Choosing the right outdoor pickleball shoes can make a significant difference in your performance and comfort on the court. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when picking outdoor pickleball shoes:
1. Not considering the court surface: Outdoor pickleball courts can vary in surface type, from hard asphalt to softer concrete. Make sure your shoes are designed for the specific surface you’ll be playing on. For example, shoes with herringbone or hexagonal patterns provide better traction on harder surfaces, while shoes with deeper grooves are better suited for softer surfaces.
2. Ignoring proper fit: Ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters, discomfort, and even injuries. Ensure your shoes fit snugly around your feet without being too tight or too loose. Try on shoes later in the day when your feet are slightly swollen to get the most accurate fit.
3. Sacrificing support for style: While stylish shoes may look appealing, they often lack the necessary support for pickleball’s dynamic movements. Look for shoes with good arch support and lateral stability to prevent ankle rolls and foot fatigue.
4. Overlooking cushioning: Pickleball involves a lot of quick stops, starts, and changes in direction, putting stress on your feet and joints. Choose shoes with adequate cushioning to absorb impact and reduce the risk of injuries.
5. Disregarding durability: Outdoor pickleball shoes are exposed to various elements, so durability is crucial. Opt for shoes made from high-quality materials that can withstand regular wear and tear.
In addition to avoiding these mistakes, consider your individual needs and preferences. If you have any foot conditions or injuries, consult a podiatrist for recommendations. Remember, the right pair of outdoor pickleball shoes can enhance your game and keep you playing comfortably for years to come.
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America. Originating on Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1965, pickleball has exploded in popularity, especially among seniors and recreational players drawn to its fun, social nature. With its ping pong-like paddles, whiffle ball, and badminton-sized court, pickleball offers an accessible, low-impact workout that gets your heart pumping.
As the sport continues gaining devotees across the country, more and more public parks, community centers, fitness clubs, and residential complexes are installing pickleball courts. This growth means more opportunities than ever for aspiring and seasoned players alike to take their games outside and enjoy a rousing match with friends or fierce competition against worthy opponents.
However, competing at your highest level requires having the proper gear, especially purpose-built outdoor pickleball shoes. The right shoes can provide the traction, support, and comfort to chase down shots, move adeptly around the court, and withstand hours of play. Choosing poorly suited shoes can set you up for slips, discomfort, foot fatigue, and even injuries.
With so many shoe options flooding the market today, it’s easy to make mistakes when selecting outdoor pickleball shoes. Avoid these five common pitfalls to pick the best pair for optimizing your outdoor play.
1. Not Considering the Court Surface
Outdoor pickleball courts come in different materials, each with unique properties that affect traction and cushioning. The most common surfaces include:
- Asphalt – Hard, smooth, with minimal shock absorption
- Concrete – Slightly textured but firmer than asphalt
- Sport court tiles – Textured, semi-cushioned surface
The surface you’ll be playing on should factor heavily in choosing appropriate outdoor pickleball shoes. For instance, shoes ideal for the relatively soft sport court tiles might slip and slide on smooth asphalt.
Seeking shoes engineered for your specific court surface provides better grip and allows smoother lateral motions and pivots. Don’t just default to general athletic shoes not designed with pickleball courts in mind. You want footwear up to the demands of your playing environment.
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2. Ignoring Proper Fit
Any experienced pickleballer knows the importance of dialing in the fit of your shoes. The repeated lunging, sprinting, and stop-starts of pickleball put major stress on feet. Shoes that pinch, rub, or are overly loose simply won’t cut it.
Set aside time to try on several recommended pickleball shoes in the proper size. Feet tend to swell during activity, so visit the store after you’ve been up and about, not first thing in the morning. The shoes should fit snugly in the heel and midfoot without pinching the toes. You want minimal internal slipping.
Everyone’s feet vary, so don’t assume a certain size will work because it’s your usual. Brands and models run differently. Judge each shoe on how it feels on your actual feet playing pickleball-like movements. Proper fit enhances comfort and reduces injury risk while giving you a solid foundation for quick cuts, pivots, and slides.
3. Sacrificing Support for Style
Let’s face it, some outdoor pickleball shoes today look seriously slick, with eye-catching color schemes and patterns. While style counts, performance and safety should be your highest priorities. The flashiest shoes often lack critical features for excelling on the courts.
Prioritize support and stability in your footwear. Look for pickleball shoes with solid arch support, torsional rigidity in the midsole, and technologies like roll bars and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) cages to resist excessive foot rotation and blows to the sides. The upper should use overlays or wraparound supports to firmly keep the foot aligned.
Proper support safeguards against rolled ankles and plantar fasciitis flare-ups while providing a solid base to aggressively play shots. Don’t let looks overshadow necessity – pick shoes delivering ample support for confident, injury-free play.
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4. Overlooking Cushioning
With all the explosive moves in pickleball – quick accelerations, abrupt halts, side shuffles, and 180 degree pivots – your feet and joints absorb a lot of impact. Cushioning is vital for minimizing that force and potential pain.
The midsole should use quality ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, gels, or air pockets to cushion landings and smooth transitions. Look for a midsole hardness that matches your needs – firmer for stability on hard courts, softer for concrete and sport court tile comfort.
Cushioning also reduces overall fatigue, allowing you to play longer with less foot soreness. Don’t dismiss the shock absorbing capacity of your shoes. Proper cushioning provides real benefits for any level of outdoor pickleball.
5. Disregarding Durability
Outdoor pickleball can be rough on shoes. Unlike indoor courts, outside surfaces expose shoes to dirt, moisture, and temperature swings. Frequent play scrubs the outsoles and wears down foam midsoles over time.
Durability should be a prime consideration when selecting outdoor pickleball shoes. Premium leather or synthetic uppers resist abrasions better than mesh. Herringbone rubber outsoles have superior longevity on asphalt compared to hard court tread patterns.
For the outsole, carbon rubber compounds better withstand abrasive concrete compared to standard rubber. Quality EVA or TPU foams retain their cushioning properties longer than cheap foams that quickly pack down and flatten.
While you can’t avoid normal wear and tear, choosing durable construction extends a shoe’s lifespan, saving you money. Prioritize durability alongside traction and support for the best outdoor performance and value.
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Additional Tips for Picking the Perfect Outdoor Pickleball Shoes
Beyond avoiding common mistakes, keep these tips in mind while shopping:
- Know your foot type – Shoes engineered for high arches, overpronation, and other foot issues enhance comfort.
- Consider brand fit – Some brands suit certain foot shapes better. Try established pickleball brands first.
- Read reviews – Look for real feedback from pickleball players specifically about using the shoes outdoors.
- Learn return policies – Buying online is convenient but you want to test fit. Check return ease before purchasing.
- Mind your budget – Outdoor pickleball shoes span from $50 to $150+. Decide what you can reasonably afford.
- Check for sales – Sign up for brand newsletters and monitor holidays for possible discounts.
- Consider longevity – More expensive shoes may last longer, saving you money over time.
5 Recommended Outdoor Pickleball Shoes
Ready to start your search for new outdoor pickleball shoes? Here are 5 top-rated options to consider across a range of budgets:
- Key features: GEL cushioning system, sturdy rubber outsole, shock absorption
- Benefits: Lightweight comfort, good for asphalt and concrete
- Key features: ABZORB cushioning, herringbone outsole, breathable mesh
- Benefits: Excellent traction, durable, good for narrower feet
- Key features: GEOFIT construction, TORSION SYSTEM support, mesh upper
- Benefits: Provides stability, ideal for wide feet
- Key features: Wishbone shank stability, ShockEraser heel pads, rubber outsole
- Benefits: Lightweight, excellent cushioning, good for various foot types
- Key features: Forefoot GEL cushioning, shock absorption, PGuard toe protector
- Benefits: Durable, provides stability and toe protection
Finding the right outdoor pickleball shoes involves some key considerations. Avoid common mistakes like ignoring surface traction needs, fit, support, cushioning, and durability. Do your research and select shoes purpose-built for excelling on outdoor courts. With the proper footwear, you can focus on your game and take those wins home. Now get out on those pickleball courts and have a blast!