Can I wear tennis clothes to play Pickleball?

August 2023 • Alex Johnson

Tennis vs Pickleball Apparel: Can We Just Borrow from Tennis?

As someone who's spent countless hours on the pickleball court, I've often observed players sporting tennis gear. This trend has me pondering: is tennis apparel genuinely fit for pickleball, or should we be looking at clothing specifically designed for our sport? Let's delve into this topic and understand the finer points of athletic apparel for pickleball.

Navigating the Apparel Overlap Between Tennis and Pickleball

It's quite common to see pickleball players in tennis outfits. Many, like myself, who have transitioned from tennis to pickleball, tend to repurpose our tennis wardrobe for pickleball. But is this a practical choice?

Performance Fabrics: More Similar Than Different

Both sports favor garments made from materials like polyester and spandex, which are excellent for their moisture-wicking and flexible qualities. These fabrics accommodate the high-energy movements in both tennis and pickleball. While they work well across both sports, there are subtle differences in design that are tailored to each sport's specific demands.

Pocket Design: A Small but Significant Detail

The most noticeable difference in pickleball clothing is the pocket design. Tennis outfits are designed to hold smaller tennis balls, which doesn't always work well with the larger pickleballs. For instance, AVI's Cross-Court Skirt, a favorite of mine, ingeniously incorporates an inverted pickleball pocket, marrying practicality with fashion seamlessly.

Aesthetic Choices: Reflecting the Sport's Spirit

Tennis attire often exudes a traditional, elegant style, while pickleball apparel leans towards a more casual and contemporary look. This difference mirrors the essence of pickleball – a sport that's as much about community and fun as it is about competition. AVI's line, for example, offers a blend of modern style and functionality, perfect for the fast-paced action of pickleball.

The Shortcomings of Tennis Attire in Pickleball

While tennis and pickleball apparel share many similarities, there are reasons why tennis clothes might not be the best fit for pickleball:

  • Pickleball Equipment and Pocket Design: The larger size of pickleballs can make them cumbersome in tennis-specific pockets, affecting movement and comfort.
  • Inclusivity in Design: Pickleball welcomes players of all shapes and sizes, necessitating a broader approach to clothing design compared to tennis.
  • Aligning with the Sport's Culture: Wearing tennis-branded apparel in pickleball can sometimes feel out of place, much like wearing soccer gear on a golf course.

The Case for Pickleball-Specific Clothing

Despite the convenience of using tennis clothes for pickleball, there's a growing need for attire that's specially designed for the nuances of pickleball. This includes considerations for the sport’s specific movements, equipment, and the diverse community that plays it.

Wrapping It Up: Dressing Right for Pickleball

To sum up, while tennis clothes can be a makeshift choice for pickleball, there's a strong argument for investing in pickleball-specific attire. These clothes are not just about functionality; they also capture the essence of the pickleball culture. So, when you're getting ready for your next game, consider picking an outfit that’s not only practical but also truly embodies the spirit of the pickleball community.