Can I Use Tennis Shoes For Racquetball?

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When playing any sport, footwear is important. Each sport, including racquetball, demands specific shoe requirements to increase performance and keep you safe. 

Racquetball requires footwear that can allow you to easily change direction, move around the court, and protect your feet and ankles.

Can I use tennis shoes for racquetball? Tennis shoes are not recommended to use in racquetball as they are designed for an entirely different surface. A tennis court varies significantly from a racquetball court, and shoes are designed for their own courts. Using a tennis shoe will not allow for the quicker movements required and may lead to slipping.

Racquetball shoes are the best choice when playing racquetball with their material and comfortable design. This article maps out why specific footwear is essential in racquetball and how using a tennis shoe is not optimal for top performance.

Our Favorite Racquetball Shoe

HEAD Men's Sonic 2000 MID Racquetball/Squash Indoor Court Shoes

Shoes exclusively designed for racquetball, with mid ankle support. Our favorite racquetball shoes overall.

Check it on Amazon

If you want more info on how to choose the perfect racquetball shoes for you, check out this article.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Tennis Shoes in Racquetball

Shoes are specifically designed to cater to their individual sports, even ones that are somewhat similar. With different rules and movements required in tennis and racquetball, their footwear varies. Many think tennis shoes will work well on a racquetball court, but you’ll soon notice the difference when competing at full speed!

Court Surface

A tennis match is played on an outdoor court, which is typical:

  • Hardcourt (asphalt or concrete)
  • Grass
  • Clay

Tennis shoes are even divided by which type of court they are being used for, making it even more obvious that a racquetball court would require its own shoes. Having the correct shoe for the appropriate surface makes it easier to grip onto the surface.

Racquetball courts are generally hardwood covered in a protective coating. This coating is an oil-based polyurethane sealer that keeps the court smooth, slick, and shiny. This court is most similar to a basketball or volleyball court surface. You need a shoe that can grip onto this slippery surface well and tennis shoes are not designed to do that.

Injury Prevention

The court surface and movements required in both tennis and racquetball have different impacts on potential injuries. A tennis court is much harder than a racquetball court, needing additional padding and support. Tennis also requires lots of side to side movement and quick stopping at the net, resulting in greater ankle support and extra material at the toe.

These movements are different in racquetball and they need specific shoes to cater to them. There is more change of direction is all directions in racquetball, meaning that a shoe should have support in all areas of the foot and be able to grip well for quick movements. 

Racquetball shoes are designed with additional padding in the heel and forefoot to prevent joint pain.

Using a tennis shoe may support your ankles more, but they will not provide the padding in all needed areas of the foot. This may lead to joint, bone, and ligament pain after extended playing on the wood surface.

Limits Performance

Arguably the most important reason for a sports shoe is performance. You want a shoe that can get the job done most effectively. A tennis shoe will allow you to excel in tennis but has shortcomings for a racquetball application.

Tennis shoes will not help you in racquetball for specific performance reasons:

  • Grip: Tennis shoes are not designed to grip on sleek and smooth indoor courts. If you wear tennis shoes on this court, there is a high possibility of slipping when needing to pivot quickly to return a shot.
  • Weight: Racquetball shoes are known for being exceptionally lightweight to get to desired locations quickly. A tennis shoe is not designed specifically for this, which may lead to heavier feet and missed shots.

Tennis shoes are designed for moving side to side quickly and covering larger distances at high speed. Racquetball shoes require much shorter and quick movements that need more grip in pivoting and small bursts. Think of tennis as longer faster movements, and racquetball as quick changes in all directions. Each shoe is designed with these skill requirements in mind.

Playing well not only comes down to skill but having the proper equipment to get the job done effectively.

What To Look For In A Racquetball Shoe

Now that we’ve shown you that tennis shoes are not the best option for racquetball, here’s why racquetball shoes lead to peak performance. There are specific attributes you should look for in the best racquetball shoes.

  • Gum Sole: Racquetball shoes are made with gum soles, which are designed for optimum grip. Grip is one of the most important factors in a shoe and some designs come with more advanced gripping technology than others. They also prevent black streaks on the court that other shoes may leave. This can ruin the court and you may be asked to leave.
  • Snug Fit: Racquetball shoes should be snug, but comfortable. A tighter fit can give you a better feel for the court and allow you to move around more easily without a bulky shoe.
  • Flexible and Lightweight: You want to move quickly and in a variety of directions to reach difficult balls. Lightweight shoes will help you get there more easily and flexibility allows for greater range of motion in movement.

These are the most important factors to consider in choosing a pair of shoes to play your best game. Additionally, it is proper racquetball etiquette to only wear your shoes indoors. Wearing these shoes outside can bring in pebbles and dirt that will not only reduce traction, but can also damage the court. Stepping on a pebble during a match may also lead to injury.

If you want to get some help on how to choose the perfect racquetball shoes for you, check out this article.

Racquetball Shoe Alternatives

While racquetball shoes are the best option for playing racquetball, if you do choose to wear another shoe make sure it can handle the slick surface of the court. 

Volleyball shoes are the next best option as they are most similar in style and can handle the surface of the court. The final option is a basketball shoe, as it also plays on a similar material surface.

Having these options is helpful if you are not willing to invest in racquetball shoes just yet. These other shoes are made of similar materials and allow for similar movements that are required in racquetball. It is still recommended that you use racquetball shoes for optimal performance.

Our Favorite Alternative To Racquetball Shoes

ASICS Men's Gel-Rocket 9 Volleyball Shoes

This shoes are known to perform great on many different modalities. Always a safe choice.

Check it on Amazon

Why Footwear Is Important

Footwear design is dependent on the purpose. Each sport requires certain footwear based on the purpose of the sport and the different skills and movements that are required for each. This takes surface, speed, support, and many other factors into consideration.

Footwear is important because it allows for elite performance, maximum comfort, and injury prevention. Of this list, injury prevention is the most important in the long run. 

The proper equipment is meant to protect us from movements that may harm us in the sport. Designers know what movements may lead to injury and shoes are designed to help prevent them.

You will not have to worry about any of these categories being compromised when you select a sport-specific shoe. Sports shoes are broken down even further based on performance needs and player differences. Knowing the level and type of player you are can be even more helpful in choosing a specific shoe within a sport that best suits your needs.

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