Buying Guide for Pickleball Shoes
Updated: May 26
More than 4 million folks play pickleball in the United States, but not all involved in this rampantly growing sport know that there are special pickleball shoes they should be wearing. These high-performance shoes are specifically designed for people who play pickleball, in both a recreational setting or competitive environment.
A pickleball shoe is geared towards being a more stabilizing boot, with increased responsiveness, and maximum comfort while on the court. They also help players stay in the game longer and avoid injuries to high-impact areas such as the knees, back, and ankles.
At first glance, pickleball shoes appear similar to tennis shoes. They both have sturdy soles, cushioned heels, and supportive lacing systems. However, pickleball shoes have a thinner sole, making them more flexible for those quick, spontaneous movements. They're also less durable than standard tennis shoes.
Our rule of thumb is tennis or court shoes can be worn for pickleball, however, pickleball shoes should not be worn for tennis. They are not designed for the same kind of movements on the court and can cause severer damage to both the shoe, and the player.
Since pickleball involves twisting, turning, bending, jumping, and stretching to get the ball, the right pair of shoes will assist in just about every aspect of the game. In fact, the right pair can even help bring your game to the next level.
Here are some pointers to help you buy the best pickleball shoes. First, consider whether you are playing indoors or outdoors.
Indoor pickleball shoes have a softer, tackier outsole for better grip on slick surfaces like gym floors. With a slightly thinner outsole, they are a little lighter than outdoor shoes but will not be nearly as durable.
Outdoor pickleball shoes are made with a firmer, more durable outsole that adapts to abrasive surfaces that might be exposed to natural elements such as wind, water, and sunlight.
Comfort is a critical piece of any shoe-buying experience. The average pickleball player can tell pretty quickly if a shoe is comfortable or not. Keep in mind that pickleball shoes will not feel the same as casual or walking shoes. There is always a break-in period, but some brands minimize it by adding arch support, increased breathability, and special memory foam cushioning. These specifications are meant to maximize your playtime and take your mind off your feet while keeping your head in the game.
Pickleball shoes run true to size. The weight, length, and width will vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and a good place to start is by looking at your favorite brands. For example, if you wear Fila or Sketchers you recognize the quality they bring to the table.
If you find a unisex pair of pickleball shoes, adjust your size accordingly. Typically speaking, pickleball shoes for women should be adjusted to one and a half sizes smaller than men's pickleball shoes. For example, a men's size 10.5 would convert to a women's size 9.
Likewise, a good outsole will help increase reaction time while supporting lateral movement. Having better traction will also help you get to the ball quicker, improve your balance, and maintain control, therefore preventing erratic shifts and potential injuries.
Whatever you do, DON'T USE RUNNING SHOES TO PLAY PICKLEBALL. Running shoes were designed with one purpose - to go forward. But pickleball shoes are engineered for quick, side-to-side maneuvers. Their tread patterns are totally different.
In the same way, durable shoes should be considered part of your playing investment. Look for shoes that promote longevity with quality construction elements such as an added toe or heel guard.
Remember too, lifespan isn’t just determined by outward appearances. Shoes have built-in technologies and on average will last between 4 and 6 months. Pickleball shoes should be replaced after approximately 60 hours of competitive play. Naturally, you could extend the life of your pickleball shoes by purchasing multiple pairs and rotating which ones you use on any given day.
Who manufacturers the best pickleball shoes? Sketchers, K-Swiss, Fila, Wilson, & Acacia.
Find your favorite pickleball gear, products, and apparel at Tennis-Point.com