Footwear TechTalk with Babolat

Babolat Footwear at Pickleball Central
Babolat Footwear at Pickleball Central

Babolat invented tennis racquet strings in the year 1875. Ever since, they have enjoyed a slow, steady march toward racquet sports dominance through innovation and strategic player endorsements. Babolat entered the pickleball world a few years with a solid lineup of pickleball paddles, and their court shoes are seen with increasing frequency on the pickleball court, appreciated by many pro players and amateurs alike for their well-designed features, durability and style. We recently chatted with Rose Jones from Babolat to learn more about Babolat footwear.

Babolat comes to pickleball with a strong background in tennis, a sport played on mostly the same surface as pickleball. How far back does Babolat’s history with footwear go?

In 2004, Babolat partnered with Michelin to produce court specific footwear.

Babolat Pickleball Shoes
Babolat Pickleball Shoes

What separates Babolat footwear from other brands in the market?

Babolat has a long history in the sport of tennis (we are 147 years old) and looking at the needs of tennis players from strings and racquets to shoes. As we have evolved into other racquet sports such as badminton and padel, we’ve taken that same detailed approached in designing footwear for those sports as well. With our entry into pickleball, we see pickleball players’ needs for lateral support, durability and comfort.

Also our partnership with Michelin provides not only long-lasting outsoles, but also specific sculptures (tread design) to meet the demands of the side-to-side and quick stop-and-go movement of pickleball.

What are the main differences between models of Babolat shoes?

Propulse Fury – long lasting durability and support

  • Six-month outsole wear guarantee with Michelin DIN20 rubber with optimized cell outsole
  • KPRS-X midsole offers shock dampening and comfort
  • 360 sock liner providing less friction as you move around
  • Power Belt wraps around the midfoot offering exceptional lateral support
Babolat Propulse Fury – Men’s
Babolat Propulse Fury – Women’s

Propulse Blast – more affordable version of the Propulse Fury

  • Built on the same last as the Propulse Fury and features Active Flexion technology to address the nine key pressure points of the foot for maximum responsiveness
Babolat Propulse Blast – Men’s
Babolat Propulse Blast – Women’s

Jet Mach 3 – the ultimate weapon for players seeking more precision and agility

  • Light weight  (11.5 oz / 325 gm)
  • Michelin-designed outsole offers increased thickness in key wear areas without adding weight, and the outsole pattern is designed for the specific movements of tennis and pickleball
  • KPRS-X midsole cushioning
  • Matryyx Evo upper – this specialty fabric is a unique weave of Aramid and Polyamid fibers that mold to your foot, offering optimal balance between comfort, support and durability
  • Available in wide EE wide
Babolat Jet Mach 3 – Men’s
Babolat Jet Mach 3 – Men’s Wide

Jet Tere –  Tere is Maori for “speed”

  • Light weight (11.5 oz / 325 gm)
  • Michelin Premium technology reduces wear and tear from tennis and pickleball movement
  • KPR-X cushioned midsole
  • Soft breathable mesh upper for step-in comfort
Babolat Jet Tere – Men’s
Babolat Jet Tere – Women’s

SFX-3 – the ultimate comfort shoe with a wide roomy fit

  • Michelin outsole with Active Flexion for maximum responsiveness in nine key pressure points on the foot
  • Multi-layered Ergo Motion insoles for slipper-like comfort
  • Upper is a light breathable mesh with one-piece side wall for lateral stability
Babolat SFX-3 – Men’s
Babolat Jet SFX-3 – Women’s

We see so many pro players sporting Babolat shoes! Why is there so much love for Babolat footwear on the pro tours?

Pro players look for speed and agility. The Jet Mach 3 which is our most advanced shoe offers that. It’s very light, the upper of the shoe molds to the foot for a precise fit, and the outsole is designed for the quick cuts and stops of pro players.

Which Babolat shoe is the best for durability? What about comfort?  

For durability the Propulse Fury is the best; it has the thickest Michelin rubber outsole. We’re so confident in the outsole durability that we offer a six-month wear guarantee. For comfort, the SFX3 with its memory foam insole is a great choice. This is an E width shoe with a roomy toe box.

How often can we expect to see updates made to Babolat shoes?

We have two drops a year with color updates. We try to balance offering new models while continuing to stock our best-selling shoes that players can count on to be in stock.

What’s the next updated model we can expect to see debut?

For 2023, we will debut an all new Propulse Fury. It will be a sleeker version with the same durability as the current Propulse Fury.

Where are Babolat shoes designed?

All of our shoes are designed in France.

Learn more

To learn more about Babolat shoes, visit our site at:

Babolat Men’s Shoes

Babolat Women’s Shoes

When Should I Replace My Pickleball Shoes? 

If your shoes are still in one piece then they can be worn for pickleball just like any other option. If you’re looking to optimize the efficacy and stability of your footwork, however, there are a few specific areas you’ll want to examine.

Know When To Replace Your Pickleball Shoe To Prevent Injury

If you’re wearing running shoes to play pickleball, then it was likely time to replace them yesterday!

If you’re already wearing a pickleball or tennis-specific court shoe and wondering how much life you can squeeze out of them, then the best indicator is to look at how much tread is left on the top half of the outsole underneath your shoe.

Check Your Tread!

Movement during games will cause the toe box area of your shoe’s rubber to wear down the quickest. Some players notice heavier wear on the heel of their shoes, and this is a good way to determine if it’s time for replacement as well. What you want to look for is a flattened rubber outsole. Any part of the underside of your shoe that has no visible tread pattern remaining is an indication that your shoes won’t offer as much traction, stability and support as they once did. It’s important to replace them primarily due to the increased risk of injury from wearing worn shoes that will cause you to slide around on the court. They also simply won’t perform as well, since a worn tread leads to less traction, preventing your shoes from helping you pivot or get up to the kitchen line as quickly.

Some shoes have a layer of material below the outsole that is a different color. If you’re able to see this from wearing through the first layer, it’s an immediate indication your shoes are worn out. Running shoes offer a very soft midsole cushion that helps absorb hard impact and alleviate pounding on your feet and joints. Over time this cushioning loses its spring and offers less comfort and joint relief. With court shoes, the cushioning in the midsole and outsole is much harder than that used in running shoes, and while it won’t offer the same comfort, the hardness of the rubber is beneficial in maintaining the tread while being dragged across the rough surface of a pickleball court.

Court shoes are meant to withstand the test of time, but the length of life you get out of them can be a result of many different factors. How often do you play? Do you lift your feet or allow for toe drag when following through on shots? The weight of your shoe can be a good indicator of the longevity you can expect. A heavier shoe has harder, more dense rubber that is meant to maintain its tread for months of play. Some shoes even come with a 6 month outsole guarantee, which means the tread should stay intact for 6 months and if you wear through them in that timeframe, the brand will send you a new pair for free.

You’ll notice almost all of the shoes offering this warranty are quite heavy. Light shoes typically use a softer rubber that is less dense. If you don’t play very frequently and are mostly concerned with comfort, lightweight shoes are a great option. But you won’t see many tournament-level players using these shoes since the delicate materials are easy for aggressive players to wear down.

Remember to take a moment to examine your shoes every once in a while to ensure you’re staying safe and getting the most out of your footwear. If you’ve found a specific brand or style that works best for you, let us know in the comments.

Shop all Men’s Pickleball Shoes

Shop all Women’s Pickleball Shoes

Wear & Care: We recommend using pickleball shoes only during play, not for other sports or as everyday shoes. This will help ensure they last as long as possible. Pickleball Court shoes are designed for a combination of support and comfort, and most pros wear their shoes only for court play. Remember, court shoes are just as important as a paddle and will go far toward improving your game.

If you need help picking out the right pickleball shoe for you our customer service team can help! We love pickleball as much as you do.

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.

Why Wear a Pickleball Shoe?

Written by Kevin S., our in-house footwear expert and buyer

As pickleball continues to be one of the fastest growing sports we also see players evolve in their preference of gear. Just as many of us started playing with a wooden paddle until we saw the light and realized how much more control we got out of a composite paddle, we owe it to our feet to show them a similar jump in quality by switching out of a running shoe and putting on footwear specific to our sport. While there are no promises on an immediate improvement to your third shot drop with a pair of pickleball shoes on vs your typical running shoe, court shoes do provide improvements to stability, durability, and most importantly a reduced injury risk.

Let us start with the name: Is there a difference between a pickleball shoe, a tennis shoe, or a court shoe?

Easy answer here: No! You may have heard a few different terms used to describe the shoes you should wear while playing pickleball. The differences between them exist in name alone. As you may be aware, most people play pickleball on the same surface as a tennis court; with a big overlap in the range of motion needed from our footwear for each sport. Any tennis shoe is going to equip you perfectly for pickleball. For those who play on an indoor gym surface, a gum rubber shoe or a standard pickleball shoe are both suitable. Sometimes the term tennis shoe will refer to a general athletic shoe, so in place of this court shoe may be used to describe the footwear used for the sport. There is no reason so switch out of a tennis shoe and into a pickleball shoe, but many reasons to switch out of a trainer or running shoe and into a pickleball/tennis/court shoe.

Breaking down the benefits

Every running shoe and most trainers are designed for a limited range of motion: to go forwards and backwards. In pickleball almost every point is played with a great deal of lateral movement. Being able to pivot is very critical, and pickleball shoes are designed for just that. Putting your weight into the ball of your foot and trying to pivot left or right in a running shoe is fighting against the design of the shoe’s midsole, toe box, tread, and outsole. Losing this fight occurs when you twist your foot and instead of allowing this motion while keeping your foot stable, the shoe tips over and caves, easily leading to an ankle injury. You will often hear the term “stability” used with pickleball shoes and the idea is they allow for a range of motion, twisting, and pivoting while keeping your foot level and stable, avoiding risk of turning an ankle. A few design details help accomplish this goal.

  • Tread

The tread on the bottom of a pickleball shoe is most frequently a herringbone design, a term used to describe the squiggly pattern that lines the bottom of the shoe under the forefoot and heel. The tread of the shoe needs to allow you to start and stop quickly, pivot, lunge, backpedal, and exert your weight over many parts of the shoe. This is different from a running shoe that is designed for your weight to transfer only from your heel or midfoot to your toes in a natural running stride.

  • Stability Shank

To aid in keeping your foot stable, pickleball shoes feature a plastic shank that runs between the cushioning of your heel and the outsole. This shank runs from the back of the shoe up to about the forefoot and is visible from each side of the shoes and underneath. Some shoes also feature an additional plastic heel counter that restricts movement even further from your heel and ankle, a key component for anyone with prior ankle injuries looking for the most secure pickleball shoe they can get.

  • Drop

Running shoes often feature a slant called a heel toe drop, where the heel of the shoe is higher than the toe box. Most pickleball shoes feature close to a zero millimeter heel toe drop to allow you to pivot on your heels or forefoot without your weight being entirely distributed in one area or the other. This flat, low to the ground effect makes it hard to find a pickleball shoe with much arch support. A completely flat shoe is easier to pivot in than one with a heightened arch. Knowing many people require additional arch support to compensate for pronation, supination, or plantar fasciitis issues, all the insoles in pickleball shoes are removable, and able to be swapped with your own support insoles. We sell two insoles from Zelus, the Olympus Pro and Olympus Lite that offer a great combination of heightened arch support and cushioning. For someone needing a shoe with high arch support it is much safer to wear a pickleball shoe and put in a support insole rather than wearing a running shoe featuring a high arch.

  • Outsole

Another component of a pickleball shoe is the rubber used for the outsole that ensures durability over frequent use. This rubber is harder than the rubber in most athletic shoes and should stand the test of time against play and wear down at a much slower rate than a non-pickleball shoe.

Between a plastic shank and the hard rubber used to ensure durability pickleball shoes might not be as plush or soft as a running shoe but the benefits in stability, injury prevention, durability, and increased range of motion far outweigh the softer materials of a running shoe.

How to pick a pickleball shoe?

Every pickleball shoe will offer heightened stability, durability, and comfort compared to a normal athletic shoe. Pickleball shoe brands will often offer a very supportive and stable option as well as a lighter weight more comfort-oriented shoe. There are pros and cons to each and picking the one that fits your style of play is important. Using a lighter weight and softer rubber typically brings down the durability of a shoe. Adding a plastic heel counter for added support usually makes the shoe heavier overall. At the bottom of our Men’s and Women’s shoe pages is a shoe guide that lists information about each shoe that will help guide you in this decision.

Here you will see:

  • A classification of each shoe: Lightweight, Comfort, Durability, and Stability being the options
  • The weight of the shoe
  • The toe box width
  • Whether the shoe features a 6-month durability guarantee

As important as style is, we should consider these additional aspects of each shoe to pick the best pair for our pickleball needs.

To summarize

It takes little time to realize the benefits of upgrading from your first paddle; we should be aware of a similar improvement we can bring to our game by upgrading our footwear. You do not want to switch to a proper shoe only after you have experienced a predictable injury playing pickleball in a running shoe. It is not a piece of equipment reserved for the pro players while the rest of us are not good enough to feel the differences. Hopefully after reading along you understand the technology and differences in material used to construct a pickleball shoe and what benefits each component brings. Each brand makes pickleball shoes with different components all including a similar foundation. HEAD makes shoes with exceptional ventilation with their Sprint Pro, Revolt Pro, and Revolt EVO models. Wilson makes a shoe that sits as one of the most comfortable we carry while also being the lightest out of our lineup with their Kaos Swift. Babolat offers a wider fitting shoe with a very durable outsole with their SFX 3. K-Swiss has been a best-seller due to its elevated comfort, weight, and durability in their Express Light model. If you are curious at all of the differences between the shoes we offer or are looking for advice on how to select the shoe that will fit your game best, our customer service team is well trained to handle any and all inquiries to help make your buying experience easier. Stay tuned for more shoe content to come!

Shoe Lacing Techniques Can Alleviate Many Common Foot Problems

Do you experience foot pain during or after playing pickleball? If so you are certainly not alone. It’s not uncommon for many people, especially when doing a lot of running, to experience a variety of foot issues. Sometimes people assume they have an ill-fitting shoe when in fact simply lacing the shoe in a different way can alleviate the discomfort.

The illustration and following explanations below shows lacing techniques for addressing five of the most common foot types and issues. Experimenting with these might help you turn a pair of shoes you thought did not fit quite right into your new favorite pair.


HEEL BLISTERS / SLIPPING:
If you get heel blisters or excessive wear in the back of your shoe, it may be due to heel slippage. Using “Lock Lacing” prevents your laces from becoming loose, decreases movement of your foot in the shoe, and helps reduce friction. To do lock lacing follow these steps:

1. Lace shoes in the typical cross-cross pattern until the second-to-last eyelet.
2. Then thread the lace through the last eyelet so that the lace comes out on the inside of the shoe, which creates a loop between the last two eyelets.
3. Finish by crossing your laces then inserting them through the loops you created, pulling tightly to secure the shoe around your foot, then tie normally.

WIDE FOOT / SHOES TOO TIGHT:
If your shoes feel tight on the top of your foot, “Bar Lacing” is recommended to evenly distribute the laces for improved comfort. To do bar lacing, lace your shoes in a parallel pattern by skipping alternate eyelets for each lace and running the lace up the side of the eyelets to decrease pressure.

HIGH ARCHES:
The “Gap Lacing” pattern can help alleviate pressure that people with high arches sometimes feel in the middle of your foot. To do gap lacing:
1. Start lacing normally with a criss-cross.
2. In the middle section, thread the lace only through the side eyelets.
3. Criss-cross through the final two eyelets and tie normally.

TOE PAIN:
If you get black toenails and feel pain or pinching in your toes, the “Toe-Cap” lacing technique helps lift the toe box to create more space for your toes. To do toe-cap lacing, follow these steps:

1. Start by lacing from the eyelet at the big toe to the eyelet at the top on the opposite side, so the lace goes diagonally across the whole shoe (you might need a slightly longer pair of laces for this method).
2. Make the other side of the lace about 4 inches longer, then lace it in a criss-cross pattern across all of the eyelets.
3. At the top, tie normally.

BUNIONS / WIDE FOREFOOT:
A lacing technique that provides more space in the toe box can be helpful for people with wide forefeet and/or bunions. The recommended pattern for wide forefeet is similar to the “Gap Lacing” pattern for high arches, except that you don’t start with a criss-cross, so there is more opening in the width towards the toe. To lace for a wide forefoot, follow these steps:

1. Begin by threading the lace only through the sides.
2. Starting at the midfoot, lace with a criss-cross pattern.
3. Finish with a criss-cross the final eyelets and tie normally.

The way you lace your shoes can not only affect your performance and comfort, but can also remedy many common foot issues. But keep in mind that if your shoe is not the correct fit for your foot size or for the way you pronate, just changing how you lace your shoes won’t necessarily fix the problem. Make sure that you have the right combination of proper fit and lacing technique to help your feet stay comfortable and keep you performing at your best.

We carefully select a variety of court shoe brands and styles so that people with different foot types and preferences can find the best shoe for their needs. You can see them all here.