Footwear is largely important in racquet sports. You want stable foothold with great support so you don’t end up twisting your ankles and getting injured. Today we review the best pickleball shoes in 2020 for both women and men.
Introduction to Shoe Selection
In 1965, three dads who were trying to keep their bored kids entertained came up with the idea for the wonderful game of pickleball. Combining the best elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, the sport has provided a fun time, good exercise, and excitement for all ages ever since.
All you need for a round of pickleball is a net, a pickleball ball, pickleball paddles, and an opponent. But if you want to take your pickleball game to the next level, you need to invest in dedicated pickleball gear.
One critical piece of pickleball equipment that many players overlook is a pair of quality pickleball shoes.
Of course, you can’t just look for shoes designated for pickleball, as they don’t exist! Instead, you need to find shoes designed for other purposes that share the same qualities needed for playing pickleball.
Here, we’ll offer reviews of our top pickleball shoe recommendations, as well as a buying guide with all the factors to consider when comparison shopping.
Best Women's Pickleball Shoes
Best Overall: ASICS Women's Gel-Rocket 8 Volleyball Shoe
Our number one pick for women’s pickleball shoes is the ASICS Gel-Rocket 8 volleyball shoe. We know that you’re thinking: what’s a volleyball shoe doing on a list of pickleball shoe recommendations? The answer is simple. The same qualities that make the ASICS Gel-Rocket 8 an outstanding volleyball shoe are the qualities that make it our top choice for indoor pickleball shoes for women.
The most important feature for any indoor pickleball shoe is its traction, and the gummy rubber sole of this great shoe certainly offers the grip you need for hardwood indoor courts.
One of the best aspects of this indoor pickleball shoe, besides its affordable asking price, is that it features Asics’s own patented forefoot GEL cushioning. This cushioning technology will reduce the impact on your feet, allowing for greater comfort for longer periods of time.
Further, it includes Asics’s “Trusstic” stabilizing technology. This is a great feature that will help stabilize your stance and give you more traction when making abrupt lateral or forward-backward movements. Essentially, it limits the sole’s weight without sacrificing the shoe’s overall structural integrity.
While this is a great shoe for a budget-minded pickleball player, that wallet-friendly price tag comes with a cost of its own. That is, they are not going to be as durable or offer the same level of longevity as some other higher-end options available.
That said, they are still very well constructed and offer a great value, making them an excellent choice for you if you’re just starting out with playing pickleball or simply want a great value on a quality pickleball shoe.
Best Premium Shoe: K-Swiss Women's Hypercourt Express
If you are looking for truly top-of-the-line pickleball sneakers, the K-Swiss Hypercourt Express tennis should meet all your expectations. Of course, with top-shelf quality comes top-shelf prices, and these shoes are easily one of the more expensive options out of all our recommendations.
That said, you’re getting a lot for that premium price tag. And best of all, you won’t find yourself needing to replace these for a long time. They’re exceptionally durable and well-constructed. We have no doubt these will last you for the long-haul.
These tennis shoes are ideal for outdoor pickleball courts, with its drag guard rubber outsole. They’re perfectly suited to withstand the wear and tear that is so common with concrete pickleball courts.
As for aesthetics, with ten different color and design options, you’ll have no trouble at all finding the perfect pair to match your personal style and taste. But no matter the color scheme you choose, every iteration of these shoes looks awesome. In fact, we think it’s one of the most attractive pickleball shoes out there
If there is a downside to this excellent shoe, it’s that it might feel a little bit bulky to some. However, this is mostly due to the shoe’s wide design, which might actually be a plus for those with wider feet.
But it’s really the comfort and support that set these apart from the competition. The cushioning insole makes you feel like you’re walking on air, even though the shoes are actually pretty average when it comes to weight.
Overall, these are outstanding pickleball shoes that any serious player would be happy to wear.
Runner-Up: New Balance WC806 Tennis-W
Sure, these shoes aren’t going to win you any fashion contests, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t top-quality outdoor pickleball shoes. In fact, the New Balance WC806 tennis shoes offer loads of great features and proprietary technologies that make them an excellent choice for any serious pickleball player.
For starters, the WC806s boast New Balance’s C-CAP midsoles. These midsoles are compression-molded and offer some of the best cushion and arch support we’ve seen in a pickleball shoe, all without sacrificing anything in the way of flexibility and freedom of movement.
Furthermore, they feature New Balance’s innovative Abzorb technology for the insoles. The insoles are comprised of a blend of foam cushioning that is compression-set, just like the C-CAP midsole.
But it’s not just the innovative technology that makes these kicks so great; they are also constructed out of top-notch materials, especially the uppers, which are made of full-grain leather.
Most importantly for an outdoor pickleball shoe, though, the New Balance WC806 tennis shoes feature an excellent herringbone outsole. This is the perfect design for an outdoor pickleball shoe because it enhances traction on outdoor court surfaces, allowing for greater ease with lateral moves and pivots—crucial for any pickleball player.
Lastly, this newer edition of the WC806 includes an enhanced toe tip material to help protect your toes from the damages of frequent blunt force and toe dragging.
Overall, this is an outstanding pickleball shoe. We just wish it came in some different styles and colors to be more aesthetically pleasing.
Worthy Mention: Saucony Women's Grid Excursion TR12 Sneaker
Our last selection for women’s pickleball shoes is the Saucony Grid Excursion TR12 sneaker. There is another quality option for outdoor pickleball courts for many of the reasons we’ll discuss in greater detail in our buying guide below.
Unlike the herringbone outsole pattern found on the New Balance pickleball sneakers, the Saucony sneakers feature an interesting triangular lug pattern. We found that this type of outsole was just as capable of providing the necessary traction for concrete or asphalt pickleball courts.
Another great feature of the Grid Excursion women’s pickleball shoe is the sole-based cushioning and stability system, which Saucony has dubbed “Grid.” This grid stability system will certainly give you an edge in your pickleball matches, as it gives you a consistent and reliable sense of balance and control, even when moving laterally in quick back-and-forth bursts.
As for aesthetics, these shoes give you lots of style and color options to choose from. They have something of a throwback look, which we really enjoyed.
Finally, the best part about this shoe—as with any shoe from Saucony—is its outstanding, glove-like fit. No matter your foot shape or size, we’re confident that these excellent shoes will fit you as well or better than any other option.
Indeed, when you factor in the clever grid technology, the quality cushioning and support of the soles, the design options, and, of course, the exceptional fit, the Saucony sneakers are more than a “worthy mention”; they’re an excellent choice in their own right.
Best Men's Pickleball Shoes
Best Overall: Men's ASICS Gel-Rocket 8 Shoes
There is a reason the ASICS Gel-Rocket 8 tops our recommendation lists for best pickleball shoes for both men and women: they’re simply outstanding shoes!
The Gel-Rocket shoe is a perfect indoor pickleball court shoe largely because of its grippy, gum rubber outsole. This is the perfect material to provide excellent traction on hardwood indoor pickleball courts.
But they’re not just great for their excellent traction abilities; they are also exceptionally comfortable and offer outstanding flexibility. This is somewhat rare for a court shoe because they often have necessarily stiff soles. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Gel-Rocket 8. You’ll be able to have the same level of agility and dexterity as you would if you were wearing no shoes at all!
Just like the women’s version, the men’s version of the Gel-Rocket 8 features Asics’s patented gel cushioning system to provide outstanding shock absorption.
And while most pickleball shoes come in some variety of colors, what we loved about the Gel-Rocket sneakers is that the designs and color schemes are all so different. Some have a more modern look, while others feel pleasantly retro. We’re sure one or more of these designs will fit your personal style perfectly.
But what’s more, the ASICS men’s Gel-Rocket 8 is also incredibly reasonably priced. Yet, even though it comes at a mid-range price, it certainly offers more than mid-range performance.
Best Premium: K-Swiss Men's Hypercourt Express
K-Swiss is certainly the big dog when it comes to premium-quality athletic shoes, and the Hypercourt Express tennis shoe for men is obviously no exception.
While some might not appreciate the wide design, we found it to be more of a benefit than a hindrance. In fact, the wider base of the shoe didn’t ever feel clunky; rather, it provided a better sense of stability and balance while on the pickleball court.
But it’s really the exceptional level of comfort that makes these shoes stand out from the pack, and this does a lot to help justify the clearly premium-level asking price for these pickleball sneakers.
The insides are wonderfully soft and plushy, which for other shoes can be a problem when it comes to heat and ventilation, but not so with the Hypercourt Express. In fact, we were surprised to find that these shoes offered a level of ventilation that surpassed most of the competition. These shoes manage to provide great cushion and comfort, while still keeping your active feet relatively cool and dry.
Another surprise with these shoes, given their seemingly larger “footprint” is that they are comparatively lightweight for a court shoe. In fact, it’s one of the lightest shoes we considered in this evaluation. This is a pretty rare thing for court shoes, which often have to sacrifice lightness for increased support throughout the shoe.
Ultimately, this is one of the best pairs of pickleball shoes you can find. You’ll just have to cough up a bit more cash to get this premium-level quality.
Runner-Up: Under Armour Men's Ultimate Turf Trainer
The all-black and white Ultimate Turf Trainer from Under Armour is one classy-looking shoe. It looks so nice, in fact, that you’ll be tempted to wear them all the time, even when you’re not ballin’ it up on the pickleball court!
The Turf Trainers feature a high rebound insole made from Under Armour’s innovative Super Foam. The excellent cushioning and support of this insole makes them exceedingly comfortable for long pickleball matches and provides the best in shock absorption.
The full-length “Micro G” midsole adds to this high level of comfort and stability. It gives the shoes a very responsive feel and performance that work wonders for enhancing your stability and dexterity on the court.
The lightweight outsole provides excellent traction for concrete outdoor pickleball courts without weighing you down. In fact, the shoe ways an almost impossibly light 10.6 ounces! That is a very impressive feat for a court shoe, as they often suffer from heavier weight due to the need for additional material to pad the toes and sides of the shoes to support lateral movements. Even better, the outsoles are non-marking, so you won’t have to worry about scuffing up the floors when you go inside.
They are also exceptionally breathable, with the combination of mesh materials as well as synthetic leather construction.
In the end, we love these shoes for their outstanding comfort, breathability, and excellent traction for outdoor pickleball courts. Frankly, these stylish shoes are far less of a runner-up, and more of a co-champion in our book.
Worthy Mention: Nike Men's Court Lite Tennis Shoes
When most people thing top-notch athletic footwear, the name that first comes to mind is usually Nike. And there are many good reasons for this, not least of which is that Nike has been making outstanding athletic gear for decades and has an untarnished reputation for greatness.
The Court Lite tennis shoes from Nike certainly add one more reason to believe in the greatness of the company’s legacy. While they come at a Nike-level asking price, you’ll certainly be happy with the durability and performance of these outstanding kicks.
One especially clever feature of the Court Lite shoes is the mesh tongue. This will allow enhanced breathability through the tops of the shoes to keep your feet cool and fresh throughout long pickleball matches.
Further, the Phylon midsole is a great lightweight sole option that still provides admirable cushioning and arch support.
More importantly for an indoor pickleball shoe, the Nike Court Lite shoe includes extra material in the toe area to help cushion against blunt impacts to the toe and other forms of abrasion.
But the most important thing for any indoor pickleball shoe is the outsole, and these Nike shoes certainly deliver in that department as well. You’ll find you get top-level grip and traction with Nikes innovative GDR outsoles.
Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong with Nike when it comes to athletic shoes. While these may not be our top pick overall, they’re certainly deserving of more than a worthy mention. These shoes will provide exceptional comfort, support, and durability for the long-haul. And, as is the case with basically any Nike product, they’ll make you look pretty awesome while you’re smashing it up on the pickleball court.
Can I Wear Running Shoes for Pickleball?
The obvious answer: yes, you can wear regular running shoes to play pickleball. But that’s really the wrong question.
What we ought to be asking is this: should you wear running shoes for pickleball? And the definitive answer is a strong “NO!”
For one thing, they don’t provide the necessary padding and support to accommodate and enhance safe lateral movements. They are designed for running forward, not side-to-side. This lack of support is practically an invitation for an ankle injury.
Further, running shoes aren’t designed to provide the level or type of traction a pickleball player needs on hardwood floors. If you wear running shoes the next time you play a game of pickleball, you might just find yourself spending more time picking yourself up off the floor after slipping and falling than actually playing a successful game.
Additionally, the main feature of running shoes is that they act as shock absorbers for the heel as it strikes the ground hard while running. This is why they are so lacking in support for lateral movement or quick starts and stops. This heel support is far less important for pickleball shoes, since most of the time you are playing the game, you’ll be on the balls of your feet.
Of course, one thing that running shoes have that would be helpful for a pickleball player is their lightweight construction. Indeed, running shoes tend to be exceptionally light. However, the reason for that lightweight design is that they don’t require all the extra material that pickleball shoes include to support lateral movements.
The bottom line? Running shoes are for running; pickleball shoes are for pickleball.
Conclusion on the Best Pickleball Shoes
Now that you know the importance of having proper footwear for the game of pickleball, and you are aware of the dangers and potential pitfalls of wearing running shoes to play the game, you’re certainly ready to start comparison shopping for a great pair of your own.
The most important thing to take away from this article is just how important it is to have shoes designed specifically for the types of movement involved in playing the game of pickleball. If you want to boost your performance and ensure your safety and stability on the court, you simply have no choice but to invest in a solid pair of pickleball shoes.
While you might think running shoes would work just fine—they’re designed for speed, comfort, and exercise, after all!—the truth is, wearing running shoes on the pickleball court is a huge mistake. In fact, wearing any kind of shoe not designed for the activity you intend to perform can be costly.