Pickleball Shoes Vs Tennis Shoes

Pickleball shoes offer better traction and support for lateral movement on the court compared to tennis shoes. If you’re serious about playing pickleball, investing in a pair of pickleball-specific shoes will improve your game and reduce the risk of injury.

Not all athletic shoes are created equal, and choosing the right type of shoe can make a difference in your game performance. Pickleball has grown in popularity over the past few years, and the number of people playing the sport has significantly increased.

Pickleball is a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping pong, and it’s played on a court that is smaller than a tennis court. Pickleball requires quick lateral movement and sudden stops, which can put a lot of strain on the feet and ankles. Specialized pickleball shoes have been designed to offer better support, traction, and stability on the court, making them a popular choice among serious players. However, many people wonder if pickleball shoes are really necessary, or if they can simply use tennis shoes instead. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between pickleball shoes and tennis shoes to help you make an informed decision on what type of shoe is best for you.

Pickleball Shoes Vs Tennis Shoes

Credit: pickleballkitchen.com

Key Differences Between Pickleball And Tennis Shoes

Pickleball Shoes Vs Tennis Shoes

When it comes to playing pickleball or tennis, having the right shoes can make a significant difference. While both sports have similarities in terms of movements and footwork, there are some notable differences between pickleball and tennis shoes. In this section, we will explore the key differences between pickleball and tennis shoes and help you choose the right one for your game.

Sole Construction

The sole construction is one of the key differences between pickleball and tennis shoes. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pickleball shoes: Pickleball shoes have a wider sole with minimal arch support, which helps players move around the court quickly and efficiently. The sole is typically made of gum rubber or other non-marking materials to prevent scuffing on the court.
  • Tennis shoes: Tennis shoes have a flatter sole with more arch support, which provides better stability and balance during lateral movements. The sole is also made of non-marking materials to prevent damage to the court.


Traction is another critical factor that distinguishes pickleball and tennis shoes. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pickleball shoes: Pickleball shoes have a herringbone or hexagonal pattern on the sole to provide better traction and grip on the court. The outsole is designed to offer excellent traction on both indoor and outdoor surfaces.
  • Tennis shoes: Tennis shoes have a distinct pattern called the ‘zigzag’ or ‘fishbone’ pattern on the sole to provide better grip and traction on the court. The outsole is designed to offer excellent traction on clay, grass, and hard courts.


Comfort is a crucial aspect that players consider when choosing pickleball or tennis shoes. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pickleball shoes: Pickleball shoes are designed for lateral movements and quick changes of direction. They have a cushioned midsole and collar that provides comfort and support during long play sessions.
  • Tennis shoes: Tennis shoes are designed for a combination of vertical and lateral movements. They have a cushioned midsole and insole that provides maximum shock absorption and comfort on the court.


Durability is necessary when investing in pickleball or tennis shoes. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pickleball shoes: Pickleball shoes are designed for rigorous play, and they are built to withstand the impact of constant movement and directional changes. Their soles are durable and can handle a variety of court surfaces.
  • Tennis shoes: Tennis shoes are primarily designed for hard court play and can sustain wear and tear over time. They are typically designed for players who prefer to play on a single court surface.


Breathability is essential, especially for players who play pickleball or tennis in hot and humid environments. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pickleball shoes: Pickleball shoes come with a breathable upper and perforations that provide ventilation, reduce heat buildup, and keep your feet cool and dry during play.
  • Tennis shoes: Tennis shoes also come with a breathable upper with mesh panels that allow air to circulate freely keeping your feet dry and sweat-free.

Both pickleball and tennis shoes have unique features that are designed to cater to the specific needs of each sport. We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between the two, allowing you to choose the perfect pair of shoes for your game.

Why Pickleball Shoes Are Better Than Tennis Shoes

Better Grip For Pickleball’S Indoor And Outdoor Surfaces

Pickleball and tennis are two sports with different playing surfaces. Pickleball is played both indoors and outdoors, while tennis is traditionally played on outdoor courts. Therefore, it is essential to have shoes with the right amount of grip to suit both types of surfaces.

One of the biggest advantages of pickleball shoes over tennis shoes is their better grip for both indoor and outdoor surfaces. Pickleball shoes have been specially designed to provide excellent traction on slick indoor surfaces and rough outdoor courts. The sole of pickleball shoes is made of gum rubber, which is the recommended material for indoor courts.

In contrast, tennis shoes typically have a hard, durable sole made of rubber or clay court material.

Overall, pickleball shoes offer better grip and stability, which is crucial in a fast-paced and dynamic sport like pickleball.

Improved Support For Side-To-Side Movements

Pickleball requires a lot of lateral and side-to-side movements, such as when changing direction or going for a shot. Without the right footwear, these types of movements can be stressful on feet, ankles, and knees. That is why it’s essential to have shoes that provide adequate support for these movements to prevent injuries.

Pickleball shoes have comparatively wider bases that offer lateral support while still being lightweight. This design not only reduces the risk of ankle injuries but also allows players to move quickly and maintain balance while executing side-to-side movements. On the other hand, tennis shoes are generally built for forward and backward movements, making them less effective for lateral movements.

Pickleball shoes’ added support also improves overall comfort, making it easier for players to concentrate on their gameplay.

Reduced Risk Of Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries are common in all sports that require sudden and forceful movements, such as pickleball and tennis. However, by wearing proper footwear, the impact of these injuries can be reduced.

Pickleball shoes have been created with ankle stabilization and support in mind, providing adequate ankle support to help prevent sprains and injuries. In contrast, tennis shoes do not offer the same level of ankle support and may leave players vulnerable to injuries, especially when performing quick movements or changing direction.

Enhanced Shock Absorption

During a fast-paced activity such as pickleball, the feet, knees, and joints take on a lot of pressure. Long-term, this can cause issues such as joint pain, or even stress fractures. Therefore, it is essential to have shoes that offer sufficient shock absorption to reduce the impact of these forces.

Pickleball shoes feature cushioning that distributes the pressure of the footfall across the entire foot, reducing the impact of these forces and minimizing stress on the joints. Conversely, tennis shoes usually have less cushioning and shock-absorbing ability, making it more challenging to move quickly and comfortably.

Improved Durability For Prolonged Use

Pickleball shoes, which are designed for a more extensive range of movements and surfaces, are more durable than tennis shoes, which mostly cater to forward and backward movements. The use of rubber, especially on the sole, provides additional grip and prevents premature wear and tear, ensuring that pickleball shoes can withstand long periods of use before needing to be replaced.

In contrast, tennis shoes are made of materials that are durable but are not specifically engineered for the harsh movements and surfaces that come with pickleball. Therefore, they may wear out more quickly and will need to be replaced fairly frequently.

Overall, when it comes to playing pickleball, wearing the proper footwear is essential. Pickleball shoes offer many benefits over tennis shoes, including better grip, improved support, reduced risk of injury, enhanced shock absorption, and greater durability, ensuring you remain comfortable and confident during gameplay.

Why Tennis Shoes Are Better Than Pickleball Shoes

Pickleball and tennis are two of the most popular racquet sports, with each requiring unique skillsets and equipment. One of the most crucial pieces of equipment for both sports are the shoes. While pickleball shoes and tennis shoes might look similar, there are significant differences that players should be aware of.

In this blog post, we will focus on why tennis shoes are better than pickleball shoes.

Greater Shock Absorption For Tennis’ Faster Movements

When playing tennis, players make sudden stops and starts, moving aggressively from side to side. The shoes for this sport, therefore, need to have a higher level of shock absorption to keep up with the quick-paced movements. Tennis shoes use a combination of materials such as foam, air, gel, and rubber to reduce the impact on the feet.

On the other hand, pickleball shoes tend to have less cushioning, as the sport is played at a slower pace.

Improved Breathability

Another significant difference between tennis shoes and pickleball shoes is breathability. Tennis shoes have a superior ventilation system, allowing air to flow in and out, making them perfect for long matches. In contrast, pickleball shoes are generally designed with less ventilation, because the sport requires shorter, less intense movements.

Increased Flexibility For Forehand And Backhand Swings

Flexibility is crucial for tennis players, particularly when executing forehand and backhand swings. Tennis shoes are designed to offer flexibility, especially at the front of the foot, allowing players to move effortlessly from one end of the court to the other.

While pickleball shoes also offer some flexibility, they tend to be stiffer, making it more challenging to move with agility.

Improved Comfort For Longer Matches

Tennis matches can last for hours, making it crucial for players to wear shoes that are comfortable for extended periods. Tennis shoes offer a range of features such as cushioning, breathability, and flexibility, all of which contribute to increased comfort.

In contrast, pickleball matches tend to last for shorter periods, making comfort less of an issue.

While pickleball shoes and tennis shoes might look similar, there are significant differences in their design. Tennis shoes, with greater shock absorption, improved breathability, flexibility for forehand and backhand swings, and improved comfort for longer matches, are undoubtedly better suited for tennis players.

How To Choose The Right Shoes For You

Understanding Your Play Style

Whether you’re a seasoned pickleball or tennis player, it’s essential to consider your play style when choosing the right shoes. Pickleball and tennis have different movement patterns that require different types of shoes. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Tennis movements: Tennis involves a lot of quick, lateral movements, with bursts of speed and stops. Thus, having shoes with good stability is crucial to prevent ankle sprains and injuries.
  • Pickleball movements: Unlike tennis, pickleball movements mainly involve side-to-side shuffling and forward movement. Therefore, it’s better to choose shoes that provide excellent support, comfort, and flexibility.

Determining Your Foot Type And Size

Another critical factor to consider when selecting shoes for pickleball or tennis is your foot type and size. Knowing your foot’s measurements and arch type can help you avoid discomfort and potential injuries during playtime. Here are some tips to ensure you get the right fit:

  • Measure your feet: Have a professional measure your feet, or do it yourself, to know the correct fitting for your foot size.
  • Determine your arch type: You can do this by wetting your foot and standing on a piece of paper. If your foot leaves a full print of your foot, you have flat feet. If your foot leaves a print of your heel and the ball of your foot connected by a thin line, you have a neutral arch. And if your print has a big gap between the ball of your foot and your heel, you have a high arch.

Trying On Shoes In-Store

While online shopping for tennis or pickleball shoes may seem convenient, trying them on in-store is still the best way to ensure the right fit. Here are some tips to bear in mind when trying out shoes in-store:

  • Wear your usual socks: It’s important to wear your usual socks when trying out shoes to ensure the best fit.
  • Allow enough time: Ensure that you have enough time to try out the shoes. Walk around and ensure they feel comfortable and don’t pinch.

Consideration Of Personal Preference And Budget

Lastly, it is crucial to consider your personal budget and preferences when choosing between pickleball or tennis shoes. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Your budget: Pickleball and tennis shoes can have a range of prices. Determine what you can afford beforehand.
  • Your preference: Pickleball and tennis shoes come in various colors and designs. Choose a style you prefer and feel confident wearing.

Choosing the right shoes for pickleball or tennis can make a significant difference in your game’s performance and comfort. By understanding your play style, determining your foot type and size, trying on shoes in-store, and considering your personal preferences and budget, you can ensure you have the best tennis or pickleball shoes for you.

Frequently Asked Questions On Pickleball Shoes Vs Tennis Shoes

What Is The Difference Between Pickleball Shoes And Tennis Shoes?

Pickleball shoes are designed to provide better traction on indoor and outdoor courts, while tennis shoes are crafted for lateral support and stability.

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball?

You can wear tennis shoes for pickleball, but they may not provide enough traction and stability required for the game.

Are Pickleball Shoes Worth It?

Yes, pickleball shoes are worth investing in as they can provide better support, traction, and durability for playing the game safely.

What Should I Consider When Buying Pickleball Shoes?

When buying pickleball shoes, consider the sole material, cushioning, breathability, weight, and slip-resistance on both indoor and outdoor courts.

Do Pickleball Shoes Have Special Soles?

Yes, pickleball shoes have specialized soles, made of gum or rubber, to provide better grip and traction for playing on different court surfaces.


Choosing the right shoes for your pickleball or tennis game is crucial for avoiding injuries and maximizing performance. Based on the comparison we have made between pickleball shoes vs tennis shoes, it’s clear that each sport has specific footwear requirements.

While tennis shoes feature more lateral support and cushioning to enhance quick movements and reduce impact on the court, pickleball shoes offer better stability and grip to handle the unique court surface and game requirements. Despite the similarities between the two sports, the difference in shoe design and construction may affect your play and comfort level.

It’s important to understand their differences and choose the shoes that suit your playing style and needs. Lastly, keep in mind that investing in the right shoes could improve your game and overall experience, so choose wisely and play safely.

Steve Johns

Steve Johns is a Florida-based pickleball enthusiast and founder of Pickleball Moments. Through his blog, Steve shares his knowledge and experiences to help readers improve their game and deepen their appreciation for the sport.

Recent Posts