How to Choose Pickleball Shoes
To enjoy pickleball to the fullest, you need the right equipment. And one of the most important pieces of equipment is your shoes. You might think that any pair of sneakers will do, but that is not the case. Wearing the wrong shoes can affect your performance, comfort, and safety on the court.
In this article, we will explain why you need pickleball shoes, what to look for when buying them, and how to find the right pair for you. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about pickleball shoes and give you some tips on how to care for them.
Can’t I Wear My Running Shoes To Play Pickleball?
You might be tempted to wear your running shoes to play pickleball, especially if they are comfortable and fit well. However, this is not a good idea. Running shoes are designed for forward motion, not lateral movement. They have more cushioning in the heel than in the forefoot, which can cause instability and imbalance when you change direction quickly. They also have more flexible soles, which can make them slip on the court surface.
Pickleball shoes, on the other hand, are designed for multidirectional movement. They have more cushioning in the forefoot than in the heel, which helps you push off and accelerate faster. They also have stiffer soles, which provide more traction and stability on the court. They have reinforced toe caps and sides, which protect your feet from abrasion and impact.
Why Do I Need Pickleball Shoes?
There are two main reasons why you need pickleball shoes: they improve your play and they are safer.
Pickleball Shoes Improve Your Play
Pickleball shoes can help you improve your play by enhancing your speed, agility, and precision on the court. They allow you to move faster and more efficiently, which gives you an edge over your opponents. They also help you control your shots better, which improves your accuracy and consistency.
Some of the benefits of pickleball shoes for your play are:
- They provide more grip on the court surface, which prevents slipping and sliding.
- They offer more support for your ankles, knees, and hips, which reduces fatigue and injury risk.
- They absorb shock and reduce impact on your joints, which prevents pain and inflammation.
- They fit snugly and securely on your feet, which prevents blisters and chafing.
- They breathe well and keep your feet cool and dry, which prevents overheating and sweating.
Pickleball Shoes Are Safer
Pickleball shoes can also help you prevent injuries on the court by providing more protection and stability for your feet. Pickleball is a fast-paced sport that involves sudden stops, starts, turns, jumps, and pivots. These movements can put a lot of stress on your feet and ankles, especially if you wear unsuitable shoes.
Some of the common injuries that pickleball players suffer from are:
- Ankle sprains: This occurs when you twist or roll your ankle beyond its normal range of motion, causing damage to the ligaments that connect the bones in your ankle joint.
- Plantar fasciitis: This occurs when you overstretch or tear the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes.
- Achilles tendinitis: This occurs when you inflame or irritate the Achilles tendon, which is a large tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone.
- Toe injuries: This occurs when you stub or jam your toes against the paddle or the ball, causing bruising or bleeding under the nail.
- Blisters: This occurs when you rub or friction your skin against your shoe or sock, causing fluid-filled bumps to form on your feet.
Pickleball shoes can help you avoid these injuries by:
- Providing more cushioning and shock absorption for your feet
- Providing more arch support and heel stability for your feet
- Providing more toe protection and room for your toes
- Providing more ventilation and moisture-wicking for your feet
What Should I Look For When Buying Pickleball Shoes?
When buying pickleball shoes, there are several factors that you should consider. These include:
Fitting Your Pickleball Shoe
The most important factor when buying pickleball shoes is how they fit. A good fit means that:
- The shoe is snug but not tight around your foot
- The shoe has enough space in the toe box for your toes to wiggle
- The shoe does not slip or slide on your heel
- The shoe does not pinch or rub on any part of your foot
To find the right fit, you should:
- Measure your feet before buying shoes, as they can change in size and shape over time
- Try on shoes in the afternoon or evening, as your feet can swell during the day
- Try on shoes with the socks that you will wear when playing pickleball
- Try on both shoes and walk around in them for a few minutes
- Lace up the shoes properly and adjust them as needed
Special Fitting Issues
Some people may have special fitting issues that require more attention when buying pickleball shoes. These include:
- Wide feet: If you have wide feet, you should look for shoes that have a wide width option or a wider toe box. You should also avoid shoes that have narrow or pointed toes, as they can squeeze your feet and cause discomfort.
- Narrow feet: If you have narrow feet, you should look for shoes that have a narrow width option or a snugger fit. You should also avoid shoes that have too much space in the toe box, as they can cause your feet to slide and increase the risk of blisters.
- High arches: If you have high arches, you should look for shoes that have more arch support or cushioning. You should also avoid shoes that have flat or low arches, as they can cause your feet to overpronate and strain your muscles and tendons.
- Flat feet: If you have flat feet, you should look for shoes that have more stability or motion control. You should also avoid shoes that have too much arch support or cushioning, as they can cause your feet to underpronate and reduce your shock absorption.
If you wear orthotics or custom-made inserts for your feet, you should look for shoes that have removable insoles or enough room to accommodate them. You should also make sure that your orthotics are compatible with your shoes and do not cause any discomfort or interference.
There are some variables that can affect how your pickleball shoes fit and feel. These include:
- Court surface: The type of court surface that you play on can affect the traction and durability of your shoes. For example, outdoor courts tend to be rougher and harder than indoor courts, which can wear out your shoes faster and require more grip. Indoor courts tend to be smoother and softer than outdoor courts, which can make your shoes slip more and require less grip.
- Climate: The climate that you play in can affect the ventilation and moisture-wicking of your shoes. For example, hot and humid climates can make your feet sweat more and require more breathability. Cold and dry climates can make your feet dry out more and require more insulation.
- Playing style: The way that you play pickleball can affect the cushioning and support of your shoes. For example, if you are an aggressive player who moves a lot and hits hard, you may need more cushioning and shock absorption. If you are a passive player who stays in one place and hits softly, you may need less cushioning and shock absorption.
Metric or Imperial Measurements
When buying pickleball shoes online, you should be aware of the different measurement systems that different brands use. Some brands use metric measurements (such as centimeters or millimeters), while others use imperial measurements (such as inches or fractions). You should always check the size chart of the brand that you are buying from and convert the measurements accordingly.
Outdoor/Indoor Combination Pickleball Shoes?
Some pickleball players may wonder if they can use the same pair of shoes for both indoor and outdoor courts. The answer is yes, but with some caveats.
While there are some pickleball shoes that are designed to be versatile and suitable for both indoor and outdoor courts, they may not perform as well as specialized shoes for each type of court. For example, combination shoes may have a compromise between grip and durability, which may not be ideal for either court surface.
If you play pickleball regularly on both indoor and outdoor courts, it may be better to invest in two pairs of shoes: one for indoor courts and one for outdoor courts. This way, you can optimize your performance and comfort on each court type.
However, if you play pickleball occasionally on both indoor and outdoor courts, it may be sufficient to use one pair of combination shoes. This way, you can save money and space.
What are the qualities of a good pickleball shoe?
A good pickleball shoe should have four main qualities: sole, heel counter cushion support, weight, and durability.
The sole is the part of the shoe that touches the ground. It consists of two layers: the outsole and the midsole.
The outsole is the bottom layer of the sole that provides traction and grip on the court surface. It is usually made of rubber or synthetic material. The outsole should have a tread pattern that matches the court surface that you play on. For example, if you play on outdoor courts, you may need a deeper and more aggressive tread pattern that can handle rough and hard surfaces. If you play on indoor courts, you may need a shallower and smoother tread pattern that can prevent slipping and sliding on smooth and soft surfaces.
The midsole is the middle layer of the sole that provides cushioning and shock absorption for your feet. It is usually made of foam or gel material. The midsole should have enough thickness and density to protect your feet from impact and reduce stress on your joints. However, it should not be too thick or too soft, as that can compromise your stability and responsiveness.
Heel Counter Cushion Support
The heel counter is the part of the shoe that wraps around your heel and provides support and stability for your ankle. It is usually made of plastic or leather material. The heel counter should have a snug fit that prevents your heel from moving or slipping inside the shoe. It should also have enough padding or cushioning to protect your heel from abrasion and impact.
The weight of the shoe is another factor that affects your performance and comfort on the court. The weight of the shoe depends on the materials and design of the shoe. Generally, lighter shoes are better for pickleball, as they allow you to move faster and more easily on the court. However, lighter shoes may also have less durability and protection than heavier shoes.
The ideal weight of a pickleball shoe depends on your personal preference and playing style. Some players may prefer lighter shoes that give them more speed and agility, while others may prefer heavier shoes that give them more stability and durability.
The durability of the shoe is another factor that affects your performance and comfort on the court. The durability of the shoe depends on the quality and construction of the shoe. Generally, more durable shoes are better for pickleball, as they can withstand more wear and tear on the court. However, more durable shoes may also be more expensive than less durable shoes.
The ideal durability of a pickleball shoe depends on how often and how hard you play pickleball. Some players may need more durable shoes that can last longer and handle more abuse, while others may need less durable shoes that can save them money and space.
What Makes a Good Pickleball Shoe?
Now that you know what to look for when buying pickleball shoes, here are some tips on how to choose a good pickleball shoe:
- Don’t go cheap: While you don’t have to spend a fortune on pickleball shoes, you should also avoid buying cheap or low-quality shoes that can compromise your performance and safety on the court. Cheap or low-quality shoes may have poor traction, cushioning, support, fit, ventilation, or durability, which can cause discomfort, pain, or injury.
- Choose quality over looks: While you may want to buy pickleball shoes that look good or match your outfit, you should also prioritize quality over looks when choosing pickleball shoes. Quality shoes may not always look flashy or stylish, but they will perform better and last longer than looks-oriented shoes.
- Opt for lighter shoes: As mentioned earlier, lighter shoes are generally better for pickleball than heavier shoes, as they allow you to move faster and more easily on the court. However, you should also make sure that lighter shoes do not sacrifice durability or protection for weight reduction.
- Racquetball or volleyball shoes are best for playing indoors: If you play pickleball mostly on indoor courts, you may want to consider buying racquetball or volleyball shoes instead of pickleball-specific shoes. Racquetball or volleyball shoes are designed for similar sports that involve multidirectional movement on smooth and soft surfaces. They have similar features as pickleball shoes, such as traction, cushioning, support, fit, ventilation, and durability.
- Look for gels or air cushions: If you want more comfort and shock absorption for your feet, you may want to look for pickleball shoes that have gels or air cushions in their midsoles. Gels or air cushions are special materials that compress and decompress when you step on them, which reduces impact and increases bounce.
- Select comfortable shoes: Ultimately, the best pickleball shoe for you is the one that feels comfortable on your feet. Comfort is a subjective factor that depends on your personal preference and foot shape. You should try on different brands and models of pickleball shoes until you find one that fits well and feels good on your feet.
Care and Cleaning
To keep your pickleball shoes in good condition and extend their lifespan, you should take proper care of them. Here are some tips on how to care for and clean your pickleball shoes:
- Odor control: To prevent your pickleball shoes from smelling bad, you should air them out after each use and avoid storing them in damp or dark places. You can also use baking soda, dryer sheets, or shoe deodorizers to absorb or mask the odor. You should also wash your socks regularly and change them between games.
- Dirt removal: To remove dirt and dust from your pickleball shoes, you should wipe them with a damp cloth or brush them with a soft-bristled brush. You should avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the shoe material. You should also clean the outsoles of your shoes regularly to maintain their traction and grip.
- Washing: To wash your pickleball shoes, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use mild detergent and cold water. You should avoid using bleach, fabric softener, or dryer sheets that can alter the shoe material. You should also remove the insoles and laces before washing and wash them separately. You should not wash your pickleball shoes too often, as that can wear them out faster.
- Drying: To dry your pickleball shoes, you should air dry them in a well-ventilated area and avoid direct sunlight or heat sources that can shrink or warp the shoe material. You can also stuff your shoes with newspaper or paper towels to absorb moisture and maintain their shape. You should not use a dryer or a hairdryer to dry your pickleball shoes, as that can damage the shoe material.
What Questions Should You Ask When Choosing Pickleball Shoes?
To help you choose the right pickleball shoes for you, here are some questions that you should ask yourself:
What does the outsole look like?
The outsole is the bottom layer of the sole that provides traction and grip on the court surface. You should look for an outsole that matches the court surface that you play on. For example, if you play on outdoor courts, you may need an outsole that has a deeper and more aggressive tread pattern that can handle rough and hard surfaces. If you play on indoor courts, you may need an outsole that has a shallower and smoother tread pattern that can prevent slipping and sliding on smooth and soft surfaces.
What about the insole?
The insole is the top layer of the sole that provides comfort and support for your feet. You should look for an insole that fits well and feels good on your feet. You should also look for an insole that has enough cushioning and shock absorption to protect your feet from impact and reduce stress on your joints. However, you should not look for an insole that is too thick or too soft, as that can compromise your stability and responsiveness.
What are the uppers made of?
The uppers are the part of the shoe that covers your feet and provides ventilation and protection for your feet. You should look for uppers that are made of breathable and durable material, such as mesh, synthetic leather, or nylon. You should avoid uppers that are made of non-breathable or fragile material, such as plastic, vinyl, or canvas.
Will the shoe protect your ankle?
The shoe should protect your ankle from injury by providing support and stability for your ankle. You should look for a shoe that has a snug fit around your ankle and a sturdy heel counter that prevents your heel from moving or slipping inside the shoe. You should also look for a shoe that has enough padding or cushioning around your ankle to protect it from abrasion and impact.
Do I need special shoes for pickleball?
The answer is yes, you do need special shoes for pickleball. Pickleball shoes are designed for multidirectional movement on different court surfaces. They have features such as traction, cushioning, support, fit, ventilation, and durability that are specific to pickleball. Wearing regular sneakers or running shoes to play pickleball can affect your performance, comfort, and safety on the court.
How long do pickleball shoes last?
The answer depends on how often and how hard you play pickleball. Generally, pickleball shoes last between 6 months to a year before they need to be replaced. However, some factors can affect the lifespan of your pickleball shoes, such as:
- The quality and construction of your shoes
- The type of court surface that you play on
- The climate that you play in
- The way that you care for and clean your shoes
You should replace your pickleball shoes when they show signs of wear and tear, such as:
- The outsole is worn out or has holes
- The midsole is compressed or cracked
- The heel counter is loose or broken
- The uppers are torn or ripped
- The insole is flattened or deformed
What are the characteristics of pickleball shoes?
The characteristics of pickleball shoes are the features that make them suitable for the sport of pickleball, which involves a lot of multidirectional movement, sudden stops, and lateral motion on different court surfaces. Some of the characteristics of pickleball shoes are:
- Traction and grip: Pickleball shoes should have non-skid, non-marking soles that provide a firm grip on various court surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, or indoor wooden floors. This helps prevent slipping and sliding, which can affect performance and safety.
- Cushioning and support: Pickleball shoes should have adequate cushioning and support for the feet, ankles, and knees, which can absorb shock and reduce impact from the movements on the court. This helps prevent injuries and enhance comfort.
- Breathability and comfort: Pickleball shoes should have breathable and comfortable materials, such as mesh, synthetic leather, or nylon, that allow airflow and moisture-wicking for the feet. This helps prevent overheating and sweating, which can cause discomfort and blisters.
- Durability and material: Pickleball shoes should have durable and quality materials, such as rubber, foam, or gel, that can withstand wear and tear from the court surface and the paddle or ball. This helps extend the lifespan and performance of the shoes.
- Customization and fit: Pickleball shoes should have customizable and snug fit options, such as removable insoles, adjustable laces, or wide or narrow width options, that cater to different foot shapes and sizes. This helps ensure optimal comfort and stability for the feet.
What kind of soles for pickleball shoes?
The kind of soles for pickleball shoes depends on the type of court surface that you play on. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of soles for pickleball shoes: outdoor soles and indoor soles.
- Outdoor soles: Outdoor soles are designed for playing on outdoor courts, such as concrete or asphalt. They have deeper and more aggressive tread patterns that can handle rough and hard surfaces. They also have more durability and protection than indoor soles.
- Indoor soles: Indoor soles are designed for playing on indoor courts, such as wooden floors or gymnasiums. They have shallower and smoother tread patterns that can prevent slipping and sliding on smooth and soft surfaces. They also have more traction and grip than outdoor soles.
How Can I Find the Right Pickleball Shoes for Me?
Finding the right pickleball shoes for you can be a challenging task, as there are many brands and models of pickleball shoes available on the market. However, by following the tips and guidelines in this article, you can narrow down your options.