When picking up a new sport, it is important to choose the right equipment to feel as comfortable as possible. And most importantly, reducing the risk of getting injured.
So, what do you wear for pickleball? In general, any tennis-type clothing would be recommended, and it will vary depending on the climate. As for the shoes, it is important to use shoes that protect against the side-to-side action inherent in pickleball. Eyes protection, visors, and sweatbands are among the most used accessories.
Read on as we explain you all you need to know about pickleball equipment.
What are The Best Shoes for Playing Pickleball?
First of all, there are no shoes in the market specifically made for pickleball, so we need to get creative and find our footwear from other disciplines.
Reasons Why Using Appropriate Shoes Is Important
Many beginners don’t take seriously enough the endeavor of picking up shoes for pickleball, they think it doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable. And that is a terrible misconception.
The majority of the most common injuries when playing pickleball -knees, ankles and feet soles- are originated from the use of the wrong shoes. Therefore, it is very important to invest some time in choosing the right footwear.
As you may know, positioning and mobility are key when playing pickleball. Therefore, by using the right footwear, we will have the right grip depending on the surface. This comfortability when playing will boost our stability and therefore our confidence, impacting our game.
Choosing the Right Shoes
Let’s talk about the 2 factors that will influence the choice of your pickleball shoes:
- Court Surface. This is the variable that will affect the most when choosing the type of footwear you need to play pickleball. Normally pickleball is played either in indoor-type surfaces like the used in school gyms or tennis courts, typically outside.
- Movements in Pickleball. When playing pickleball the most common moves are lateral movements. There are of course forward-backward movements, but the majority is based on lateral actions at a fast pace. Therefore, the shoes used will have to protect from this movements.
|Wooden surface -gymnasiums-||Typically indoors|
|Rough & textured -tennis courts, parks-||Typically outdoors|
Now that we understand the variables that affect the criteria when buying a new pair of pickleball shoes, let’s take a look at our most recommendable picks for pickleball footwear.
Court shoes are typically used to play indoor sports on wooden surfaces like volleyball, badminton or racquetball. Among the main features of these types of shoes are:
- Athletic flat rubber soles to reduce sliding
- Little treading
- All sides support, offering lateral movement protection
- Excellent traction on wooden floors, allowing to move side to side at ease
- Bending at toe box instead of the middle
- Lighter than tennis shoes
- Generally cheaper than tennis shoes
Court shoes are an excellent option if you are looking for shoes that can be used for different indoor sports. They will give you the protection and stability necessary to play safely on wooden surfaces.
- As a tip, when using court shoes in an indoor facility that hasn’t been cleaned in a while, wet the soles to ensure a better grip
- Avoid the use of rubber soles when playing in rough surfaces outside, they might tear up the soles
If you play often in tennis courts, which are typically outside, then there is no doubt: tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are very reliable shoes in general, but because they were made to play on tennis surfaces, there is no better option available. Main features:
- Tennis shoes are generally robust and reliable
- Very bulky on all sides of the shoe
- Tennis shoes are typically heavier than other types of shoes
- Tennis shoes are in general extremely durable and tough
- Bending is mainly near the toe
- Flat sole
- No rubber
- Very strong stability all around
Shoes to Avoid in Pickleball
Many beginners will start playing pickleball using running shoes because almost everybody has a pair at home and it is convenient. But this choice can be the cause of many injuries. Generally, running shoes are designed for front and backward movements, and as you may know by now, that is now hat we need here.
So, if you want to reduce the risk when enjoying pickleball, avoid the following types of shoes:
- Running shoes
- Any type of hiking boots
- Open shoes
- Trail running shoes
- Flip flops -please-
As a conclusion to this section, we would recommend court shoes for wooden surfaces, that are typically found indoors. If you are most often playing outside on rough and textured surfaces, go for the reliable tennis shoes. If you want to use a versatile shoe that can be used in any situation we would recommend tennis shoes, they will certainly do the job.
The following picks are the ones that I currently use the most.
Court shoes pick: ASICS Men’s Gel-Rocket 9 Volleyball Shoes
One-for-all shoes that will perform well under different conditions. A classic.
- Versatility -great for any indoor sports-
- Robust construction
- Reasonable price
If there is a model I would always vouch for, that would be this one. I like shoes that can be used in different sports, and when it comes to versatility there is no rival for these pair of ASICS.
Tennis shoes pick: Adidas Men’s Adizero Club Tennis Shoe
Top comfort shoes, great for wider feet. They feel incredibly lightweight as well.
- Great mobility
- High breathability
- One of the most comfortable shoes I own
If there is one word that describes these shoes it would be comfort. I have wide feet, and these pair of Adidas fit me perfectly. Therefore, if you are looking for a pair of shoes that are light and comfortable, these might a good option.
What Is the Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners?
Normally, most beginners that approach the sport do not really care if they win or lose, what they want is to have a good time. Sometimes, this attitude leads them to pick the wrong paddles, as they don’t put much thought into it. It is not a big deal, but it may help you get the most out of your first practices.
Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned player, you must research on which paddle will fit you the best.
First of all, there is not a beginners-paddle-only thing. When buying your first pickleball paddle, it is mostly about what you should avoid, rather than what you should get.
#My pick for beginners
USAPA Pro Graphite Polypropylene Honeycomb Core Ultra Cushion
- Great grip
- Honeycomb polymer core
- Reasonable price
There are many models in the market that will certainly do the job, but I can recommend the one I bought when I first started playing pickleball. It helped me with my game back then, and I still use it from time to time.
Overall great user experience, reasonable price, and long lasting. If you want to go for a safe choice, this might be the paddle for you.
What to Avoid When Buying Your Paddle as a Beginner
- Wooden paddles. Although they have this vintage-retro feeling, they are not the best to develop your game at the beginning
- Avoid paddles under the weight of 6 oz or 170 gr. Likewise, avoid paddles that are over 8,5 oz or 240 gr
- Avoid Nomex and aluminum core paddles
- Avoid long-board paddles or “blade” paddles. These paddles look a bit elongated and skinny rather than wide. They involve a higher degree of experience and ability
Tips to Pick the Perfect Paddle to Start
- Go for simplicity. Typically, beginner paddles don’t have any special or unique features that make them outstanding on any level
- The wider the better. As a rule of thumb, pick paddles that are wide rather than elongated paddles. It will be easier to get longer rallies due to the shape
- Polymer over anything. If you are in doubt, go for polymer paddles. They are more balanced and will give you the stability you need as a beginner
- Power is nothing without control. Weight is in direct correlation to power in pickleball paddles. Therefore, the heavier the paddle, the more powerful. At the same time, it will be harder to control. As a beginner, you should find a balance between power and control
Quick Guide to Choose Your Paddle According to Weight
|WEIGHT||TYPE OF USER|
|6,7-7 oz or 190-198 gr||Players with wrist & arm issues|
|7,5 oz or 212 gr||Majority of players|
|8,3-8,5 oz or 235-241 gr||Men or strong women|
In general, the range between 7,4-7,8 oz or 209-221 gr will be the range you should be aiming for as a beginner. Of course, you can use paddles with different weights, but if you stick to the recommendations, the path will be easier for you.
How Do You Pick a Pickleball Paddle?
When picking a pickleball paddle there is one aspect that you should pay attention to: weight. Other features may affect the process of choosing the right pickleball paddle for you, but none of them is as half as important as weight.
In order of importance, the following list shows the three factors that impact the choice of a new pickleball paddle:
Why Is Weight so Important?
Bear in mind that the paddle is the element that will make contact with the ball, and you will have to carry it through the whole game. Therefore, if you make a bad choice, this will impact your game significantly, especially when strength and stamina start dropping.
Consequences of picking a paddle that is too light:
- Missing easy shots. Due to the difference between your strength and the weight of the paddle, you will find yourself playing with a paddle that won’t give you accuracy nor reliability. I have experienced it myself and believe me, it can get really frustrating
- Lack of power. As we mentioned before, weight is directly related to power. Therefore, if we pick a paddle that is too light, we will be missing the opportunity to strike the ball harder
Consequences of picking a paddle that is too heavy:
Once we have seen the consequences of picking up a paddle that is too light, now we will see how choosing a paddle that is too heavy can impact your game as much.
- Higher risk of injury. Playing with a paddle too heavy can be dangerous. In many cases, it all starts with a bit of soar or fatigue in your wrists or shoulders. If we keep playing with an overweight paddle repeatedly, it is only a matter of time to get injured. Ever heard of tennis elbow? Then please pick a paddle your weight and keep the doctor away
- Lack of control. If you have ever experienced playing with a heavy paddle you may already know what I am talking about. As weight increases, the handling of the paddle becomes more demanding, due to a higher implication of our forearms muscles
- Overhead smashes out. Due to the difficulty of performing a correct wrist action because of the excess of weight, smashes become even more challenging. Thus, we will find ourselves hitting out of the baseline more than we wished
Find Your Paddle Weight
After displaying the consequences of choosing a paddle with the wrong weight, you may be wondering how to pick the right paddle with the right weight.
Before we start, it is very important to mention that only experience will give you the best understanding of how it feels a pickleball paddle depending on its weight. So, to make a better choice, we should aim to increase our experience as much as possible.
So you can find the paddle that makes you feel comfortable with your game, I am going to make a guide on how to choose the right weight for you in two steps:
- Try as Many Paddles as Possible. This might sound easy and simple, but it might sound a bit too much for many people. Go to your local club or the nearest shop and ask if you can try different paddles from different weights. They may feel quite similar at first, but the more you try, the more accurate your judgment will be.
- Rank Them as Light, Medium or Heavy. What I normally do, is writing a note on the weight of the paddle, and next to it I note how I felt the paddle in three categories: light, medium or heavy. Over time, you will instantly associate certain weights with these categories and it will be easier for you to pick a paddle depending on the situation.
As mentioned, there is no factor more important than weight when it comes to picking the right pickleball paddle. However, there are still two factors that might be important when deciding which paddle we want to buy: the core and the handle.
Let’s start with the core.
There are three types of core available to choose from: Nomex, polymer, and aluminum.
- When it comes to strength, aluminum doesn’t have as much as Nomex or polymer. This will result in a lack of power when hitting the ball. To avoid that and to increase the strength of your swings, switch to Nomex or polymer and you will feel the difference right away.
- Cores made out of Nomex were the first seen in the industry of pickleball paddles. If we talk about power, Nomex comes in mind first, along with a lack of control, though.
- If you are looking for a core that gives you a great balance of power and control, polymer is the go-to option. Polymer cores will give you the best user experience in the majority of the cases.
Therefore, my overall recommendation is that if you want to buy a paddle you can use on most of the occasions, you should go after polymer core.
Lastly, we will be talking about the handle of the paddle. As we mentioned before, this will be the factor that will affect your game the least, but if you want to get it right from the beginning, we will give you some tips.
Within the factors that influence the type of handle you will need to choose the right paddle for you, the size of your hand factor comes on top.
Normally, the size of the handle is measured by two aspects: length and grip circumference.
Therefore, depending on the size of your hands, you will choose a paddle handle with a specific length and grip circumference.
|Size of your hand||Length of the handle||Grip circumference|
|Smaller or wider||4” or 10 cm||4-4,25” or 10-10,8 cm|
|Medium or Standard||Between 4-5” or 10-12,7 cm||4,25” or 10,8 cm|
|Big hands||5” or 12,7 cm||4,5” or 11,4 cm|
Again, this is the factor that will affect the least your pickleball game. In any case, most of the time it is possible to ask the producer for a specific handle specifications, so it is only a matter of requesting the one that suits you the most.
What Kind of Ball Is Used in Pickleball?
Last but not least we will talk about another crucial part of the gear in pickleball: the ball.
The ball in pickleball is very unique: perforated, similar to a whiffle ball. There are different models, depending on if they are intended to play indoors or outdoors. They also come in different colors -white, yellow or green-.
According to the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP), the ball used in pickleball should have the following specifications:
- Durable material molded with a smooth surface and free of texture
- Uniform color, except for identification markings
- Size: diameter from 2,87 inches (7,29 cm) to 2,97 inches (7,54 cm)
- Weight: between 0,78 ounces (22,1 gr) and 0,935 ounces (26,5 gr)