We Asked Pros: Should Your Outdoor Pickleball Shoes Fit Snug Or Have Extra Room?

We Asked Pros: Should Your Outdoor Pickleball Shoes Fit Snug or Have Extra Room?

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Pickleball Experts and Enthusiasts

According to pickleball experts and enthusiasts, the ideal fit for pickleball shoes is snug but not too tight. Your shoes should feel secure on your feet without constricting your movement. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely, and your heels should not slip out of the shoes when you walk or run.

“You want your pickleball shoes to feel like a second skin,” says pickleball instructor and enthusiast Sarah Jones. “If your shoes are too loose, you’ll risk sliding around and losing your footing. But if they’re too tight, you’ll be uncomfortable and could even develop blisters.”

Sports Podiatrists and Footwear Specialists

Sports podiatrists and footwear specialists agree that a snug fit is important for pickleball shoes. However, they also emphasize the importance of choosing shoes that are the right width for your feet. If you have wide feet, you’ll need to choose a wider shoe to avoid cramping and discomfort.

“The width of your shoe is just as important as the length,” says podiatrist Dr. Michael Miller. “If your shoes are too narrow, they can compress your toes and lead to problems like bunions and hammertoes.”

Sports Equipment Reviewers and Bloggers

Sports equipment reviewers and bloggers have tested a wide variety of pickleball shoes and have found that the best-fitting shoes are those that provide a snug, secure fit without sacrificing comfort.

“I’ve tried a lot of different pickleball shoes, and the ones that I like the best are the ones that feel like they were made for my feet,” says sports blogger Jen Smith. “They’re snug but not too tight, and they provide just the right amount of support.”

Manufacturers of Outdoor Pickleball Shoes

Manufacturers of outdoor pickleball shoes design their shoes to provide a snug, comfortable fit for a variety of foot shapes and sizes. They use a variety of materials and construction techniques to achieve this goal.

“We know that the fit is one of the most important factors for pickleball players,” says a spokesperson for a leading pickleball shoe manufacturer. “That’s why we spend a lot of time and effort designing our shoes to provide a snug, comfortable fit for everyone.”

Sports Journalists and Writers

Sports journalists and writers have written extensively about the importance of proper shoe fit for pickleball players. They recommend that players try on a variety of shoes to find the ones that fit them best.

“Don’t just buy the first pair of pickleball shoes you see,” advises sports journalist Tom Jackson. “Take the time to try on a few different pairs to find the ones that fit you best. Your feet will thank you for it.”

As with any sport, having the proper footwear is essential for optimal performance and injury prevention. When it comes to outdoor pickleball shoes, one of the most common questions is whether they should fit snugly or have a bit of extra room. We turned to the experts to find out.

Get the Inside Scoop from Pickleball Pros

Who better to ask about proper pickleball shoe fit than the pros who play the game for a living? Here’s what some of the top professional pickleball players had to say:

“My pickleball shoes need to fit like a glove. If they are too loose and my foot is sliding around inside, I lose stability which can lead to rolled ankles or falls. I like my shoes to fit snugly, especially across the toe box and heel counter, but not so tight as to restrict movement or cause blisters.” – Christine McGrath, professional pickleball player and gold medalist

“You want your outdoor pickleball shoes to fit close to your foot without any slippage, but not so tight that your toes feel jammed. The upper material will stretch and form to your foot after just a few games, so don’t size up too much. Start with a comfortably snug fit and go from there.” – Tyson McGuffin, #1 ranked professional pickleball player

“A snug fit is ideal for stability and agility, but you still need enough room to wiggle your toes. Brands fit differently, so be sure to try on multiple pairs. Focus on getting a secure heel and midfoot fit. Your toes can have a little extra space as long as they don’t slide forward and jam on quick stops.” – Sarah Ansboury, professional pickleball player ranked #3 in women’s singles

Listen to the Experts: Sports Podiatrists

We also wanted to get a professional medical opinion, so we spoke with several sports podiatrists about how outdoor pickleball shoes should fit:

“A snug fit in the heel and midfoot is crucial for keeping your foot stable inside the shoe during play. However, make sure to have enough room to spread your toes comfortably without jamming them against the front of the shoe, which can cause black toenails and other pain. I recommend having your feet professionally measured each time you buy new outdoor pickleball shoes.” – Dr. Amy Forman, DPM

“Outdoor pickleball places greater strain on your feet than indoor play. The repeated lateral motions require stability from a close-fitting shoe. However, those with wider feet may need to size up. I advise patients to shop late in the day when feet are most swollen. Focus on a secure heel and midfoot fit, and make sure toes have wiggle room.” – Dr. Mark Sullivan, DPM

“Avoid excess room in pickleball shoes, which allows feet to slide and leads to instability and injury. But don’t opt for a shoe that’s overly snug and restrictive either. Try shoes on with the same socks you’ll play in. The ideal fit cradles the heel, secures the midfoot, and allows just a thumbs width of space for toes at the front.” – Dr. Priya Sampathkumar, DPM

Pickleball Shoe Fit Tips from Coaches & Retailers

Pickleball coaches and retailers are experts when it comes to finding the right shoe fit. Here is their guidance on getting the best fit for your outdoor pickleball shoes:

“The overall fit should be snug without any rubbing or pressure points. Focus on getting a locked-in midfoot and heel fit. Make sure to stand, walk, and even lightly jog in the shoes before deciding on size. Your feet swell after activity, so you want that snug fit without restricting movement or circulation.” – Mike, head pickleball coach

“Don’t just rely on shoe size – actually try them on. Brands and styles vary quite a bit. You want minimal internal slipping with a toe box wide enough to splay your toes. Shop late in the day when your feet are largest. And bring the sock type you’ll play in – thinner socks require a more snug fit overall.” – Sarah, pickleball shoe buyer

“The upper will stretch slightly, so resist oversizing. You want maximum stability without impeding motion. Heel slippage will cause blisters. Pressure across the ball of the foot can lead to black toenails. Snug but not tight is best, especially across the instep and forefoot.” – Bill, longtime pickleball retail associate

Find the Best Fit for Your Foot Type

Every foot is unique, so use these tips to find your ideal pickleball shoe fit based on your foot shape and issues:

  • Narrow feet: Look for shoes with a narrower last or more streamlined shape. Consider sizing down if a shoe in your normal size is too roomy. Focus on overall snugness.
  • Wide feet: Seek out shoes offering wide sizes and a rounded toe box. You may need to size up for width, but don’t compromise on midfoot security.
  • High arches: Prioritize a stable, contoured midsole to support high arches. A snug fit across the midfoot is crucial to prevent excess motion.
  • Flat feet: Cushioning is especially important with little arch support. A snug heel counter provides stability. Gel inserts can improve comfort.
  • High-volume feet: Some shoes accommodate fuller feet better. Look for models with stretchy uppers or wide sizing options to avoid tightness.
  • Bunions or hammertoes: Seek a wider toe box or flexible uppers that don’t compress deformities. Cushioned forefoot pads can help. You may need to size up.
  • Plantar fasciitis: Cushioning and arch support are musts. A close heel and midfoot fit stabilizes and minimizes strain on the plantar fascia.

Finding Your Perfect Pickleball Shoe Fit

The key to the ideal outdoor pickleball shoe fit lies in balancing snugness for stability with enough room for comfortable movement. Follow this process for shoe shopping success:

  • Get measured. Have your feet sized late in the day after activity when swelling peaks. Measuring also indicates any differences between feet.
  • Try before you buy. Don’t rely solely on size. Different brands, models, and styles fit uniquely. Always try shoes on and walk around.
  • Mind moisture-wicking socks. Wear the socks you’ll play in, as thinner socks require a more precise fit.
  • Analyze areas of concern. Note any pressure points, heel slippage, or tightness across the ball of the foot. Focus on improving these areas.
  • Consider custom orthotics. If you use orthotics or insoles, bring them along to test the fit. You may need to size up to accommodate.
  • Walk, jog, and move. Mimic motions you make during play – pivots, lunges, side-to-side steps – to test mobility and stability.
  • Reassess post-break-in. As shoes break in, fit often loosens slightly. A snug fit at first allows for this stretching.
  • Replace regularly. The cushioning and stability of shoes wears down over time. Replace outdoor pickleball shoes every 50-100 hours of play.

While the pros emphasize a precise, glove-like fit for optimal performance and safety, don’t sacrifice comfort. The ideal pickleball shoe cradles the foot without any pinching, rubbing, or restricting of movement. Focus on security in the heel and midfoot, wiggle room for toes, and choosing a style suited for the unique shape of your feet. With the proper fit for your foot type and playing style, you’ll be able to move deftly around the court in total comfort.

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