Pickleball shoes look a lot like regular sneakers or running shoes, but are designed to deliver the best performance on the pickleball court. To choose the best pickleball shoes for you, pick a model that is designed for either indoor or outdoor courts (whatever you might be playing on). You may need multiple pairs if you play on both indoor and outdoor courts.
5 Best Pickleball Shoe Brands
- K-Swiss: K-Swiss are a very popular maker of pickleball shoes, including the popular Express Light Pickleball Shoe. K-Swiss shoes are easy to find, not too expensive, and boast an impressively long lifespan.
- Wilson: Wilson Rush shoes are extremely well-reviewed and deliver excellent results. One of their top picks, the Rush Pro Pickleball is specifically designed for pickleball. Coming in at under $100, it offers great value for money.
- Fila Volley Zone: The Fila Volley Zone is one of the top pickleball shoes. It boasts a nicely thick midsole and comes with a fun graphic on the side that will be popular among pickleball players who want to make a statement.
- Asics Gel: If you’re looking for outdoor pickleball shoes, the Gel-Remna is a fantastic option, while the Gel-Rocket is a brilliant choice for indoor play. Asics have been making shoes for many sports for years, and are an excellent, trusted manufacturer around the world.
- Nike: While Nike might not make specific pickleball shoes (yet), their Nike Vapor Pro tennis shoes are a perfectly performing option for pickleball players. They even provide a buying guide for pickleball players interested in Nike shoes.
What kind of shoes should you wear for pickleball?
A big question beginners have is this: do pickleball players need a pair of pickleball shoes to play the game?
There is nothing in the rules of pickleball that states you need any specific shoes to play pickleball. Any pair of reasonable-quality athletic shoes with a rubber sole can be used to play the game.
However, it is strongly recommended that you pick up a pair of pickleball shoes due to the type of movement pickleball requires. The game causes a lot of lateral movement (moving from side-to-side), as well as plenty of forward and back lunging. A running shoe is only designed to move well in a straight, forward line.
Well-built court shoes have a strong rubber outsole with plenty of cushioning to help with those lateral movements.
As well as this outsole protection, a good pickleball shoe:
- Gives great support to the whole foot
- Is breathable (often through a mesh upper section)
- Has good arch support
- Has plenty of shock absorption
Any court shoe designed for a racquet game should work equally well for pickleball, as all have the same amount of lateral movement. Tennis shoes, those designed for racquetball or badminton, or even indoor volleyball shoes should work for your pickleball games.
How to choose the best pickleball shoes
There are a few key qualities the best pickleball shoes will have. Deciding which shoes to ultimately buy comes down to what you are looking for as a priority.
- Are you playing indoor or outdoor? This affects the materials used in the shoe you choose, since the court surfaces for indoor and outdoor pickleball are different.
- Are you playing singles or doubles? If you play mainly singles and need to dart about a lot, you might want something lightweight (like the K-Swiss Express Light Pickleball Shoe). Singles players are also likely to move more side to side, and therefore might require less gel cushioning on the forefoot or toe box than doubles players.
- How important is comfort? If comfort is your key priority, that’ll affect the shoes you choose. For example, perhaps you have pre-existing injuries and need to minimize your risk of injury and cushion against impact. In this case, you might look for a more robust cushioning system in your new pair of shoes, or something with high shock absorption through the midfoot.
- What’s your budget? If you have a decent budget to get started, buy the most durable model of shoes you can. Outdoor shoes are probably your best bet. If you’re on a tighter budget, there are budget pickleball shoes options that use less premium materials.
- What custom requirements do you have? Do you wear a sock liner? Do you need a certain type of insole, or the ability to fit removable inserts into your shoes? If you have weak joints, you might need more ankle support. If you have wide feet, you might need a specific model to make sure you’re comfortable. No two pickleball players are alike, so make sure you find the shoe that’s right for you.
Indoor court vs outdoor court
Outdoor Court Shoes
Shoes designed to be used on outdoor courts or hard courts tend to have thicker rubber soles and midsoles, and be heavier than running shoes. This is because these court surfaces cause much more abrasion and toe dragging on the shoe than indoor courts. Due to their thickness, they might be harder to break in.
Outdoor pickleball shoes often have a herringbone pattern on their rubber sole. This is specifically designed for grip on outdoor courts and hard courts.
Indoor Court Shoes
Indoor pickleball shoes tend to be softer and smoother than shoes designed for outdoor courts. This means the manufacturers can afford to have a thinner rubber sole, as the shoes will wear out less quickly.
Indoor courts are also more slippery than their outdoor counterparts. As a result, they have a thinner and softer rubber outsole for greater traction, especially when turning. Make sure to get indoor pickleball shoes with sufficient ankle support, as sliding can be common on slippery indoor court surfaces.
Can I wear one type of shoes on the other court?
There is nothing stopping you from having a single pair of pickleball shoes that you use on both courts. However, there are a few downsides to this method.
Though it’s cheaper and more convenient to only have one pair of pickleball shoes:
- If you are using indoor court shoes on an outdoor court, they will likely wear away and need to be replaced much more quickly.
- If you are using outdoor pickleball shoes on an indoor court, you have to be careful that they are non-marking. The owner of the court won’t be happy if you scuff up their court surface! Outdoor shoes will also have much less traction on indoor surfaces.
Budget pickleball shoes vs premium pickleball shoes
Budget pickleball shoes are cheaper but tend to wear out quicker. It’s possible that you might end up buying three pairs of pickleball shoes in the time a premium pair might have lasted, costing you more over time.
Budget shoes have more technology:
- Advanced cushioning systems
- Getter rubber outsoles
- More supported toe boxes
- Thicker rubber outsoles
- Better shock absorption
If you can afford premium pickleball shoes and are committed to the game, it’s worth the expense. However, if you are new to the game, budget shoes can be a good stopgap option while you try it out.
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