If your shoes are still in one piece then they can be worn for pickleball just like any other option. If you're looking to optimize the efficacy and stability of your footwork, however, there are a few specific areas you'll want to examine.
If you’re wearing running shoes to play pickleball, then it was likely time to replace them yesterday!
If you're already wearing a pickleball or tennis-specific court shoe and wondering how much life you can squeeze out of them, then the best indicator is to look at how much tread is left on the top half of the outsole underneath your shoe.
Movement during games will cause the toe box area of your shoe’s rubber to wear down the quickest. Some players notice heavier wear on the heel of their shoes, and this is a good way to determine if it's time for replacement as well. What you want to look for is a flattened rubber outsole. Any part of the underside of your shoe that has no visible tread pattern remaining is an indication that your shoes won't offer as much traction, stability and support as they once did. It's important to replace them primarily due to the increased risk of injury from wearing worn shoes that will cause you to slide around on the court. They also simply won't perform as well, since a worn tread leads to less traction, preventing your shoes from helping you pivot or get up to the kitchen line as quickly.
Some shoes have a layer of material below the outsole that is a different color. If you're able to see this from wearing through the first layer, it's an immediate indication your shoes are worn out. Running shoes offer a very soft midsole cushion that helps absorb hard impact and alleviate pounding on your feet and joints. Over time this cushioning loses its spring and offers less comfort and joint relief. With court shoes, the cushioning in the midsole and outsole is much harder than that used in running shoes, and while it won’t offer the same comfort, the hardness of the rubber is beneficial in maintaining the tread while being dragged across the rough surface of a pickleball court.
Court shoes are meant to withstand the test of time, but the length of life you get out of them can be a result of many different factors. How often do you play? Do you lift your feet or allow for toe drag when following through on shots? The weight of your shoe can be a good indicator of the longevity you can expect. A heavier shoe has harder, more dense rubber that is meant to maintain its tread for months of play. Some shoes even come with a 6 month outsole guarantee, which means the tread should stay intact for 6 months and if you wear through them in that timeframe, the brand will send you a new pair for free.
You’ll notice almost all of the shoes offering this warranty are quite heavy. Light shoes typically use a softer rubber that is less dense. If you don't play very frequently and are mostly concerned with comfort, lightweight shoes are a great option. But you won’t see many tournament-level players using these shoes since the delicate materials are easy for aggressive players to wear down.
Remember to take a moment to examine your shoes every once in a while to ensure you're staying safe and getting the most out of your footwear. If you've found a specific brand or style that works best for you, let us know in the comments.
Wear & Care: We recommend using pickleball shoes only during play, not for other sports or as everyday shoes. This will help ensure they last as long as possible. Pickleball Court shoes are designed for a combination of support and comfort, and most pros wear their shoes only for court play. Remember, court shoes are just as important as a paddle and will go far toward improving your game.
If you need help picking out the right pickleball shoe for you our customer service team can help! We love pickleball as much as you do.