Indoor vs. Outdoor Basketball Shoes: What’s the Difference in Equipment?

outdoor basketball shoes

Whether you’ve been playing basketball for a good portion of your life or you’re just coming into the game, you may be wondering what the difference between indoor and outdoor basketball shoes are. In this article, we’ll lay it all out on the table (or the court, as we should say!) Check out the differences between indoor and outdoor basketball shoes below:

The Materials Used

While indoor and outdoor shoes may take the same shape to you, their construction may vary an incredible amount. Because of the ventilation needed for outdoor shoes, these tend to be more breathable because of a non-controlled environment. For indoor shoes, there isn’t as much ventilation and the soles of the shoe may not be as flexible. Beyond this, the traction under the shoe has to vary widely because of the terrain of the court. Because of the harsher terrain an outdoor basketball court offers, the grooves and the traction has to be much deeper than shoes that are indoor. With indoor basketball shoes, they’re typically used on a court that’s more polished and a lot smoother, which requires a different level of traction. The grooves of an outdoor basketball shoe are deeper because it’s necessary for the weight of the player to have some shock absorption on the court/terrain. Because of the deepness of the grooves and overall composition, outdoor basketball shoes tend to be heavier, so if you need much more ankle support than the average player, you may want to get a pair of shoes that are high top. Without, you may run the risk of rolling your ankles or another type of injury.

How They Affect Your Playstyle

You may be thinking, “shoes are just shoes” and that couldn’t be more wrong! If you’re someone who has to move quick on the court, juke people out and cut, you’ll want something that’ll allow you to be flexible without compromising support. For a harsher terrain like outdoor courts, the proper footwear is absolutely imperative in the success of your playstyle. When you can’t move properly, you’re not going to play as best as you can. When you don’t have enough grip outdoors, you could slip on the gravel and tiny rocks, hurting yourself and missing your mark. Indoor shoes don’t have enough traction underneath to absorb the impact of your weight versus the ground as well as the speed some players required. You may think that you’ll need more traction indoors because of a smooth floor, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Too much traction on a polished floor can definitely work against you and vice versa. You may not be able to have as much fluidity as you’d like on either when you aren’t prepared with the proper traction. They may use some of the same materials, but they have varying levels of grooves and traction patterns underneath.

Varying Midsole Thicknesses

Without further ado, we present to you the last major difference that you’ll find within your first pair of outdoor versus indoor basketball shoes. The thickness of the midsole on an outdoor versus an indoor will vary wildly. Because of the traction required for outdoor play, outdoor shoes have a much thicker midsole that is generally heavier. Those that need streamlined performance for indoor shoes will see a thinner midsole, allowing much more flexibility that works with the grooves and tractions on the shoe versus the court. The overall design of each shoe reflects other materials on the shoe, as well as the court you’re playing on. If you don’t need heaviness and actually prefer a lighter shoe, there are some on the market that are lightweight while still using heavier midsoles than indoor shoes – optimized for those that need some catered to their desires, playstyle, and the court in which you play on.


While it may not seem like we mentioned a ton of useful differences, these differences truly make the difference – try saying that five times fast! The weight of the shoe versus the structure and the court you’re playing on can truly switch up what you’re meant to wear. Don’t waste anymore money on shoes that aren’t capable of handling the court and playstyle you require, and begin using a shoe that’s meant for the gameplay you want to achieve.