Can You Play Basketball in Vans Shoes?

It happens. You go over to your friend’s or cousin’s house and you get invited to play a game of pickup basketball. Unfortunately, you’re not in your basketball gear but instead, you are wearing your Vans shoes. Since you are competitive, you’ve decided to play anyway.

But, can you play basketball in Vans shoes?

You can play basketball in Vans shoes, but they are not ideal because they are skateboarding shoes. Playing basketball involves a lot of jumping and lateral movement, so Vans shoes may not give you the ankle support that basketball shoes are known for.

In addition to ankle protection, there are many factors to consider when playing basketball in Vans shoes. By the end of this post, you should have a better idea of whether you should play basketball in Vans shoes or not. Let’s get into it.

Can You Wear Vans For Basketball?

When it comes to finding the right basketball shoes, there are three factors to consider: traction, cushioning, and ankle support. All three work together to help you bring your “A-game” at the hardwood. Let’s look at how Vans shoes perform in each category:

Vans Have Good Traction For Basketball

Traction in shoes is the resistance against sliding. Put simply, the more traction a pair of shoes has, the better it will help you avoid slipping and falling.

Because Vans are designed for skateboarding, they have good traction (and can even make you look taller). The bottom part of Vans shoes are made with vulcanized rubber outsoles with “waffle” patterns, which can grip most surfaces effectively.

A pair of skateboarding sneakers are known for having good traction, especially the waffle bottoms, so you can expect Vans shoes to naturally “bite” the court. 

Whether you play indoors on hardwood floors or play outdoors on concrete, expect any pair of Vans to provide enough traction for basketball. Just be sure to tie the shoes tightly.

The only problem we did find was dust. 

If you play on a dusty basketball court, Vans shoes can become slippery because it picks up a lot of dust. You’re going to have to wipe the bottom part frequently. 

But if you’re playing on a clean court, you should have no problem with the traction.

Seriously though, if you’re playing on a clean basketball court, why are you playing with a pair of Vans? You should be wearing a pair of high-quality basketball shoes instead. 

Vans Have Poor Cushioning For Basketball

Cushioning is the shoe’s capacity to absorb impact under the foot. The better cushioning a shoe has, the more it will help reduce the impact on your feet and body’s joints.

As far as cushioning goes, Vans are just poor for playing basketball, period.

Vans shoes have vulcanized rubber outsoles, which have superior grip and are extremely durable. But while they are perfect for skateboarding, they are not suitable for basketball because they do not provide enough cushioning for your feet.

Because of the vulcanized rubber outsoles, Vans shoes are very hard and flat. Try knocking on the bottom part of the shoes and you’ll see how tough it is.

After running and jumping for a few minutes while wearing a pair of Vans, we found that our feet hurt like crazy. In fact, not only do Vans make your heels hurt, but the balls of your feet, including the toes, will also feel extreme discomfort. 

Worst of all, your feet can even suffer painful blisters in the heels because of the constant rubbing and scraping whenever you are running around in your Vans.

Basketball shoes, on the other hand, have insoles that are designed to provide the best cushioning for your feet while making sure the bottom part stays firm and solid. Not only does it provide comfort, but it will help you stay light on your feet for optimal movement.

Vans Do Not Have Ankle Support For Basketball

Skateboarding and basketball have a few things in common.

Both are sports that involve jumping and landing. So you can expect Vans shoes to have excellent grip and durable outsoles to accommodate these movements. 

But what Vans shoes lack is ankle support.

Basketball shoes are designed to protect your ankles.

In addition to jumping and landing, playing basketball involves a lot of lateral (side-to-side) movement, so you need a pair of shoes designed to protect your ankles from injuries.

Unlike basketball shoes, Vans shoes typically have lower uppers so they do not protect your ankles well. Additionally, Vans shoes are softer in the heel area, while basketball shoes are designed to securely keep your heels in place.

The top part of Vans shoes is made with canvas and suede. Not only are these materials non-breathable, but they are not strong enough to withstand the force your ankles generate when you stop on a dime or change directions while playing basketball. 

If you wear Vans while playing basketball, please be careful to avoid ankle injuries.

Vans do have a special tennis-inspired collection, which are said to be court-friendly and may be more suitable for playing sports, including basketball. 

Are There NBA Players Who Played in Vans?

You may be wondering, are there any NBA players who played in a pair of Vans?

To date, there is no NBA player who has played a basketball game in a pair of Vans. They are skateboarding shoes, not basketball shoes. However, Gilbert Arenas once wore a $395 pair of Dolce & Gabbana designer shoes during a basketball game in 2010. 

Gilbert told ESPN during an interview that he didn’t have a shoe contract at the time, and saw his teammate, Nick Young rocking a pair of the designer shoes. Because the shoes matched the team jerseys, Gilbert simply put the shoes on and played.

The dude’s a baller.

Speaking of Nick Young, he steps out in Vans regularly. Another NBA player, Jordan Clarkson, told GQ that he owns 80 pairs of Vans. He thinks that Vans Old Skool goes well with just about anything. And while Vans are not expensive, NBA players are making them cool again.

But remember, while NBA players are gravitating towards retro Vans shoes, they do not play basketball wearing them. A pair of Vans is best worn casually.

Final Verdict

So to recap, yes you can wear Vans for playing basketball, but only if you play casually.

While Vans shoes have good traction, they have poor cushioning and ankle protection.

If you’re going to play a simple game of three-on-three, we don’t see a problem with wearing Vans. But if you’re going to play full-court five-on-five basketball where there will be a lot of intense running and jumping, we don’t recommend wearing Vans shoes.

Remember, Vans are skateboarding shoes. So if you are going to play a solid game of basketball, do yourself a favor and wear high-quality basketball shoes.

Read also: Basketball shoes that make you taller