Volleyball vs. Basketball Knee Pads: Are there Any Differences?

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Simultaneously watching ten basketball players doing their stuff on a basketball court is pure art and a symphony. It’s the same with other sports disciplines, such as volleyball (with only two more players on the court). But have you noticed the players’ gear in volleyball and basketball? You’ll seldom see uncovered knees as most of them accessorize with kneepads.

Kneepads have long been a part of the getup in basketball and volleyball. But have you ever wondered if there are any differences between volleyball vs. basketball kneepads? If you’re looking for an answer, you have come to the right place.

Why Do Players Wear Knee Pads_ Why Do Players Wear Knee Pads_ Why Do Players Wear Knee Pads? 

Knee injuries are the most common injuries one can sustain when playing basketball. Knee pads are supposed to protect players from injuries and knee-on-knee collisions. Knee collisions could result in bruises or fractures to the kneecap. Knee pads have soft paddings that act as shock absorbers to minimize the risk of fractures. 

It’s the same story in volleyball. Knee pads protect the meniscus and the patella, or kneecap, when playing volleyball. Knee pads help protect the knee from scratches that may occur during volleyball practices or matches. Volleyball players often throw themselves to the ball and into the ground, so knee scrapes and injuries are pretty common, especially if the knee is bare and unprotected.

In basketball, players may choose to wear other types of knee protection outside of knee pads. Some examples are knee braces and knee sleeves. Sleeves are mainly for compression, but braces help stabilize the knees and prevent hyperextension.

So, now that the function and purpose of wearing a knee pad are out of the way, what is the difference between basketball and volleyball knee pads?

Volleyball Knee Pads vs. Basketball Knee Pads_ What's the DifferenceVolleyball Knee Pads vs. Basketball Knee Pads: What’s the Difference?

Both volleyball and basketball require explosive and athletic movements, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they are fundamentally different. And so are their gears. 

The main difference is the type of contact. Volleyball players rarely bump into each other; if they do, it’s probably just their teammates. The contact surface is primarily the floor, and most of the time, it’s the knee that brushes up against it. 

On the other hand, playing basketball is a full-contact sport that could get you in the line of fire from both sides. It’s not uncommon to inadvertently see teammates and opponents bang their knees against each other. Besides that, basketball requires more running and jumping, so basketball knee pads are designed to accommodate all these factors.

To know more about the materials and design, here’s the breakdown of the differences between volleyball and basketball knee pads:

Knee Pad Materials


Volleyball knee pads are made of some type of cloth on the outside, and manufacturers can’t be choosy about it. Any fabric that can withstand the strain of frequent rubbing should suffice. Some of the most common choices are wool or neoprene.

Inside these pads could be all or a combination of protective gel, memory foam, and synthetic sponges to protect from contact. The best quality volleyball kneepads should contain all of these materials.


Basketball knee pads can be made from various materials or a combination of them. The most common is polyester, which is cheap and durable. Neoprene provides the best knee protection because it is scratch-resistant. 

Other materials that could be used to make basketball knee pads are:

  • Rubber (flexible; water and sweat-resistant)
  • Cotton (comfortable and does not irritate the skin)
  • Elastane (better for compression)

Some knee pads may also contain foam, gel, and silicone. The foam and gel provide cushioning in case of a hard impact, while silicone is used in the knee pad’s lining to make it stick to the skin better.

In terms of durability, basketball knee pads are superior to volleyball knee pads. It also comes in more shapes and materials, so it’s a little harder to pin down the right one for you.

Knee Pad Size 


In terms of overall size, volleyball knee pads are generally smaller than their basketball counterparts. Volleyball comes in small, medium, and large sizes. Small knee pads are 13.5 inches in length or lower, the medium is between 13.5 to 15.5 inches, and large sizes are over 15.5 inches in length. To be sure, you can check out your chosen brand’s volleyball knee pads size chart.


Basketball knee pads also come in different sizes. Depending on the brand, these pads come in different sizes, from Extra Small for the youth ballers to Extra Large for adults with at least a 21-inch thigh circumference. 

The best basketball knee pads to choose from are McDavid, Nike, BodyProx, and Shock Doctor. The McDavid Hex is a bit pricey, but the closed-cell foam padding offers excellent protection from high-impact collisions and activities. Nike offers more styles, and the quality is top-notch. It also doesn’t hurt that the company dominates the worldwide basketball scene.

What Knee Pads Do Basketball Players UseWhat Knee Pads Do Basketball Players Use?

Basketball players who do not have substantial knee injuries can get away with a knee pad or a sleeve. Otherwise, he must wear something that offers more protection, such as a brace. The pad will compress the knee joint and protect ligaments in place while they are subjected to additional stress throughout a game.

These are some knee pads that are popular buys for basketball players:

Can You Use Basketball Knee Pads for VolleyballCan You Use Basketball Knee Pads for Volleyball?

No one can force you to wear basketball knee pads for volleyball, but it’s not ideal. It’s the basketball gear equivalent of driving around the city with a monster truck. Basketball knee pads are not meant to deal with constant brushes with the floor, as do volleyball pads.

Volleyball knee pads should protect against scrapes, abrasions, and cuts, something that basketball knee pads are not meant to do. However, if your position is mainly to attack and block, basketball knee pads may provide advantages in impact protection for jumping.

How to Choose the Right Knee Pads for Different SportsHow to Choose the Right Knee Pads for Different Sports

You may be thinking of purchasing a knee pad but got overwhelmed by the sheer number of options in front of you. After all, these knee pads are made with a particular target market in mind. Just because they look good with your jersey or sneakers doesn’t mean it’s what you need.

Here are some tips on how to choose suitable knee pads for basketball and volleyball:


A basketball knee pad must absorb impact, be flexible, and be comfortable. Ample cushioning will mitigate the impact of an opponent bumping your knee or stumbling on the floor and landing on your knee.

However, this does not mean you should choose one with the thickest padding. Thick pads may interfere with the normally quick and agile movements needed in basketball. On top of that, it must be sturdy, and the knee pad must be kept in place without being too tight. Tightness may be up to individual preference, but you get the idea.


At the end of the day, different players have different needs and preferences. But with that being said, there are usually three things to consider when choosing knee pads for volleyball.

First should be the material. The right kind of material offers the best type of protection. It should be scratch and tear-resistant as volleyball players often make contact with the floor to keep the ball in play.

The second is durability. It doesn’t matter if the pads utilize the best materials for protection; if it lasts for a couple of weeks, you’re wasting money. A good pair of knee pads stave off wear and tear so you can wear them longer.

The last is comfortability. Most volleyball players choose lighter, breathable knee pads to prevent skin irritation and inflammation. 

Wrapping Things Up: Volleyball vs. Basketball Knee Pads: Are There Any Differences?

Volleyball and basketball are contact sports, so most players wear some form of protection, such as knee pads, sleeves, or braces. But is there a big difference between basketball and volleyball knee pads, and can you wear a basketball knee pad to a volleyball game and vice versa?

To answer the first question, yes, there are many differences between a volleyball and a basketball knee pad. Basketball knee pads are made for collisions and for keeping ligaments and joints in place. On the other hand, volleyball knee pads mainly protect the players from scratches, scrapes, and bruises as they hit their knees on the floor.

But can one wear a basketball knee pad for volleyball and vice versa? Yes, of course. However, be reminded that a basketball knee pad may not have the capability to protect your knee from the floor in the long run; it’s just not designed that way. On the other hand, volleyball pads are not made for knee-to-knee collisions and may not offer much impact protection from physical contact.

To summarize the volleyball vs. basketball knee pads discussion, each has its merits, pros, and cons. If you’re planning to play basketball, it’s better to wear protective gear designed for the sport; the same with volleyball. Doing so offers you better chances of avoiding injuries.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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