By: CJ Johnson | October 5, 2018 |

Pickleball Foot Pain with Dr. Pickleball-Part 1

Dr. Pickleball recommends court shoes as the first step to reducing pain and your chances of injury. But, do you need to have special shoes to play pickleball? I mean wouldn’t just a plain old running shoe do?

I’m glad Dr. Rosenthal addressed it in the video because it’s one of the most common questions I get is, do I need to get pickleball shoes? The short answer is yes. However, the devil is in the details. Let’s explore why pickleball shoes are important for your game.


As of this writing, no one has yet to make dedicated pickleball shoes. (but with the rising popularity of the sport,  I’m sure there is one in the pipeline somewhere.) However, a court shoe is designed explicitly for the movements used in pickleball and can help us avoid injury and enhance our games.


If you know all the reasons why you want a court shoe go to the bottom of this post. You will find a resource guide to assist you in choosing the best court shoe for you!


Let’s take a look a the design of three different shoes so you can better understand why you want Pickleball Shoes.

There are a couple of differences that make the court shoes well worth the extra fifty to a hundred dollar investment. They’re going to help to protect you while you’re playing pickleball and they might even help you play just a little bit better.


pickleball shoesI’ve got three different pairs of shoes here, and they all happen to be Asics because that’s what fit my feet the best. The first two are both court shoes, and the one on end is an old retired pair of running shoes.


The outdoor court shoe and the volleyball shoe are designed for the side-to-side motion that we use in pickleball. The running shoe is designed for a forward motion as well as to cushion the foot from impact.



The upper of the court shoe is designed to keep the foot on the footbed during quick stops and starts and lateral movements. So let’s compare the running shoe and the court shoe to see what makes them different in the upper.


pickleball shoesWhen I look at a court shoe typically what you find is you’re going to see the upper on the court shoe is thicker and it’s heavier. It’s reinforced to protect the foot and the ankle from the side-to-side motion. You’re going to see that both on the outside of the shoe as well as on the inside of the court shoe.



When you look at a running shoe one of the significant noticeable differences that you’ll see here is you’re going to pickleball shoessee a lot more mesh. It’s not reinforced the same thing on the inside of the shoe more mesh not reinforced.

The thing you can’t see by just looking at the picture is the running shoes are lighter than the court shoe, and in large part, it’s due to the upper. In addition to being a little thicker and firmer, the other thing that happens in court shoes is they tend to be just a little bit higher cut than a running shoe. That helps to protect the ankle from rolling when we move to the side.



What I want you to look at now is the height difference between the two shoes. If you look at the total height of the shoes, they don’t pickleball shoesappear to be that different. But if you look at the difference between the sole of the shoe and the upper. The court shoe is actually about an inch and a quarter whereas the running shoe is 2 inches. Typically that’s because midsoles on running shoes are thicker because they are designed to protect the foot from the impact caused during running. Court shoes have a thinner midsole so that the ankle and the foot are protected from ankle roll as we move side-to-side.




pickleball shoes

Another significant difference you’ll see is the tread on the bottom of the shoes. The circular pattern on this shoe is designed to help us to move point to point and protect our feet and ankles as we move laterally. On the running shoes, you’ll notice that it has a much deeper tread. That’s to help us to grip the surface as well as to cushion the foot during the running motion.



Indoor vs Outdoor Play

The last big question is, are you playing pickleball indoors or outdoors? Court shoes like volleyball shoes, basketball squash, pickleball shoesand racquetball shoes are all designed to be used on a hardwood floor. It has the traction to move on the hardwood.  Whereas an outdoor shoe is designed to be used on asphalt or a rougher surface. Conversely, if you take the outdoor shoe and use it inside, you might have a traction problem. One last consideration is the tread from an indoor shoe won’t last as long if used on an outdoor surface. It’s best to have two different shoes.


Despite wearing volleyball shoes, I was having issues with traction, until I found Court Grabbers.


My last tip is a money saving tip. When you find a pair of pickleball shoes that fit purchase two of them and then wear them only at the courts. If you wear another shoe to and from your going to save that tread and that shoe is going to last a whole lot longer.


Court shoes really are pickleball shoes. They are designed for specific movements we make in pickleball including the quick stops, starts, and direction changes. A good pair of shoes can help you to play better and avoid a fall which could result in injury.


Need more help? Click here for a Free Guide to help you find the best pickleball shoe for you.



I’m curious, what are your favorite court shoes and why? Put it in the comments below. Here are my recommendations for the best Women’s Shoes and Men’s Shoes.


CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)