Racquetball is a sport that showcases mobility and quickness. Being able to move from one side to the other and being able to go backward and forward quickly are hallmarks of the game. This means that you have to have the necessary shoes to help you sustain yourself for the entire match. Without the right shoes, you can find yourself in a very compromising position. There are a number of things to look at when buying racquetball shoes. But you must make sure that they are conducive to lateral movements. Today, we’re going to help you choose a pair of racquetball shoes that will best for your needs by providing you a buying guide with the ins and outs you need to know. We’ll then review some of the top shoes on the market this year.
Top Racquetball Shoes Comparison Chart
Racquetball Shoes Buyer’s Guide
Why Racquetball-Specific Shoes
We’ll start by talking about why racquetball shoes need to be worn when playing racquetball. This is a game, as we’ve already stated that requires the versatility of being able to move from side to side as well as being able to move front to back. You also have to do these things at random, and oftentimes you are doing them for a static position. This means that you need a certain level of protection.
Running shoes do not give you what you need in this instance. Running shoes are meant to help you go forward. They often have a design in the toes that point upward. As such, they are highly NOT recommended for use with racquetball because you are going to need to move from side to side. Running shoes are made for you to go one way, and you they just do not have the grip that is necessary for racquetball.
Basketball shoes are also not a good idea for use with racquetball. For starters, basketball shoes are typically much more binding on the feet and they are also heavier than other types of shoes. Because of this, they are not a good fit. In racquetball, you are likely going to be playing a long match that combines anaerobic and aerobic exercise, and the added weight can do a lot of harm. In a pinch, basketball shoes would be better than running shoes, but they are still not preferred.
Tennis shoes are also a big no for use in racquetball. Tennis courts and racquetball courts each have completely different looking surfaces. And the looks aren’t all. The grip levels are completely different as racquetball is played on a polyurethane sealed court while tennis is most often played on asphalt. These surfaces are completely different, so your tennis shoes will more than likely cause you to slide around when they are used indoors on the racquetball court.
The most similar type of shoe to racquetball shoes that you could get away with wearing would be volleyball shoes. Volleyball shoes are made with the same sorts of material that racquetball shoes are made from, but they offer shock absorbing qualities as well because volleyball involves a lot of jumping. Because of this, you’d be going above and beyond, so you may pay a little more, but they wouldn’t be bad for use with racquetball.
One thing to note, though, is that volleyball shoes are sometimes more restrictively made than typical racquetball shoes. Some have high tops, so this may end up weighing you down. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much protection and weight you want to go with.
Taking Care of Your Shoes
One of the most important things you can do to protect your racquetball shoes is to make sure that you do not wear them outside of the court. For many, this is a custom and is just good etiquette because it shows a level of respect for others players that may be using the court later. The reason this is seen as a sign of respect is that you are not tracking in dirt, mud, dust, or whatever else is on your shoes into the court area. This goes above and beyond just etiquette, though, because it really does end up helping you.
If you’re walking down the street wearing your racquetball shoes, you’re picking up all kinds of dirt. If you wear them into the court, you are going to put yourself in danger because you will be sliding around as you have less traction. This can cause problems for both you and your playing partner, and it can cause problems for future players as well. If everyone were to do this, then the floor would essentially be ruined and would have to be swept much more often.
Another reason to not wear your racquetball shoes out, despite how cool they might look, is to keep them protected. Racquetball shoes are made from a rubber gum-like substance, and it only has so much life to it. By walking or running, or just wearing them even outside, you are putting stress and strain on them and reducing their lifespan. This is especially true if you are walking on any type of hard surface such as pavement. No one likes to wear out their shoes too early on, so if you follow these tips they will last much longer.
One of the things that separate the court sports from the rest is the use of gum rubber soles. Just about every single sport that is played on an indoor “court” uses gum rubber soles because of their grip. Gum rubber goes above and beyond anything else on the wooden surfaces that these sports will see you encounter. Basketball is one such sport that does not typically have shoes made with gum rubber soles, and that is one of the reasons that basketball shoes are not recommended for use with racquetball.
Gum rubber is very easily identifiable. You will know whether or not a pair of shoes has it or not by looking at them immediately. Simply pick the shoe up and look at the bottom of it. If it has a substance that is yellow or brown and has tiny little grooves and various design markers on it, chances are it is made from gum rubber.
Another thing that makes gum rubber so popular is that it is non-marking. This is a huge deal in court sports because the floor is VERY expensive. Once it is laid, you want to protect it as much as possible. One of the ways to do to this is to make sure that black marks don’t ruin it. No one wants the color of the wooden floor to be ruined. So, it is very important to find a shoe that does not mark the floor. This is another reason why gum rubber is so popular and the preferred choice.
This is the soapbox portion of the buying guide. Shoes are meant to be worn in order to keep us protected. As such, they are there to offer support for our feet and to help our natural gait. Our gait is just simply the way we stride as we walk or run. Every person is unique. That gait can be changed by a number of things. Shoes that are sized incorrectly can cause this to happen. Let’s take a shoe that is too large for you, for example. The shoe slides back and forth. Not only does this make you slip on the court more, but it also makes you change the way you walk or run. You do this to correct for the shoe’s slipping. This is liable to make you hurt yourself in new areas because your body is adjusting. A shoe that is too small can also cause issues.
A shoe that is too small can bind your foot and cause blisters. Blistering is absolutely no fun, and it will make you want to quit playing. This also can prove to be quite costly as over-the-counter medications and other corrections can be very costly!
So, how should the shoes fit? The shoes should fit comfortably first and foremost. If you are uncomfortable for any reason, then you should probably look elsewhere. This is why it is so important to try on a pair of shoes before purchasing them. Many people just buy online, which is great, but they never know what they are getting without trying on a pair first.
It is imperative to make sure that they are comfortable. The toe should be slightly behind the very edge of the shoe. You don’t want your toe to be pressing up against the top of the shoe, but you also don’t want it an inch away. Simply see if you can wiggle your toes. If you can, this is a good start. You can also feel with your fingers where the toe is in relation to the end of the foot. As long as you have these things, you should be good to go!
If you have wider feet, then you certainly need to try on a few pairs of shoes before you attempt to buy anything. Oftentimes, shoe companies simply don’t have a wider version, so you may need to be a half size or a full size larger to accommodate that. Other times, they will make a wider version of the shoe. Reading reviews is a great way of finding out this information, and we’ll notify you of any sizing issues when we review our top ten later on.
A big thing that you should do to ensure that you are getting shoes that are sized correctly is to make sure that your feet are at their largest. This may sound a little crazy, but you need to make sure your feet and ankles are swollen when you go to try a pair of shoes on or when you go to measure your shoe size. This is crucial because, in racquetball, you are going to have a lot of swelling in your feet. As with all sports and physical activities, the muscles get a “pump” during activity. After extended use, your shoes will feel different because your body is constantly going through changes during the match.
One way to simulate this is to make sure you’ve done some sort of exercising before you try on a pair of shoes or measure your feet. You can run, do jumping jacks, or even walking can help. Anything to get your heart rate up and make the blood flow to your ankles and feet will help simulate this.
Many players buy racquetball shoes that feel great when they are not swollen only to find that when they become uncomfortable when playing. This is not something anyone wants to experience. Note: this doesn’t mean that your shoes are going to be too big when you begin to play. It just means that sometimes a pair of shoes may not be conducive to the shaping of your ankles or feet!
A rule to remember is this: generally your racquetball shoe size is going to be the same as the size of your normal shoes. There may be exceptions, but if you are comfortable in your normal shoes, then that size will more than likely suffice.
Men’s vs Women’s
There are a few differences between men’s and women’s shoes when it comes to racquetball. First, the biggest difference that everyone would be quick to point out is styling. Both designs and colors tend to be total opposites at times for men’s and women’s versions of shoes. Sometimes, this is annoying as maybe you’d like the same style but can’t find it. There are types of looks, so just keep looking if this is what you are after.
Secondly, the sizing is different. Men’s sizes run higher than women’s sizes do. So that can be a consideration. Another thing to consider is how they are made. Women’s shoes are made to fit a woman’s foot while men’s shoes are meant to fit men’s feet. Men’s feet, on average, are wider than women’s, so they are typically going to be wider. This means that if you are a woman with wide feet, you may be able to look to a men’s shoe to correct your problem. This may solve your issues altogether. But just be aware that they can fit very differently, so you will just have to try them out and see how it goes.
Socks and Blistering
Blistering can be an issue for racquetball players, as it is an issue with most sports. Blisters are very painful sores that make you turn red. If untreated, they can even fester and become irritated sometimes, or they just become more and more painful over time. This is something that you do not want. A lot of times, blisters can be totally prevented by making sure you do a few things.
The first thing is to make sure like we’ve said before that your shoes aren’t too big, too small, too narrow, or too wide. Being scrunched up or having your feet slide inside of the shoes can cause blisters to occur. Another thing to do is to make sure that you wear a proper athletic sock. This is subjective for many, but we find it important to wear a pair of athletic socks because they have a superior grip to other socks. You don’t need anything crazy like a soccer sock, but we suggest something more a cute little frilly sock that will keep you warm. Also, make sure that you aren’t wearing two pairs of socks or no socks or anything that might be different from what you have done in the past or when you tried the shoes on in the first place. If you somehow find two pairs to be more comfortable, then just make sure you’ve tried them on with two pairs of socks on. Socks aren’t supposed to slide around; this can cause blistering of their own. They just need to lock you in tight.
With today’s innovations and technologies, shoes have come a long way from where they used to be. Many shoes and some racquetball shoes fall into this category, will allow you to remove the insole and place in your own insert. Others are very lightweight and give you enough room to put your own in. Still, there are many shoes on the market now that have inserts already inside of them. These inserts vary in their purpose. They could help absorb shocks, make you more comfortable, or be for specific foot types. There are options out there if you need something special, and we’ll make sure to mention them if they come up in our review of the top 10 list.
Ankle protection can be a big concern for some players, so companies offer different levels of ankle support. This is done by the back part of the shoe. For the most ankle protection you can get, you can look to high tops, which are essentially what you find in basketball shoes. These are the most restrictive to your feet, but they offer the most protection for the ankles. The mid-level is where most shoes are. It offers slightly less ankle support, but it gives the wearer more freedom of movement. Low tops are the final type, and they are on the very low end in regards to ankle protection. Anyone that has a knack for twisting their ankles would want to stay away from these, but they do offer a lot of freedom of movement for those that prefer that.
Best Racquetball Shoe Reviews
Ektelon is first on the list with a racquetball-specific shoe that helps protect the ankles with what is essentially a high top. The price is in in the mid-to-upper range, but you get a lot of great qualities from it such as a very cool yet toned down style, great comfort and support with its tongue, rubber, and mesh makeup, and it is great for those that have feet that run a little wide. The liner is glued down with just a little glue, so you are able to take it out and put your own inserts in if desired.
- Good for people with wide feet
- Great quality product that lasts and is comfortable
- Good ankle protection
- A little expensive for beginners
- Will wear out after extended use over a season
ASICS brings the style with this choice with a number of colors to choose from. This shoe is geared more toward volleyball, so it will have more shock absorbing properties than many of the shoes on the list. It is a low to maybe mid-top shoe, so it’s not going to offer a whole lot in terms of ankle support. It does have gel cushioning which is very nice for comfort. This offering comes at a mid to high range in price, depending on size and color. Because of its lowish top, it is very lightweight and it is geared toward the recreational player, so if you use it that way it should last for some time.
- Gel cushioning is great for comfortable feel
- Great for recreational players
- Not great ankle support for those that need it
- Hard to remove the liner to place insert inside
looking much more stylish with a red and black design is this pair of Ektelon racquetball shoes. The other difference that sets this apart from #1 on the list is the fact that these are low tops. So if you want the same great qualities as the original, but you want to have more freedom of movement with the ankles, this is your choice. It comes in at a moderate to approaching high price, and it is comfortable right out of the box. They make sure to keep you stable while also allowing you the freedom to move your toes easily.
- Great design and look
- Low tops allow greater freedom
- Great for racquetball only players
- Wear and tear is an issue
- Not good for those with bad ankles
like the men’s version of this shoe, it comes in a number of colors that will make any lady happy with her shoe. Depending on the size and color, you can get them for a very reasonable price as well. Although these are meant for volleyball as they have a cushioning system that helps alleviate shocks from jumping, these can be great for racquetball as they have the gum rubber and an upper made from mesh and synthetics to help your feet breathe easier. These are meant for medium width feet, however, and they are also mid-level in terms of ankle support.
- Good price
- Ankles are supported but free at the same time
- Great colors and style
- Not good for people with wider feet
- Insoles are difficult to replace
the ASICS Gel Blade 5 is more of a one size fits all model than the others that we have seen. It should be capable of getting the job done for any indoor court sport. It differs from the other ASICS offerings so far because the insert is easily removable for you. In addition to that, it has a really interesting look and style to it that you’ll no doubt either love or absolutely hate. This shoe does come at quite a premium, but its lightweight makeup and gel combination make it well worth the money.
- Inserts can be replaced easily
- Versatile for court sports
- Very lightweight compared to volleyball shoes
- Heftier price than some would like
- Can run a little large
You certainly won’t get a more eye-catching look than you will with these shoes! They are a North Carolina blue with specks of pink/purple and white, and along with the gum rubber, it will stand out. This shoe is a little different because the upper is made from polyester and mesh, which is a little different. The ankle support is at the mid-level, but it has a gel cushioning system for both the front and back of the foot. It also has a personalized heel fit as well as grip for courts that are wet. So this would be great if you sweat a lot! Like the previous model, these are also all all-around court option.
- Great style
- Cushioning for both front and back of the foot
- Wet grip helps protect your from slipping in-match
- Not great for wide feet
- Might need extra protection if your ankles are bad
HEAD is a big player in the racquet sports industry, so it’s not a surprise to see them make the list. They make it with an offering that could be used for either racquetball or squash. The style is nice if not just a little plain, but it does have that traditional gum rubber look that always seems to draw you in. The upper is made almost totally from mesh, or it at least appears because of the vents on the sides, so it should be quite breathable. It is also great for players that tend to drag their feet as it has resistance built in to help prolong their use. They are also a little bit cheaper than most of the other offerings, so that is a consideration.
- Mesh makes it more breathable
- A little cheaper than most
- Helps prolong use by toe-dragging players
- Fabric on the inside tends to ball up and have to be removed
- Not quite as light as others on the list
why Wilson chose this shoe to be called the Recon is beyond me as you can see it clearly from several miles away with its neon fluorescent yellow color scheme accentuated with black and a red “W.” It offers mid-level ankle protection and it has an “advanced” foothold that will give you support and comfort. Like most other offerings, it has a synthetic leather and mesh making up its upper. This allows is to be breathable and more easily molds to your foot. These are also a less expensive offering than many of the others on the list.
- Good price compared to others
- Advanced foothold locks feet in
- Great style that pops out at youngsters
- Elastic tongue can make putting them on difficult
- They run narrow
it would be a missed opportunity to not include at least one pair of unisex shoes. This offering seeks to mirror #1 on the list by giving you a decent style with a synthetic and mesh upper. It also has quite a bit of ankle protection to it like the other Ektelon. It’s there that the similarities stop, though, because this shoe is made from different materials than the original, which is a bit of a disappointment. The front is shaped upwards, almost like a running shoe, which can’t be very conducive to playing on the court at all.
- Could be worn by either women or men
- Good ankle protection
- Reasonable price depending on sizing
- The upward curving is baffling
- Some have issues as they are still tailored toward men’s feet
Conclusion & Recommendation
With racquetball shoes, there are a number of choices and considerations to be made as they are much different than typical athletic shoes. No two feet are alike, so you have to find something that will fit you well. Some people have found great success with very inexpensive models, while others just cannot stand to wear them. This is something that will always exist. As stated before, the best way to know what kind of shoes you need is to try them on and see how they feel. If you need something specifically for racquetball, and you are adamant about that there are options above. But you can also look at other sports for your needs. Just make sure you’re comfortable and safe and enjoy your time on the court!