What to Wear to Play Pickleball?

As a sport that continues to gain popularity worldwide, pickleball attracts enthusiasts of all ability levels eager to participate in this fast-paced, exhilarating game. One commonly overlooked aspect of engaging in pickleball, however, is properly selecting the right attire to optimize your overall playing experience. For both new players and seasoned veterans alike, understanding the importance of proper clothing can greatly impact not only your comfort, but also your performance on the court. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the various types of apparel suited for pickleball while taking into consideration factors such as climate, playing conditions, and personal preferences – ensuring you’re well-equipped to make the most of every match.

What to Wear to Play Pickleball?

When playing pickleball, it’s important to wear comfortable, breathable athletic clothing that allows for easy movement. Choose moisture-wicking materials like polyester or nylon and avoid heavy or restrictive garments. Wear athletic shorts or skirts with non-binding waistbands, accompanied by short or long-sleeved athletic shirts depending on weather conditions. Proper footwear is also essential, so opt for court-specific shoes with good traction and support. Don’t forget to wear moisture-wicking athletic socks and consider a hat or visor, along with UV-protective sunglasses for outdoor play.

Decoding Pickleball Attire

As you prepare to step onto the pickleball court, it’s essential to consider the various aspects of your attire to maximize your performance and enjoyment. Pickleball may be a casual game, but there is still a certain degree of proper clothing etiquette that can make all the difference. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the details of each component of a pickleball player’s outfit, exploring the key features to look for and offering guidance to help you make an informed decision for your personal needs and preferences.

Navigating Fabrics for Peak Performance

One of the most essential factors to consider when selecting your pickleball wardrobe is the fabric of your clothing. The right choice of materials can greatly impact your comfort, durability, and overall performance on the court. Take into consideration the following options when crafting your perfect pickleball attire:

Moisture-wicking Materials

Materials such as polyester and nylon are popular choices for pickleball apparel due to their moisture-wicking properties. These fabrics draw sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and cool even during intense matches. Your shirts and shorts should ideally be made from moisture-wicking fabric to improve overall comfort and minimize distractions during play.


While pure cotton may become heavy and uncomfortable when wet, cotton-blend fabrics that mix cotton with synthetic fibers like polyester can provide a softer, more natural feel while still offering moisture-wicking properties. However, keep in mind that cotton-blends may not be as effective at wicking away sweat as purely synthetic options.

Top Selection: Striking a Balance between Comfort and Functionality

When selecting the perfect pickleball top, it’s important to factor in comfort, fit, and style. Taking into account the weather conditions and your personal preferences for coverage, here are some top options to consider:

Athletic Shirts

Short-sleeved athletic shirts made from moisture-wicking materials are a versatile and comfortable choice. Choose shirts with flat seams to reduce chafing and irritation during even the most energetic of games. Experiment with different fits and styles to find the one that best suits your preferences and matches your desired level of comfort and breathability.

Long-sleeved Athletic Shirts

For players who prefer more coverage, long-sleeved athletic shirts are an excellent option. Look for shirts with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings, as these provide added sun protection and are particularly ideal for outdoor play. As with short-sleeved options, select moisture-wicking fabrics and flat seams to enhance comfort.

Tank Tops

Tank tops can be an attractive choice for those who prefer minimal coverage and maximum freedom of movement. Opt for ones made from moisture-wicking fabrics and featuring broad shoulder straps for comfortable and supportive wear. Some may also offer built-in bra support or come as racerbacks, so choose based on your preferred level of support and coverage.

Bottoms: Finding the Perfect Fit and Style

The right choice of pickleball bottoms should prioritize comfort, fit, and range of motion without compromising on style. Here are some great options for every player:

Athletic Shorts

A versatile and popular choice for both men and women, athletic shorts are not only comfortable but also allow for maximum freedom of movement on the court. Look for shorts made from moisture-wicking materials, with secure but non-restrictive waistbands and ideally with pockets for practicality. Length is a matter of personal preference, with options ranging from shorter running-style shorts to longer basketball-style options.

Skorts or Athletic Skirts

For women looking for a more feminine option, skorts (combined skirts and shorts) or athletic skirts are the perfect blend of style and function. Choose moisture-wicking fabrics and built-in shorts for added comfort and coverage. There are a variety of styles and lengths available, so find one that suits your personal preference and playing style.

Capri Pants and Leggings

In colder weather or when additional coverage is desired, capri pants or leggings can be a comfortable and functional option. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics and ensure they have a non-binding waistband to minimize discomfort during play. Some players may also prefer full-length leggings or joggers, particularly for outdoor play in cooler climates.

Footwear: Mastering Traction and Support on the Court

Proper footwear is crucial for maintaining stability and minimizing the risk of injury while playing pickleball. Considering the specific demands of the sport, the following factors are important to consider when selecting your shoes:

Court Shoes

Choose court shoes specifically designed for pickleball or similar sports like tennis or squash, as they provide the necessary combination of support, traction, and stability required on court surfaces. Opt for shoes with shock absorption, cushioned insoles, and reinforced toe boxes to minimize the impact of the game on your joints and feet.

Shoe Fit and Comfort

A well-fitting shoe is key to optimal performance and injury prevention. Ensure the shoe provides adequate support to your feet and has enough room in the toe-box while still holding your heel firmly in place. It may be helpful to wear the same socks you plan to use during play when trying on shoes to find the perfect fit.

Outdoor vs. Indoor

The court surface can greatly impact your choice of shoes. Outdoor courts may require shoes with deeper treads for better traction, while indoor courts typically require non-marking soles to prevent damage to the court surface. Some manufacturers offer specific designs for each type of court, so consider investing in a pair suitable for the court you play on most frequently.

Accessories: Enhancing Protection and Comfort

Complete your pickleball attire with some essential accessories that provide added comfort, protection, and style. Don’t overlook these important accompaniments to your game:

Socks and Compression Sleeves

Select moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable during play. High-quality athletic socks provide cushioning and support to help prevent blisters and discomfort. Additionally, some players benefit from wearing compression sleeves to improve circulation and muscle support during games.

Headwear and Eyewear

Choose headwear like hats or visors to protect against sun exposure during outdoor games. Sunglasses with UV protection can shield your eyes from harmful rays and reduce glare on the court. Remember to select sports-specific sunglasses that offer a secure fit and ample protection.

Wristbands and Grips

Accessorizing with wristbands can help absorb sweat and prevent it from reaching your paddle grip. Alternatively, consider investing in moisture-absorbing grips for added control and comfort during intense matches. Furthermore, gloves provide extra grip and padding that protect against blisters and calluses while also offering additional support to the wrist.

Dressing for Success

As you assemble your perfect pickleball attire, keep personal preferences, functionality, and comfort in mind. The right clothing choices can greatly impact your ability to perform at your peak level while enjoying the fast-paced nature of the game. Above all, remember that well-fitting, moisture-wicking garments and accessories designed specifically for the challenges and movements of pickleball are the key elements to a fulfilling experience on the court.

Adapting to Weather Conditions

Outdoor pickleball games may be subject to varying weather conditions, and being prepared for these changes is crucial for maintaining comfort and performance on the court. Consider these tips for dressing appropriately in different weather scenarios:

Playing in Hot Climates

In hot weather, choose moisture-wicking, lightweight, and breathable fabrics to keep cool and dry during play. Opt for lighter colors to reflect sunlight and minimize heat absorption. A hat or visor, along with sunglasses with UV protection, are essential to shield yourself from sun exposure. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on exposed skin and stay hydrated throughout the game.

Preparing for Cool or Windy Conditions

For cooler or windy weather, dress in layers that are easy to remove or add as the temperature fluctuates. Wear thermal or moisture-wicking fabrics to help regulate your body temperature while remaining comfortable. Add a lightweight windbreaker or long-sleeved top as needed, and select appropriate headwear, such as a headband or beanie, to keep your ears warm. Warm-up properly before playing to reduce the risk of injury in cold conditions.

Playing in Wet Conditions

Though playing pickleball in the rain is generally not recommended due to safety concerns, preparing for unexpected showers is always a good idea. Consider waterproof jackets that still allow for breathability, as well as water-resistant shoes with good traction to help minimize slipping on wet court surfaces. Ultimately, be aware of the risks and use caution when playing in any wet or slippery conditions.

Considerations for Tournament Play

When preparing to participate in a pickleball tournament, there are some additional factors to consider when selecting your attire:

Dress Code

Some tournaments may have specific dress codes or require pre-approved uniforms. Check with the event organizers or review the tournament rules to ensure your outfit meets any required guidelines. Matching team attire can also help foster a sense of unity and pride among players.

Packing Extra Clothing

Tournaments often consist of multiple games played throughout the day, so packing extra clothing is important to ensure you have fresh and comfortable attire for each match. Bring additional moisture-wicking shirts and socks, as well as any other crucial items, to make your tournament experience more enjoyable.

Travel and Accommodations

If you’re traveling for a tournament, consider the climate and weather conditions of your destination when packing your pickleball attire. Account for any potential changes in conditions throughout your stay and bring appropriate clothing options to adapt as needed.

Customizing Your Pickleball Attire

Lastly, personalizing your pickleball attire can not only elevate your style on the court but also reflect your unique personality and love for the sport. Here are a few ideas for customizing your pickleball wardrobe:

Custom Designs and Logos

Explore the possibility of adding custom designs, team logos, or tournament-specific art to your shirts or other gear. This adds a distinctive touch to your attire and can serve as a cherished keepsake from memorable games or events.

Pickleball-themed Clothing and Accessories

There are numerous pickleball-themed clothing items and accessories available online or at specialized retailers. From fun and playful socks to uniquely patterned shirts, adding a touch of pickleball flair to your outfit can make you stand out on the court and express your enthusiasm for the sport.

FAQs: Pickleball Attire Questions Answered

Having covered the essentials of what to wear to play pickleball, you may still have some specific questions or concerns. In this section, we answer 13 common questions related to pickleball attire in a concise, easy-to-digest format to help you make the most informed decisions on the court.

1. Can I wear running shoes for pickleball?

While running shoes might feel comfortable, they don’t provide the necessary lateral support and court-specific traction required in pickleball. It’s best to opt for court shoes designed for pickleball, tennis, or squash to minimize injury risk and enhance stability on the court.

2. Are there any specific clothing brands for pickleball?

Yes, there are several brands that cater specifically to pickleball apparel, such as Onix, Selkirk, and Gamma Sports. However, general sportswear brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour offer suitable attire options as well, and many players find their products to be of high quality and comfort.

3. Are compression garments beneficial in pickleball?

Compression garments can provide benefits such as improved blood flow, muscle support, and reduced muscle fatigue during physical activity. They may be helpful in pickleball, particularly for players prone to muscle soreness, cramps, or those recovering from injuries. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using compression garments.

4. Is it necessary to wear a hat or visor when playing outdoors?

While not required, wearing a hat or visor is recommended when playing outdoors to protect against sun exposure and glare. This is particularly important for players who are sensitive to sunlight or have a history of sun-related skin concerns. Headwear also helps keep sweat and hair out of your eyes during play, improving overall performance.

5. Can I wear any type of sunglasses for outdoor pickleball?

It’s advisable to wear sports-specific sunglasses with a secure fit and adequate UV protection for outdoor pickleball. Otherwise, general sunglasses may not stay in place or provide the necessary protection from glare and harmful rays during vigorous activity.

6. Are padded socks recommended for pickleball?

Padded socks can provide extra cushioning and support, which may be helpful for some players. However, moisture-wicking athletic socks are generally adequate for most pickleball enthusiasts, providing sufficient comfort and protection during play.

7. Should I change my attire based on my skill level?

Regardless of skill level, wearing comfortable, moisture-wicking, athletic clothing and proper footwear is essential for all players. Both beginners and advanced players can benefit from well-fitting, functional attire that optimizes performance and reduces the risk of injury.

8. Can I wear jewelry while playing pickleball?

It’s best to avoid wearing jewelry during pickleball, as it may become a hazard or distraction during play. Necklaces, bracelets, or dangling earrings may get caught or cause discomfort during movement. Small stud earrings and sports watches are generally less problematic, but evaluate each piece’s potential interference before wearing it on the court.

9. What types of fabrics should I avoid when selecting my pickleball attire?

Avoid heavy, non-breathable, or restrictive fabrics, like denim, thick cotton, or leather, as they can limit your movement and cause discomfort during play. Stick with lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable options like polyester and nylon for optimal comfort and performance.

10. Are there any considerations for pickleball attire in indoor settings?

Indoor pickleball court-specific attire primarily involves selecting the correct footwear with non-marking soles to prevent damage to the court surface. Otherwise, aim for comfortable, breathable, and moisture-wicking athletic clothing similar to that for outdoor play.

11. How do I know if my footwear is appropriate for a specific court?

Choose shoes with good traction and lateral support designed for court surfaces related to pickleball. Consult the court’s guidelines or management for any specific footwear rules, and consider court-specific shoes for outdoor versus indoor play, as the requirements may differ.

12. How often should I replace my pickleball shoes?

The recommended time to replace pickleball shoes varies depending on usage, playing surface, and shoe quality. However, a good rule of thumb is to replace them every six months to a year or as soon as you notice compromised support, stability, or excessive wear on the soles or cushioning.

13. Is a wristband necessary?

A wristband is not required but can be helpful for some players. Wristbands absorb sweat, preventing it from reaching the paddle grip and thus improving grip and control during play. If sweat on your hands is a concern, consider using wristbands or invest in moisture-absorbing grips or gloves.