Like mentioned earlier, the best shoes for playing pickleball are optimized for fast lateral movements and are made to withstand wear and tear and help reduce the chance of injury. Here are some other things to consider when buying pickleball shoes.
STRONG OUTSOLE AND SUPPORTIVE MIDSOLE
In general, a good pickleball shoe is going to have a wider base and a sturdy construction in the outsole and midsole. These design notes help reinforce the shoe for when you have to make fast lateral movements. The goal is to provide support and to keep your foot planted when making sharp side-to-side movements. If an outsole and midsole is not designed with these characteristics, you risk the chance of your shoe collapsing, which could lead to slipping or losing traction. The downside to a supportive design like this is there’s often added weight, so you do not expect a good pickleball shoe to weight anything less than 10-ounces.
When it comes to outsole, look for a shoe that has a strong rubber with a pattern that will help grip to surfaces and reduce the odds of slipping when turning your feet. When looking at the midsole, aim for a shoe that has supportive cushioning (like EVA foam) and keeps a relatively low profile. Priotizing a midsole with cushioning too much could lead you to a shoe that sits high (like a Hoka), thus leading to a less responsive design, which could potentially lead to a greater chance at rolling an ankle when making fast turns on the court.
PLAYING INDOORS VS. PLAYING OUTDOORS
Most pickleball shoes can be used indoors and outdoors, but there are shoes optimized for better play with each. If you’re planning on playing indoors a lot, then a pickleball shoe with a significantly strong rubber outsole (like those you see on a volleyball shoe) are going to be a good option. Indoor pickleball shoes are designed with special grooves and materials to stick to indoor courts and basketball courts (especially dusty ones). If you wear an indoor shoes on an outdoor court, it’s possible you won’t get the same type of grip you would expect.
If you’re planning on playing outdoors, you don’t have to focus so much on the strong outsole. Many of the best outdoor pickleball shoes have good grip, but they also should prioritize breathability and being relatively lightweight. Due to these preferred qualities, some tennis shoes and sneakers have proven to be good picks for pickleball shoes when playing outdoors.
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