It’s a tale as old as time (or, you know, at least the last few years): Girl graduates from college and moves home. Girl gets bored at home and starts playing pickleball with her parents to pass the time. Girl actually *really* enjoys pickleball and makes all her friends learn so she always has a partner to play with once she moves out.
In this case, I am said girl, and pickleball has become my favorite way to stay active and social as a young professional—especially since there are free courts less than half a mile from my apartment.
By nature, I’m not a super competitive person, but something about pickleball (hint: it’s the only sport I’m actually good at) really brings out that “Eye of the Tiger” mentality in me. This means I’m always looking for a way to bring a new edge to my game—like this warm-up—so I can have an advantage on my “opponents,” aka my friends who really don’t care whether they win or lose as long as we can hit the brewery next door after the game is over.
One way to get that upper hand? By investing in shoes meant for hard courts. That’s how I found the NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor 11s, which promised all three elements that I was looking for in a good pair of pickleball shoes: traction, support, and style. Keep reading to discover why I’ve grown to love these shoes both on and off the court.
Traction for days
Before I had these hard court shoes, I was rocking my old cross-trainers. My beat-up sneaks, naturally, had barely any grip left on them, which led to a lot of slipping and sliding whenever I had to make a quick directional change (IYKYK: pickleball balls don’t always bounce the way you expect them to). It was actually one particularly bad slide—that nearly resulted in my, embarrassingly, hurting myself—that made me first think, “Hmmm, maybe it’s time for some new shoes.”
The absurdly good traction on the NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor 11s has made a big difference in how I play. Where I used to hesitate to chase a ball, I can now confidently go for the shot without worrying about any unwanted sliding. According to the product description, the herringbone pattern on the outsole uses a data-informed design to create optimal grip without being too sticky, and I am here to attest that the balance is spot-on.
Support that won’t quit
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I’m a bit of a klutz. Don’t ask me where I got the dozens of bruises covering my legs—I would never be able to keep track of how many things I walk into every day. I’ve also rolled my ankle on the courts more than a few times, so needless to say, I was definitely in the market for shoes with good cushioning and arch support.
When I first tried on the Vapor 11s, I remember feeling extra grounded because of how securely they hugged my feet. The support they provide to every part of my foot makes me confident that I can land my jump spikes (net game strong!) with cushioning that seamlessly absorbs any impact. I was also surprised by how steady they made the sides of my feet feel, thanks to molded sidewalls that help keep me locked in during quick directional changes.
Stylish enough to wear off the court
One of my favorite things about pickleball? The stylin’ outfits, duh (cue my mom facepalming). But can you blame me for enjoying it when my pickleball attire is chic enough to be worn to our post-game dinners, too? That’s why style was also a must on my checklist while shopping for hard court shoes.
I’m not ashamed to say that’s why the Vapor 11s first caught my eye—they’re just so cool. I opted for the white and kelly green pair because I liked how clean they looked (and just in case pickleball whites ever become a thing). I was a little surprised by how textured they felt (it’s all that side support), but I really love how they look on. I’ve already gotten a few compliments on the courts, which honestly is a great confidence booster before a match. Ten out of 10 recommend, for style points and, you know, scoring more pickleball points.