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You are all signed up to start playing pickleball. You have your paddle and your ball, and you are excited to start learning a new sport. 

But wait. What do you wear to play pickleball? Is there a specific dress code? Do you need to go buy some new clothes?

These are valid questions, so let’s make sure you are prepared. 

Outfits that you see pickleball players wearing are generally going to be on par with what you would see tennis or squash players wearing since these sports have similar athletic demands and are played in similar environments. 

Read on to learn to several do’s and don’ts of dressing for a pickleball game. 

The basics of pickleball

In order to pick out the best thing to wear, you first need to understand what kind of movement you will be doing and the level of activity you will be performing. 

Pickleball contains elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, and is a little slower-paced compared to other racquet sports. 

This sport can either be played one-on-one or with doubles teams. It is played on a 20 foot by 44 foot court with a net across the middle. 

The ball is served diagonally across the court with an underhanded serve; the first ball is served from the right-hand service square and then it alternates each time. 

The ball must bounce once before the players can start to volley it; there is also a 7-foot non-volley zone on either side of the net that prevents players from being able to spike the ball. 

Players score points when the opposing team makes a mistake, including letting the ball bounce more than once, hitting the ball out of bounds, or hitting the ball into the net.

Only the team that served can score a point, and the team serving will continue to do so until they make a mistake on a serve; then the service alternates to the other team.

Pickleball is a low-impact sport, and there is not too much rigorous activity involved.

You will have to sidestep and move around fairly often, though, to try to return the ball over the net, and you may sometimes have to lunge for the ball. 

As such, there is a lot of lateral movement involved with this game.

Because of this, you will want to make sure that you are wearing clothing and shoes that are comfortable and easy to move in.

What do you wear to play pickleball?

There is no designated dress code for pickleball, and players can pretty much wear whatever feels most comfortable to them.

There are a few general recommendations though that will make your gameplay safer, cooled, and more comfortable. 

Clothing

The main two things to think about when it comes to clothing choice is your level of comfort and the climate.

You want to make sure you are wearing an outfit that is comfortable to move in the whole time.

You should also dress for the climate, while keeping in mind that your body will heat up when you start moving around a lot.

When it comes to tops, most people wear a simple t-shirt or tank top that is lightweight and breathable.

If you are playing in a hot climate or generally sweat a lot during a game, a shirt made from a moisture-wicking material would be the most comfortable.

This type of material will pull the moisture away from your skin so that your clothing does not stick to you and the moisture can evaporate.

Players generally wear athletic shorts that are easy to move in. Tennis-style skirts and dresses are also fairly common for women. 

If you are going to be playing on a colder day, you can of course wear a jacket or sweatshirt.

If you are dressing for the cold, though, it is better to dress in layers.

As you start playing a game, your body will warm up and you might get too hot.

If you are wearing light layers, you can quickly remove a layer to help cool back off without having to actually change clothes. 

The type of socks that you wear are also important. Regular socks are not generally moisture-wicking and your feet can slide around in them.

The combination of moisture and repetitive movement can lead to blisters. 

Athletic socks are more form-fitting and draw the moisture away from your skin to help prevent blisters.

Some people even choose to wear two pairs of socks so that any existing friction occurs between the two layers of fabric instead of between the fabric and your foot. 

A good pair of shoes will also help prevent blisters. 

Shoes

Wearing the right type of shoes is very important for playing pickleball and can actually enhance your game. 

The type of shoe that you choose will largely depend on the kind of surface you will be playing on, as pickleball can be played both indoors and outdoors. 

If you are playing pickleball on an indoor court, then you are going to want court shoes. 

Court shoes have flat rubber soles that gain traction on court floors.

They do not have much tread because they are intended for wooden floors; this type of sole helps reduce sliding so that you are more steady on your feet when running on the court.

Court shoes also have support on all sides of the foot which makes lateral movement much safer. 

If you will be playing pickleball on an outdoor tennis court, then tennis shoes are going to be a better choice. 

Tennis shoes are a little heavier than court shoes, and they are very durable to help them hold up against the outside elements and the rougher ground. 

Tennis shoes have good all round stability that will help keep your foot and ankle supported as you move around the court.

One type of shoe that you will want to avoid is running shoes. These are convenient since most people already have a pair, but they do not perform the way that is needed for pickleball.

Running shoes are designed for forward motion, but pickleball has a lot of lateral movement as you try to lunge for the ball.

As a result, you will not have as much support and protection when moving side to side. 

Eyewear 

Wearing some sort of protective eyewear, such as sunglasses or goggles, is important for pickleball because there is increased risk for eye injuries while playing this sport. 

As with other racquet sports, pickleball involves hitting a ball to your opponent.

Because there is a ball being hit through the air, you are at greater risk of being hit and suffering an injury. 

Our eyes are particularly delicate and can get injured more easily than other parts of our bodies if they are hit.

They also take longer to heal once they have been injured, and the impacts of an eye injury can be much longer lasting than a simple black eye. 

Since you will be wearing these goggles or glasses to help protect against injury, sport eyewear should be made of an impact-resistant material.

The lenses in sport glasses are typically made from polycarbonate and includes a scratch-resistant coating.

This protects from impact and ensures that your glasses last longer because they are not getting scratched up during a game or in your bag. 

Protective eyewear not only protects your eyes, but it can also help you see better during various weather conditions, including windy, sunny, and overcast conditions. 

You can buy protective eyewear that also includes UV protection to protect your eyes from the sun.

Your eyes will also be protected from any dirt or debris that is picked up by the wind. 

The most important thing to consider when picking out eyewear is the level of comfort.

Because you will be wearing these goggles for long practices and games, you want to make sure that they feel comfortable on your face.

They should fit snuggly so that they do not move around and slip down your nose, but they should not be so tight that they are uncomfortable. 

Athletic goggles can also be made with prescription lenses for those who wear glasses.

Accessories

There are a few functional accessories that you can wear in pickleball if you so choose.

One thing you can wear is a hat or a visor which will help keep the sun out of your eyes.

Just make sure you wear a hat that fits your head well; if your hat is constantly shifting and needs frequent adjustment, it can become a distraction.

Another accessory you can wear is a sweat band, either on your head, your wrists, or both.

A sweatband headband helps block the sweat from dripping down into your eyes, keeping your vision clear.

It also prevents you from having to take a towel break during a game or practice to wipe off sweat.

Similarly, you can wear sweatband wristbands for an easy way to wipe away forehead sweat when you are in the middle of playing.

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