Athletic Shoes for Dummies

What are athletic shoes and what makes them different to any other shoe on the market?


Can they be used for activities other than athletic sports?

There are many different shoes in this day and age, a lot of them aren’t even used for what they are designed for.

That’s why you’ll see the someone wearing the latest and greatest Air Jordan sneaker out to the movies.

Aesthetics and fashion is now a huge thing and people want to stand out.

Heck, even I do it now.

I don’t buy a shoe just because I want to use it for sports, I buy a nice looking athletic shoe because I like the look.

And that’s why other people buy athletic footwear as well.

But that begs the question.

What are athletic shoes? Well that’s what I want to discuss with you today in the hopes you will learn everything you need to know.


What are Athletic Shoes?

Athletic shoes are designed for sports. They consist of many different features that allow them to withstand the harsh gameplay of an outdoor sport.

And when I say athletics, I am NOT talking about everything that requires physical exercise.

Some sports like soccer or rugby do not require players to wear athletic shoes. Instead they wear footwear called cleats, studs or boots.

Athletic shoes are very popular nowadays because people use them for the aesthetics and not what they are designed to do.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I actually think that is cool and a nice alternative way to wear them.

The term “athletic shoe” varies in different parts of the world.

Other names they are known by are sneakers, trainers, joggers, kicks, runners, sports shoes, and much more.

So know that when I’m talking about athletic shoes, I am talking about any sport that consists of running, jogging, indoor or outdoor sports on a court (like basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc).

What is Considered an Athletic Shoe?

A shoe is considered athletic when the primary use is for sports or outdoor activities.

The features is what make an original shoe athletic, because without the features, it’s just an ordinary shoe.

However, the most common feature all athletic shoes have is the rubber outsole.

The rubber outsole is flexible for easier movements and allows the shoe to be quiet on pavements, roads and indoor/outdoor courts.

Of course not all rubber soles are the same.

More expensive shoes are made with higher quality rubber for more abrasion-resistance.

Also the traction changes with every shoe.

Traction found on basketball shoes feature a herringbone pattern which allows for the most traction possible, as basketball requires quick changes in all directions.

Whereas the traction pattern on walking shoes are less aggressive to help keep the shoe flexible for a full range of motion when walking.

To answer the question “what makes an athletic shoe”, it would be the features and the pattern on the rubber outsole.

Are All Athletic Shoes Created Equal?

All athletic shoes are not created equal and that’s something that can be confusing for some people.

For example:

An athletic shoe designed for basketball are good for lifting weights, but not running.

Another example is that running shoes are good for running but not a good idea for tennis.

I know it sounds a little confusing but hear me out.

Some athletic footwear are good for other activities but they should always be worn for their intended purpose to avoid injury.

I use basketball shoes for weightlifting because they offer enough stability for heavy lifts and lots of cushioning which is going to make lifting more comfortable.

On the other hand, a shoe designed for walking does not have as much cushioning and will crumble under the pressure of heavy weights and wear out quickly.

Types of Athletic Shoes

Men Wearing Basketball Shoes

There are many different athletic shoes and it can be confusing trying to find one to fit you.

Below I am going to help you understand what the many different athletic shoes are and what they offer.

Basketball shoes – Lots of cushioning to soften high impact landings, ankle support for extra stability, lots of traction, and stability in the outsole to avoid injury in quick transitions

Tennis shoes – Tennis shoes also require lots of stability in the outsole to avoid falling over and causing injury. Although they are not as cushiony and usually have less weight

Volleyball shoes – Another shoe that provides stability in all directions. However, they tend to be low cut as they do not need as much stability as basketball shoes

Walking shoes – Walking shoes are designed with comfort and flexibility in mind. They only need stability for forward motions so they are usually lightweight and easy on the feet

Running shoes – Running shoes also has stability for forward motions because there is no lateral movements. They are usually more stiff than walking shoes because they do not require a full range of motion and tend to have lots of cushioning to soften landings

Trail running shoes – Trail shoes have a deeper tread pattern than normal running shoes since they are used off road (on dirt, rocks, slippery surfaces). They have more stability than walking or running shoes

Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Running Shoe

Cross trainers – So this is where things can get a little murky. Does a cross trainer mean it’s good for any athletic activity like running 5 miles a day? Not really, as I have explained in this article.

Think of a cross trainer as a hybrid between running shoes, walking shoes and crossfit shoes. Cross trainers are merely a way to switch up your routine without having to change shoes often.

For example: You can switch from doing a 40 minute crossfit session to warming down with a 10 minute run, and that’s completely okay.

What’s not okay is using those same shoes for a 5 mile run. They are okay for short distance but not long distance.

These are only a few examples of the many different athletic shoes out there.

Other examples are: golf, hockey, skating, cycling, skiing, and much more.

But now at least you know the basics of an athletic shoe and the reason WHY they should only be used for their intended purpose and not switched up for another sport.

Are Converse Athletic Shoes?

Converse Chuck Taylors

Converse has lots of stability in the outsole and the ankle area, but are they actually athletic shoes even though most people use them for casual wear?

The answer is yes.

Converse were first created for basketball back in 1917 and remain the top-selling basketball shoe of all time.

However, they are not used for professional basketball anymore and rarely used by amateur players.

The reason?

The thin upper doesn’t provide enough ankle support, the tread wears down quickly and there isn’t enough grip, thus resulting in many injuries.

Nowadays people only wear them as a casual shoe.

Chuck Taylor never intended for this to happen but it seems the large majority of people find them comfortable just for walking around in.

Well…considering they’re no good on the basketball court now anyway.

Why Are Athletic Shoes Used as Casual Shoes?

Why do people opt for athletic footwear for their everyday travels rather than going for something made for casual?

Gone are the days of using a shoe for its intended purpose.

Because athletic shoes are made with immense comfort and support, they are usually much more appealing than everyday kicks.

They are cheaper with more comfort and support than everyday shoes and they even look better.

This makes it a no-brainer.

Another reason is that everyone has their own personal preference.

Someone might like to wear Gucci’s everyday and another person like Chuck Taylor’s.

Someone else might enjoy walking shoes while others prefer Air Jordan’s.

Personal preference is one of the biggest reasons athletic shoes are being used for everyday use, now more than ever.

Wrapping Up

So now you know what the heck athletic shoes are all about.

You have the knowledge to choose the right shoe for the right sport rather than getting something that “does it all” because that’s just a recipe for disaster.

Athletic shoes are here to stay and people wearing them for everyday use is also here to stay, and that’s not a problem.

I think athletic shoes are amazing, they come in all shapes and sizes and literally anyone can find a shoe to fit them comfortably.

Well that wraps up this article.

What’s your favorite athletic shoe? Leave your comments down below and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.


Shoe Mastery

14 thoughts on “Athletic Shoes for Dummies”

  1. Hi.
    I have learned a lot from this article. I didn’t know that Converse are athletic shoes. I love wearing them, but not for sports.

    I must say that there are so many different athletic shoes now, I feel like I should have a different pair for every sport. I am glad I found this post, now I have all the information I need to know the difference between them.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Have a beautiful day,

    • Not much people know Converse shoes were originally made for athletics, but they definitely are.

      But of course they were poor quality and not designed good enough, hence why they dropped that idea after all the injuries.

      I’m glad you liked the article 🙂

  2. This is a clear explanation and anyone would understand it because of the level of details that you have put in it. I thought that running shoes were the same as trial running shoes. Is it possible to use one for the other? I know some of my friends who will not agree that converse are athletic shoes until they see this post.

    • Hey Smoochi.

      No, trail running shoes should not be worn for road running and road running shoes should not be used for trail running.

      There is too much of a deep tread in trail shoes which is going to perform awkwardly on the road.

      On the other hand, there is not enough tread for a running shoe to perform on a trail.

  3. Hi Brandon

    It does make sense to use athletic shoes in everyday life as they are indeed more comfortable than normal leather shoes. I think it is great that the shoes have been adapted for individual sports where the weight and durability has to be considered. I really appreciate how you have gone into great detail about athletic shoes so people in general have a better idea of what type to buy. As a bowler in cricket I have to use very durable shoes with spikes in them, so that my feet gets a grip on the surface. Many injuries are made when your foot slips whilst you are finishing your run up. I also think that it is important to look good on the field and outside.



    • I’ll definitely have to agree with you mate.

      Sport shoes used on the grass are much different than courts and pavements.

      I do not know much about that department because they are not actually shoes, they are boots.

      But I bet it’s important to get a good cricket shoe because without the right spikes, falling is over will not be a fun thing to do.

  4. Nice post Brandon! There is lots of useful information here about the different athletic shoes and why they are suited for a particular activity. With sports these days its all about statistics. Do you know of any studies that have looked at whether some athletic shoes give an edge over others? I think I read about some shoes being banned because they would give an unfair advantage to one athlete over the other athletes.  

    • Hey James.

      I’ve looked into this before and the bottom line is this: All athletic shoes are made to give you an advantage over anyone else. The choice really comes down to you and your personal preference.

      I know Nike has some of the latest technology in their running shoes, and that’s why a lot of people use them for athletics and running.

      If athletic shoes weren’t made to give you an advantage, no one would be wearing them and everyone will be doing sports in bare feet.

      You get what I mean? But no I could not find studies wear some shoes were getting banned. If you could provide a link that would be great!

  5. This is a nice review on athletic shoes, I must say I never thought that converse was once used for basketball. 

    Converse is really one of the most common shoes I have ever seen as it goes quite well with most outfits and could be worn by both male and female.

    This article has made it clear that shoes aren’t necessarily made to be used for their intended purposes, so long it suits your outfit.

    • That’s definitely true evans.

      Not many people know converse were widely-used basketball shoes by professionals because no one uses them for basketball anymore (lol). They are always used casually.

  6. I used to wear the Converse as a kid for basketball but they are considered very old technology nowadays. They are now considered a casual shoe. I used to wear my wrestling shoes around school in high school but they wore down so quickly that I decided to ditch that idea. When I go about town I wear my Adidas sneakers. They are very comfortable and they look good too. Thanks for writing and sharing this great article.

    • Converse are definitely not used for basketball anymore but are very popular as a casual shoe. Hence why they remain the top-selling basketball shoe of all time. 

  7. Wow cool shoes you have here on your site… I didn’t know there were so many varieties!  I’ve been wanting to get some Crocs.  I like your info on 8 things to know about Crocs. And I have high arches so it’s good to know that they are good for high arches.  Have you seen the Crocs with fur inside?

    • Hello AlyseS.

      Yes, they are made for the colder months like fall and winter. The fleece lining is good for people that want to wear crocs but can’t because it’s too cold, lol.


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