Can You Play Pickleball In Running Shoes?

You are here likely because you are now entering into the ever-growing community of pickleball players. This is one of, if not the fastest growing sports in North America, and the reason for its popularity is that almost anyone can play. This is a hybrid sport that has great appeal to a large audience, but the kit you need is often overlooked, so are running shoes okay?

Running shoes are fore-mostly not recommended footwear for pickleball. They are designed to support one’s feet in straight, forward motions and not the lateral movements you will likely encounter in pickleball. They offer very little support on their sides, so do reconsider using them.

Many people get hung up on which paddle they ought to buy or the type and color of the balls needed, but often little thought is given to footwear, which is an issue that needs addressing. There is no debate on the topic, but rather a matter of urgency to explain why running shoes are one of the worst shoes to opt for, so to learn what ought to be worn, read on as we delve deeper.

Playing Pickleball In Running Shoes

One would assume that running shoes are a good fit for pickleball, and you would not be alone in thinking this, as often people fall into the trap of thinking that they are appropriate footwear. However, these are intended for running and are not court shoes in any way, shape, or form. If you are not a prolific player of the sport, you may feel the investment in pickleball shoes is a waste.

But, and this is a substantial but, you are still intending to play the sport, and even if it is just casually or infrequently, you really ought to consider putting the cash towards buying the correct type of shoe.

This is fundamentally owed to the need for proper support when engaging in the high level of side-to-side movements in pickleball. Running shoes may be light and comfortable, but that is part of the main issue. You can very easily injure yourself by using the incorrect footwear in pickleball (as with most racquet sports)—the most likely of these injuries being that you could roll your ankle.

An injury of this kind could cause you to be off your foot for prolonged periods or, at best, mean that you will not be able to play for some time. You can quickly adapt to using different balls and racquets (for the most part), but your feet are likely only to be accommodated by a few proper shoes.

With the correct footwear, you will be able to play without concern of increased potential injury, and you will be free to move around the court effectively and unlimitedly in terms of your footwork. We mentioned rolled ankles, but other possible injuries include the likes of pulling a hamstring, rupturing your Achilles’ tendons, sprains, and overall unnecessary strains.

What Type Of Shoe Should You Be Wearing For Pickleball?

Instead of wearing running shoes, you should rather shop as if you are buying for any other court-based sport. So if you are playing indoors, your best bet would be to go for badminton or squash shoes. Or if playing outdoors, tennis shoes are ideal. These will yield the superior results for which you are looking.

In most cases, a good, sturdy tennis shoe will be an excellent go-to option as they are designed for similar movements as pickleball. However, with that said, many brands are starting to bring out shoes that are explicitly tailored to pickleball. We are beginning to see them more and more frequently. However, you will do just fine with the types of shoes previously mentioned.

Tennis shoes are made with durability in mind and are great for hard outdoor courts, and offer ample stability for the feet. At the same time, squash and badminton shoes are softer and allow for better grip on slippery gym/indoor courts. If you are playing both in and outdoor, as mentioned before, tennis shoes offer a superb all-around option. But be wary of those designed for clay courts.

Why Pickleball Shoes Are Your Best Option As Opposed To Running Shoes

The shoes mentioned above will yield far better results and offer you the support and protection that you need while playing. Although heavier than running shoes, they are sturdier and absorb shock, especially on hard surfaces, like outdoor courts. There is also the aspect of traction that comes with these types of shoes instead of running shoes.

Lateral Movements As Opposed To Linear Movements

Pickleball is a fast-paced and demanding sport, especially as you level up in your skillset. There are a lot of movements that are not “covered” by running shoes, and these include rapid turns, shuffles, and twisting as you attempt to get the perfect shot in. The most common form of movement will be the lateral ones, though, and they are commonplace as you shift position to hit the ball. 

There is thus a reason that court shoes are the most ideal for playing pickleball, and if you hope to avoid injury, then you best foot the bill (no pun intended) before stepping onto the court. The shoes are bulkier, yes, as we have mentioned, but this is due to the added support they offer to the midsection of the foot.

If you happen to be highly active on the court and move around a lot, you must realize that you are putting more stress on your body and the aspects used the most – these being your feet. You want to make the smart choice and avoid booking a doctor’s consultation for something that is almost entirely avoidable with proper footwear.

Things To Consider When Looking For Pickleball Shoes

If you are in the market for a new pair of pickleball shoes, you should consider particular factors such as how comfortable the shoes are. Also, make sure they fit correctly; this will play into the comfort factor. What the price tag is, as you may need to save up to buy the ideal pair for you. How durable they are and whether they will offer a long enough lifespan.

You want to look for something that will satisfy all of the areas mentioned above. It is vital to remember that everyone has a unique pair of feet and that just because a pair works for someone else, does not mean that they will be ideal for you and your needs. So take your time and carefully contemplate what you choose to buy in the end.


As we have seen, running shoes are hardly ideal or recommended for use on either an indoor or outdoor pickleball court. Instead, it would help to invest in a proper pair of court shoes (the type will depend on your specific needs). If you cannot afford a suitable pair upfront, instead bide your time and save up for the investment, which could very well mean the difference between injuries or not.


Similar Posts