The 4 Best Pickleball Shoes, According to a Coach
In case you haven’t heard, pickleball is America’s new “it” sport. According to a 2022 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, more than 4.8 million people now participate.
If you are interested in joining the ever growing ranks of pickleball, your first move should be to invest in a pair of pickleball shoes.
The sport is best described as a cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong. As such, it requires footwear that can handle the quick changes of direction and hard surfaces of playgrounds.
Before you start shopping, check out our handy guide to the best pickleball shoes of 2022 for men and women.
- Best All-Around Competition:K-Swiss Express Light ($105, KSwiss.com)
- Ideal for outdoors: New Balance 996v4.5 Fuel Cell ($145, NewBalance.com)
- Ideal for indoors: Salming Viper 5 ($150, Salming.com)
- Best budget: Asics Gel-Rocket 10 ($70, Asics.com)
For the best pickleball shoes, we turned to David Dutrieuille, pickleball player, coach and national director of pickleball at Life Time. Then we selected the following pairs based on criteria such as:
- cushion level
- ankle movement
1. Best all-around: K-Swiss Express Light
Sizes: 7 to 14 (men); 5 to 12 (women)
Dutrieuille loves this pair of K-Swiss pickleball shoes as a tough, versatile option that won’t break the bank. They are also the first field shoes specifically designed for pickleball, according to the manufacturer. As such they are lightweight, breathable and fantastic for indoor and outdoor courts.
The heel features a grippy liner to prevent heel slippage, while added material on high wear areas protects the shoes from abrasion during intense matches. The shoe also offers additional midfoot support to improve stability.
2. Best for Outdoors: New Balance Fuel Cell 996v4.5
Sizes: 7 to 15 standard and wide (men); 5 to 12 standard and large (women)
These tennis shoes are a great option for outdoor pickleball matches, Dutrieuille says. They feature exclusive FuelCell foam in the midsole to propel you quickly forward to meet the ball.
The outsole of these best outdoor pickleball shoes is rugged, providing the traction and durability you need to dominate the outdoor court. A knit upper provides stretch and support in strategic areas, keeping you comfortable and secure throughout your game.
3. Ideal for indoors: Salming Viper 5
Sizes: 6.5 to 14 (men); 5.5 to 10 (women)
Although designed for racquetball and squash, Dutrieuille says these shoes are also a solid choice for the best indoor court shoes for pickleball. “Their gum rubber material is amazing,” he says.
This pair will keep your feet snug and close to the ground for quick, flexible movement. The outsole features a super sticky grip to prevent slipping, while a removable sockliner provides extra foot grip when taking off.
The shoes also feature a molded heel counter for added stability and a reinforced midsole to prevent twisting of your ankles.
4. Best budget: Asics Gel-Rocket 10
Sizes: 6 to 15 years (male); 5 to 14 (women)
Still not sure if pickleball is the sport for you? Get comfortable with these Asics pickleball shoes, which are versatile and budget-friendly indoor court shoes. They offer a flexible upper, which allows your feet to bend more naturally and move more freely on the court.
These shoes also feature a reinforced midsole for greater stability during quick transitions. Gel technology cushioning in the heel provides greater comfort and shock absorption when landing.
Bonus: These shoes come in more color combinations than the other options on our list.
5 Factors to Consider When Buying Pickleball Shoes
There are shoes made specifically for pickleball, but other field shoes will also work. In fact, pickleball shoes are almost indistinguishable from real tennis shoes, says Dutrieuille. The same goes for squash, volleyball and racquetball shoes.
Just avoid running shoes. “Most running shoes don’t have very good lateral stabilization due to the nature of forward running,” says Dutrieuille.
As such, running shoes aren’t appropriate for the quick side-to-side transitions you’ll need to make during a pickleball game. ****
The cut of pumps is generally more fitted than that of other types of shoes. However, when trying on a pair, Dutrieuille suggests checking that you have about ¼ to ½ inch in length between the top edge of the shoe and your big toe. Also, no part of your foot should hurt or ache from the pressure exerted by the shoe, he adds.
We all have different definitions of comfort. Even if a pair of pumps technically looks good on you, you may not find them comfortable. After all, pumps offer different levels of cushioning and support. So, try on several pairs of pumps and note how you feel in more or less cushioning and support features. Choose the shoes you prefer.
Each shoe brand has its own marketing jargon, which makes it difficult to know what materials to look for in a pickleball shoe. When shopping, check that pickleball shoes have a mesh upper for breathability, foam or gel cushioning in the sole, and a grippy rubber outsole designed for hard court, Dutrieuille says.
You want your shoes to last. So, look for pairs with a reinforced midsole and upper and a chunky rubber sole.
However, be prepared to replace your shoes every three months or so if you play pickleball regularly (three or four times a week). “Personally, I go through a pair every three weeks,” says Dutrieuille.
The cushioning in your shoes wears out over several weeks of play. Replacing your shoes often can help protect your joints from the impact of sport. “When your knees, lower back, and ankles start hurting for no reason, that’s usually your body telling you it’s time to buy some new shoes,” says Dutrieuille.
You may be able to replace your shoes less frequently if you play pickleball less than three or four days a week.