Are you looking for a good pair of pickleball shoes? One of the great things about pickleball is that you really don't need much equipment to get started - with just a paddle, a couple balls and a decent pair shoes for pickleball you can be on the court playing. Although the most common questions we get are about pickleball paddles - we actually think good pickleball shoes are much much important than your paddle! Below we explain several reasons why and help you find the best pair of court shoes for indoor and outdoor play.
Ladies first!: continue reading below to see our top picks for women's pickleball shoes or skip to our full reviews including several shoes from other major shoe brands.
As I explain below, both my wife and I have both been huge Asics fans for years so we admit we may be a little biased - but below we have reviews for several other top-rated shoes from different shoe brands.
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the US. One of the great things about the sport is that it attracts men and women of all ages. According to recent reports, almost 40% of pickleball players in the US are women.
Although a good quality paddle can definitely impact your game, I would say that when starting out GOOD FOOTWEAR is even more important. Before you head out on the courts, make sure you are wearing a properly fitting pair of shoes that will provide the support you need.
Your shoes may not only improve your ability to move well on the pickleball court but could also prevent injury to your joints. Before we go any further we really should clarify that as of 2018 we have not seen any “real” pickleball shoes on the market that are manufactured specifically for the sport -so we are really referring to good shoes to wear for playing pickleball.
Your best options are tennis court shoes for outdoor pickleball. If you play indoor pickleball look to volleyball shoes for your best options to wear on indoor courts. Because there are currently not specific pickleball shoes on the market, we must look to other sports that are similar to find the best shoes to wear. We’ve analyzed similar sports and reviewed shoes that best match the features needed for a solid pickleball shoe.
Many outdoor courts are converted tennis hard courts while indoor courts are often used for multiple shared sports including badminton and volleyball. Therefore, indoor court shoes designed for these sports will work well since the court surface and movements during play are similar to pickleball.
The lateral movement of pickleball and quick change of direction closely resembles other racket sports like racquetball and squash. Because of this, the most logical shoes for pickleball are quality shoes designed for these sports.
Top Buying Tip: Consider the weight!
Light shoes can make a huge difference on your game. Some volleyball shoes are 9 ounces or even less, whereas heavier tennis shoes can be over a pound.
Those extra ounces add up and can add to fatigue and slow you down enough to make an impact on your game-especially after a long time on the court. It could be the difference between reaching that game winning return or missing the shot!
*Note: Shoe weights vary by size (a size 6 can be several ounces lighter than a size 12), average shoe weights given are based on woman's size 8.
Indoor: traditionally indoor gym courts were generally made of wood while newer courts are often made of flooring that mimics wood-either way they are slippery compared to outdoor tennis courts. You'll need a good shoe with soles that grips. Volleyball shoes are the best option for indoor courts.
Outdoor: Asphalt or concrete outdoor tennis courts will wear the soles down quickest. If you regularly play on concrete, look for reinforced durable soles that can withstand the wear and tear. Tennis court shoes are your best choice.
Avoid running shoes regardless if you play pickleball indoors or outdoors. They are not made for racket sports and the soles can easily catch and cause injury (i.e. twisted or sprained ankle). I've even seen beginners wear everything from hiking boots to dock shoes!
**Please do yourself (and your body) a favor and invest in a decent pair of shoes for pickleball! **
Non-Marking: Many facilities require non-marking shoes to prevent damage to the floors. Many top shoes are non-marking but if you know that it’s a requirement where you regularly play, make sure you choose wisely.
Baseline Play: If your playing style more of a power game, driving long shots from the baseline (many beginning pickleball players play this style) then you’re going to be doing lots of lateral movement (side-to-side)- so look for shoes that have extra lateral support and durable soles.Serve-and-Volley: Do you approach the net all the time, are you dinking tons of shots and play a control game? If so, your shoes will take a toll especially the toes. A lot of those shots require players to bring weight up on the front of their feet and also increase tendency to drag feet. Look for pickleball shoes with reinforced soles and toecaps.
Do you drag your feet when approaching the net or coming to a stop? If so, you’ll want to make sure you buy pickleball shoes with reinforced toecaps. If you have already been playing pickleball for some time (or are coming from tennis), look at your used shoes to see if the toecaps are worn.
Running shoes have soft, flexible soles designed to shock absorb the impact of heel strike, they lack the lateral support needed for quick stops and starts and lunging after pickleballs. Also the deep, nobby pattern on the sole can catch and easily turn an ankle compared to flat soled shoes designed for racket sports.
Cross training shoes have softer soles that will likely wear out quickly on hardcourts. For these reasons, we recommend you have a proper pair of hard soled shoes for playing outdoor pickleball.
Although the Asics Flashpoint shoe is specifically designed for volleyball, they are a great match for other indoor sports played on wood or similar gym flooring. Many users have commented that they wear these for badminton, racquetball, squash and even gym classes like Zumba and aerobics.
Because the shoes are designed for indoor gym flooring we think they are a great match for indoor pickleball. They are the lightest volleyball shoes in the Asics line weighing in at just 10 oz.
The shoe comes in a 3 wild and fun looking color combinations. Although most people find the shoes fit as expected, about 20% report that they were slightly larger than expected so if it's your first time buying Asics it would be best to refer to the sizing chart before ordering online.
If you want to check the sizing, click here to see the Asics Gel-Flashpoint on Amazon, once there click on the "Size Chart" next to the size button. This will open a pop-up showing the sizes, you would just need to measure your foot (heel-to-toe) to find your correct Asics shoe size.
If the wild look of Gel Flashpoint isn't your style, another top pick for indoor pickleball shoes would be the ASICS Women's Gel-Rocket 8. The Rockets also feature Asics signature GEL® technology cushioning system coupled with the "Trusstic", the brands proprietary technology for stabilizing the shoe. These two Asics-only features make the Rockets a comfortable and stable shoe.
These are NOT high-end performance shoes but do have a sturdy design and seem like good value at this price point. They are intended for beginner and intermediate volleyball players -and for the reasons we already discussed, these features convert over well to pickleball -especially the gum rubber- when played on slick indoor courts.
A nice small feature (which Asics Rocket 7's DO have but took off the most recent 8s for unknown reasons) is the extra lace eyelet in the high position on the ankle collar. Some people don't use this but if do you have any issues with heel slippage, suffer from achilles tendonitis or need an extra snug fit for extra ankle support this simple feature can be a huge benefit on a court shoe. Both the Flashpoint 2 and the Mizuno Lightning Z2s do have this feature.
Moving away from Asics, a quality (and somewhat more pricey option) for indoor pickleball would be the Mizuno Women's Wave Lightning Z2 Volleyball Shoe. The Lightning boasts the "Parallel Wave". All these shoe brands have their own marketing (Wave, Gel, etc)...but basically "Wave" is Mizuno's shock absorption and cushioning system which is comparable to Asics "Gel".
There are a few different versions of the Wave technology, this shoe is constructed with one (Parellel Wave) designed to provide lateral stability that pickleball players need on the court for quick movements during play. It also cushions impact and aligns foot on impact to maximize stability while minimizing shock.
Mizuno and Asics both make quality shoes and the "GEL vs Wave" debate (on which delivers more stability and shock protection) is in large part a personal preference.
Asics is back with their second shoe on our list, the Resolution GEL 6. As the name describes, this is the 6th update by Asics to the Gel Resolution women's tennis shoe. With new technology and features, this is even more stable and comfortable than past versions of the shoe.
GEL® cushioning provides cushioning across the whole shoe for optimal court response. Solyte® Midsole Material adds support and stability while keep the shoe from getting too heavy. Size 8 wights in at 11.6 ounces.
This may feel like a slightly narrow shoe, especially compared to the K-Swiss we just reviewed. Unless you have a narrow foot, these Asics might feel snug throughout the mid-foot and toe when you first try them on. Expect and extended break-in period of several hours on the court to break the shoes in properly -so it's best to ease into these shoes.
Once they are properly broken-in, the comfort is great. The GEL ® cushioning is where Asics excels with unmatched comfort which is one of the two top reasons these are out top pick. Secondly, these shoes are constructed with "AHAR+" (ASICS High Abrasion Resistance Rubber), which is a fancy way of saying they are made with highly durable rubber which is perfect for the rough surface of outdoor pickleball courts.
Update Dec, 2017: Some readers have asked our opinion on the newer Resolution Gel 7. If you are the type of person that likes to upgrade to the latest and greatest model (kind of like me) then you might want to go for the seventh reiteration of the Resolution by Asics. However, if you do go for the 7s, keep in mind that the general consensus we've heard from people is that these are noticeably more narrow than the previous Resolution model so you if you've been wearing Asics in the past, you'll likely need to go up a half size when buying these shoes.
This new Hypercourt Express by K-Swiss is based off the earlier K-Swiss Ultra Express. Similar to the Ultra Express, s soon as you put these on you'll notice the the plush feel especially on the tongue and ankle collar. The shoe has lots of cushion and immediate "step in comfort" feel.
The Hypercourt weighs in at 11.5 ounces so for a tennis shoe is still within the average range, although noticeable heavier that then previous volleyball shoes we reviewed.
Also in our opinion they have a "heavier feel" than the actual weight and may feel a little clunky, especially after you've been playing for an extended time.
The Hypercourts are wide, most noticeably in the toe-box. This will be a welcomed feature for anyone with wide feet especially if you have a wide forefoot. However, for players that don't have a very wide foot the forefoot could be problematic, especially with quick stops where your foot can slide forward and jam your toes.
You may even have to retie the laces during play and even doing so it might be hard for you to get a stable fit in the toe box if you have narrow foot. But these could be a great ladies pickleball shoe for a woman with wider feet.
The second version of the 786 New Balance tennis shoe for women features FantomFit- a combination of a lightweight mesh with a thicker synthetic layer to add support and while keeping the fabric breathable.
The herringbone patterned sole increases court traction and helps with quick stops and lateral movements. The size 8 weights 11 oz, making it a manageable weight compared to other female shoes. Generally New Balance run true to size. They require some break-in as expected with a new shoe but normally do not require extended break in.
The Adidas Barricade 2017 features and extra soft knit upper which provides extra comfort as it naturally adjusts to your foot shape. This is especially useful in the toe box area for people with wider feet.
The Barricade is part of the 2017 Adidas by Stella collection by English fashion designer Stella Nina McCartney.
A little side trivia... Stella is the daughter of former Beatles member Paul McCartney and - American musician, animal rights activist and photographer a Linda McCartney
Ok, back to the 2017 Barricade by Adidas... The outer upper of this shoe is made with Adituff - Adidas proprietary abrasion resistant material which they use on the outer around the toe box and mid foot to prevent excessive wear to the outside of the shoe. This is a big plus for players who foot drag after the serve and during volleys. The feature adds durability and lifespan to the 2017 Barricade helping make it one of the best ladies pickleball shoes available.
The interior features a seamless booty with plush interior around the ankle collar. The foam insoles are very comfortable and provide plenty of cushion.
An added bonus is that the shoe's insoles are also removable which is a good option for anyone looking to swap those out for custom orthotic inserts. Most shoes now come with removable inserts but as someone who does have custom insoles, you definitely don't want to have to try remove the shoe glue used to keep the permanent insoles in place, it can become a sticky mess.
For this article on women's shoes I turned to a someone with a woman's expertise-my wife!
She has tried lots of different shoes and brands before settling on the ones she currently wears. We reviewed the all the models together and also asked a lot of her friends on the courts to rate their shoes and tell us what they liked (and disliked) about their shoes. A lot of honest feedback we get on the courts from other players goes into these reviews.
We both personally find the Asics are a great fit and very comfortable (we have many pairs in our house!) That said, there are other quality shoes on the list and a lot will depend on how they fit your feet and your personal preference.
As I've written in the past, I strongly believe that the shoes you wear while playing pickleball are more important than paddle you use, really a good pair of shoes is the most important piece of pickleball equipment you'll buy.
We've reviewed shoes from all the top sports manufacturers on the market to come up with the following short list of the top rated pickleball shoes for men. If I had to pick just one shoe as the best choice for outdoors it would be the Asics Gel-Court FF and my pick for indoor pickleball is the Asics Men's Gel Rocket 7.
I'll admit, I am biased towards Asics! I discovered ASICS GEL® Kayano running shoes over a decade ago and became an Asics fan. Whenever I need a new pair of running shoes I just upgrade to the most recent Kayano model....currently the Gel-Kayano 24. Anyway, enough about running, for pickleball I wear the ASICS Gel-Court FF Tennis Shoe which is currently my personal top choice for Best Pickleball Shoes for Men.
I am a huge fan of Asics shoes and wearing the new "FlyteFoam" model is pure comfort for me. However, these are top of the line so I realize the price may be too much for some people. Continue reading below to see more of my top picks and detailed reviews - including shoes from other top brands and other more affordable options.
How to Find Good Shoes For Outdoor Pickleball?
The best option footwear option for playing pickleball outdoors is a quality pair of tennis court shoes specifically designed for hard courts. Outdoor pickleball courts are rougher and require a durable shoe that can handle the abuse of this kind of surface. The increased friction that occurs when your shoes drag along the abrasive surface wears the shoe down much quicker than indoors. So for outdoor players look for shoes that have a very durable outsole, a reinforced upper, and overall sturdy construction that will provide more stability.
Although natural gum rubber soles are great to grip onto indoor courts, they will take a beating on the rough surface of outdoor courts so you'll be better off with a durable synthetic rubber outsole that can take more abuse. It's important to find a court shoe with a tough outer sole that can sustain the punishment of a hard court.
Hard courts are just "harder" on your feet, there is virtually no give compared to a indoor courts that are more forgiving on your feet, ankles and knees. Because of this, for outdoor pickleball you should look for a shoe with maximum cushioning, durable sole and upper that provide plenty of support.
The Nike Vapor 9.5 Tour are the latest version of the Vapor line by Nike. The newer 9.5 model ups the game a notch with this very lightweight shoe. Low profile and designed for speed game, these will give you some extra speed to your footwork on the court.
The Vapor scores high marks on ventilation. Mesh is incorporated throughout the shoe: the vamp, quarter panels and upper of the shoe all mesh, this maximizes breathability and keeps the shoe very light.
The Vapors use a design technology that Nike calls their "Adaptive Fit" lacing system which allows the lacing element of the shoe to work similar to a pulley system that moves back and forth to accommodate different foot shape and move together to provide a comfortable and snug fit.
The one possible fault I see with this shoe is the less than impressive arch support. If you have trouble with your arches, this shoe may not be for you. I have unusually wide feet so for me Nike shoes, even wide sizes, feel too narrow but if you have average feet this most likely wouldn't be a problem. Click here to read owner reviews.
The 2017 Adidas Barricade "Boost" according to the company, delivers the most responsive cushioning to date. These shoes are built for aggressive players playing on unforgiving court surfaces making them a good match for outdoor pickleball.
The Barricades feature abrasion-resistant ADITUFF™ by Adidas, an extra durable outer wrap around the toe and forefoot of the shoe to protect against inevitable foot/toe drag during serve and lateral movements.
The added protection on the front of the shoe combined with the ADIWEAR™ 6 outer sole make these shoes extra durable which is a great match for an outdoor pickleball player that plays hard and needs a shoe that can take a fair amount of abuse. In contrast to the the sturdy outer, the interior of the boost features memory foam ankle collar (talk about comfortable!) for and plush cushioning making it a very comfy shoe. The knit upper provides plenty of ventilation to keep your feet cool...even on the hottest days.
The biggest complaint I hear about these shoes is the price. These are top of the line and you are paying a premium for the "Boost" technology. If you do not want to drop the extra money on Adidas premium cushion system but still want the same overall design take a look at the Adidas Men's Barricade. It offers a very similar shoe without the more expensive boost cushioning.
The Asics Gel-Court FF is personally my favorite pick for best men's outdoor pickleball shoe. As I've said in the past, my wife and I are big Asics fans and both of our picks for women's indoor and outdoor pickleball shoes were from Asics so I admit I'm a bit biased towards the brand! I've been wearing different models of the Asics "Gel" for many years.
In addition to the gel comfort, this model features the new FlyteFoam® technology in the midsole to add extra bounce and responsiveness. The shoe also uses a seamless design which reduces the irritation and friction from traditional stitches and seams that create uneven surfaces on the inside of the shoe that can rub and irritate your feet.
There are two things that keep me from recommending the Asics FF to everyone I see on the courts. The first is the cost, these are the most expensive shoes I've ever bought to play pickleball. As I've said before I generally don't spend a lot on clothes but I am willing to shell out money for good shoes and in my opinion these are worth the cost of keeping my feet comfortable. But these did set me back about $50 more than my previous pair of ASICS Men's Gel-Resolution 7. If the new "FFs" hadn't come alon.. the "Resolution 7" would still be my top pick.
The second thing that some people may be hesitant about is the "Mono-Sock" design. The "sock" is an internal sleeve that is attached to the tongue. There is no separate "tongue" that is traditionally found in most shoes, with the FFs the collar and tongue are all stitched together so you slide your foot into the shoe without opening the tongue. It does take some getting used to (and it might feel a little tight to get on when it is brand new) but I am used to it and actually like the feeling. I think there are some benefits to this design- it keeps everything more snug around the top of your foot and keeps the tongue from slipping.
If the price tag for the ASICS FF is too much for your budget (and/or you're not sure about the "mono-sock" design) I would look at the ASICS Men's GEL-Resolution 6 which is a more affordable shoe for pickleball -but still the has quality and comfort I've come to love from the "Gel" product line and since it is one model back from the newer "Resolution 7" you can get the 6s for a cheaper price.
The Men's Bigshot Lite 2.5 by K-Swiss is a comfortable and very breathable court shoe. The shoe has excellent ventilation with mesh and ventilation holes patterned across the entire upper which K-Swiss refers to as "Flow-Cool". Similar to other K-Swiss shoes I've tried, the toe box is very roomy. I have wide feet but still did not feel any tightness in the front of the shoe.
The BigShot Lite also features "Dri-Lex" lining for wicking moisture. The combination of the lining and the ventilation makes for a very breathable shoe. The profile of the Bigshot 2.5 is low but still provides plenty of stability. The foam ankle collar makes for a very comfortable fit. The outer sole of the shoe is a herringbone tread pattern with no marking material. This kind of tread initially provides good traction for gripping court, however I'm not convinced that this is the most durable sole design so may limit the lifespan of the shoe - especially for aggressive players or players with lots of foot drag. The shoes weigh in at 16-ounces (size 10.5), so may be slightly on the heavy side if you are looking for a particularly lightweight shoes.
Which pickleball shoes are best for indoor players? If you are playing on hardwood floors or indoor gym flooring (usually some form of urethane, hard foam or rubber) then you want a shoe with a sole that grips well since all of these surfaces are smooth and slippery. The best soles are natural gum rubber that provides good traction and grip the surface better than most synthetic materials.
As we mentioned earlier, at this point there really are no “pickleball shoes” on the market but the best options for indoor pickleball come from other sports that are played on the same surface and also have similar athletic movements: so we look to volleyball for help. Indoor pickleball is often played on the same flooring as volleyball and both sports share similar movement patterns.
Volleyball shoes provide the support needed for lateral movements, starts and stops and also have the right kind of soles that will keep you from slipping and sliding around on indoor courts- this is a key feature for moving well on the court and reaching as many shots as you can. Most importantly, the natural rubber soles give you solid footing and prevent injury.
The ASICS Men's Gel-Rocket 8 is a high level indoor court shoe at a entry level price. This affordable shoe provides good stability and the sole features natural gum rubber to maximize grip on smooth courts.
The Rocket's forefoot Asics signature GEL® technology cushioning system coupled with the Trusstic system technology for stabilizing the shoe make for a comfortable and stable shoe. The price is right and although it's not a high performance shoe, it's designed to meet the needs of beginner and intermediate men's volleyball players and as we've discussed this translates well to the sport of pickleball especially when played on smooth indoor courts.
The one feature I found to be lacking is the top shoe lace hole which was on the previous model -the Asics Men's Gel Rocket 7. I'm not sure why Asics would remove this on the newer model since it provided extra ankle support and reduced heel slip which is especially useful for players needing more ankle stability. It's a minor feature but I personally liked it and I actually prefer the previous model (the Rocket 7s) although either of the Gel Rocket models (7s or 8s) would be a solid indoor shoe for most players.
The Adidas Men's Court Stabil 12 is made of a very durable synthetic and mesh upper. As the name suggests, the main benefit of these shoes is the stability. Adidas Torsion system gives extra mid-foot stability.
With perforations across the toe box and sides of the shoe give it plenty of ventilation. The Adidas "AdiPrene" shock absorbing system and the cushioned removable foam insole make this a comfortable shoe. The Stabli seems to run slightly more narrow than other Adidas I've tried so you may need to go up a 1/2 size, but as always- it's best to measure your feet accurately and then cross reference the official Adidas sizing chart.
Non-Marking black gum rubber sole is perfect for indoor conditions. Great shock absorbing and stable shoe. This low-cut, high-performance shoe is one of my top picks for pickleball players looking for a men’s indoor court shoe, especially if you are looking for a shoe with good stability.
The Mizuno Men's Wave Bolt 6 Volleyball-Shoes is the big brother of the previous Wave Bolt 5. This updated model features a the new Wave Bolt 6 features the "Parallel Wave Plate", this shoe technology had been incorporated in many of Mizuno's top performance shoes- both running and court shoes. It is one of the four shoe technologies that Mizuno uses.
Basically the "Wave" is one of Mizuno's cushioning and shock absorption systems, it provides the lateral stability that pickleball players need on the court for quick movements during play. It also provides cushion for impact and helps align the foot on impact to minimize shock and maximize stability.
The Wave Bolt 6 is light weight indoor shoe with provides a comfortable, snug fit. The mesh upper and "Intercool" system provides ventilation through the full-length of the midsole resulting in a very breathable shoe. The sturdy sole rubber outer sole is non-marking and durable.
A lot of people think having the best pickleball paddles can make or break their game. Although I agree that a good paddle can help, a good pair of pickleball shoes can prevent injury. You’re not going to get much use out of that high-end paddle if you are sidelined with a sprain, stress fracture, tendonitis or worse.
It’s important to stop for a moment and remember that feet are the foundation of the human body. Our feet bear the entire load of our body weight. Just like the foundation of a building gives it stability, your feet must be stable and balance to bear the load of your entire body's weight and absorb the shock from impact.
Landing after a jump, heel strikes when running and the lateral starts and stops in pickleball all put an enormous amount of pressure on your joints and proper fitting high quality shoes are the key to minimizing the damage. Your feet are responsibly for keeping you upright, stable and balanced.
Many people underestimate the value of pairing good tennis socks with their shoes- the extra cushion of a high quality sock can make a huge difference. Trust me, I have chronic achilles tendonitis and comfy socks keep me on the court longer!
If the shoes you wear don’t provide the necessary support for your heels and arches, your range of motion is limited and consequently other parts of your body must overcompensate by modifying your natural biomechanics. When your body overcompensates, the effects could potentially be felt all over your body.
Poor quality shoes, or poorly fitting shoes, can lead to pain and discomfort in your knees, ankles, heels, hips and lower back. The pain in these joints can then lead to further weakness, imbalances and pain. Poor quality shoes can start of a chain of problems that could potentially lead to injuries that keep you from playing pickleball.
Rather than just taking it from me, let’s look at the guidelines published by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Here are the recommendations from the APMA for choosing the correct shoes. They don’t specifically mention pickleball but they do give advice for tennis and volleyball shoes and logically these would be in this same category since all three sports share similar movements: sudden stops, quick changes of direction and movement in all four directions (compared to running shoes designed for heel strike and forward motion).
Tennis, and Volleyball (...and Pickleball)
Common foot injuries: sprains, stress fractures, tendinitis
The appropriate pickleball footwear should:
Pickleball players must be able to stop and change direction quickly. For example, a player who runs to the sideline to make wide shot must be able to push off to reach the shot then immediately change direction and get back to the center of the court quickly to get in position again.
A player attacking the net has to quickly accelerate then make a quick stop at the Non Volley Zone line. In both of these examples, court shoes are the best option since they are designed for quick stops and starts, short sprints and frequent lateral movement compared to running shoes that are optimized for forward motion.
Indoor pickleball players need a shoe that can grip the slick flooring surface of indoor courts so ideally will have a more tacky organic natural rubber sole vs a synthetic sole on outdoor court shoes that are designed for abrasive hardcourts.
Running shoes were designed and optimized for athletes moving in one direction-forward!
They are made to absorb the shock of heel strike and keep the runner moving forward as efficiently as possible. Runners generally do not perform quick starts and stops, nor do they change direction or side step laterally. Because of that, lateral support is minimized in these shoes since runners don’t need it and it would just add a lot of extra weight to the shoe while offering no real added benefit to the runner. The best running shoes are lightweight and the lack of lateral support helps keep them light.
I think some pickleball players pick running shoes because of that-they are lightweight and a good pair of running shoes feels very comfortable. I understand the temptation, a lot of times I wear running shoes to walk around in or to run errands because they are so comfortable...but I never wear them on the pickleball court!
Court shoes are designed for movement in all four directions: left, right, forward, backward and give the support and balance needed for the movements of pickleball. In other words, court shoes are perfectly designed for the sport of pickleball, while running shoes are not.
Players who attempt to play pickleball in running shoes are taking a big risk.
You are much more likely roll an ankle, trip and/or put undue stress on your joints by playing pickleball in running shoes rather than wearing court shoes which were specially designed for the movements used in racket sports.
It might seem like overkill to have two separate pairs of shoes for pickleball but if you play both indoors and outdoors I do think it makes a lot sense to have separate indoor and outdoor pairs of pickleball shoes. Ultimately the shoes will last longer and over time you will save money.
Hard court shoes should not be used indoors because they are not designed for slippery gym floors and lack the traction needed to play on hardwood. They also have extra durable soles often made of abrasion resistant synthetic rubber. Volleyball shoes with natural gum rubber are specifically made to use on hardwoods. If you wear those soles on an outdoor court you will quickly ruin them. The hard, rough surface of asphalt, concrete or other hard court surface will cut the life of your indoor shoes in half.
To get the most out of your shoes, it’s best to have one pair dedicated to indoor and another pair for outdoor. I only wear my pickleball shoes when I am playing. I don’t wear them to run errand, go for walks or around the house. I may be a little obsessed but I don’t even wear them off the on the courts. I keep them in my pickleball bag and change into them when get to the court and take them off when I am done. I really do think this habit extends the life of the shoes, especially the indoor shoes which are more prone to wear and tear.
Another reason to own two pair of pickleball shoes is to alternate them and gradually break them in. Rather than waiting 6 months until my shoes are ready to be replaced I usually buy multiple pairs of the same shoe. If I find a shoe I like, especially if it is on sale, I’ll buy two or even three pairs of the same shoe. I then alternate between the two pairs. Although I usually end up using one pair more than the other (even though they are exactly the same, out of habit one ends up in my bag more or I end up putting one away in the closet)
But a few months down the road when my primary pair is ready to be replaced I pull out the backup pair and am happy to find I have a pair that is noticeably newer than the pair that is being retired ….but it not totally new and stiff.
By then I retire the old pair (for yard work, etc) and buy a new pair, often times by then a newer model has come on the market I might make the switch and start breaking that shoe in...so I always have shoes at different stages of their life span normally different models of the same brand. Some shoe experts say that rotating like this can be better for the shoe and for your feet.
If you are using your shoes daily, letting one pair rest gives the midsole foam time return to its original shape. This also gives the shoe enough time to dry 100%, especially if you are playing daily.
You may have heard of runners who rotate between two or more models of shoes, this is the same concept. It has actually been studied and shown that there is a link between rotating shoes and lowering your risk of injury. Researchers in Luxembourg concluded at the end of the 22-week study that runners who rotated between multiple models during the week had a 39% lower risk of injury compared to runners who always ran in the same model of shoe.
The logic behind the study is that by changing the shoes and varying the impact and stress (based on the shape of the shoe) on certain parts of the foot and tissue may prevent injury “different pairs of running shoes will provide alternation in the running pattern and vary external and active forces on the lower legs during running activity. “
Independent of the study personally feel my feet feel better when I rotate between multiple pair of shoes.
To start are you playing indoors, outdoors or both?
If you are looking for indoor pickleball shoes: volleyball shoes with natural rubber soles.
Tennis court shoes designed for hardcourts (not clay or grass) are the best outdoor pickleball shoes. We’ve done the heavy lifting and researched and reviewed dozens of top options on the market and come up with a short list of our top picks. All of these shoes are considered lightweight and highly rated for Cushioning, stability, durability and breathability.
To find the best pickleball shoe for you, we recommend you start with our shortlist of picks and then choose based on your own personal preference relating to fit and style.
My foot doctor says that when his patients come to him for the first time that over 50% are wearing the wrong size shoes and 99% of the time they are too small...hardly ever too big. I think growing up I was just taught that proper fitting shoes should be slightly snug (maybe that was just mom not wanting to buy new shoes all the time!
I am one of six brothers and we all played sports….so there were a lot of pairs of shoes in the house and it was a big expense so I suppose she did want to extend the life of the shoes as much as possible. So It think I just got used to what I thought was my size. Then I ran my first 10K and both my big toenails turned black. That’s when my Dr. told me I was wearing shoes at least a ½ size too small...maybe even a full size too small. I did switch but it took me awhile to get used to the new size and accept that that’s what the correct size was meant to feel like.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), there should be at least a 1/2 inch space between your longest toe and the tip of your shoe and the toe box — the front area of the shoe — should have enough room so that you can wiggle your toes. Your toes should never feel cramped in an athletic shoe.
Shoes should be wide enough that there is no bulging on the sides of the shoe. It’s also common for people to feel the new shoe size is too big because they are used to shoes that are too tight. If you have ½ inch at the front, without the shoes slipping at the heel the bigger size is better than a smaller snug size.
• Your feet spread out during the day, measure at the end of the day when they are the largest.
• Wear the same type of tennis socks you'll wear with your new pickleball shoes.
• If you have someone to help you take your foot measurement, standing is the best choice.
• If you are alone, measure sitting down, not standing up.
• Measure left and right feet and fit shoes to larger foot.
• If you need measurements in CM, to convert inches to centimeters, multiply inches by 2.54.
• Sit down. Place a piece of paper on the floor in front of you and center your foot on the paper.
• Trace around your foot using a pencil Hold the pencil as vertical as possible while measuring. Keep the pencil in contact with your foot during the whole process.
• Measure your tracing with a ruler to calculate the length and width of your foot.
To determine the width of your foot, measure the distance between the two widest points on your traced paper. Reduce this number by 1/5-inch (or 5 mm). The resulting number is what you use to calculate your width. Use the chart below to determine your width.
To determine the length of your foot, measure the distance between the two longest points on your traced paper. Subtract 1/5 of an inch (or 5 mm) from this number. The resulting number is what you use to calculate your shoe length.
Although there are published standard tables for shoe sizes by cm and inches, not all brands follow the exact same tables. Being off by ½ inch can make a big difference so we recommend you refer directly to the specific brand's sizing chart to verify your size. Fortunately now when shopping online for shoes, almost every brand shows their sizing chart. For example, If you are shopping for pickleball shoes on Amazon, the link to the sizing chart is just to the right where you select the size.
Replacing your shoes on a regular basis is important for staying free of injury and pain. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), the typical running shoe should be replaced every 350-500 miles or about every six months. We’ve tried to figure out how that relates to pickleball. Using a Fitbit we racked up about 10,000 steps in a 2 hours session of pickleball, playing 3 times a week would get you to the 350-400 mile mark right around 6 months.
As mentioned above, most shoes should last about 6 months. This is assuming a person is playing for a couple hours at time about three times a week. There are several factors that will determine the actual life of the shoe, most notably: the quality of the shoe and the surface played on.
The abrasive surface of outdoor hardcourts and just playing outside in the elements will wear outdoor shoes down quicker. Indoor pickleball shoes last longer, since they are played on smooth, clean surfaces that are protected from natural elements such as rain, direct sunlight and dirt on the court) and therefore need to be replaced less frequently.
There are also several habits you can adopt to increase the lifespan of your shoes such as only washing by hand and air drying, only wearing your shoes on the pickleball court and using a separate pair of shoes for indoor and outdoor pickleball.
Around the six month point I usually retire my shoes from pickleball and use them for yard work, gardening, running errands or just walking around. At 6 months they are not totally destroyed nor are they falling apart but have lost a noticeable amount of cushion and support that I feel I ready for a new pair.
The mileage calculation above is a very rough estimate and a little tough to translate to racket sports but the idea of replacing your pickleball shoes every 6 months sounds about right to me based on my experience. Regardless of the mileage calculation, which is really a lot easier for runners, the easiest way to tell is by how the shoe feels and a visual inspection:
Take your shoes on and off properly. Although it’s tempting to pull your shoes on and off without unlacing them when you are in a hurry , shoving your foot into the shoe puts a lot of stress on it and doing so repeatedly can misshape heel collar (the back part that supports your heel), the lacing system, and eventually pull apart the glue and stitching that holds the shoe together. Make sure you loosen the laces before take your shoes off or put them on.
Avoid machine washing your pickleball shoes. Although I do love the look of freshly washed shoes, it can be really hard on the shoes. It’s better to use a soft scrub brush to clean the soles and a damp cloth and mild soap to clean the exterior.
Let thee shoes air-dry: If your shoes do get very wet (heavy rain, puddles, etc), do not try to dry your shoes out using direct heat sources like a radiator or put them in an electric dryer. The intense heat can dry out the adhesives that hold the shoe together and cause them to crack or separate and the repeated tumbling action of a clothes dryer causes unnecessary wear and tear on the shoe. If you need to dry out your shoes, the best thing is to unlace them (or at least loosen the laces), remove the insoles and let them air dry away from any source of direct heat. Balls of crumpled newspaper placed inside can also pull out moisture and help the shoes dry quicker.
Store your shoes properly. A sports bag can be a great place to store and protect your pickleball equipment and transport gear to and from the court but if closed it's also a humid environment with no air flow. Take your shoes out once you get home and allow them to air out completely
Although it seems quick and easy, I would not use a washing machine to wash your shoes, the best way is with a small soft-bristled brush (old toothbrush) to remove excess dirt from the outsole. Use a damp cloth with warm water and mild soap/detergent to clean the synthetic outer material. Dry off outside with a soft cloth and let air dry at room temperature.
Although some people use saddle soap on leather part of court shoes, I’ve read instructions from some major shoe manufacturers (i.e. Nike) and they do not recommend using this this on shoes made for sports that involve lateral movement. Leather conditioning creams (like saddle soap), while good for breaking in a leather glove, can soften shoe leather too much and weaken parts of the shoe that provide key support for lateral movements.
This is a tough question with no exact right answer since so much depends on personal budget and value perception. For me, “good” means a comfortable shoe that provides plenty of support and stability. It should also be a durable shoe that can take plenty of wear (playing active pickleball 3 times a week or more) and last at least the 6 months I would expect an athletic shoe to last.
Of course everyone has their own budget. I am personally NOT a big spender on clothes but shoes are my one exception. I’ve had ankle issue and chronic achilles tendinitis so I appreciate comfy shoes when I find them on and strongly believe that good shoes can improve the quality of life so I put a lot of importance on the shoes I wear, much more than other products I buy.
Therefore, I generally only look at newer models with up to date technology that provide the most comfort and stability. I am looking for a performance shoe that is really comfortable and also minimizes the risk of injury. This is especially important for me as I get older and feel more prone to injury. I know if I do get injured it will take longer to recover than when I was younger, just goes with the territory.
I also only consider major brands for pickleball shoes. Although you can find inexpensive no-name brands at discount shoe stores or large box stores, in the long run these will cost you more since they tend to be less durable.
So, based on these factors I usually spend right around $100-$120 for new court shoes for pickleball. This is also the range I pay for running good shoes. Indoor pickleball shoes (volleyball) tend to be a little less expensive, usually $20-$30 less which is compounded by the fact that they last longer than outdoor shoes, so I find in the long run I spend quite a bit less on indoor shoes.
Does that mean you can’t find a “good” pair of shoes for less than that? Absolutely not! All the big brands make different shoes models for different price ranges from very affordable to top of the line.
So you don’t necessarily have to spend a hundred dollars or more to get a quality shoe but keep in mind that while a more basic $60 Asics model can still be a “good” shoe just because it says “Gel” doesn’t make it comparable to the brand new “Gel” model that just came out. Shoe companies are coming out with so many styles and the model names are so similar that it gets confusing!
I admit you definitely do pay a premium to get the "latest and greatest" model...and can pay extra money simply for cool looking shoes (my sons grew up playing basketball, some of those shoes are totally overpriced based on the player’s name rather than based on the actual features and technology of the shoe). For me, the style of the shoe is just an added bonus, it’s not a deciding factor in selecting the best shoe for my feet. I’d much rather have a plain white shoe that’s really comfortable than a very expensive shoe that doesn’t feel right but is the most popular and trendy model.
There are several very well known and reputable sports shoe manufacturers that make quality footwear for volleyball, tennis and other racket sports (like squash, badminton and racquetball) that are easily transferrable to pickleball. You will probably recognize more (or all) of these brand name shoes.
While researching the top picks we analyzed and reviewed shoes from many big name shoe companies including but not limited to: Asics, Adidas, Babolat, Champion, Diadora, Head, K-Swiss, Lacoste, Lotto, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, Prince, Puma, Under Armour, Victor Sport, Wilson, Yonex.
Originally started as the company Onitsuka Co., Ltd in Kobe, Japan in 1949, the founder (Mr Onitsuka) started his sports shoe footwear company by making basketball shoes out of his living room. In in 1977 he changed the name of the company to Asics from the Latin phrase "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano" (A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.)
Adidas: founded in Germany in originally in 1924, then renamed Adidas in 1949 is now one of the top selling sporting brands in the world doing almost 20B in revenue/year (2016). Reebok is a subsidiary of Adidas.
Puma and Adidas have a fascinating history. The founders of the companies are brothers and there has been a family feud since the early days. Both companies are located in the same city. -Herzogenaurach. Read more about the family feud here.
Babolat: founded in 1875, this equipment company from Lyon, French is best known for tennis, badminton, and squash. It’s leading products are tennis strings (the founder Pierre Babolat created the first natural gut tennis strings). They also have a line of gear including tennis shoes.
Champion: (AKA Champion U.S.A) was founded in 1919. It has since been acquired by the Sara Lee Corporation and is part of the HanesBrands which includes other well-known apparel brands such as Wonderbra and L’eggs. The “C9” collection by Champion is one of the best selling lines.
Diadora: Founded in Italy in 1948, Diadora is known for sporting goods and accessories. The company also owns footwear company Geox, known for it’s unique design and maximum breathability.
Head: The company was founded in 1950 in Delaware (USA) but has it’s headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Head was originally known for ski equipment but also garnered attention by introducing one of the first oversized tennis rackets. The company made news in 2017 by releasing a entire line of Head pickleball paddles. This move into the sport of pickleball by a major tennis equipment manufacturer shows the surging popularity of the sport.
K-Swiss: California based sporting good store founded in 1966. The original founders immigrated to the states from Switzerland and started the company based on their passion for Tennis. The company is most well known for it’s tennis court shoes.
Lacoste: French clothing company, founded in 1933 by tennis player René Lacoste and his partner André Gillier. It’s iconic green alligator logo is recognized by people around the world. For a long period of time Lacoste was involved in a dispute over its logo with Crocodile Garments company based in Hong Kong. Lacoste features a crocodile logo that faces right while Crocodile used one that faced left.
Lotto: Founded in Montebelluna, Italy in 1973 and now with HQ in Treviso, this Italian sporting goods company is known shoes. It originally launched it’s first product, a tennis shoe, before branching out into footwear for volleyball, football, running and basketball. Well known Lotto-wearing tennis players include Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker.
Mizuno: Founded by Rihachi Mizuno in Osaka, Japan in 1906 -the same year that New Balance was founded in the USA. Mizuno has grown to a huge multinational company. It is known also for its golf equipment, Tiger Woods played with Mizuno golf gear early in his career, including while winning his first Masters Tournament victory in 1997.
New Balance: The company was founded over 110 years ago in 1906 and was originally known as the "New Balance Arch Support Company" and has grown to be one of the most well known sports shoe on the globe. The New Balance headquarters in located in Boston, MA. Although known as a US shoe company it has branched out into sports like cricket and sponsors many European football clubs including Sevilla FC. and the Irish National team.
Nike: Founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 and later renamed Nike in 1971 it is now a household brand name across almost all sports. The iconic “Nike Swoosh” and “Just Do It” is recognized around the world. Nike has a long established tennis shoe line worn by many pros including the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Nike also makes other apparel such as tennis skirts and skorts for women.
Prince: Founded in 1970 in Princeton (thus the name) New Jersey and now headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company was originally known for tennis ball machines and rackets, later branching out into shoes, apparel and other sporting goods.
Puma: Founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler. In 1924, Rudolf and his brother Adolf Dassler had jointly formed the (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory (Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik). The relationship between the two brothers soured to the point where they agreed to part ways in 1948, forming two separate entities, Adidas and PUMA. Both companies are still remain in the original town where they were founded in Germany.
Under Armour: American company formed in Maryland in 1996, it has grown to a $4B selling sporting equipment for a wide variety of sports. NBA star Steph Curry is the most well known UA sponsored athlete.
Victor Sport: Known as a shuttlecock-making factory, over the past 50 years Victor sports has grown into a leading badminton equipment company. They also make indoor shoes and apparel for the sport.
Wilson: Founded in 1913, this Chicago based company is a well known maker, especially of professional balls. It makes equipment for an impressive list of sports including: badminton, baseball, basketball, softball, golf, racquetball, soccer, paddle, platform tennis, squash, tennis, volleyball and recently introduced its own line of Wilson pickleball paddles.
Yonex: Founded in 1946, this japanese company headquartered in Tokyo was originally a maker of fishing equipment now makes gear for badminton, tennis and other racquet sports including rackets, shoes, shuttlecocks, tennis balls.
The elements of an athletic shoe include the following:
Midsole: The midsole or sockliner lines the base of your shoe and provides the bed of cushioning. This part of the shoe has probably the biggest impact on the comfort factor you feel when you put the shoe on. Most midsoles are made of lightweight and flexible materials, usually either EVA or PU.
Upper: The upper refers to the part of the shoe that wraps entirely over the foot ( for a visual reference sandals do not have an “upper”). Uppers are normally made out of a very durable material, either synthetic or natural leather. Many newer shoes incorporate mesh into the upper, not only is it lighter, reducing the overall weight of the shoe but also to increase ventilation and keep shoes cooler. Many new models use a hybrid upper mixing elements of mesh and synthetic or leather to balance the breathability and durability of the shoe while minimizing weight.
Vamp – The area of the toe-box that would bend if you stand on your toes. To allow your toes to flex, the vamp is usually made of some flexible material, often perforated or mesh to allow increase ventilation in the toe box allowing toes to breathe and preventing your feet from overheating.
Outsole: The outsole is the bottom of the shoe, the tread or knobby bottom provides, stability and texture to grip surfaces and prevent slipping. This is the area of the shoe where wear and tear is most easily seen. The durability of the outsole will in big part determine the lifespan of your shoe. Because it is constantly in contact with the court surface and the friction caused by start and stops and foot drag, most outsoles are made with very durable rubber that can withstand abrasive surfaces, outdoor court shoes are often made of synthetics whereas indoor usually have some kind of natural gum rubber to increase traction on smooth floors.
Heel Counter & Collar: The heel counter is usually made of some polymer or composite material that is fitted inside the heel cup and provides support around the back of your heel. The collar is the top part of the heel structure that is usually finwhyished in plush fabric on the inside to prevent rubbing the top part of your heel.
Toecap: The toe cap is positioned just above your toes and is reinforced to protect your toes against impacts and foot drag.
Toe Guard: The toe guard is additional layer of rubber added to the front of a shoe for extra protection from toe drag.
The most common way of lacing most athletic shoes (court shoes or running shoes) is the typical crossover technique, however there are some other ways to tie shoes that can help alleviate common foot pains. This short video tutorial shows few very useful alternatives methods if you need to adjust your laces for: bunions, bumps or sores, or for improving ankle collar support (especially useful if you are experiencing heel slippage on the back of your shoes).
Hopefully this pickleball shoe buyers guide has helped you select a good pair of shoes within your budget and style and we hope the research we've done comparing and reviewing the shoes has provided you useful information and saved you some time in the process.
One of our readers, Gordy, brings up a great question in the comments: What are the best shoes for seniors who play pickelball? This is a very valid and timely question, especially considering that 75% of "core" pickleball players (those who play 8 or more times a year) are 55 or older.
The main concern for older players is balance and the increased risk of falling while playing pickleball. There in an interesting article published in the NY Times years ago, detailing a study done by Dr. Carol Fry, Director of the Foot and Ankle at Orthopedic Hospital of Los Angeles which found that 70% of the older people that had fallen were wearing athletic shoes or similar casual shoes.
So, if older people are still falling while wearing sneakers or tennis shoes- specifically being worn to give them more traction...what is the best shoe to wear? As our reader mentions, he himself fell twice while playing pickleball-once while wearing very heavy, deep cleated sole type shoe (trail shoe), the second occurrence was while wearing a lighter weight running shoe.
As the article mentions, the key problem with running shoes (and hiking or trail shoes) is "the heavy rubber lugs" on the soles that catch on carpet and other surfaces.
The other problem with these kind of soles is that they are not designed for lateral movement (common in pickleball). The knobby, deep treads can bring the person to a stop too quickly.
While there is no published evidence proving which shoes are least likely to cause falling during pickleball (it's unfortunate shoe companies don't do more studies on this considering how much seniors spend on their footwear!) my assumption is that for pickleball the best way to reduce risk of falling would be to avoid shoes with deep treads.
This coincides with what we've already discussed above for pickleball in general - avoid running shoes, hiking shoes and trail shoes - all have deep lugs on the soles. This is probably even more relevant for seniors. A better option would be to go with a volleyball shoes or tennis court shoes with flat bottoms.
Here is a visual aid on what to look for (and not look for) when shopping for a pickleball shoe- especially the soles.
Running shoes with heavy lugs
Deep treads on running shoes can catch
Rubber soles on volleyball shoes
No Deep treads
If we hear of any shoe company coming out with a dedicated pickleball shoe we’ll be sure to let you know or if you find out before we do, please drop us a quick note.
Source for pickleball demographics: