The biggest difference between tennis shoes and pickleball shoes is the surfaces they are designed to play on. Indoor pickleball shoes have rubber soles for grip on a slippery gym floor, while outdoor tennis shoes have hard outsoles due to the abrasive court surface. However, they have many similarities, putting a focus on comfort, ankle support, and protection for quick lateral movements.
Comparison Between Pickleball Shoes and Tennis Shoes
When purchasing pickleball shoes, people often run into the same question: is a pair of pickleball shoes any different than the equivalent for tennis?
Pickleball shoes and tennis shoes are largely the same due to the similar movements required in the two sports – namely, a lot of rapid and intermittent lateral movements.
This means that they have support in similar places, with a durable outsole for lateral stability, extra cushioning on the inside to protect your feet against those sharp movements, and a midsole built for durability.
However, the big difference between tennis and pickleball is the types of courts played upon by either sport.
Indoor pickleball courts tend to be a gym floor surface, while outdoor pickleball courts are often on hard courts.
While hard courts are used in both sports, tennis is never played on a gym floor. Also, tennis has options that are less commonly used in pickleball: namely clay courts and grass courts.
This means that the goals of pickleball and tennis footwear can vary, with entirely different designs, materials, and patterns intended to provide maximum grip on each surface.
- Durable outsole for lateral movements
- Ankle protection
- Inside cushioning
- Durable midsole
- Tennis = beefier outsole
- Pickleball = thinner outsole
- Different grip patterns on the sole of the shoe
Characteristics of tennis shoes
Tennis shoes, like dedicated pickleball shoes, are designed mainly around two things: the movements players make while playing and the surface they are playing on.
As a general rule, tennis shoes have flat outsoles with a special, expert-designed tread to offer maximum grip depending on the chosen surface.
Hard court shoes have a herringbone tread pattern on their sole. This herringbone design offers excellent grip. The outsoles of hard court shoes will be non-marking so as not to scuff up the court, but still firm enough to be durable.
Clay court shoes follow a similar design, with a herringbone pattern on the sole for grip on the clay. However, grass court shoes have pimples on the outsole to counter grass’s inherent and infamous slipperiness.
The midsole is cushioned, especially around the sides of the foot. This is to provide lateral stability and comfort when making sharp sideways movements.
Most tennis footwear is made from a combination of rubber, synthetic leather, and plastic.
Characteristics of pickleball shoes
Pickleball shoes have many of the same characteristics as tennis shoes: flat outsole, cushioned midsole for lateral stability, and ankle support for protection while turning.
The main difference between pickleball shoes and tennis shoes comes in the specialties between indoor court shoes and outdoor pickleball shoes.
- Indoor pickleball shoes have stickier rubber soles designed to offer maximum grip on slippery gym floors.
- Outdoor court shoes have a more durable rubber sole than indoor shoes, allowing them to last longer on the more abrasive hardcourt.
Proper court shoes have a firm toe box to protect your toes from stubbing. Pickleball shoes have a thicker cushion on the outside of the midsole due to the higher level of lateral movement required.
What are the best shoes for pickleball?
There are many options for pickleball shoes on the market.
Here are some of the best:
- Wilson Rush Pro Ace Pickleball: Designed for both indoor and outdoor court surfaces, this offering has some really cool innovations: a rubber drag pad and a 4D support chassis for extra stability through your pivot movements.
- ASICS Gel-Resolution: These ASICS shoes have loads of color options to suit any style and offer GEL tech in the outsole for durability, making them a great all-around pickleball shoe.
- K-SWISS Express Light Pickleball Shoe: K-SWISS has been at the top of the pickleball shoe game for a while, and they are gradually establishing themselves as a major player. The K-Swiss Express Light Pickleball shoes sell out fast due to their 180-degree planar support chassis and DURAWRAP cover to protect against toe drag.
What are the best shoes for tennis?
- Nike Court Air Max Volley: A brilliant, affordable tennis shoe. Heel foam pods for better shock absorption and a grooved insole to prevent blisters are just some of the shoe tech reasons why these Nikes are up there with the best.
- ADIDAS Avacourt: The ADIDAS Avancourt is an excellent lighter-weight shoe for those who don’t want to sacrifice durability, offering the perfect blend of protection and comfort to hit the tennis courts with.
- New Balance Fresh Foam LAV: This New Balance model is brilliantly sturdy for maximum protection. They are a little heavier but are incredibly comfortable and durable court shoes.
Can you use tennis shoes for pickleball?
Yes, you can use tennis shoes for pickleball. They are designed for much of the same movements used in pickleball: quick movements, sudden movements, and multi-directional movement.
This is especially true if you have hard-court tennis shoes and intend to play pickleball on outdoor courts.
However, if you are serious about either sport, you are going to want a separate pair for tennis and pickleball. Tennis shoes aren’t designed for the slippery gym floor that indoor pickleball is played on.
If you have squash shoes, racquetball shoes, or volleyball shoes, any of those might work for indoor pickleball.
One type of shoe you should avoid is running shoes or athletic shoes that aren’t designed for racket sports. This is because they are designed for continuous forward movement, not sudden side-to-side movements.
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