For pickleball, you’ll want to wear comfortable, breathable athletic clothing that allows you to move freely. Good options include t-shirts, polos, tanks, skorts, shorts, and leggings made from moisture-wicking technical fabrics.
Proper footwear like tennis/court shoes is also important for support and traction. Accessories such as hats, visors, and sunglasses can help protect you from the sun. Choose layers for warmth or coolness depending on the weather.
Focus on performance and comfort over style. Avoid cotton and jeans which can get heavy when wet with sweat. With the right athletic gear, you’ll be ready to play your best pickleball!
What Fabrics Are Best for Pickleball Apparel?
When choosing tops, bottoms, and socks for pickleball, pay attention to the type of fabric. The material can impact how comfortable, cool, and dry you stay during active play in hot weather.
Moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics are the top choice of most experts for pickleball apparel. Polyester, nylon, spandex blends draw sweat away from your skin and dry quickly to keep you cool and comfortable. Popular moisture-wicking brands include Under Armour, Adidas, and Nike. Avoid heavy cottons which absorb sweat and stay damp.
According to professional player Jennifer Dawson Lucore, “My number one suggestion is moisture management. Having clothing that dries quickly is key to staying cool in the heat of battle during a match.”
Polos, tanks, tees, skorts, shorts, leggings and socks made of synthetic moisture-wicking technical fabrics will keep you cool, dry and comfortable on the court.
Lightweight and breathable fabrics allow good air circulation, which also helps keep you from overheating. Look for mesh panels and ventilation in tops and shorts. Stay away from heavy cottons and fleece fabrics that cause you to sweat more and restrict movement.
Stretchy fabrics like spandex and elastane blends are ideal for pickleball, allowing free range of motion during play.
Experts advise at least 5-10% spandex in shorts, leggings and tops. For example, 90% polyester/10% spandex is a good blend. But steer clear of 100% spandex which can be hot and constricting.
UPF/Sun protection – For outdoor pickleball, choose tops and hats with UPF/UV sun protection built in to block harmful rays. Long sleeves and pants can also help protect skin from sun exposure and abrasion from court surfaces.
Follow these fabric tips when buying athletic apparel to stay cool, dry and comfortable on the courts for optimal performance.
What Are the Best Tops to Wear for Pickleball?
Veteran players unanimously recommend moisture-wicking polyester or nylon polos, tees, and tanks as ideal tops for pickleball play in warm weather.
“I like a short sleeve polo or tee shirt, synthetic quick dry material is best,” says coach Mark Renneson.
Polos strike the right balance of casual athletic style, lightweight breathability and high-tech moisture management. Popular brands for polos include Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Under Armour, and pickleball companies like Engage and Pickleball Central.
Moisture-wicking tees and tanks keep you cool and allow free arm movement for dinking and swinging. Women may opt for a athletic racerback tank for extra comfort and mobility.
For outdoor play, look for built-in UPF sun protection. And long sleeve tops can shield arms from sun exposure.
Essentially, focus on performance and comfort over style when choosing tops. Avoid heavy cotton tees and blouses which will feel hot, heavy and clingy when wet with perspiration.
What Kind of Bottoms Should You Wear for Pickleball?
For bottoms, most pros recommend skorts, shorts or leggings in moisture-wicking technical fabrics.
“Shorts and skirts are preferable to long pants, as temperature regulation is important when active in warmer weather,” advises physicist and avid player Ruqayyah Jackson, PhD.
Women’s skorts (skirts with built-in shorts) allow air flow while providing coverage and stylistic options. Popular brands include Athleta, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour. Skorts with an inner brief lining are recommended over simple tennis skirts to prevent exposure.
Shorts should have at least a 5-6 inch inseam for coverage and include spandex for stretch. Avoid heavy cotton shorts which can chafe and feel soggy when wet.
Leggings provide sun protection and support without overheating. Full length leggings with proper ventilation, capri length, or legging shorts work well. Look for at least 15-20% spandex for stretch and mobility.
Compression gear like leggings and tops boosts circulation and minimizes muscle vibration. Experts advise wearing compression socks for improved performance and recovery.
For men, quick-dry performance tennis shorts or golf pants allow lots of mobility. Avoid long, baggy shorts which can hinder movement.
The bottom line: Seek lightweight bottoms in moisture-wicking technical fabrics with adequate coverage and stretch for comfort, ventilation and ease of movement during play.
What About Dresses, Jeans, Yoga Pants?
Some popular clothing items are less ideal for optimal pickleball performance.
- Cotton dresses absorb sweat and lack mobility. Instead, opt for an athletic skort or shorts with a light top.
- Jeans are too heavy, inhibit motion, and can cause discomfort and chafing when sweaty.
- Lululemon-style yoga pants tend to hold heat and sweat during aggressive play. Leggings with ventilation panels are a better choice.
While you can play recreational games in your everyday clothes, performance athletic wear is best for competitive and/or high energy play.
Should You Wear Layers for Pickleball?
Layering clothing enables you to adapt to changing temperatures and exertion levels during play.
To stay warm in cool weather, start with a base layer of synthetic moisture-wicking top and bottom. Next add a mid-layer like a light jacket, long sleeve tee, or pants. Top with an adjustable outer shell jacket, vest, or pants to retain heat. Brands like Under Armour, Athleta and Columbia offer layering athletic wear.
Shed layers as you warm up. Tie jackets around your waist or over chairs as needed. Having layers available enhances comfort in outdoor play.
What Are the Best Shoes to Wear for Pickleball?
Sturdy, supportive court shoes designed for the stop-and-go motions of racket sports offer optimal traction and performance for pickleball. Essentially, opt for tennis shoes rather than casual sneakers or running shoes.
Top brands recommended by experts include ASICS, New Balance, Adidas, Nike, Babolat, K-Swiss and pickleball-specific companies like Onix, Engage and Pickleball Central. Look for lateral support, cushioning and excellent grip. High tops provide added ankle stability.
“For indoor pickleball, I recommend a tennis shoe or cross trainer with good lateral support since there is a lot of side to side movement,” says coach Mark Renneson.
For outdoor play, a herringbone tread pattern on soles provides better traction on rough or uneven surfaces.
While not required, many avid players utilize special court shoes just for indoor versus outdoor pickleball to keep grit and dirt off indoor floors.
The right athletic shoes go a long way in providing footing for quick starts/stops, supporting ankles/knees on jumps, and absorbing shock from pounding hard court surfaces during play.
Don’t jeopardize performance or risk injury with casual shoes lacking proper support. Protect feet and level up your game with quality tennis shoes designed for the courts.
What Accessories Are Recommended for Pickleball?
Here are some beneficial extras to incorporate into your pickleball wardrobe:
- Visors shield eyes from sun glare without impeding vision like caps.Popular brands are Under Armour, Nike Golf, and Headsweats.
- Sunglasses also help cut glare. Look for wraparound sport sunglasses that stay securely in place.
- Headbands/hair ties to control hair and keep it out of your face and eyes.
- Hats protect your face and head from sun exposure. Pick wide brim options or caps with neck flaps.
- Compression sleeves worn on arms reduce muscle vibration and fatigue.
- Gloves provide grip and blister prevention for those new to gripping a paddle frequently.
- Cold/Hot packs can ease sore muscles when applied before/after play.
- Yoga mats give you a clean surface for stretching at outdoor courts.
- Water bottle/hydration packs are vital to stay hydrated in hot weather.
- Towels – Absorbent sports towels help wipe away sweat during play.
- Sunscreen – Essential for skin protection when playing outdoors. Apply 30 minutes before play.
The right accessories can help you play more comfortably, avoid sunburn, and stay hydrated during pickleball matches.
Are There Pickleball-Specific Apparel Brands?
Along with major athletic brands, there are now clothing lines designed exclusively for pickleball:
- Engage Apparel – Tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, compression, and accessories specifically created for pickleball.
- Pickleball Central – Sells their own PC-branded moisture-wicking apparel and visors.
- Selkirk Sport – Produces a line of pickleball polos, tees, hats, and accessories.
- Ball Bangerz – Funky tops and visors exhibit your pickleball passion.
- Pickleball Station – Sells adapted tennis skirts with built-in shorts and matching tops.
- MP Gear – Pickleball jeans, hoodies, polos, caps, towels and more.
Specialty brands catering to pickleball let you represent the sport you love while enjoying athletic performance fabrics.
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Key Takeaways: How to Look Like a Pro Pickleball Player
- Prioritize performance and comfort over style when choosing athletic wear for pickleball.
- Opt for moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics that dry quickly and allow ventilation. Avoid heavy cottons.
- Polos, tees, tanks, skorts, shorts and leggings are recommended.
- Seek 5-10% spandex blends for stretch and mobility.
- Tennis shoes or court shoes provide needed support and traction.
- Hats, visors, sunglasses and other accessories aid performance and protection.
- Pickleball-specific clothing brands mix style and athletic attributes.
With the proper athletic gear, you’ll look the part of a competitive player while enjoying better mobility, less sweat, and ultimately enhanced performance on the pickleball court!
Frequently Asked Questions About Pickleball Clothing
What should beginners wear for pickleball?
For new pickleball players, focus on comfort and ease of movement. Wear lightweight moisture-wicking shorts, tees and athletic shoes you already have for walking, running or gym workouts. Add a visor or cap to shade your eyes. As you play more, invest in apparel specifically designed for pickleball including shoes with lateral support.
What should I wear for a pickleball tournament?
In tournament play, athletic performance tops and bottoms in moisture-wicking technical fabrics are standard. Most players will be in polos, tees, tanks, skorts, shorts or leggings along with court shoes. Bring layers in case of cool weather. Represent your favorite pickleball brand or apparel company. Dress like an athlete who is there to compete!
What do pickleball pros and competitors wear during matches?
Elite and aspiring professional players choose high-performance athletic clothing and footwear when competing. Expect to see moisture-wicking tops, shorts and leggings from brands like Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Under Armour. Many wear tops, visors and accessories from pickleball companies like Selkirk, Gamma, Engage and Ball Bangerz. Shoes will be tennis specific models from ASICS, Babolat, K-Swiss offering maximum support and grip for quickness on court.
Can you wear yoga pants for pickleball?
While you can play recreationally in looser fitting yoga-style pants, most experts don’t recommend standard yoga leggings for aggressive pickleball play. The cotton-spandex blends tend to retain heat and sweat. Better options are polyester-spandex leggings with ventilation panels specifically designed for tennis or pickleball.
What protective gear should you wear for pickleball?
For most recreational games, simply wearing athletic clothing and court shoes is adequate protection. But for very competitive play or if you have prior knee/ankle injuries, some additional gear can help. Compression sleeves support joints while knee braces and ankle braces prevent injury. Protective goggles shield eyes from fast shots. Padding applied to elbows, hips and legs absorbs impact from dives. Wear gear suited to your level of play.
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Conclusion: Dress the Part, Play Your Best
What you wear for pickleball affects more than just looks. The right athletic apparel incorporates high-performance fabrics to keep you cool, dry and unrestricted during competition. Quality footwear supports quick lateral motions and rapid stops and starts.
Targeted accessories block sun, absorb sweat, and protect eyes from glare and distractions. While recreational play in your everyday activewear is fine, those who dress the part find themselves better able to play their best on the pickleball court.
Use this guide to make informed choices when purchasing clothes and gear for your next pickleball match. Choosing high-quality athletic wear designed specifically for pickleball gives you the edge – helping you look AND perform like a pickleball pro!