Pickleball Shoes VS Athletic: Which is Right for Your Game?

In the world of sports and athleticism, the equipment you choose can make all the difference. One of the most overlooked but crucial aspects of this equipment is the shoes you wear.

While many might think, “A shoe is just a shoe, right?”, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially when comparing specialty shoes, like those made for pickleball, to general athletic shoes. So, the main comparison of pickleball shoes vs athletic ones is:

Athletic shoes are made for many different sports and workouts. They’re like an all-in-one shoe. On the other hand, pickleball shoes are just for playing pickleball. They help players move quickly side-to-side, stop suddenly, and change directions fast. These shoes also have a special bottom part (called a tread) to grip pickleball courts better. Regular athletic shoes might not grip as well on these courts. Also, pickleball shoes give better support for quick moves, which the usual sports shoes might not do.

Although both Athletic vs Pickleball Shoes appear identical at first glance, there are some significant distinctions between the two that affect how well you play on the court.

Athletic VS Pickleball Shoes Comparison Features

Run the bases and wear flip-flops instead of athletic shoes if you are the player who used to shoot baskets. You may attempt to seize any such pair of shoes to enter your pickleball court in this manner. 

The best course of action would be to examine the distinctions between pickleball and athletic shoes, providing a clear picture of why both are made for the game. 

pickleball Shoes VS Athletic

Pickleball and athletic shoes have a lot in common, but they also differ in some significant aspects that make them more beneficial for the specific games they are intended for.

So what are you waiting for? Here we detailed the features of the pickleball and athletic shoes.

Design Of The Sole

Pickleball Shoes have an outsole designed to accommodate the movements on a pickleball court. Herringbone and pivot points are paired in the outsole, which offers good traction for swift lateral motions and abrupt stops and starts.

On the other hand, when it comes to athletic shoes, depending on the game they are made for, they are available in a wide range of outsole styles. For example, running shoe soles are designed for forward motion and are flexible and cushioned.


To rush in all directions while playing pickleball, traction is essential. Pickleball players may move laterally and quickly shift directions without slipping, thanks to the adequate traction that pickleball shoes provide on the court surface.

Conversely, as there are different types of athletic shoes, they have different traction patterns. For instance, the designs on basketball shoes help players make rapid cuts and direction changes on the floor.

Lateral Assistance

Pickleball shoes are made with materials that offer strengthened lateral support to stop ankle rolling during side-to-side motions. So, to improve the shoe’s structural stability and get more excellent lateral stability, the design may incorporate stabilizing, midsoles, elements, and materials.

In contrast to pickleball shoes, although lateral support is featured in some athletic shoes, it isn’t typically a top design priority. The degree of support varies from game to game, with some emphasizing more forward motion and impact absorption than others.


As a professional pickleball player, I noticed that Pickleball shoes have cushioning technologies that balance impact protection with court feel. In addition, the padding supports the sudden stops and starts that are a part of pickleball.

But in athletic shoes, there are different levels of cushioning. Like running shoes, they contain additional padding to mitigate the blow of repeated forward motion.


Pickleball footwear is very lightweight, which promotes agility and fast movements on the court foot of the player. 

However, athletic shoes have a wide range of weights, as they can be heavy or light. While some sports favor lightweight footwear, others might prefer support and durability over weight.


Regarding durability in pickleball shoes, it is a crucial factor to consider if the court’s surface is rough. The boots are made of materials manufactured with reinforced sections that can endure repeated lateral and quick movements, which is an excellent requirement of this sport.

In contrast to pickleball shoes, athletic footwear demands a unique level of durability. It means that shoes that athletes use for games like running or pickleball shoes may place a greater focus on flexibility and breathability in the inner part of the shoe to keep your feet dry and comfortable during intense matches.

Additional Toe Protection

Some models of pickleball shoes have additional toe protection to prevent cuts during lateral and graceful movements and volleys across the net.

Athletic VS pickleball Shoes

While toe protection in different athletic shoe styles offers different levels of security, it may not be as noticeable as in pickleball shoes.

While both athletic shoes and pickleball shoes are made to meet the requirements of physical activity, pickleball shoes are specially made to fulfill the needs of the pickleball court.

To upgrade a player’s performance in the sport, they prioritize attributes like traction, comfort, lateral support, breathability, durability, and court feel.

Conversely, athletic shoes come in various styles to meet the specific requirements of numerous sports and activities.

Can You Wear Regular Athletic Shoes For Pickleball?

You can play pickleball while sporting your typical athletic shoes, particularly if you’re just starting out or playing with others. Many pickleball players like wearing ordinary athletic shoes appropriate for a casual game.

While wearing regular athletic shoes, you can play pickleball because they provide some traction; footwear explicitly designed for pickleball might offer more support and grip for your legs, knees, and feet.

Additionally, because pickleball involves side-to-side motions, expressly the sport usually provides additional lateral support. However, pickleball shoes, as they are specific footwear used by the experts, have this motion in mind compared to regular athletic shoes that can offer some support.

Due to the abrasive and rough court surface, regular traditional shoes, like athletic shoes, may damage more quickly on a pickleball court. While pickleball shoes are constructed with robust and durable materials that can bear the demands, you can wear athletic shoes for pickleball.

Can You Wear Regular Athletic Shoes For Pickleball

Pickleball shoes are designed to offer comfort while allowing for the precise and accurate movements needed by the game. On the other hand, regular athletic shoes could be comfortable for all types of court sports, but pickleball may not be one of them.

So, it is advised by the professional and expert players that if you’re just planning to start the game or are a leisure player, you can begin with any durable sports shoe. However, investing money in pickleball-specific shoes may be worthwhile and beneficial in the long run if you play pickleball frequently and want to upgrade your comfort and performance.

They can help you play better because they are made with the requirements of the sport in mind.

Pickleball Shoes vs. Athletic

AspectAthletic ShoesPickleball Shoes
OutsoleDesigned for various sports and activitiesTailored for pickleball court surfaces
TractionMay offer good traction, but not specializedSpecifically engineered for court grip
SupportGenerally provide all-around foot supportOffer targeted support for lateral movements
CushioningCushioning may vary based on sportOften feature cushioning optimized for pickleball
DurabilityDurability may vary depending on brand/modelTypically designed for durability on courts
WeightVaries depending on sport-specific featuresOften lightweight for agility on the court
Lateral StabilityMay not offer the same level of lateral supportDesigned to enhance stability during pickleball play
BreathabilityBreathability may varyOften include features for improved ventilation
Style OptionsAvailable in a wide range of styles and designsMay have specialized pickleball-inspired designs
Price RangePrices vary widely based on brand and featuresGenerally priced competitively for pickleball players

More FAQs – Athletic VS Pickleball Shoes

What types of shoes are suitable for pickleball?

Tennis shoes or any type of court shoe with an outstanding extra level of grip, ankle support, breathability, and comfort are ideal for pickleball.

What benefits do pickleball shoes offer?

Running shoes and pickleball shoes share a similar design. These shoes provide excellent comfort because of their cushioning and shock-absorbing midsole, which lessen the impact on the knees and joints. 

Can I play pickleball in my walking shoes?

The fundamental characteristics of pickleball are fast stops and starts and side-to-side motions, which walking shoes are not designed to accommodate comfortably.

Final Conclusion

So, when comparing pickleball shoes to sports shoes, it is evident from the above explanation that purchasing a pair of them is a wise investment before you want to hit the court. 

Athletic shoes are not recommended for pickleball since they can cause sliding, lack stability during lateral movements, and undermine your foot’s support on the court’s surface. I hope now you have got the difference of pickleball shoes VS athletic!

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