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5 Best Training Shoes for Pickleball (2023 Update) | Lift Heavy, Play Pickleball

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It’s funny, when I started this site, I never thought I’d write an article about the “Best training shoes for pickleball,” but after enough asks for training shoes that work in this context, I thought it was time.

With the boom of pickleball’s popularity, especially for more beginner and recreational players, a lot of athletes and lifters have asked me on YouTube about which cross-training shoes work best for some casual pickleball play.

If you want a great cross-training shoe that can also be used for your training and weekly pickleball games, then this article is for you. While I don’t always intend to test cross-training shoes for pickleball, I routinely rotate shoes, and I end up testing a ton of them in this vertical.

Training shoes for pickleball

Author’s Note: While training shoes can work for casual pickleball, if you’re getting more serious with your play then I’d suggest investing in a good pair of court shoes as they’ll give you “more” when it comes to performance.

Best Overall Training Shoes for Pickleball

If you want a singular shoe for both training and pickleball that is tried and true, then you’ll want to explore options that are built for court sports or at least have features that cover the demands of court sports.

Court sports can wreak havoc on traditional training shoes when it comes to midsole and outsole durability, so niching down is typically a good idea for avid hybrid training and pickleball players.

Top Pick: NOBULL Court Trainer

The NOBULL Court Trainer is taking my top pick as the best overall training shoe for pickleball. Unlike the other training shoes in this list, the NOBULL Court Trainer is specifically designed for court sports in addition to training.

Using the NOBULL Court Trainer for pickleball
For the record, I forgot my gym shorts this day when I shot these clips, LOL.

This model has a few key things going for it when it comes to both pickleball performance and training. First, the increased outsole wrap over the toe box is great for both protection, durability, and grip when going for tough digs.

Second, the SuperFabric upper has performed exceptionally well regarding its durability and security when playing. Mesh and knit uppers on trainers can rip fairly easily with concrete abrasion, but the SuperFabric has performed well.

Testing the NOBULL Court Trainer for Lifting

On top of this, this shoe’s security is also good for multi-directional work in the gym and on the court. Third and lastly, the herringbone tread on the outsole provides a nice level of grip for both indoor and outdoor pickleball play and different workout contexts.

  • Best For: Pickleball, Flatter Feet, General Training, and CrossFit
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 12.5 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

NOBULL Court Trainer

$139

NOBULL Court Trainer
4.7
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.7

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • CrossFit Workouts
  • Court Sports
  • Walking and Daily Wear
  • Multi-Directional Training

Falls Short

  • For Breathability
  • For Longer Runs

Best Training Shoes for Pickleball and CrossFit

If you’re wanting a shoe for both pickleball and CrossFit, then you’re going to need a shoe that is both durable and specific in its construction.

Both of these activities can wreak havoc on a shoe’s long-term durability, so do note, if you’re using a singular shoe for going hard in both of these contexts then it may break down faster than only using it for one setting.

Top Pick: UA TriBase Reign 5

The UA TriBase Reign 5 is earning my top pick as the best training shoe for pickleball and CrossFit. Note, the NOBULL Court Trainer can also work in this section, but I do think the TriBase Reign 5 has a slightly more dialed construction for CrossFit.

Testing the Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 for HIIT

When it comes to CrossFit, there’s a lot to like about the UA TriBase Reign 5. This shoe’s Micro G Foam midsole is stable yet responsive, and it has a good level of midfoot support for rope climbs and heel support for handstand push-ups.

For pickleball and CrossFit, the UA Warp upper has performed pretty well regarding its overall durability. I haven’t noticed any rips yet from tough digs or rope climbs which has been a good sign for this shoe’s longevity.

Testing the Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 for CrossFit

Additionally, the outsole and TriBase tech help support this model’s overall grip and balance when doing unilateral and multi-directional work on the court and in the gym. This shoe is also comfortable enough for short runs programmed in WODs.

  • Best For: Lifting, HIIT, and CrossFit-Style Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 2mm
  • Weight: 12.6 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

UA TriBase Reign 5

$130

Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 Product Shot
4.6
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Recreational Weight Training
  • CrossFit
  • Cross-Training & Athletic Workouts
  • HIIT Workouts
  • Lower Heel-to-Toe Drop Lovers

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Longer Runs

Best Training Shoes for Pickleball and Wide Feet

If you have wide feet and you need a pair of training shoes for working out and pickleball, then you’ll want to be selective with your choices. Not every training shoe is built with adequate width, for example.

To be honest, training shoes for wide feet is a pretty underserved demographic at the moment, but hopefully, this changes as time goes on.

Top Pick: Reebok Nano X3

The Reebok Nano X3 is taking my top pick as the best training shoe for pickleball and wide feet. This shoe’s last construction is a little wider than most of its peers so for neutral-width and slightly wider feet this shoe should fit well.

Testing the Reebok Nano X3 for Running

In the gym and on the court, there’s a lot to like with the Reebok Nano X3. This shoe’s outsole has a good level of tread for multi-directional work and training on different surfaces. Plus, my shoe’s outsole has held up pretty well.

Additionally, this shoe features Reebok’s signature Lift and Run Chassis System which is designed to increase this shoe’s versatility and stability. In the gym, this feature performs well, but on top of its versatility, it also adds a nice level of ankle support.

Testing the Reebok Nano X3 for Functional Fitness

The last things to like about the Reebok Nano X3 are its Floatride Energy Energy Foam midsole and Flexweave upper. Both of these features give this shoe a nice level of versatility and security which boosts their performance for CrossFit, cross-training, and pickleball.

  • Best For: General Training, HIIT Workouts, Casual CrossFit, and Wider Feet
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 7mm
  • Weight: 13.85 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: For wider feet, you should be safe going true-to-size in the Nano X3. Narrow/neutral-width feet, size down a half size.
  • For More Info: Read My Review

Reebok Nano X3

Reebok Nano X3 Product Shot
4.4
Stability
4.5
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3
Quality
4.4

Best For

  • Recreational Weight Training
  • Functional Fitness and CrossFit
  • Athletic-Style Training
  • Short Runs/Sprints
  • Casual HIIT

Falls Short

  • For Minimalist Lovers
  • For Long-Distance Running

Best Women’s Training Shoes for Pickleball

When it comes to the best women’s training shoes for pickleball, the name of the game is finding options that have last constructions that typically work really well for women’s feet.

This will not only lead to a more comfortable fitting shoe, but it can also help boost a shoe’s overall performance as it’ll be more fine-tuned for your specific needs.

Top Pick: Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2

The Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2 is taking my top pick as the best training shoe for women that want a great option for pickleball. Do note, if you’re not a fan of the F-Lite 260 V2s, then all of the other options on this list can also work well for women.

inov 8 f lite 260 v2 lifting

The reason the Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2 is taking the top pick for women, however, is due to its last construction and its well-rounded performance. This shoe has a more “athletic” fit that typically aligns with women’s feet really well (based on my community feedback).

In the gym, the Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2’s PowerFlow midsole comes with a nice level of stability and versatility for versatile workouts, CrossFit, and heavier lifting which is great for anyone wanting a shoe for a little bit of everything.

inov 8 f lite 260 v2 hiit

For pickleball, this model can be an awesome pick due to its Dynamic-Fascia Band construction through its outsole. This gives this shoe a flexible feel and the tread on this shoe grips different surfaces well while being pretty strong for long-term durability.

  • Best For: CrossFit-Style Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 10.5 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, but if you have a wider foot, then some may want to size up a half size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

Inov-8 F-Lite 260 V2

inov-8 f-lite 260 v2
4.6
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • CrossFit Workouts
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Versatile Training
  • HIIT and Agility Workouts

Falls Short

  • For Wider Footed Athletes
  • For Cost-Efficiency

Best Men’s Training Shoe for Pickleball

When it comes to finding the best training shoe for men and pickleball, I’m most concerned with a shoe’s overall fit for the typical guy’s foot anatomy.

A lot of the topics on this list can work for guys, just like my section for women, so don’t be afraid to explore the other categories if my pick below doesn’t work for you.

Top Pick: TYR CXT-1 Trainer

The TYR CXT-1 Trainer is taking my top pick as the best training shoe for pickleball for men. This model delivers a strong performance in and out of the gym and has an athletic and responsive fit and feel. 

For starters, the Surge NRG Foam midsole in this shoe gives them a nice level of versatility for athletic-style workouts and the multi-directional demands of pickleball. The toe bumper is also nice for additional durability on the court and during CrossFit.

This shoe also has a higher heel-to-toe drop compared to the other training shoes on this list with a 9mm drop, so if you like training shoes with a bit more “heel” then you’ll likely resonate with how this shoe fits and feels.

Whether you’re training heavily, playing pickleball, or tackling cross-training workouts the TYR CXT-1 Trainer should perform well across the board. My only gripe about this shoe in the context of working out is that it doesn’t have the best durability for rope climbs during CrossFit.

  • Best For: Lifting, CrossFit, and Athletic Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 9mm
  • Weight: 12.65 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More InfoRead My Review

TYR CXT-1 Trainer

$130

TYR CXT-1 Trainer Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
3.9
Quality
4.1

Best For

  • CrossFit/Cross-Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Athletic-Style Workouts
  • Athletes That Like Higher Drops

Falls Short

  • For Minimal Drop Lovers
  • For Athletes That Like “Minimalist-Style” Shoes

What Kind of Shoes Should I Wear for Pickleball?

If you’re getting serious with your pickleball play, then you’ll want to grab a good pair of court/tennis shoes. These shoes will be built with good lateral support, a low-to-the-ground stack height, and an outsole with good traction.

For those wanting a training shoe for pickleball, you’ll want to find models built with more upper durability components, stable yet responsive midsoles, and good ankle and lateral support.

Testing the NOBULL Court Trainer for Court Sports

Typically and notoriously throughout all of my testing, training shoes that work well for pickleball are cross-training shoes designed for serious training and CrossFit as these shoes typically have better long-term durability. 

Are Pickleball Shoes the Same As Tennis Shoes?

The question of are pickleball shoes the same as tennis shoes is a question that is often followed with a fair amount of confusion. I think this is due to the misunderstanding of the use of “tennis shoes” to describe a category of shoes.

For example, there’s a difference between court shoes and actual tennis shoes or shoes made for tennis versus what my dad used to call his athletic shoes — tennis shoes.

Shoes designed for pickleball will be specific in their construction to match the demands of pickleball. As the sport of pickleball continues to grow so does the range of footwear options for the sport.

There are now more shoes designed specifically for the sport of pickleball, so while tennis shoes can work for pickleball, they’re not necessarily the same thing.

Can I Use Cross-Training Shoes for Pickleball?

While some pickleball pros may say you shouldn’t use cross-training shoes for pickleball, I don’t think that’s necessarily a piece of advice that applies to everyone and every cross-training shoe.

For example, a common argument against using cross-training shoes for pickleball is that they’re “designed for forward movement and not lateral movement”, and that’s not necessarily true for every pair of cross-training shoes.

Testing the Reebok Nano X3 for Multi Directional Workouts

In fact, there are countless cross-training shoes that work well for multidirectional work, which is why countless athletes reach for them when training agility, power, and dynamic movements.

I wouldn’t suggest using a thicker and softer foam midsole cross-training shoe for pickleball, but many cross-training shoes with reinforced layers/sidewalls, denser midsoles, and extended outsole wraps work fine for casual pickleball.

Testing the TYR CXT-1 Trainer for Versatile Training

Then again, if you’re getting specific with your pickleball play much like lifting and strength sports, it’s always a good idea to grab the right gear for the job. A good pair of court shoes will always beat cross-training shoes when it comes to pickleball specificity.

Takeaway Thoughts

If you’re just getting into pickleball or playing recreationally and want a singular pair of shoes for pickleball and working out, then finding the right pair of training shoes can be important for your performance.

Not every cross-training shoe is created equally when it comes to its performance for pickleball, and you’ll want to be selective when investing in a shoe for both verticals.

Generally speaking, CrossFit shoes will be one of your safer bets when wanting a training shoe for tough workouts and pickleball as these are shoes built with better durability (typically).

If you have additional questions about any training shoes for pickleball in this list, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

4 thoughts on “5 Best Training Shoes for Pickleball (2023 Update) | Lift Heavy, Play Pickleball”

  1. Hi Jake!

    I do regular cross/gym/HIIT (not super heavy) and just started playing pickleball and found your videos very informative, specially the fact that you mention which ones you use for pickleball, then later I found this specific article.

    I already bought the Nano X2 Adventure to play ocasional pickleball, Volleyball and general outdoor activities based on your comments and reviews on the videos. My Nanoflex 1 did suffer a lot from the pickleball and volley court, so I expect the X2 Adventure to last a little bit more considering it was made for ¨high abrasion¨.

    My only concern is: do you think the X2 Adventure is LESS flexible than the nanoflex 1?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey! I’d say they’re about the same once the Nano X2 breaks in. Granted the X2’s midfoot can feel a little stiff at times. Another model to explore is the Born Primitive Savage 1. They’ve been freakishly good for Pickle and I’ll be adding them to this list soon once I update it!

  2. Hi Jake,

    I appreciate a lot that you include the heel-to-toe drop ratio here. I’ve bought a few zero-drop court shoes for pickleball, which are better for balanced movement, even foot and leg strengthening, and therefore they cause fewer injuries. And I always burn through the heels in 2-3 months at about $125 apiece! I’ve tried Lems, Xero, inov-8, and Vivobarefoot – which are all brand that somewhat specialize in zero drop sport shoes (mostly running and training shoes though, not so much court shoes so the heels don’t last). I am looking so hard to find some zero drop (or max 2mm drop) shoes for pickleball that either have heels that last 6 months or more, or sell for less than $70. Ideally, both: less than $70 and lasting half a year. Do you have any tips or data on zero-drop pickle shoes?

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