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Pickleball Outfits 101: What to Wear to Play

WriterAubrey McShan
ContributorMatt Manasse
12 min read
Two pickleball players sit down on the court holding their pickleball paddles and wear pickleball-appropriate attire

Ready to swing that paddle or test out your other gear? You’ll need to wear the right pickleball outfit first. Court-ready clothing is a breeze to assemble with the right materials, features, and other factors. So no matter if you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned player, you’ll learn all about choosing the right pieces so you always play — and look — your best!

Key Takeaways

General Pickleball Attire for Men & Women

In the game of pickleball, you’ll only find a few obvious differences between what men and women should wear while playing. Women need the right impact sports bra, while men can consider padded compression shorts (for added groin protection in particularly competitive games).

  • All players will need the basics: a top, bottoms, athletic socks, court shoes, and specific weather and/or seasonal accessories (like sunglasses or a light jacket).

  • Every player should prioritize mobility, breathability, comfort, and coverage — no matter what season it is or if the game is indoors or outside.

  • Pickleball game and practice clothing should be loose-fitting (tops and bottoms), supportive (bras + underwear), and cushioned (shoes).

  • Wear strategic accessories to manage or wick sweat (sweatbands or athletic socks), keep you dry and warm in the elements (a rain jacket), and help dull the sunlight (sunglasses) while you play.

Graphic compares example women’s vs men’s pickleball outfits

Most widely consider the sport to be easy to learn as well as a low-impact activity. However, as you improve your play, your skill level naturally progresses. Players with skill ratings lower than 3.5 won’t really exceed a low to medium impact level. But as you improve, you’ll naturally need to consider the amount of impact when you dress for court success!

"When I have confidence in my look, I play better — period. Holding onto the paddle confidently is needed and if I am sweating too much from the materials of the clothing, that isn't a good thing for performance."

— Pickleball Expert, Matt Manasse

What to Wear for Pickleball Checklist

Beginner players won’t need much for a casual, friendly game. More experienced players may choose to add or upgrade their pickleball wardrobe as they continue to improve certain skills or participate in competitions. To appeal to as many people as possible, we assembled the following checklist:

Main Pickleball Outfit Pieces

Pickleball Attire Accessories

Ready to get on the pickleball court in style? Take this list to go! Head in-store or shop online for the latest pickleball and court apparel using this list so you don’t forget anything.

"Clothing definitely affects performance. I also think style and feel are important. I love the saying, ‘Look good, feel good, play good.’ So if you like the way you look and can move without restriction, you will play way better."

— Pickleball Expert, Matt Manasse

Explore a Complete Pickleball Outfit

To play pickleball, you’ll need tops, bottoms, socks, shoes, hats/visors, sunglasses, and a bag. Let’s go through each piece so you can get a better idea of the look you want as well as any special features you should consider:

Tops: T-shirt, Polo, or Tank Top

BCG Women's Tennis Stripe Polo Shirt

Choose a top or shirt that is loose, comfortable, and suitable to your style of play: whether it’s a polo, t-shirt, or tank top.

  • Breathable tops with moisture-wicking technology help you stay comfortable and focused as you work up a sweat and score.
  • If you plan on playing outdoors, a top with UV protection (also called UPF) will give you peace of mind on the court.

Bottoms: Shorts, Leggings, or Joggers

adidas Men's Own the Run Shorts 5 in

For warmer conditions, consider wearing tennis shorts, running shorts, or skirts to remain cool throughout each game. Leggings and joggers help you stay warm in chilly weather.

  • Cotton and linen bottoms give you some of the best breathability.
  • Fabrics like polyester and nylon wick away sweat and moisture
  • A wide range of tennis shorts come with inner shorts that allow you to keep spare balls on hand.

Athletic Socks (Moisture-Wicking)

adidas Women's Superlite No-Show Socks 6 Pack
Whether you prefer a high crew style or a low-cut ankle style, the socks you wear while playing pickleball should offer comfort, moisture control, and support.

  • Cotton blends offer a comfortable feel and breathability, while polyester blends are built to last.
  • Socks with moisture-wicking technology help keep your feet feeling fresh in even the most intense moments.
  • Socks with built-in cushioning give you an added layer of support.

Court or Pickleball Shoes

adidas Men's Barricade Tennis Shoes

Wearing the right shoes helps you bring your game to the next level. Whether you’re looking for tennis shoes, athletic sneakers, or footwear made with pickleball in mind, you’ll want to move with comfort and confidence.

  • Pickleball shoes promote the lateral movement, cushioning, and impact support you need on concrete and hardwood courts.
  • Tennis shoes and other athletic sneakers deliver cushioned support and shock absorption on flat-ground play.

"I would recommend finding a good tennis or pickleball shoe. Nobody should roll an ankle in a running shoe."

— Pickleball Expert, Matt Manasse

Hats, Beanies, or Visors

adidas Men’s Superlite 2.0 Visor

Top off your pickleball outfit with an athletic cap that blocks out the sun and moves moisture away from your head. Visors offer many of the same benefits as caps but with an open top for additional breathability.

  • Hats and visors with curved brims help reduce glare to improve visibility on the court.
  • Look for headwear with a built-in sweatband for moisture-wicking performance.

Sunglasses for Protected Visibility

Oakley Flak 2.0 Sunglasses

Find sunglasses that help you see clearly in bright conditions while showing off your sense of style. Consider a pair of shades with polarization for an added level of glare reduction.

  • Choose sunglasses with UV protection for the most sunny days.
  • Polarized lenses reduce glare for clear visibility during play.

Pickleball Bag for Easy Access

Franklin Pickleball-X Elite Performance Sling Paddle Bag

When you’re all geared up, you’ll need a comfortable, convenient way to bring your equipment to and from the court. Find a paddle bag that allows you to easily carry and store your accessories, pickleballs, and other essentials.

  • Opt for a bag with several storage compartments to organize your paddles, balls, and other pickleball accessories.
  • Many bags feature padded, adjustable straps for a comfortable feel during transport.

Top Features to Consider for the Court

  • Breathability: Tops and bottoms made with cotton, rayon, or nylon promote airflow and help you remain cool and comfortable as the competition heats up.

  • Moisture-Wicking Fabrics: Find tops, bottoms, and accessories crafted with moisture-wicking fabrics for a dry, distraction-free feel throughout every match.

  • Comfort: Soft fabrics like cotton or rayon help keep you comfortable during play, while materials like nylon and silk provide a lightweight feel. Choose footwear with built-in cushioning for a supportive fit as you move around the court.

  • UPF Clothing: When the sun is shining, shield your eyes from the glare with a hat or a pair of sunglasses. UPF clothing will help shield your skin from UV rays for safe play.

  • Movement: Spandex blends and loose-fitting attire give you a wide range of motion and mobility through each shot. Look for shoes that offer lateral support to help enhance your side-to-side movements.

  • Weather Suitability: Choose short-sleeve tops made with these fabrics suited for hot weather. For cooler conditions, look for pants and long sleeves for warmth and comfort. Pullovers and zip-up tops with a high-neck design help block out the chill and any wind.

  • Pockets: Wear pieces with pockets, which allow you to keep extra pickleballs on hand or even chapstick.

"The balance between comfort and style is everything. If a piece of clothing doesn't fit well, I won't play as well. Style always plays a factor in a clothing choice."

— Pickleball Expert, Matt Manasse

What NOT to Wear for Pickleball

Do NOT wear running shoes while playing pickleball. Pickleball shoes specifically offer the ankle support, grip, and lateral mobility players need for most pickleball court surfaces. Court shoes (tennis and basketball shoes) are the only other suitable alternative since they’re similarly engineered.

Does Pickleball Have a Dress Code?

No. You don’t have to adhere to a strict dress code to play pickleball — unless you’re a member of a pickleball club that adopts specific club rules (usually similar to tennis dress code). The sport still has quite a bit of freedom in terms of what players can wear. But keep in mind that everything you wear should offer a high level of movement and sweat control.

Pickleball & Tennis Shoes

While pickleball and tennis shoes share many similarities, each sport has unique characteristics that make them better suited for their respective sport. Check out the chart below to see which shoe is best for you:

Swipe Right Icon
Comparing Pickleball Shoes vs Tennis Shoes
Category Pickleball Shoes Tennis Shoes
Outsole Indoor court focus, non-marking sole Versatile for different court surfaces
Traction Excellent lateral movement traction Designed for multidirectional movements
Court Compatibility Primarily for smooth pickleball courts Suitable for various tennis court types
Support/Stability Lateral support for side-to-side moves Provides stability for varied movements
Cushioning Cushioned for impact during play Varies (may emphasize shock absorption)
Weight Generally lightweight for agility Balanced weight for support and agility
Durability Durable for pickleball's quick moves Withstands wear, including sliding
Breathability Often breathable for coolness May have breathable features
Aesthetics Styles for pickleball player taste Various styles, including tournament-specific
Special Features Some with toe reinforcement Features for enhanced durability

Can You Wear Tennis Shoes for Pickleball?

Yes — but with a caveat! Although similar, these two types of court shoes are a little different. Pickleball shoes have an added focus on lateral court movements, cushioning, and impact support. Still, tennis shoes DO have comfort, stability, and multidirectional mobility in mind (all of which are extremely important for pickleball courts).

Have Fun Out There!

Now that you have all the info you need to look and play your best, you’re ready to head to your local pickleball court for some fun competition. Be sure to bring along a reliable pickleball paddle that is suited to your skill level and personal preference, and have fun out there!