As someone who has managed the pickleball program at the local community center, I have seen first-hand the dangers of wearing the wrong kinds of shoes when playing pickleball. I’ve seen numerous injuries — rolled ankles, ruptured Achilles tendons, pulled hamstrings, strains, sprains, and more — many of which may have been prevented with proper footwear.
Instead of grabbing the most convenient pair of athletic shoes, it is imperative to make sure the shoes are conducive to the forward, backward, and lateral movements required on the pickleball court. Leave the walking shoes, running shoes, and cross-trainers at home when playing pickleball. They are designed specifically to support your forward motion — not side-to-side movement with quick stops and starts. Likewise (this is for you, Tulip City Pickleball Club 🌷🌷🌷🌷), keep the wooden shoes reserved for klompen dancing as they tend to provide minimal ankle and arch support on the courts. 🙂
Does Wearing Good Pickleball Shoes Really Matter?
Yes. It is, indeed, critical to wear good pickleball shoes when playing – regardless if you’re playing competitively or recreationally. While features such as style, comfort, weight, and color matter when finding a shoe: first and foremost, a good pickleball shoe is one that will keep you safe on the court. It should provide you with adequate ankle support and arch support while being lightweight and comfortable – allowing you to glide smoothly around the court with minimal effort.
So What Makes for an Effective & Safe Shoe for Pickleball?
The best shoe for pickleball is a court shoe or tennis shoe — one that has great comfort, grip, ankle support, rubber soles, and a tread pattern conducive to quick lateral movements. Keep in mind, a good pair of pickleball shoes will not last forever. A general rule-of-thumb is that pickleball shoes should be replaced after approximately 60 hours of play — or 3 to 4 months, depending on how often you play.
Are Pickleball Shoes the Same as Tennis Shoes?
Indeed, pickleball shoes and tennis shoes are very similar as both sports require similar movements and quick bursts around the court. Shoe brands, to their credit, have recently begun introducing shoes that are designed and marketed specifically for pickleball.
Tips for Purchasing Pickleball Shoes
- Begin by researching the Internet. Peruse the manufacturer’s information as well as the relevant reviews and comments.
- Ask other players with whom you play which shoe they prefer and why. They are bound to share their experiences with you.
- Determine if you prefer a shoe with a top layer of leather or fabric/mesh – or a combination of both. This will impact comfort and breathability.
- Look for shoes that have adequate ankle and arch support.
- Consider the court surface on which you most frequently play. That will help determine whether you should purchase a tennis shoe, court shoe, or volleyball shoe. Indoor courts (gymnasiums, for example) tend to be slipperier. Outdoor courts (tennis court surfaces), on the other hand, wear down your soles more quickly.
- Consider the court’s surface color. As many of you know, hitting the pickleball at your opponent’s feet is an effective strategy. Do you want your feet to be an easy target? Consider a darker shoe or one that can be more easily camouflaged against the court surface, in order to “hide” your feet from your opponents. ;-).
- Consider your playing style. Do you move around the court excessively and drag your toe? Depending on your style, you might need more lateral support or cushioned toecaps.
- Consider the weight of the shoe. You don’t want a shoe that’s going to weigh you down on the court.
- Is your first priority comfort? If so, consider a gel insole. However, with all of the running and quick bursts required in pickleball, you should also look for a shoe with a thick sole to minimize impact with the court.
- Keep track of when and where you purchased your shoes along with how much you paid. This will make it easier to purchase new shoes in the future.
Be sure to use the Shoe Tracker in our Pickleball Planner to help you easily keep track of that information!
What are the Best Shoes for Outdoor Pickleball?
Best Pickleball Shoes for Women Outdoors or on Hard, Gritty Surfaces
If playing outdoors — or indoors on a tennis court or similar hard, gritty surface — tennis shoes are the best option. Tennis shoes provide the necessary support for quick lateral and forward-and-backward movements and they hold up best to the wear-and-tear of rough court surfaces.
Best Pickleball Shoes for Men Outdoors or on Hard, Gritty Surfaces
If playing outdoors — or indoors on a tennis court or similar hard, gritty surface — tennis shoes are the best option. I own several pairs of the Adidas Barricade tennis shoes — while others swear by the New Balance 806 tennis shoes. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the following options.
Best Pickleball Shoes for Women on Indoor Wood/Composite Gym Floors
If playing indoors on a wood/composite gym floor — like at a local, recreation center — court, volleyball or tennis shoes — are great options. Mizuno and ASICS are two brands that both have some good “volleyball” (gum rubber) options in their shoe line-up that can be worn for pickleball.
Best Pickleball Shoes for Men on Indoor Wood/Composite Gym Floors
If playing indoors on a wood/composite gym floor — like at a local, recreation center — court, volleyball or tennis shoes — are great options. While I use my tennis shoes to play indoors, here are several other options — specifically designed for the wood/composite gym floors.
How Often Should Pickleball Shoes be Replaced?
Wear-and-tear can take a toll on your shoes. In order to stay safe on the court, it’s important to replace your shoes from time-to-time. I’m typically on the court for a few hours every day, whether I’m teaching or playing. I usually need to replace my shoes every 3-4 months.
Several factors should be considered when determining how often you should replace your shoes.
- Are you someone who spends several hours on the court each day? If so, you will go thru a pair of shoes quite quickly.
- Are the grooves in the soles starting to wear down? Check the bottom of your shoes from time-to-time. Can you even see the rubber grooves anymore? If not, you definitely need a new pair of shoes!
- Do you feel your shoes gripping the court, or are you literally sliding across the court to get the shot?
- What level do you play? Are you playing for leisure or high competition? Playing at a competitive level will require a more frequent replacement of shoes.
- Are you wearing tennis shoes or volleyball shoes? Tennis shoes are more durable and will likely last a little longer than volleyball shoes.
Remember to break in your new shoes a little before jumping into a competitive game, or competing in a tournament. Believe me, your feet will thank you!
With the different gear and accessories to buy for pickleball, please don’t skimp on the pickleball shoes. Having the right pair of pickleball shoes will not only enhance your comfort and performance — but could also very well minimize your chance for serious injury. It’s not necessary to purchase the “cutest” or “coolest” shoe. It is critical, however, to buy the right kind of shoe. If you currently don’t have the right kind of shoe for pickleball, please make it a priority to get new shoes before setting foot on the pickleball court again. That’s an order! See you on the courts!