Running Shoes vs. Court Shoes - What's The Difference?
by karenthomaspbc on Mar 8, 2022
If you’re wearing running shoes when you play pickleball, you should consider replacing them with pickleball court shoes soon so you don't injure yourself on the court. Running shoes are designed strictly for forward movement, not for the quick lateral movements that pickleball requires. The soles of running shoes flare out, and can easily cause an ankle injury if you land wrong when moving side to side. If you've been bitten by the pickleball bug like the rest of us, do yourself a favor and get a proper pair of court shoes before you end up with a sprained ankle!
Running shoes are constructed with a very soft midsole cushion that helps absorb hard impact and alleviate pounding on your feet and joints. Over time this cushioning will lose its spring and deliver less comfort and joint relief with every step. With court shoes designed specifically for sports like pickleball and tennis, the cushioning of the midsole and outsole is made with a much more rigid material than a running shoe; while it won’t create the same degree of cushioning, the firmness of the rubber is beneficial in maintaining its tread while being dragged across the rough surface of a pickleball court.
When Should You Replace Pickleball Shoes?
The best indicator to determine when it's time to replace your pickleball shoes is to look at how much tread is left on the top half (from the toe edge to the shoe's mid-section) of the outsole on the bottom your shoe. The frequent movements of pickleball will typically cause the toe box area of your shoe’s rubber to wear down the fastest. Some players notice heavier wear in the heel of their shoes, which is also a good way to determine if it’s time to replace or not.
What you want to look for is flattening and smoothing of the rubber outsole. Any part of the underside of your shoe that has no visible tread pattern remaining indicates that your shoes are not going to offer as much traction, stability, comfort, or support as they once did. The importance of replacing them is primarily to reduce the risk of injury from wearing a shoe more likely to cause sliding on the court. In addition, worn out tread and less traction cause your shoes to slow you down; they don't grip the court as well as they should, so you won't be able to pivot or get up to the kitchen as quickly as you can with newer shoes that have fresh unworn outsoles.
Some shoes have a layer of material beneath the outsole that is a different color. If you're able to see this from underneath the first layer of material, this is an immediate sign that your shoes are worn out and should be replaced.
How Long Should Court Shoes Last?
People often ask how long their court shoes should last. There is not a one-size-fits all answer as this depends on several factors that vary from player to player. How often do you play? Do you lift your feet or toe drag with your shot set-up, execution and follow-through? Do you wear your court shoes to and from the courts or only while you're playing? Do you have just one pair that you wear all the time or do you rotate through several pairs at the same time? All of these factors will affect how long each player's shoes will last.
How Does Shoe Weight Affect Durability?
A shoe's relative weight affects its durability and how long you can expect it to last. A heavier shoe has harder, more dense rubber that is designed to maintain its tread and traction for several months of play. Some court shoes come with a six-month outsole guarantee; you’ll notice most of the shoes offering this warranty are on the heavier side compared to the more lightweight court shoes that are available.
If durability and longevity are primary considerations in your selection of court shoes, HEAD Pickleball offers several excellent options. HEAD provides a six-month outsole warranty on several of their court shoes, including the HEAD Revolt Pro and HEAD Revolt EVO for men and women, two of our top selling shoes.
Lighter court shoes are typically constructed with a softer rubber that is less dense, thus more comfortable. If you are not playing very frequently and you're more concerned with comfort than durability, lightweight shoes are a great choice. Several stylish and comfortable lightweight shoes to consider are the HEAD Sprint Pro, Wilson Kaos Swift and Babolat Jet Tere, available in men's and women's sizes and many color options.
Our Shoe Comparison chart lists all of the popular court shoes that we carry, with their weights, widths, and whether they come with an outsole warranty. For an easy way to compare them all, view our Men's Shoe Comparison Chart and our Women's Shoe Comparison Chart, which you can find at the bottoms of our Pickleball Court Shoes For Men and Pickleball Court Shoes For Women pages. You can also navigate to all of our pickleball court shoes here.