Tennis Shoes for Pickleball: A Smart Choice or a Misstep?

The wide and high-toe box in pickleball shoes, for instance, aims to prevent bruised toes, a common pickleball injury resulting from quick stops and forward motion. Unlike typical tennis shoes, pickleball shoes often have a deeper shoe design, allowing for the insertion of custom orthotics if needed, and a stable shoe platform to reduce the risk of rolling an ankle during the intense lateral or side-to-side movements that are more prevalent in pickleball compared to tennis. Ignoring these specific needs could not exactly result in pretty sore feet or, worse, an injury.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball?

From personal experience and a deep understanding of both sports, it becomes clear that while tennis shoes might serve as a temporary solution, they fall short of providing the tailored support required for pickleball. The specialized design of pickleball shoes addresses the unique demands of the game, offering not just protection against injuries but also enhancing playing performance. The decision to wear the right footwear could be the difference between a good and a great game, underscoring the importance of shoes that are specifically designed for the sport you are playing.

Does a “Pickleball Shoe” exist?

Many people ask if they need special shoes for pickleball, especially when they see brands like K-Swiss making pickleball shoes like the Express Light Pickleball Shoe. But when you look closely, pickleball shoes and tennis shoes are pretty much the same, just with different names. So, even though you can buy shoes just for pickleball, you might not need to. It’s more about what feels good on your feet than a specific type of shoe.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball?

When it comes to playing pickleball, especially outdoors, many wonder if their trusty tennis shoes are up to the task. The answer isn’t just a simple yes or no. While tennis shoes can be a good option for outdoor courts due to their design to handle surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and courts with an acrylic top, pickleball demands a bit more. The court material and gameplay of pickleball, although similar in many ways to tennis, have their unique aspects. For indoor pickleball, experts often recommend a court shoe designed for indoor sports like volleyball or squash because they are better suited for hardwood floors and won’t leave marks.

Ultimately, the best option is a shoe that makes you feel comfortable and confident on the court, keeping an eye out for those that meet the specific demands of the game.

Key Aspects of Ideal Pickleball Footwear

When selecting the right footwear for the court, it’s crucial to focus on pickleball court shoes that offer several key features. Comfort, support, and traction are top priorities to consider.

Tread for Pickleball Footwear

Key Aspects of Ideal Pickleball Footwear

For pickleball enthusiasts playing on outdoor courts, choosing a shoe with the best tread is crucial for maintaining balance and agility. The partial or modified herringbone tread is often hailed as the optimal pattern for such surfaces. This design offers enough traction to prevent slips on the gritty court surface without being too grippy, which could hinder movement. Tennis shoes, known for their durability and support, usually feature this tread pattern, making them a suitable choice for pickleball players.

However, when the game moves to clay courts, a full herringbone tread becomes more desirable. This pattern is used specifically for its ability to let the clay move through the treads, allowing players to slide in a controlled way. It offers a little less traction, ideal for the unique surface of clay courts. While tennis shoes with a full herringbone tread can work well for pickleball, it’s recommended to opt for the partial pattern if you don’t intend on stepping onto the clay.


A pickleball shoe designed for outdoor play HAS to have a durable midsole. This is because the midsole is the core of the shoe that takes on more shock with every step, especially on gritty, hard surfaces typical of outdoor courts. A thicker midsole not only provides more support but also means the shoe will withstand the rigorous demands of the game. It should ideally go up a little higher and be made of firm rubber to ensure longevity and performance, making it very important for players who are serious about their game.

Toe Box Design

A good pickleball shoe should feature a wide toe box, providing ample space for the toes to move freely, which is crucial for balance and agility on the court. This design aspect is particularly important for players with wide feet, where an extra-wide toe box can prevent toe dragging and the associated wear, enhancing the shoe’s durability. The toe box should also offer sufficient cushioning around the middle of the foot to absorb impacts during intense play.

The most flexible part of a quality court shoe, unlike a running shoe which bends in the middle, should be near the toe to accommodate the quick, lateral movements that are essential in pickleball. Without this specialized design, players are risking damage to their footwear, potentially tearing through a pair of unsuitable shoes in just a couple of months.


The weight of a pickleball shoe plays a pivotal role in a player’s performance, blending personal preference with the need for stability and durability. A heavier shoe, often equipped with a thicker herringbone outsole and a thick, supportive midsole, provides added stability but can reduce agility. Conversely, a lighter shoe might offer more speed and flexibility on the court but could sacrifice some durability and support due to less rubber in its construction. Finding the right balance is key, as the ideal weight can vary based on individual play style and comfort preferences.

Cushioning in Pickleball Footwear

Best Shoes For Pickleball

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball

Potential Pitfalls of Tennis Shoes in Pickleball

Opting to wear tennis shoes for a pickleball game could be risking both your performance and safety on the court. These shoes may not offer enough forward traction, leading to potential slips and trips during the game. The issue becomes more evident with soft dink shots that barely make it over the net, where it’s all too easy to jam your toe while trying to make a shot. Furthermore, tennis shoes do not provide the necessary stability for the rapid direction changes required in a pickleball match, where the lighter balls travel at a different speed than tennis balls, demanding more precise footwork from the player.

Elite Choices for Pickleball Footwear

3 Best Pickleball Footwear Choices:

1. ASICS Men’s Gel-RENMA Pickleball Shoes

The ASICS Men’s Gel-RENMA Pickleball Shoes stand out for their innovative design, particularly with the Flex grooves in the outsole that significantly improve flexibility, making them ideal for the swift movements required in pickleball. The integration of Forefoot GEL technology enhances impact absorption, providing a softer feeling at the footstrike and ensuring both comfort and performance on the court.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball

2. FitVille Women’s Pickleball Shoes

When stepping onto the pickleball court, the FitVille Women’s Pickleball shoes redefine comfort and performance. These sneakers are a fusion of fashionable mesh and super soft microfiber upper, ensuring your feet stay cool and supported with every agile move. Engineered with Anti-odor technology and breathable material, they maintain a fresh environment for your feet, even during the most intense matches. Designed specifically for those with wider feet, they offer a WIDE & EXTRA WIDE fit, giving your toes the freedom of movement they crave. This comfortable experience is vital, as it translates directly to your game, allowing for unrestricted movement across the court.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball

3. K-Swiss Men’s Express Light Pickleball Shoe

Designed with the stability required for the quick lateral movement and front/back shifts demanded by the game, these shoes offer a specialized fit for pickleball enthusiasts. If you’re accustomed to playing in a sneaker or neutral athletic shoe, adjusting to the specific design may take some time, but the enhanced support and tailored fit make it worth the transition.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball


In conclusion Yes, you can wear tennis shoes for pickleball, but it’s not the ideal choice. Tennis shoes are designed for the lateral movements and quick sprints typical in tennis, providing stability and support on the court. However, pickleball involves a different range of movements and is often played on different surfaces, which might not align perfectly with the design specifications of tennis shoes. While tennis shoes can suffice, especially for casual play or beginners, dedicated pickleball shoes are recommended for serious players seeking optimal performance and injury prevention, as they are tailored to the specific demands and court surfaces of pickleball.

  1. Are tennis shoes and pickleball shoes the same?

    Tennis shoes and pickleball shoes are not the same. While both are designed for court sports, tennis shoes cater to the high-impact, lateral movements of tennis, whereas pickleball shoes are tailored for the sport’s unique combination of movements and court surfaces. Pickleball shoes often provide specific features for better grip and support suitable for pickleball’s playing style.

  2. How important are pickleball shoes?

    Pickleball shoes are quite important for serious players, as they offer the necessary support, traction, and durability tailored to the sport’s unique movements and court surfaces. Proper footwear reduces the risk of injuries and enhances performance by providing better stability and comfort during the quick, multidirectional movements that pickleball demands, making them a valuable investment for regular and competitive players alike.

  3. Can you play pickleball in running sneakers?

    Yes, you can play pickleball in running sneakers, but they’re not optimal. Running shoes are designed for forward motion and may not provide the lateral support needed for pickleball’s side-to-side movements. This mismatch can increase the risk of ankle rolls and other injuries. For casual play, running sneakers might suffice, but dedicated pickleball or court shoes are recommended for better performance and safety.

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