Most pickleball shoe stores offer two types of court shoes: indoor and outdoor. This is because, until recently, all indoor courts were made of hardwood and all outdoor courts were made of acrylic. Unfortunately, that is no longer true. So these two categories are no longer very useful.
Today, indoor courts may be made of hardwood or any of a dozen different synthetic materials. Some are even covered in outdoor acrylic, which means that they are actually outdoor courts even though they are under a roof and surrounded by walls. Some facilities go even further and cover their floors with mats. So you can see why the terms indoor and outdoor no longer have much meaning.
Complicating matters further is the fact that virtually all of the shoe manufacturers now use a blend of organic and synthetic rubbers in their outer soles. Ten years ago, the soles of indoor shoes were made entirely of organic gum rubber while outdoor shoes were made of high abrasion synthetic rubber. So it was easy to tell them apart.
These days, however, every manufacturer uses a blend of synthetic and organic rubbers on their “indoor shoes”. Some even blend small amounts of organic rubber into the soles of their “outdoor shoes”. So it is not as easy to tell “indoor shoes” from “outdoor shoes” as it used to be.
A more useful way to categorize shoes today is to put them on a gradient with soft soled shoes on one end and hard soled shoes on the opposite end. Soft soled shoes can be used on hardwood floors and badminton mats while hard soled shoes can be used on most synthetic floors and on acrylic covered tennis courts.
Racquet Network stopped using the terms indoor and outdoor a few years ago. Instead, we now focus on figuring out which surface our customers will be playing on before we help them pick out shoes. Here in Calgary where we are familiar with virtually every facility, it is a rather simple proposition. If the customer can tell us where they will be playing pickleball, we will be able to tell them which shoe is most suitable.
Customers from out of town are advised to take a picture of the floors in their facility before coming in to see us. The further away from Calgary you live, the more likely our staff will need that photo in order to give you the best possible advice regarding shoe selection.