So, you've caught the pickleball bug and now you're wondering, "What are the best shoes to play pickleball?" The straightforward answer is - pickleball shoes. But hang on! There's more to this than meets the eye.

Sure, specially designed pickleball shoes provide optimal support and comfort. But did you know that other types of footwear might also work well, depending on your level and style of play? Let's dive into the world of pickleball footwear and explore all your options, helping you make an informed decision for your next game.

pickleball shoes

Matching Your Footwear to Your Play Style

Your choice of footwear can also depend heavily on your style and frequency of play. For the occasional player who enjoys a friendly game once in a while, a running or basketball shoe might suffice. These shoes provide comfort and are likely already a part of your wardrobe.

However, frequent players who are on the court daily might need to invest in tennis or pickleball shoes. These are designed for the unique demands of court sports, providing the necessary support and stability for regular, intense play.

Remember, the more you play, the more wear and tear your shoes will endure. Therefore, serious players will benefit from shoes specifically designed for pickleball, which can handle the sport's dynamic movements and offer better longevity. Ultimately, the right balance between comfort, support, and durability will help ensure that your pickleball games are both enjoyable and safe.

pickleball shoes

Running Shoes

Running shoes are designed primarily for forward motion and provide excellent cushioning, making them comfortable for long periods of wear.

Pros: Running shoes often feature breathable material, keeping your feet cool during intensive play. They also offer good shock absorption, which can be beneficial when playing on harder surfaces.

Cons: However, they lack lateral support, increasing the risk of ankle injuries during side-to-side movements common in pickleball. Additionally, the tread on running shoes is not designed for quick pivots, which could lead to slips and falls.

pickleball shoes

Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes are designed with court sports in mind, making them a popular choice for pickleball players.

Pros: They provide excellent lateral support, reducing the risk of ankle sprains. The sole is flat and stable, providing a solid base for quick, multi-directional movement. Moreover, tennis shoes have a tougher outer sole suitable for the rapid start-stop nature of pickleball.

Cons: On the downside, tennis shoes can be heavier than other athletic shoes, which may slow down some players. They can also be less cushioned than running or basketball shoes.

pickleball shoes

Basketball Shoes

Basketball shoes are designed for the hardwood but can sometimes find their way onto the pickleball court.

Pros: They offer exceptional ankle support, designed to prevent rolling and sprains. They also have a heavy tread suitable for quick stops and starts.

Cons: However, basketball shoes are generally heavier and bulkier, which might impede agility on the pickleball court. Also, they are designed for indoor courts, and their tread may not hold up well on outdoor surfaces.

pickleball shoes

Pickleball Shoes

Pickleball-specific shoes are relatively new to the market but are designed with the sport’s specific movements in mind.

Pros: They provide a balance of lateral support, lightness, and appropriate tread for quick pivots. The soles are designed for both indoor and outdoor courts, increasing their versatility.

Cons: As a downside, pickleball shoes can be less cushioned than running or basketball shoes. Additionally, being a niche product, they can be more expensive and harder to find.

pickleball shoes
Photo credit: KSwiss

pickleball shoes

The best shoe for playing pickleball largely depends on the individual player's needs. Tennis and pickleball shoes seem to offer the best balance of weight, structure, tread, and ankle support necessary for the sport. However, comfort should also be a key consideration as discomfort can distract from your game and even lead to injuries. Remember, the right shoe can enhance your performance and make your pickleball experience more enjoyable.