Can You Wear Running Shorts for Basketball?

athlete in a blue T-shirt plays basketball on a playground

Believe it or not, clothing has an impact on how you play sports, as one study has shown that having the right apparel can have a marked effect on professional athletes. Another verified this by proving that sports clothing can impede or improve athletic performance. With that in mind, can you wear running shorts for basketball?

You can wear running shorts for basketball, or for just about any other physical activity. However, it depends on the style, and the short, tight version could cause some issues. 

Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of sports fashion and what shorts you should keep off the court. 

What Are Running Shorts?

Running shorts are bottoms that are made to make the runner more aerodynamic. They are made from lightweight material that clings tighter to the body than many other styles of gym apparel. 

running shoes on male triathlete runner

Not all of these shorts are what you might think of when you picture them. 

While some are very short and tight, slightly looser running shorts that fall just above the knee are becoming more popular. They show less and are better suited for other physical activities. 

Looking at a few examples, these are traditional track shorts, the kind you would see people wearing in the 1970s, which remain popular today. Notice that they cut off at the top of the thighs, lay close to the body, and are made of a mesh material. This allows them to breathe and keeps their legs free to run and jump. 

They are tight enough to avoid catching on to anything as they pass by. 

These are also running shorts that are longer, with two layers meant to give more coverage while still keeping tight to the thighs. The material is perfect for protecting the skin against sweat and letting air through to keep the wearer cool. 

Are Running Shorts Good for Basketball?

You might notice that the two above pairs of running shorts have similarities, but they are different styles. One shows a lot more of the body and is designed for very specific movements. The other follows a more general gym clothing style, giving the athlete more flexibility. 

Running shorts are good for basketball. But short, tight running shorts present a few problems. You’ll have reduced freedom of movement and possibly exposing more than you would like. Spreading the legs when playing defense, for instance, may not end well. 

If you want to use the same pair of shorts for both running and basketball, finding a pair that looks closer to basketball shorts is your best bet. Notice how basketball shorts are long and loose, with either an elastic band or a drawstring. 

The most significant difference will be fit and weight, as running shorts are much lighter and shorter. 

Finding clothing that works for both shouldn’t be difficult. The opposite can also be workable when wearing basketball or standard gym shorts for going on runs. Just be mindful of the fit and that they remain secure at the hips, as many basketball shorts slip down during play. That is one reason many players wear boxers rather than briefs underneath. 

Can I Wear Running Shoes While Playing Basketball?

Shoes might be one of the most important clothing decisions when engaging in any active lifestyle. Protecting the feet and ankles is crucial, avoiding painful blisters, pulled muscles, knee injuries, and other issues that can become long-term. Basketball and running both come with their share of risks to the body. 

You can wear running shoes while playing basketball. When you run, your shoes will absorb some of the impact of hitting the pavement. The thick bottoms launch runners off of the hard surface of the street to maintain speed. 

It isn’t hard to see why that would be useful when shooting hoops. 

Choosing the right running shoes will give you an advantage on the court. Your best option for a shoe that can be used for both is a cross-trainer, as this multi-purpose footwear is made to support you in multiple sports and activities. 

They are a mix of volleyball shoes, tennis shoes, and running shoes. 

This provides them with good support, a lightweight design, and solid traction. They are the best way to get the most out of your activewear and can be used for almost anything. 

Do you want to hit the gym and lift weights? Add in some workout classes? Go for a walk? A nice pair of cross-trainers can do it all. 


Basketball and running are both excellent, healthy sports that can get you up and moving. Dressing for it isn’t difficult, as long as you keep the similarities and differences of their individual apparel in mind. With a bit of forethought, you can wear the same shorts for both.

What To Read Next: