ASICS is the premier brand for volleyball specific shoes. If you watched the Olympics, you saw their top model, the Off-White x Air Jordan 2 Low. It was by far the most popular choice for both the men and the women (especially in the bright red “Tokyo” colorway). In this case, the pros know best: this sneaker improves upon its predecessor and makes a strong case for best volleyball shoe (especially for hitters).
Let’s start from the ground up. The traction on these shoes (as with most ASICS) is excellent. The rubber they use for indoor court shoes grips great and wipes easily. Wide, curving grooves ensure grip in every direction and smartly run perpendicular to the direction you plant to load into a jump. I did not experience any slipping at all while wearing these.
Next on the shoe is ASICS’ TWISTRUSS plate. Functioning similar to the Eclipse Plate on the more recent Jordan shoes (like the Air Jordan 36), this midfoot shank is very rigid and is meant to prevent torsional rotation and midfoot flexing in the shoe. This is good for your foot. Your arch should not bend in these spots. It also helps to ensure proper energy transfer through the shoe as you push through an approach. This plate also helps the shoe hold its shape, which curves for a smooth heel-toe transition. I could really feel this effect when planting my penultimate approach step. When jumping, the sometimes-awkward transition from the outside edge of my foot through the inside of the big toe felt natural and quick in these shoes.
The Sky Elite FF 2 is very stable due to a combination of the bottom and top of the shoe. The outsole has a relatively wide outrigger, which helps keep your foot flat on the ground to prevent rolling of the ankle. Whether playing back row or playing middle in the front, this shoe felt great when pushing off for fast lateral movements.
The lateral containment is helped by one more signature feature in this sneaker: the DYNAWRAP, which makes the lockdown in these shoes very solid. This is a strong ribbon just before the toebox that wraps down past the insole and tightens as you tighten your shoelaces. I didn’t think much of it until putting the shoe on. Surprisingly, it makes a huge difference. I could really feel it clamping from the sides, and it didn’t let my foot slip even the slightest when pushing off in any direction. Additionally, the Sky Elite FF 2 features a very substantial heel counter. I didn’t notice my heel slipping upwards at all. The lacing system in this shoe is pretty vanilla. The upper is made of fairly basic materials. While the DYNAWRAP and heel counter do plenty on their own to keep your foot in place
At last we get to the cushioning. This is where this shoe surprised me the most. I’ve never been impressed with ASICS’ GEL setups, or most foam-based midsoles for that matter. I was expecting too soft of a cushion, where you lose some bounce. But this was not the case at all. ASICS combined their soft GEL tech with their FLYTEFOAM midsole, and it works. Jumping to attack in this shoe feels fast and explosive. It’s still soft enough but I had no knee or joint pain at all after hours of play. It’s clear to me that ASICS designed this shoe with hitting in mind, and they hit their mark. The feel reminded me of the kyrie 8. If you read our site often, you know that’s high praise.
The fit is standard and you should buy true to size, but wide-footers should be aware of some tightness from the DYNAWRAP. I would still buy true to size, but just don’t tighten the bottom of the laces quite as much.
As a final, quick pro, the shoe’s upper is very well ventilated. This keeps your foot cool and the shoe feeling light. Neither of those factors are incredibly important to me, but they are worth mentioning.
There aren’t many cons to speak of, but we need to discuss them. For one, it isn’t the most comfortable shoe I’ve worn. The upper materials are very basic. The tongue slid around some, and the security of the DYNAWRAP comes at a cost: It feels very tight around the ball of your foot. Not painful, but when I pushed off laterally, or landed from a swing, I could feel that thin ribbon holding my foot inside the shoe. It wasn’t enough to cause pain, but it’s noticeably snug where it wraps around the forefoot.
The other con doesn’t matter to some people, but it’s a problem that has plagued volleyball specific shoes for decades. There’s almost no effort put into the aesthetics of the shoe. The upper is made of a loose knit and plastic. My pair actually has a defect in the toe where it looks like the plastic melted some in manufacturing. As far as colorways, there aren’t many options. The popular and bold “Tokyo” colorway is rarely in stock, leaving a white and silver pair as the other readily available option. I realize this might not bother some players though as they still look pretty clean.
ASICS clearly had a well-defined goal in mind when designing the Sky Elite FF 2. Make a shoe that helps attackers jump to swing. In doing so, they made a shoe that will work great whether you’re hitting, setting or staying in the back as a libero. I liked playing in this shoe significantly more than I expected to and they will definitely stay near the top of my rotation. I strongly recommend giving these a try no matter where you play on the court, but especially if you play front row.