Selecting the Proper Shoes for Pickleball
Court shoes are designed specifically for court sports, including basketball, pickleball, and tennis. Manufacturers make cross-trainer shoes that would work fairly well for any court sport, but each activity places different stresses on your feet. If you participate in your sport more than three times a week, you should invest in a pair of sport-specific shoes.
Playing basketball, tennis or pickleball is different from running. When you run, you generally move in one plane of motion and your heel always strikes the ground first. In court sports, however, you move in many directions depending on where the ball happens to be. There is a lot of quick starting and stopping with changes of direction. When you change direction suddenly, your heel can roll off the side of your shoe, which puts you at risk for an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains are the most common basketball injury.
A court shoe is usually made of thicker leather than a running shoe, according to podiatrist James H. Whitfield. The sides of the shoe might be reinforced to provide extra lateral stability. Unlike a running shoe’s high heel relative to a thinner forefoot, a court shoe has a thinner, more even sole. To provide extra stability, the sole is usually firmer than that of a running shoe. Some court shoes have high tops, meaning the upper extends up above the ankle, which provides extra support to this vulnerable joint.
The purpose of all the design elements of the court shoe is to decrease the odds that you will roll off your shoe to one side or the other. The stability of the shoes also reduces your odds of developing chronic lower-leg injuries, including stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles’ heel and tendinitis. Proper warm-ups and adequate off-court conditioning will also help prevent injuries.
Even though all court sports are different from running, they do not all place the same demands on your body. Volleyball requires more straight-up jumping and fewer changes of direction. The quick stops in tennis can cause your toe to slam into the front of your shoe, leading to a black toe. The more often, and the more intensely, you play your sport, the more important it becomes to get a shoe that was made specifically for that sport, not just for court sports.
If you have a chronic ankle or foot injury, talk to a podiatrist about the best shoe for you. Otherwise, find a well-respected athletic shoe store in your area and look for a knowledgeable salesperson to help you select a shoe designed to meet the demands of your sport that also works for your foot.