Why should you wear Pickleball shoes? 5 Reasons

Pickleball is the USA’s fastest-growing yet highly addictive sport providing athletic opportunities for anyone to play. In every community, at least 4 out of 10 people got bitten by the pickleball bug, and the main reasons behind it are friendly rules, inexpensive paddles and balls, and no strict dress code. In the mainstream of all these, shoes are the last thing coming to a player’s mind. Even if you question new players on the court about their running shoes, the ultimate reply is “why should you wear pickleball shoes?”.

I mean, I get it. My friends and I used to argue a lot 2 months back. They were team athletic shoes, i.e., running shoes, flip-flops, cross trainers, etc., and I was considered a pickleball fanatic. Katy, my friend, was so rigid that never listened to replace her favorite pink fluorescent running shoes until she broke her ankle and suffered from a toe sprain. Not wearing court shoes can cause a serious disaster. Your joints, feet, hips, and back will always be prone to injury. Besides, you’ll never maintain proper footwork. If you don’t want to end up like Katy and improve your footwork + performance, take 5 minutes and read this article to the end.

Importance of Pickleball Shoes:

In pickleball, you can compromise anything related to your attire, but the shoes. Appropriate pickleball shoes are essential for your comfort, performance, and physical well-court. Here are the difference pickleball shoes make that an athletic shoe can never! 

Lateral Support

Athletic shoes have a heel-to-toe strike which makes these shoe ideal to move forward. Now answer this: do you need forward movement in pickleball and how often? Probably only when you’re marching on the NVZ. The rest of the game is all about moving side-to-side and having added support when your moves are random and awkward. 

The problem with shoes with less or no lateral support is that your foot still remains moving after you’ve stopped moving sideways. This is the reason for a foot sprain. When you’ve lateral support in your shoe, the foot will stop right the moment you’ve stepped on the ground or taken an immediate cut.  

The lateral support and torsional stability in pickleball shoes help you step wherever you want with an ultimate amount of pressure. Some steps are gouging to be more aggressive, especially when you’ve just hit an overhead. In these scenarios, these shoes rescue you from absorbing shock and impact and create a torque that prevents you from falling off the court. 


Traction is a basic necessity you need in your shoes to stay in balance and move confidently. Pickleball shoes have a half-herringbone tread design which helps you in moving sideways, backpedal, pivot, and lunge. Some athletic shoes have a full-herringbone design, which again, isn’t much useful since they’ll wear out too quickly for their soft outsole. 

Other sports shoe doesn’t have traction as mandatory. These shoes are designed for a smooth forward motion with less traction. While in pickleball, the regular momentum of your foot is: move, fast move, stop random jump, slow steps, small side steps for balance. That means you’re putting your entire body at risk if your shoe doesn’t provide you support in this irregular footwork. 

Protection from Injuries

Pickleball shoes provide the best grip one could ask for. These shoes have a plastic shank sandwiched between the outsole and the heel. The shank equalizes movements and creates harmony between the ankle and heel. Besides, it also protects from slipping, rolling, and falling off the court. In addition, there are separate plastic heels and specialized shock-absorbing technologies n the insole and outsole, you can protect your feet from impact and shock when making sudden moves. Just by protecting you from impact and shock, pickleball shoe guard you against foot and toe pain, ankle sprain, knee, and back pain. 

Protection from Injuries

No matter how friendly pickleball is, the risk of injury is always present—just like in any other sport. While talking about pickleball injuries, it’s important to keep in mind that pickleball shoes aren’t a magical potion that’ll make you bulletproof to injuries. The shoes will minimize the risk and protects you from “intensional” harm you might get when wearing athletic shoes. However, personal care is important. Plus make sure, you’re following pickleball warmups and cooldowns to prevent injuries and sprains. 



Your success in pickleball depends on great footwork, and for that, hard work fills up only half of the equation. To actually improve your footwork, you need the right shoes, that go with your movements. This benefit involves lateral movement, but one thing I’ll count on here is the cushion. Specifically designed for quick starts and stops, pickleball shoes provide the best stability and balance on the court. The flat shoe design helps in pivoting–an important step in returning a quality lob shot. 


Comfort is staying cozy when you twist your foot. Typically, in regular shoes, foot twisting isn’t possible, and if you do so, the mid bends over which results in a very hurting rolling ankle. Pickleball shoes, because of their flat outsole, distribute the weight of the foot in the shoe evenly with extra cushion on the toe box and heel, so when you twist your feet when shuffling and stacking, the shoe equalizes the motion making your foot stay in one place. This bending from the toe, instead of mid is the most important factor to look for when looking for a stable pickleball shoe. 


Although the cushion is quite reduced than many athletic and running shoes, many manufacturers have adapted specialized cushioning technology, so you can also have an edge in the cushioning compartment. Plus, the insoles are customizable, you can remove the insole and place a thicker one to enhance the arch support. This is for people with ankle injuries and consistent sprains. 

Most of the time, your toes stay idle during the play and you need to move them in the shoe. You can’t do them in athletic shoes because, in the heel-to-heel strike, the heel is higher leaving no space in the toe box. Results? Extreme discomfort. When you can’t move your toes your entire feet will be stressed out. This also limits your playing hour on the court. I’ve seen many players leaving the court with foot pain, even before the intervals. 

What shoes to wear for pickleball? Alternatives of Pickleball Shoes

Regardless of the advantages Pickleball shoes provide, they’re very rare. Surprisingly you don’t need “pickleball-specific” shoes. Tennis shoes or court shoes will do the work perfectly. In fact, many shoes sold under the title of pickleball shoes are either tennis/court shoes for outdoors or volleyball/squash shoes for indoors. Only K Swiss and ASICS have launched dedicated pickleball shoes yet. 

So, if you’re in search of quality pickleball shoes and can’t find one, don’t panic. You can look for a hard surface tennis court shoe if you’re playing outdoors. The surface of outdoor pickleball and tennis courts are the same and both sports require traction and excellent support for lateral movement. You can also get regular court shoes with a half-herringbone tread design, thick soles, and a wider toe box. 

For playing indoors, you need more grab, a soft outsole, and added traction along with the similar requirement of lateral movement and extra space and cushioning in heel and toe compartments. A good pair of the gymnasium, volleyball, or squash shoe will effortlessly provide all that. Their price range is also affordable, you can easily get an extra pair of outdoor shoes with them. 

The only red flag is the running shoe, walking shoes, hiking boots, cross-trainers, and flip-flops (I know I’ve only left court shoes, but for your own good). These shoes are a serious roadblock in players’ performance as well as put you at risk of pickleball injuries. Unless you’re not wearing them, you’re pretty much good to go! 

Note: Court shoes are for court only. Always take your shoes off when you walk out of the court and put on your regular footwear. This is because these shoes are typically heavy and make your feet stressed out if you keep on them for longer hours. These shoes should exclusively be worn on court surfaces to give your feet relaxation. Also, replace your pickleball socks periodically for odor-resistance, and blister-free, fresh feet. 

That’s a Wrap!

 Pivoting is the first and foremost necessity in pickleball and there are no shoes other than court/tennis which provides you with that. These shoes will gradually uplift your performance with great footwork and above all, protects you from potential injuries. And no, you don’t need to experience injury to switch your running shoes to pickleball shoes. Even if you play pickleball only on weekends, you need proper pickleball shoes. Check our guide on how to choose pickleball shoes and make your purchase wisely!

Robby Anderson

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