Please consider these three guidelines when choosing pickleball shoes.
- Use tennis shoes outdoors and volleyball shoes indoors (wood floor).
- Go light!
- 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 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!
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?