Introducing Varsity Pickle apparel at Pickleball Central

Owners of Varsity Pickle and best friends, Karen and Adele

Childhood best friends, pickleball lovers and now business owners! Meet the women behind Varsity Pickle. Karen and Adele created Varsity Pickle for the pickleball player who wants a little style on and off the court. We recently spoke with them about their designs, where the name came from, and what is next! View the full line here.

Why did you start Varsity Pickle?

We’ve been best friends our entire lives. We spent our childhood rollerblading, jumping on the trampoline, and making up dances. We first learned how to play pickleball in middle school gym class and constantly got in trouble for talking too much during the lessons. We both picked it up again in the past few years (along with millions of others) and still probably talk more than we play. 

Throwback photo of Karen and Adele

When we looked online for pickleball apparel, most of what we saw wasn’t designed well – flaming pickleballs, clip-art graphics – not the kind of clothing we would want to wear. 

We have backgrounds in design and marketing, so we decided to collaborate and create a line of apparel you can wear on and off the court that is playful, fun, and cool. We are also, coincidentally, both very passionate about pickles (the food) and would definitely make varsity if there were a team. 

Varsity Pickle Faded Blue Pickleback Unisex Sweatshirt

How did you come up with the name?

We weren’t really “varsity athletes” in high school. We blended in and didn’t embarrass ourselves, but never knew the thrill of being a varsity star. So the first time we ever won a pickleball game, it felt like we might finally be good at something. We created Varsity Pickle to celebrate every level of pickle player with gear that makes you proud to play. 

Varsity Pickle Collegiate Ringer T-Shirt – Unisex

Can you talk us through the design process?

Pickleball is fun, and we let that inform the creative direction. A collegiate, retro aesthetic felt right to us. It was important to choose styles and materials that players would be comfortable in and we would wear ourselves. Our sweatshirts are all super soft but light, and our performance wear is very high quality, sweat-wicking material. 

People often ask us “What makes pickleball clothing different from other sports?” The answer is not much, really, but pickleball players want you to know they play pickleball, so we feature pickle branding on all of our gear. It’s a strong community! When you see someone with a pickleball shirt on, you have to tell them you’re part of the pickleball club too! 

As for our Pickleback sweatshirt, that has its own backstory

Congrats, you just made the Varsity Team!


Varsity Pickle Varsity Blues Sweatshirt – Women’s

Varsity Pickle Sweatshirt Grey – Unisex

How is it running a business with your bestie?

So fun. Duh! It’s no surprise that after 30+ years of friendship, we’d make a great partnership. We have different strengths and we help bring the best out in each other. We know how to work hard but still find time to laugh at ourselves. Plus it’s super helpful, that when we reference our 7th grade gym teacher vibes, we both know exactly what that means. 

For the love of pickle.

How long have you two been playing Pickleball?

We started in middle school, played a bit in high school, and then picked it up again in the past few years. 

We love to play pick-up games, on vacation, with people older than us, younger than us, for exercise, and even after a few beers. All that said, we are both totally average pickleball players. We are NOT tournament ready. But we definitely have fun out on the court!

What do you love about Pickleball?

We love how simple pickleball is to pick up compared to other sports. Even your first game is fun! Everybody makes varsity, and then there is so much room to level up. 

What else can we expect from Varsity Pickle in the future?

Besides world domination? A kids’ line and more awesome, retro gear.

We are excited to see more apparel coming to pickleball and look forward to seeing what else Varsity Pickle brings to their collection. Shop now at PickleballCentral.

Running Shoes vs. Court Shoes – What’s The Difference?

If you’re wearing running shoes when you play pickleball, you should consider replacing them with pickleball court shoes soon so you don’t injure yourself on the court. Running shoes are designed strictly for forward movement, not for the quick lateral movements that pickleball requires. The soles of running shoes flare out, and can easily cause an ankle injury if you land wrong when moving side to side. If you’ve been bitten by the pickleball bug like the rest of us, do yourself a favor and get a proper pair of court shoes before you end up with a sprained ankle!

Running Shoes vs Court Shoes

Running shoes are constructed with a very soft midsole cushion that helps absorb hard impact and alleviate pounding on your feet and joints. Over time this cushioning will lose its spring and deliver less comfort and joint relief with every step. With court shoes designed specifically for sports like pickleball and tennis, the cushioning of the midsole and outsole is made with a much more rigid material than a running shoe; while it won’t create the same degree of cushioning, the firmness of the rubber is beneficial in maintaining its tread while being dragged across the rough surface of a pickleball court.

When Should You Replace Pickleball Shoes?

The best indicator to determine when it’s time to replace your pickleball shoes is to look at how much tread is left on the top half (from the toe edge to the shoe’s mid-section) of the outsole on the bottom your shoe. The frequent movements of pickleball will typically cause the toe box area of your shoe’s rubber to wear down the fastest. Some players notice heavier wear in the heel of their shoes, which is also a good way to determine if it’s time to replace or not.

What you want to look for is flattening and smoothing of the rubber outsole. Any part of the underside of your shoe that has no visible tread pattern remaining indicates that your shoes are not going to offer as much traction, stability, comfort, or support as they once did. The importance of replacing them is primarily to reduce the risk of injury from wearing a shoe more likely to cause sliding on the court. In addition, worn out tread and less traction cause your shoes to slow you down; they don’t grip the court as well as they should, so you won’t be able to pivot or get up to the kitchen as quickly as you can with newer shoes that have fresh unworn outsoles.

Some shoes have a layer of material beneath the outsole that is a different color. If you’re able to see this from underneath the first layer of material, this is an immediate sign that your shoes are worn out and should be replaced.

Outsole Worn Through

How Long Should Court Shoes Last?

People often ask how long their court shoes should last. There is not a one-size-fits all answer as this depends on several factors that vary from player to player. How often do you play? Do you lift your feet or toe drag with your shot set-up, execution and follow-through? Do you wear your court shoes to and from the courts or only while you’re playing? Do you have just one pair that you wear all the time or do you rotate through several pairs at the same time? All of these factors will affect how long each player’s shoes will last.

K-Swiss Express Light Pickleball Shoe – Men’s

How Does Shoe Weight Affect Durability?

A shoe’s relative weight affects its durability and how long you can expect it to last. A heavier shoe has harder, more dense rubber that is designed to maintain its tread and traction for several months of play. Some court shoes come with a six-month outsole guarantee; you’ll notice most of the shoes offering this warranty are on the heavier side compared to the more lightweight court shoes that are available.

If durability and longevity are primary considerations in your selection of court shoes, HEAD Pickleball offers several excellent options. HEAD provides a six-month outsole warranty on several of their court shoes, including the HEAD Revolt Pro and HEAD Revolt EVO for men and women, two of our top selling shoes.

HEAD Revolt Pro 3.5 Shoe – Men’s

Lighter court shoes are typically constructed with a softer rubber that is less dense, thus more comfortable. If you are not playing very frequently and you’re more concerned with comfort than durability, lightweight shoes are a great choice. Several stylish and comfortable lightweight shoes to consider are the HEAD Sprint Pro, Wilson Kaos Swift and Babolat Jet Tere, available in men‘s and women‘s sizes and many color options.

Wilson Kaos Swift Shoe – Women’s

Our Shoe Comparison chart lists all of the popular court shoes that we carry, with their weights, widths, and whether they come with an outsole warranty. For an easy way to compare them all, view our Men’s Shoe Comparison Chart and our Women’s Shoe Comparison Chart, which you can find at the bottoms of our Pickleball Court Shoes For Men and Pickleball Court Shoes For Women pages. You can also navigate to all of our pickleball court shoes here.

HEAD Shoes Offer Optimal Styles for Every Type of Court and Player

It used to be that many players relied on tennis or volleyball shoes for pickleball, but at long last there are finally shoes dedicated purely to pickleball. It’s not “one size fits all” either—depending on whether you play outdoors or indoors, prefer durability or speed, there’s an option available for you!

HEAD provides paddles such as the Xtreme and Radical, but their strong background in developing gear for other racquet sports has led to this reliable footwear. They’ve expanded their offerings to include three types of shoes that are adaptable to the various court types you may find yourself playing on and how much support you crave.

HEAD Shoes

HEAD Shoes (available in various colors)

The options available are called the HEAD Revolt Pro 2.5, HEAD Sprint Pro 2.0 and Revolt Indoor Court Shoe.

Tri-NRG System

The Revolt and Sprint Pro both use a design approach referred to as the Tri-NRG system. This includes:

Neutralizing, shock-absorbent properties

Rigidity from TPU shanks (supportive structure) to prevent rolled ankles

Generation of rebound from breathable, cushioned EVA (rubber-like) material

These shoes average around a weight of 12-14 oz and incorporate breathable materials into their design to allow for airflow and comfortable wear throughout games.

The Indoor Court Shoes include an:

Energy Frame which provides structural support, durability and reinforcements that protect the foot.

All the shoe types use a “Hybrasion” (high-abrasion) rubber formula which helps to prevent the breakdown of soles in high-stress areas. The herringbone tread pattern helps grip the floor, making them highly durable and slip resistant on any surface.

So how do you know which shoe is right for you?

Sprint Pro 2.0 Sole

Sprint Pro 2.0 sole with vents

HEAD Shoe Differences

There are a few primary differences between the three designs which may help you decide.

To start with the two outdoor options, the Revolt Pro 2.5 is an extremely durable and stable shoe with a bit of a wider fit. It’s ideal for players looking for a long-lasting shoe that will support their feet during every type of movement. It averages 13.7 oz in the men’s sizes and 12.4 oz in the women’s.

The Sprint Pro 2.0 is a lighter option that keeps the feet lower to the ground for quicker movements. The narrow fit creates a more form-fitting feel which supports a performance-based design that feels “locked in” during play. It weights approximately 12.9 oz in men’s sizes and 11.7 oz in women’s.

Overall, both shoes provide excellent support, comfort and style, but the Revolt Pro 2.5 a slightly better option for those who want maximum hardiness and stability, where the Sprint Pro 2.0 has a fitted feel that’s more suitable to consistent, fast movement.

These shoes have a fairly tough tread and come with a unique feature underneath the insole: a venting “sticker” that can be removed to allow for more airflow through the shoes, increasing their cooling capacity.

The Indoor Court Shoes are, of course, the best option if you need shoes that will grip wooden surfaces. The tread on these shoes is slightly stickier/softer than their outdoor counterparts to accommodate the slicker surface.

HEAD’s indoor option prevents slippage and has a high arch, making them an excellent choice for those wanting more support. They have a particularly thin mesh covering on the outside that makes them an extremely breathable choice.

They also happen to be the most light weight shoe offered by HEAD, averaging 11.8 oz.

HEAD Warranty

HEAD shoes come with a limited manufacturer’s warranty for defective material and workmanship for one year from the date of purchase. This includes problems like the laces ripping or an improperly sewn tongue.

In addition, for the Revolt Pro 2.5 specifically, there is a 6-month outsole durability warranty to cover holes in the bottom of the shoe from standard court wear.

HEAD Shoe Warranty

To make sure you get the ideal fit, we recommend checking each product listing to see if you should size up or down depending on foot width.  You can try out these incredible shoes for yourself and experience how they can support your play by heading over to PickleballCentral store. We offer 30-day returns on unworn products (trying the shoes on for fit is acceptable!) so that you can ensure the right match.

Celebrate the 4th of July with These Patriotic Paddles and Gear

The 4th of July arrives tomorrow! Between celebrating independence, munching on BBQ and watching fireworks, picklers may want to take a look at these patriotic offering we currently have in stock.

If you want to show off some red, white and blue pride, take a look at the following goods:

Pickleball USA Shirt

Pickleball USA Shirt

Pickleball USA Shirt in Men and Women’s sizes

These shirts allow you to share your affection for pickleball and the U.S. all in one! Emblazoned with the word “Pickleball” but filled with the stars and stripes of the American flag, this is the perfect apparel to wear during your celebrations.

Liberty Pro 4G Paddle

If you want to represent American ideals on the court, you can’t get much clearer than a print of the Statue of Liberty on your paddle! The patriotic design is a wonderful fit for the 4th, and the Liberty Pro isn’t just a looker on the outside; it has a tough Nomex core and one of the widest surfaces available for an extra broad sweet spot.

2018 US Open Bantam TS-5

This paddle was created in celebration of this year’s US Open, and as such it has a brilliant red, white and blue design. The classy looks will make it stand the test of time for years to come. The TS-5 is a lightweight option that will keep you quick at the net and prepared to return any shot.

2016 US Open Bantam EX-L

Similar to the Bantam TS-5, this Bantam EX-L was also made to celebrate the US Open, but for the 2016 competition. Get in on this limited design before Paddletek decides to stop offering it. In contrast to the TS-5, this paddle features a medium to heavier weight for increased power without losing control.

USAPA Shirt

USAPA Shirt

USAPA Shirt for Men and Women

The USAPA is a major governing body for pickleball, and this design provides a great opportunity to support their work and country! The USAPA logo, of course, uses patriotic colors and can be placed atop a variety of different shirt designs to best suit your needs.

In addition to this particular option, there are many USAPA-centric pieces of apparel on the PickleballCentral website which may appeal to those hunting for similar color schemes.

We hope everyone fits in a few games of pickleball tomorrow and enjoys a wonderful day!

Choosing Pickleball Shoes

Please consider these three guidelines when choosing pickleball shoes.

  1. Use tennis shoes outdoors and volleyball shoes indoors (wood floor).
  2. Go light!
  3. Good-looking shoes compensate for lousy play.

People ask me whether we offer shoes made specifically for pickleball. We don’t, because they don’t exist. When Asics or Nike discover the demand, they will introduce “pickleball” shoes. Yet while the markings will be different, the shoes will not. High performing tennis shoes from any manufacturer are perfect for outdoor play, while volleyball or racquetball shoes are perfect for indoor play on gym floors.

Too often players wear tennis or running shoes for indoor play. Tennis and running shoe soles are designed for wear on asphalt surfaces; traction on gym floors is poor. Volleyball shoes are designed for traction on wood floors.

Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes should only be used outdoors!

Gym floors, especially when dusty, are slippery. Soft rubber soles provide traction. This is also a safety consideration. Additionally, soles used on rough surfaces like outdoor pickleball courts must survive lots of scuffing.  This requires unnecessary weight.

Remember the old adage for backpackers that a pound on your feet equals ten pounds on your back? While 3 pound boots were common 30 years ago, today you can find hiking shoes weighing less than 8 ounces. Studies have not shown that an extra ounce of weight on each foot equates one lost point in every game of pickleball, but I bet they would!

This seems to be more true now that I am in my 50s. I wear a pair of 16 ounce Babolat tennis shoes for outdoor training, and my legs feel the burden. When I played in the US Open a few weeks ago, I ditched the Babolats and donned my 10 ounce volleyball shoes and my did I fly!

Well, it felt like it. By the way, while outdoor shoes ought not to be used indoors because of poor traction, the opposite rule does not apply.  My volleyball shoes lasted through the US Open and the soles were gone!

For indoor play, look for volleyball shoes under 9 ounces. For outdoor play, 13 ounces is a good limit. These weights are for standard size shoes, so use your judgment. Hey, I can now repeatedly detect a 0.2 ounce difference in paddle weight, and it affects my play.  So a full ounce on each foot must be important! Pickleball is a game of ounces (or grams for our international friends). My favorite brand is Asics for both volleyball and tennis shoes. And oh the colors!

Beat up shoes

As long as your shoes aren’t in THIS condition, you should be fine! (Photo: Mudstock – University of Arkansas)

Which brings us to the final point: If an extra ounce of weight on each foot might equate to one lost point, a corollary is that the brighter the shoe, the lighter the player. Flashy and colorful shoes create the image of fast and svelte players. I found that plain white tennis shoes work great for gardening. Not on the pickleball court!

Okay, I confess to being a bit disingenuous here. I was wearing nice golf shorts and my flashy Asics on the court the other day, and someone commented that I looked pretty fashionable. It occurred to me that great fashion and a big smile compensate for some pretty poor play.

What are your favorite shoes? Would you suggest PickleballCentral offer shoes?

Naked Pickleball

Laguna del Sol Pickleballers

Laguna Del Sol is a clothing optional resort in Northern California.

Is fashion a big deal on the pickleball court? Shorts and an old t-shirt are the common pickleball attire in our neighborhood.  What matters more than fashion when playing pickleball is social chemistry. That’s the conclusion I came to after talking with Suzanne Schell, owner of Laguna Del Sol, a clothing-optional resort in Northern California.

Pickleball was introduced at Laguna Del Sol two years ago by two couples who discovered  the game in Arizona and brought it back home to share with friends at Laguna Del Sol. They taped off a portion of a tennis court, rigged up a net and started playing. This new sport attracted attention and soon spare paddles were made available for “newbies” to pick up and learn the game. To keep up with the growing demand, more courts were soon necessary. Just like new pickleball communities everywhere, there was concern from the tennis players around the issue of pickleball noise.   Now, two years later, there are four beautiful pickleball courts that are fully used every weekend with a group always waiting on the sidelines to play.

Laguna del Sol Pickleball Courts

Four pickleball courts at Laguna Del Sol located near the property line. The dirt field is the neighboring property. Laugna Del Sol is lush and green.

Laguna Del Sol is a family resort. Just like pickleball playing families across the USA, at Laguna Del Sol kids play pickleball with grandparents. The only difference is what people are wearing, or not wearing.

The friendly pickleball spirit combined with the freeing and equalizing effect of nudity tends to make for a very welcoming accepting pickleball community. The Laguna Del Sol pickleball group will regularly have pot lucks together after resort tournaments. They collaborated in purchasing and sharing pickleballs for the resort and have worked together to build several shade structures near the pickleball courts.

I asked Suzanne about playing pickleball without an athletic support for men or running bras for women. She said there are many variables in what people wear playing pickleball. Depending on the weather, the pickleball players are often a mix of clothed and unclothed people. On a cool day she may wear a pickleball t-shirt and when  she’s warmed up, she may take it off. Other days it’s very hot out and more people wear clothing to wick the moisture away from their bodies. Of course in the winter, everyone is clothed.


Pickleball is growing and more people look for resorts that offer pickleball.  If you’re in Northern California and looking for a place to play pickleball and a little adventure, consider a visit to Laguna Del Sol.  They have an orientation tour and you can purchase a day pass to try out a nudist experience. Laguna Del Sol also offers a variety of  overnight accommodations and RV and camping sites.

Laguna del Sol Pickleballers