Top 10 Differences Between Sneakers and Sports Shoes

Discover the key distinctions between sneakers for casual wear and specialised sports shoes optimised for athletic performance and injury prevention.
Top 10 Differences Between Sneakers and Sports Shoes
4 min

When it comes to footwear, sneakers and sports shoes are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between the two that are important to understand.

10 Differences between sneakers and sports shoes

Point of Difference


Intended use

Sneakers are designed for casual, everyday wear while sports shoes are engineered for athletic activities and performance.


Sneakers come in a variety of styles using different materials, prioritising fashion over function. Sports shoes utilise specialty materials and design elements to optimise for the specific movements of a sport.


Sneakers tend to be heavier in construction compared to lightweight, minimal sports shoes built for active use.

Sole type

Sneakers typically have rubber outsoles while sports shoes utilise advanced sole technologies like Phylon/EVA for cushioning and grip.

Comfort level

While both aim for comfort, sports shoes are precisely designed to provide superior, activity-specific comfort and support.


Sneakers are widely available, but sports shoes are sold primarily at specialised athletic retailers.

Injury prevention

Sports shoes offer enhanced stability features, cushioning, and traction to help prevent common sports injuries that sneakers don't provide.


Sneakers are made to be versatile for casual everyday wear, unlike the sport-specific designs of athletic footwear.


Sports shoes incorporate technical features to maximise performance aspects like traction, flexibility, and energy transfer.


The durability depends on the quality of materials, but sports shoes are engineered to withstand the repetitive impacts of athletic training.

Which one is best according to your needs?

Now that you know the difference between sneakers and sports shoes, you must be wondering which you should buy. The answer to your sports shoes vs. sneakers conundrum lies in your particular needs:

  • Activity: Sneakers are ideal for casual, everyday wear and fashion, while sports shoes are optimised for their respective athletic activities like running, basketball, tennis etc. Choose based on how you'll primarily be using the shoes.
  • Fit: Both sneakers and sports shoes should fit snugly without being too tight or loose. However, sports shoes often require a precise, locked-in fit to support the intense lateral movements of sports.
  • Comfort: For all-day comfort, sneakers are typically the way to go for just walking around. Sports shoes emphasise breathability and cushioning to maximise comfort during high-impact activities.
  • Durability: If you need long-lasting shoes, sports shoes use higher-quality materials engineered to withstand repeated athletic use and abuse that general sneakers can't handle.
  • Traction: Look for shoes with the appropriate outsole traction. Sneakers have basic rubber patterns, but sports shoes utilise specialised tread designs and compounds for maximum grip.
  • Foot support: While good sneakers provide adequate arch and heel support, sports shoes offer superior structured support and motion control tailored to each sport's movements.
  • Budget: Sneakers can be found at virtually any price point, but performance sports shoes from top brands typically cost more due to their technical designs and materials.

The right choice comes down to understanding your specific needs and prioritising the features most important for your requirements and intended activities.

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