In my opinion, finding the right shoes for pickleball, is the most important aspect for a new player learning the game. There are literally hundreds of court shoes to choose from. Some designed for tennis that work perfectly for pickleball and some designed as dedicated shoes for pickleball.
So, what are the most comfortable shoes for pickleball? Which ones are the best? Well, to answer that question, I decided to buy, try on, research and analyze any pickleball shoe I could get my hands on. After doing all that, I highly recommend the K-Swiss Express Light. It’s lightweight, very roomy in the toe box and great for those with wide feet!
There are other great court shoe options for pickleball that I’ve used as well, and in this article I’m going to break them all down for you in hopes that it gives you some direction when choosing your next pair of great pickleball shoes.
The Most Comfortable Shoes For Pickleball
My Top Picks For 2021
New Balance MC806
This is my budget friendly pick for 2021. The MC806 from New Balance is a staple pickleball shoe in our family. In fact, my dad, who’s played pickleball longer than me, is on his second pair of them.
Why Trust Me When It Comes To Pickleball Shoes?
Well for starters, I am a huge racket sport enthusiast and my entire family plays pickleball. From 7 years old to 73 years old, we love the game and we’ve all used the shoes I recommend in this article.
You can be sure that the shoes I recommend here, we’ve bought, worn and used them in order to test them out. If I don’t like a shoe after really wearing it, I won’t recommend it for you. It’s that simple.
I feel this is the most accurate way to give you the reader the most honest direction when it comes to choosing the right pickleball shoe for you.
Editor’s Note: I’ve updated this article many times over as new shoes become available. But, keep scrolling down and you’ll see shoes I’ve recommended in years past. Some shoes are still on my best of list, others have fallen off. Either way, I’ve kept all my old favorites to give you a little bit of an archive approach to it.
My #1 - Best Shoe For Pickleball in 2021
K-Swiss did something very few big tennis brands have had the guts to do...they made their own dedicated pickleball shoe. And they’ve made a really good one too.
In fact, after wearing it extensively, the Express Light is my favorite pickleball shoe! And it’s my go to pick for any beginner player getting into pickleball for the first time.
I love the Wilson Rush Pro 3.0s (#2 on my list) but the Express Light gets the slight nod from me because it has better overall comfort. Especially in the toe box.
The overall comfort and the roomy feel I experienced with the Express light are what got my attention with this shoe. And after a small break-in period, which isn’t uncommon for a lot of court shoes, the overall comfort of the shoe just got better and better for me.
I did experience a little heel slip at first, but after I swapped out my socks for a thicker pair, and the shoe adjusted a little, the heel slip went away.
I had very little toe jam when I came to hard stops and I really liked how this shoe felt on my wide feet. It’s wide foot friendly, which I love and it felt sturdy the whole time thanks to the DuraWrap technology built in.
The DuraWrap tech is a simple yet effective rubber lining that blends well with the breathable mesh to add a durable layer of protection around practically the whole shoe.
How K-Swiss implemented this in a style design while keeping the shoe light and breathable is an engineering marvel.
It's not perfect though. No shoe is. For a shoe with the word “light” in the name, I did expect it to feel lighter on my foot. If I could make one small gripe it would be that I’d love a little lighter, more airy feel.
It’s only slightly lighter than the other shoes on my list and there are shoes much lighter than it.
Overall, it’s my top pickleball shoe right now because it’s affordable (under $100), looks really sharp on the court and provides exceptional comfort and roominess.
For my complete review of K-Swiss Express Light, click here
My Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
#2 - My Runner Up For Best Pickleball Shoe And The Most Durable Pickleball Shoe
The Wilson Rush Pro 3.0 is one of the best outdoor pickleball shoes available right now and it's the most durable court shoe I’ve ever worn!
The Rush Pro series has always been known for its supreme durability but the 3.0 version adds more stability with a lighter, more comfortable feel compared to its last iterations; the 2.5 and 2.0.
The Rush Pro 3.0 really shines because of the stability and durability Wilson engineered into this court shoe. It’s technically not a dedicated pickleball shoe like the K-Swiss above, but if you play pickleball mostly outside like in Florida or Arizona, then I highly recommend this shoe!
Wilson claims the stability and durability comes from the advanced 4D chassis they’ve incorporated. This shoe tech is meant to provide great grip during takeoff and exceptional stopping power.
And I can tell you, I felt this immediately after wearing it. The grip and traction has a “sticky” feel to it, so Wilson hit the mark when they incorporated this traction technology.
It felt strong, tough, and super plush around my forefoot. Knowing this shoe was meant to be extra durable and rugged, I wasn’t expecting this shoe to feel so comfortable.
That was a pleasant surprise. It never felt like an indestructible tank on my foot and was actually fairly light. Lighter than I expected.
As light as the K-Swiss above? No. But still very comfortable.
The upper, including the vamp are decently ventilated but for a shoe designed to be extra durable, don’t expect this shoe to breathe like featherweight shoes - i.e. the Nike Vapor X.
It's meant to be extra tough, so with that design concept, comes a little compromise in the “breathability” department.
Traction and durability are this shoe’s strengths and it’s all backed by an industry leading 6-month outsole warranty! That means if you blow through the outsole in 6-months, contact Wilson and they’ll send you a new pair!
But if I had to find something to change, it would be the toe box comfort. It’s plush and soft, but I felt like I needed more room. And there was a little to jam towards the top of the shoe for my feet when cutting and stopping.
A little less pillow-like thickness in the toe box would have given my toes more room to move around and not feel so suffocated.
For my full review of the Wilson Rush Pro 3.0, click here.
My Score: 4 out of 5 stars
#3 The Best Indoor Pickleball Shoe
So, the Asics Gel Rocket series has been a fan favorite of mine for a while. It previously made my “best-of” list back when it was in it’s 7th iteration. We now have the 9th version of what I call the Best Indoor Pickleball Shoe for when playing on a gym floor or Rec Center.
What makes the Gel Rocket so good for indoor pickleball courts? Well, it’s all in the rubber.
The rubber on the Gel Rocket 9 has a little added bounce to it because it’s designed for indoor courts like basketball or volleyball. In fact, the Gel Rocket 9 is technically a volleyball shoe.
But don’t let that fool you, it’s an outstanding shoe for indoor pickleball because the courts are virtually the same.
The Gel Rocket 9 performs so well because Asics is known for loading their shoes chock-full of shoe technology for stability and comfort.
Starting from front to back, Asics incorporated some reinforcement in the forefoot (front of the shoe where you push off) to help improve comfort, take-off after cutting and reduce shock on your overall foot.
From there we get Asics' patented Trussic System. It’s the chassis using a sophisticated shank on the bottom of the shoe connecting the forefoot, midfoot and heel to add stability and durability.
These are fancy marketing terms but I’ve owned many Asics shoes with the Trussic System and I’m a firm believer! These shoes last and are very durable.
Lastly we have the EVA midsole which provides you extra cushioning and added “rebound” effect for cutting and running.
On a personal note, my brother has played with this shoe for years and is a huge fan. He chose it because it is pretty inexpensive and great for the indoor league he’s played in for three years.
Since this is an indoor pickleball shoe, should you buy a separate pair for when you’re on outdoor courts?
Well, I can tell you my brother has used the Gel Rocket 9 on outdoor courts where a traditional pickleball/tennis court surface is a little rougher. And the Gel Rocket 9 worked great for him!
So from a performance standpoint you won’t have to worry much. But you could burn through the rubber faster on an outdoor only court.
So, if you’re starting to play more outdoors, it might be wise to have two pairs. One for indoor pickleball - the Gel Rocket 9. And one for outdoor play, so each pair has longevity.
Overall, if you play primarily indoors, I’d recommend starting with this shoe and going from there.
My Score: 4 out of 5 stars
#4 My Top Budget Friendly Shoe For Pickleball
The New Balance MC806 represents the best budget-friendly shoe for pickleball on my list because it is sturdy, durable, long-lasting and affordable.
Various members of my family have worn the New Balance MC806s for years and keep coming back to them because of the support they provide in the mid-foot for arch support.
They're also very comfortable for those with wider feet.
The synthetic leather that makes up the majority of the outer lining of the 806s give it a polished, classic look, while providing the shoe exceptional durability.
Any shoe made from mostly leather is going to last longer than those made from lighter, mesh material.
But, shoes made with more leather and less mesh, like the MC806, tend to breathe less and prevent air flow for your feet. Meaning you could get stinky sock syndrome.
So was that the case with the New Balance MC806s?
For the most part, no.
Unless you’re wearing two layers of socks, these shoes stay relatively dry..despite all the leather.
This is because New Balance has a drying technology called Lightning Dry to help disperse the moisture out, and keep your foot dry. This all happens inside the inner lining.
The shoe is also loaded with other shoe tech called: Abzorb, C-Cap, and Rollbar.
This all provides you greater pillow-like comfort, stability when cutting and extra tow guard protections when dragging your foot across the court to go for shots just out of your reach.
From a style stand point, the MC806 has been criticized over the years for being very generic looking. And it is fairly vanilla. But New Balance has spiced things up a little with the most recent iteration.
We now get to see a little bit of the heel cushioning through a slick window-like look and some extra flare around the heel.
But, it is minimal.
The MC806s are still plagued slightly with bland color patterns and if I were a brand manager, I’d make the giant “N” for New Balance on the side of the foot, smaller.
But these are minor cosmetic gripes for a shoe that isn’t supposed to compete with the neon bright court shoes from Nike and HEAD.
This shoe is designed for someone looking for inexpensive, durability who doesn’t need eye catching bells and whistles.
And the New Balance MC806 delivers on that in spades.
My Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Pickleball Shoe Related Questions:
What Kind Of Shoes Should You Wear For Pickleball?
The best kind of shoes for pickleball are court shoes. As in the kind of shoes you wear for tennis. Court shoes are ideal for pickleball because of their tread pattern.
Court shoes have a tread pattern that is tailor made for not only forward and backward movement, but also lateral or side to side movement.
The specific tread pattern you’ll want on a good pair of court shoes is called a Partial or Modified Herringbone Tread Pattern. This is the pattern design on the bottom of the outsole and it’s what you need for safe, stable and effective side to side cutting and movement.
What Is The Difference Between A Partial Herringbone Tread Pattern vs Full Herringbone?
A partial or modified herringbone pattern is the most common outsole type in most pickleball shoes or court shoes. But, you might see a tread pattern called “Full Herringbone”. This is a less common court shoe tread pattern that is designed specifically for clay tennis courts.
So, it goes without saying that for pickleball, stay away from court shoes with a Full Herringbone Tread Pattern. But don’t worry, the shoe description will easily say that it is a shoe for clay courts.
In fact, many major shoe brands will make their signature shoe in two styles. An outdoor or all court version with a modified herringbone tread pattern. And another version with a Full Herringbone pattern specifically for clay courts.
You’ll see right away that it’s a clay court shoe. So when you see that, keep looking and find another pair with the proper tread pattern.
Can You Wear Tennis Shoes For Pickleball?
Yes! Tennis shoes are court shoes and court shoes are the ideal shoe for pickleball! In fact, any good pair of tennis shoes are going to be a great place to start for pickleball.
Whether it’s an outdoor tennis court with pickleball lines laid down or a tennis court converted to a pickleball court at your local tennis facility, good tennis shoes will work just fine!
It doesn’t matter because the courts are the same...their tennis courts!
So, the shoes you’d wear to a tennis facility whether it’s indoor or outdoor will work great because the court is the same either way.
Can You Wear Running Shoes To Play Pickleball?
No! I wouldn’t recommend playing pickleball in running shoes or cross trainers. The ideal kind of shoes for pickleball are ONLY court shoes.
I’ve worn running shoes to some friendly “driveway pickleball”, and even in a non-competitive environment like that, I could tell I was in the wrong footwear.
After 30 minutes of play, my achilles heel began to hurt and ache. This was concerning because I’ve heard of many people tearing their achilles heel while playing pickleball in running shoes.
Running shoes have a tread pattern uniquely designed for one thing...running. And that’s important because that tread pattern is only meant to propel you forward. They are meant solely for forward motion only based on their tread pattern.
Lateral or side to side movement is something running shoes don’t do well.
And you run the risk of serious injury.
If you’re not convinced on the safety concerns tied to running shoes and pickleball, read the comments section in the article I wrote around common pickleball injuries and how to avoid them.
Trust me, don’t do it.
What’s The Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Pickleball Shoes?
This is probably the most complicated question surrounding pickleball shoes. When you really dig into the information that’s available, it becomes a little muddy.
It becomes muddy because of the two court styles that pickleball is played on. Yes, there are two types of pickleball courts.
Let me explain.
We’re going to get kind of technical for a moment.
There are outdoor pickleball courts and indoor pickleball courts.
Outdoor courts are exactly like a tennis court. Same rough texture. So, any tennis shoe or outdoor court shoe is going to work great there. No problems.
Where things get muddy is when pickleball is moved indoor, say to a YMCA or Rec Center. Now the game is essentially played on a basketball court.
That court does NOT have the same texture and consistency of any outdoor court. Obviously.
So, in that case a court shoe like the Asics Gel Rocket 9, (technically a volleyball shoe) with more natural rubber on the outsole is going to “grab” a little better on an indoor "gym" style pickleball court.
Does it all matter? Somewhat. But it's not a deal breaker or game changer.
All the court shoes I’ve listed will work great whether you’re playing indoor or outdoor.
I’m getting technical on the court surfaces just to give you more helpful information.
If you play exclusively indoor on a gym floor, like my local Rec Center does, then I’d lean towards something like the Gel Rocket 9. If you play indoor and outdoor….any of these pickleball shoes will work great for you!
We’ve worn all the shoes I recommend here on all different types of courts and they’ve all performed well!
Why Is Proper Footwear Important?
In my article Common Pickleball Injuries and How to Avoid Them, we went to great lengths to emphasize the need for a good pair of dedicated pickleball shoes.
One of the worst mistakes you can make when beginning pickleball, is stepping on the court wearing an ordinary set of gym shoes or running shoes. Using quality equipment is imperative to improving your game but it is equally as important to stay safe and avoid injuries.
When it comes to avoiding debilitating setbacks, finding the best pickleball shoes can make all the difference.
The Anatomy Of A Great Shoe For Pickleball
As I mentioned above, it's important to look at the outsole of your court shoes to make sure they've got a lined pattern conducive for lateral durability.
But good court shoes should have strong ankle support as well, to keep players from ankle rolls.
They also need a stiff toe box to allow for toe drag when volley play back and forth gets heated.
They also need to be flexible at the toe joint where your foot is going to bend the shoe. Court shoes can be kind of stiff, so finding a pair with ample "bend" just in front of the laces is important.
Finally, comfort is king. Your court shoe’s comfort comes directly from both the insole and midsole.
The insole is going to support your arch from inside the shoe while the midsole provides the cushion for your ankle and knees. The more support you get from the midsole, the less wear and tear you'll feel on your joints.
Court shoes are mostly used in sports like tennis, racquetball, squash and even volleyball, but as you'll see from our list of favorites below, those same shoes can also be effective for pickleball.
Experts say you should replace your pickleball shoes every 60 hours. Depending on how much you play, that could mean rotating in a new pair every three to four months.
Typically, the insole wears out first, which means comfort begins to be compromised. The rubber sole (or outsole) is designed to be durable and is meant to last longer.
However, if the inner part where your foot rests is beginning to show age, it's probably time for a new pair.
Pickleball pros also recommend separate pairs of pickleball shoes; one for use on indoor courts and one for outdoor courts.
Experts say you should replace your pickleball shoes every 60 hours of play and recommend separate pairs for indoor and outdoor play.
One of the reasons why pickleball is becoming so popular is because you can play it year-round.
If you live in cold weather states like Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin, playing on indoor pickleball courts is more common.
While players in Arizona or Florida have the option to play on either indoor pickleball courts or outdoor pickleball courts.
Selecting the best pair of pickleball shoes can depend on whether or not you play the majority of the time outside in the sun or inside at a club or recreation center.
Best Shoes For Pickleball in 2021 - Final Thoughts
In closing, thank you for reading my breakdown of what I deem the most comfortable shoes for pickleball in 2021. I’d love to hear from you though.
What shoes are you currently wearing and why do you love them?
Ultimately, this list is going to change a little. I’m going to review more shoes from Nike and Asics and if they dethrone my top picks, this post is going to be updated appropriately.
Got a pair of pickleball shoes you’re looking into and want me to review for you? Let me know and I’ll review them for you.
-My Archive Of Previous Picks-
Best Shoes For Pickleball In 2018-2019
The Adidas 2018 Barricade Boost men’s tennis shoe was just released and is already getting rave reviews.
Based on the technology used, this is by far Adidas most impressive court shoe to date. The Barricade line of tennis shoes by Adidas has always been popular but the 2018 Boost model has taken the brand to new heights.
Barricade models of the past have always used Adidas’s Adiprene and Barricade Chassis to improve the shoe's take off and stability.
However, in 2018 Adidas went all-in with the Boost model and included Adiwear, Adituff, and Geofit tecnnology to the fold, making the Boost Adidas's most advanced court shoe to date.
All this shoe tech comes at a price, but it is worth it if you’re looking for the best pair of shoes for pickleball. Fans of the other Barricade models will immediately notice the attention to detail here and love the heel support. It remains to be seen if there is enough Adituff to reduce toe drag scuffing but additional coverage on the front would ugly up an already very attractive shoe…so we’ll let it slide.
Overall, ai like the look and feel of this court shoe. It’s one piece design allows the top and bottoms of the shoes to fit snug as one piece. I also love the seamless mesh approach for breathability (sweaty feet is a problem for us) and added comfort.
In fact, the one piece design and seamless stitching is what makes this the most comfortable Barricade yet, something previous iterations struggled with. In the end, this is one of the best court shoes from Adidas and works great for pickleball!
Technically a volleyball shoe, the GEL-Rocket 7 makes our list because of its multifaceted design. The adaptable design makes it suitable for virtually any indoor court sport.
Pickleball players with stability issues or plantar fasciitis will love the Rocket 7's rubber sole and will appreciate the Trussic system.
Again, this system increases structural integrity and support while decreasing shoe weight...making the shoe solid yet light as a feather.
It may not be as long lasting as other shoes on this list but it is a Top Pick on Amazon due to its affordable price tag, comfort level and stylish appeal.
Another Asics makes our list in the Dedicate 4 Tennis Shoe. The D4 is known to be a “go to” court shoe for newcomers switching from running shoes or cross trainers.
Players should immediately notice a difference in improved foot fatigue with this shoe when coming from other non-court shoe brands.
This running shoe replacement is extremely popular on Amazon due to its entry level price point, lightweight breathable upper and lack of stiffness in the rubber sole and toe box. This eliminates painful break-in times considerably.
The GEL Resolution 6 is one of the flagship tennis shoes from Asics in their line of footwear dedicated for stability and durability.
Asics paid extra close attention to the toe guard and rubber sole, more specifically the outsole, to improve performance and toughness through technology they call PGaurd and AHAR.
These are all fancy terms for a shoe that is designed to be tougher than your traditional mesh based court shoe.
To be fair and balanced, players with the need for extra support in the arch may want to choose another option.
If the GEL Dedicate 4 mentioned above is an entry level court shoe, than the GEL Game 5 is a step up to the next level.
Slightly more expensive than the Dedicate 4, players should expect the same level of support and cushion but superior durability provided by Asics PGaurd technology. PGuard protects the toe box giving the shoe durability to withstand toe drag that is common on outdoor pickleball courts.
Finally, for the ladies looking for a pair of pickleball shoes with “super cute court appeal” - this is it! From it's colorful rubber sole to it's eye catching heel counter, this is arguably the best looking women's tennis shoe with the best color options.
6. Prince T22
The T22 line of tennis shoes from Prince is widely known as the most popular tennis shoe amongst tennis enthusiasts, so it should come to no surprise that it also made our list for pickleball shoes.
The T22 is a great tennis shoe in the breathability department because of it’s synthetic mesh upper and mesh tongue. This shoe comes with a clever sock liner that is removable so you can add or remove cushioning based on your individual needs.
Prince has even included multiple lacing options to add to it’s customizable look and feel.
This is an extremely well designed shoe at a mid-tier price point that has the look and comfort of a much more expensive court shoe. It should be noted that their is a T22 “Lite” version, that runs a little on the narrow side and is not as widely used.
For an in-depth look on what makes the Prince T22 such a great court shoe, check out the full length review from our friends at Soleofathletes.com.
The proper attire can improve your game but don't forget to check out our strategy articles. As we said before Asics and New Balance dominate our list because of the quality of shoe they produce. Asics even makes high quality running and walking shoes.
Was this article helpful? Are you a big fan of a tennis shoe that did not make our list? Scroll down to the comments section and tell us which one and why we should include it on the list.
I’m just a lover of all sports that involve a racquet, net and a ball. My whole family loves and plays pickleball regularly. I started this website to help give people like you the performance tips and buying info they need to make an educated and informed purchase.
The products I recommend here have been researched, analyzed, compared and in a lot of cases bought, worn and used. If it’s a bad product, I don’t recommend it. Any small purchase made from this site gives me a small commission that helps fund the growth of the site to provide you more helpful information.