Purchasing proper pickleball ball shoes is important for optimal movement and for reducing the chance of injury. Unfortunately, with the explosion of pickleball as a sport, there are many brands out there that are hopping on the bandwagon and are charging exorbitant prices for a pair of shoes for the sport.
I’m going to explain why you’re better off purchasing tennis shoes for pickleball, as opposed to “pickleball shoes” for pickleball, as well as why you can’t just use your typical running shoes for a sport like pickleball shoes.
Running Shoes vs Tennis/Pickleball Shoes
Typically, the material, shape, and firmness of a shoe is closely connected to the activity of the sport. For example, as a runner, there will never be a time when you need lateral movement. You’re always running straight forward, never side-stepping. On the other hand, as a pickleball player, you’re not only moving forward, but you’re also side-stepping to return to your position.
Since running requires a lot of repetitive movement, manufacturers also tend to place a lot of cushion into the sole, which is something you won’t find in tennis/pickleball shoes. You don’t want cushion in your pickleball shoes, since the closer your heel is to the ground, the better your lateral movement will be. (think about lower center of gravity)
Drilling into the whole lateral movement, when we move laterally, we place a of stress on the ankles, and pickleball/tennis shoes make sure to support the ankle better, to reduce the chances of rolling.
When it comes to the bottom of the shoe since playing pickleball forces us to run forward, move laterally, backstep for overheads etc, the bottom of the shoes have to be lined with material that can withstand movement in all different directions. A running shoe will focus on strengthening the durability of the heel and top of the shoe only.
Pickleball shoes vs Tennis shoes
Here is the truth, the movement in pickleball and in tennis is very similar. There should not be any practical difference between the two shoes. We will ignore the fact that there are different surface types for tennis such as clay and grass. Since most of pickleball happens on a “hard” court, we’ll also look for tennis shoes that are either good for all surfaces or for hard surfaces as well.
Tennis shoes have been widely manufactured and commoditized for over a hundred of years. But due to the sudden popularity of pickleball, many of the same manufacturers or new ones for pickleball, have decided to charge their customers a leg and arm.
Don’t do it!
If you’re looking for a pair of pickleball shoes, simply look at tennis shoes.
Here are our recommendations.
1. Babolat Men’s Jet Mach 3
The Mach 3 by Babolat easily tops the list, and it’s worth mentioning that the #1 Men’s Pickleball player, Ben Johns, wears the Mach 3 himself! Here is a link to the men’s shoes, and a link to the women’s shoes.
As you might know, Babolat is a massive brand within the tennis space, when it comes to their racquets, gear and shoes, so it’s not a surprise that their shoes knock it out of the park. Mind you, they are fairly expensive, but as they said, “you get what you pay for”. They are very light shoes, with great ankle support, and fantastic durability.
2. Asics Gel Resolution 8
Ascis has been known for making fantastic and affordable tennis shoes. The Gel Resolution 8 is one of the top tennis shoes offered by Asics. While they come in a bit cheaper than the Mach 3, they’re another pair that comes with glowing reviews. Here is a link to the men’s shoes, and a link to the women’s shoes.
If you have narrow feet, especially in the toe box, then you’d likely enjoy the Asics’s over the Mach 3’s, which tend to be better for those with wider feet. But in general, these are an awesome pair of shoes, and what I personally wear. I’ve used both the Mach 3 and the Resolution 8, and while I like both, since the Resolution 8 run a bit more narrow, as does my foot, it simply fits me better. I’m typically able to get about 7-9 months out of the pair, while playing pickleball about 4-5 per week at a 5.0+ level.
3. ASICS Men’s Gel-RENMA Pickleball Shoes
Okay yes, I lied. I did say earlier that you shouldn’t buy shoes that are marketed as “pickleball shoes”, but Asics knocks it out of the park with this pair. While the Renma may not look as good as the Mach 3, or the Resolution 8, nor is it as springy or durable – it’s an absolute steal at the current price. Here is a link for the men’s shoe, and a link for the women’s shoe.
I keep a pair around and wear them whenever I feel that I may end up getting caught in a light drizzle and don’t want to mess up my more expensive pair. But if you’re someone just getting into pickleball, there is nothing wrong with going with a cheaper pair such as the Renma. It’s still a great shoe. Sure, you won’t move as quickly as you would as the other’s on the list, as I feel that at times it feels a “bulky”, it’s still a solid shoe. It’s especially good for those of us out there that suffer from flat fee, since this shoe tends to focus a lot on the arch.