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How Should Ladies Pickleball Shoes Fit?

Babolat Shadow Tour pickleball shoe
Many of the lady pickleball players we fit learn that their feet are not as wide as they think they are.
Our shoe experts fit more than a thousand players a year. Many of these are pickleball players and many of these players are women. As a result, we have opportunities to see many patterns that are repeated amongst groups of athletes.

For example, we hear this comment from female pickleball players several times every week: “I have wide feet, so I have a hard time finding shoes that fit.”

In fact, only a small percentage of the female pickleball players our experts fit turn out to have genuinely wide feet. What we find instead is that their feet are not wide, they are just wearing shoes that are the wrong size for their feet.

A shoe size numbers go up, the shoes get a little longer. They also get a little wider. In our experience, more than half of the women who tell us that they have wide feet are actually a B width, which is standard for women. They just think they are wide because they have been buying shoes that are the wrong length. Once we get them into a shoe of the correct length, the width issue takes care of itself.

Too many ladies think that their court shoes should fit like surgical gloves when, instead, they should fit like winter mittens. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to teach older female athletes. They have been conditioned by decades of social pressures to think that smaller is better, when smaller shoes are actually very unhealthy and can lead to permanent damage to sensitive feet.

Too many of these ladies get focused on the numbers. “I’m not a 9!” they will insist. “I have never been a 9!!”

Please, ladies. Forget about the numbers and consider the health of your feet. Court shoes have to be bigger than your walking-around-shoes because you will be subjecting your feet to higher athletic stresses when playing pickleball than you will be when you are just walking around.

Your feet have to have room to move around inside of your shoes. When you plant on your outside foot to hit a ball cross court, your toes need to spread or you may lose your balance. And if your shoes are so tight that your toes cannot spread, they will eventually start to hurt.

The same is true when your feet push off to move you left or right. Every time you do this, your toes try to spread. If they have the room to spread, your balance will be better and you will be able to move faster.

Shoes that are too short will also be too narrow. This will lead to discomfort that can turn into blisters or even chronic pain.

Don’t believe us? Come in for an expert fitting. Chances are you are not as wide as you think you are. Statistically speaking, the odds are good that you are just wearing shoes that are too short for your feet.