towels inside the shoes to dry them.
#3. Nike Volley Zoom Hyperspike Women’s Volleyball Shoes
The Nike Zoom Hyperspike Women’s Volleyball Shoe (Zoom) is designed to be lightweight but tough and durable. Many players like the look, design, and appeal of wearing a shoe with the Nike brand on it. Nike is a powerhouse in the world of athletic shoes, yet they are relatively new to the world of volleyball shoes, where Mizuno and ASICS have traditionally dominated. The Zoom proves that Nike has worked to adapt their design and technology to break into another area of athletic shoes.
A solid rubber sole provides a good grip and will support strong lateral movements during extended periods of play.
The Zoom features Nike’s flywire technology. With this technology, filaments that act like cables are strategically placed throughout the shoe. These filaments give structure and strength to the shoe. An ultra-lightweight material is used over the top of the filaments. The upper can be much lighter than other designs, making the Zoom an extremely lightweight, yet durable shoe. The wire-like filaments also hold the foot in place during play. Players report that their favorite aspect about the Zoom is its lightweight.
A TPU, thermoplastic urethane, heel counter provides stability. The TPU adds stability by increasing motion control. During quick moves like dives, hits, and blocks the TPU heel gives players the stability they need to control their movements with practiced ease.
The Zoom also has a low cut ankle profile for increased range of motion. Range of motion is essential for many volleyball moves and maneuvers. However, the ankle can also be a weak point for many players. Those players with ankle weakness or injury may need to wear an ankle brace to provide extra support. Many ankle braces can provide the support you need and are more flexible than a high top shoe. If you wear a separate ankle brace, you may need to order a ½ size larger than normal.
The forefoot of the Nike has a wider base. A wide base makes more room for those that have wider feet or who prefer a shoe that has more wiggle room.
This shoe comes in six different color combinations.
#4. adidas Performance Women’s Volley Assault Shoe
The Adidas Performance Women’s Volley Assault Shoe (Assault) has a funky design with quality materials. The fun tiger stripe design with the iconic three stripe Adidas look makes this a standout in appearance. Not to be outdone by appearance, the performance of the shoe is excellent.
A strong rubber sole provides the grip needed to pull off spectacular lateral moves. The outsole reaches around to come up higher on the sides of the upper. This helps in the wear and tear of this vulnerable seam. In volleyball, the seams between sole and upper are under a lot of stress during high-intensity play. Placing the rubber higher up the sides gives extra stability to this seam.
The Assault uses a TPU grid shank. The shank is the portion of the shoe under the arch of the foot. The shank gives support and stability to the arch area. TPU in this area not only provides stability in the midsole but also assures that the shoe bends in the correct area towards the front.
Using a grid design in the shank allows for air to flow throughout the midsole. This smart design feature helps to keep the foot dry during play. This is not only healthy for the skin, but also reduces the amount of slipping that takes place because of a wet sock and foot. Ventilation is also provided through the mesh upper. Proper ventilation can help keep feet dry, which helps prevent blisters and aids in grip during play.
The Assault uses Adidas Adiprene+ technology in the forefoot. Adiprene+ is similar to neoprene and is used in the forefoot to provide more momentum off the toe. In volleyball, this added momentum can mean quicker bursts of speed and more dynamic jumping needed for hitting and blocking.
Along with Adiprene+ in the forefoot, Adiprene is used in the full length of the shoe for added comfort and shock absorption. Like Adiprene+, Adiprene is neoprene-like. It is highly durable and cushions the entire length of the foot. This will not only provide greater comfort but also help distribute the shock of normal play throughout the whole foot.
The Assault only comes in one color and style. The price can vary greatly depending on the size you need so be sure to check the price for your size before purchasing. If you have a wide foot, the Assault would be a good choice for you as it provides more room in the toe. Players that use the Assault report that its comfort is their favorite feature.
The outsole, which is sometimes referred to as the sole, is what gives the shoe its traction and gripping ability. Volleyball shoes need to have a superior gripping ability because of the nature of the movements needed for the game. Lateral movements with short bursts of speed need to start with a strong push off the ground.
To get the best grip look for shoes with natural rubber. Natural rubber is softer than synthetic rubbers. It will provide the best grip. However, the softness of natural rubber means that it will wear down faster. If you need a shoe with longevity you may do better with synthetic rubber.
Synthetic rubber still provides excellent grip. While it may not have the same soft, suction-like grip of natural rubber it will last longer and work almost as well.
Stability and Support
Explosive moves are the hallmark of a good volleyball game. Those same moves have to be properly stabilized and support if players are to remain uninjured. Different manufacturers use various systems and technology to provide stability and support.
The arch and ankle are areas of particular vulnerability. Many volleyball shoes are low cut to provide the best range of motion so, if you need ankle braces, be sure they can fit comfortably in the shoe you choose. You may need ½ size larger or more for a brace. Check that your ankle bone is not pinched when doing lateral movements in a low cut shoe.
Special technology can also be used in arch support. This technology is usually used in the shank and in upper. These support systems work to spread the shock of impact throughout the length of the shoe. This helps prevent fatigue in the feet and arch.
The explosive movements that make volleyball exciting and fun are also hard on the feet. Be sure that any volleyball shoe you purchase addresses the issue of shock absorption. Good shock absorption can help decrease fatigue in the legs and knees during prolonged matches. The technology should at least be used in the heel but ideally would be found throughout the shoe.
All the technology in the world will mean nothing without a good fit. Everyone’s feet are different. Narrow feet are going to be more comfortable in Mizuno or ASICS that usually run narrow, but even within these two brands, some models are more accommodating to wider feet. Nike and Adidas, in general, have a wider forefoot.
The important thing is to find a shoe that is comfortable for you. There shouldn’t be any pinching or unnatural rubbing anywhere. Your toes should not hit the front of the shoe. If they do, you could end up with bruised toes and missing toenails.
Sweaty feet can lead to peeling skin. Sweat can also cause the foot to slide around the shoe, which can slow down your movements during key moments of the game. Uppers should have a good portion made my mesh. Some shoes have ventilation features in the sole and other places. Some people sweat more than others. If this is a problem for you, look for shoes with extra features to address the problem.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
A good volleyball shoe can provide the extra edge for which you have been looking. Faster dives and more dynamic jumps require a shoe that can not only support these movements but withstand the forces involved in making them.
There are many good choices available. If possible, try on any shoe before you purchase as fit will always be the most important factor. Once you’ve chosen the right shoe, you are ready to put your best moves to good use.