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