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Now you can wear Skechers to play pickleball

If you read my previous blog on shoes for pickleball, I mentioned that your favourite Skechers weren’t suitable for pickleball.  I know a couple of people who wear them to play in, as the trade off of support against comfort is too much for them and they need a softer toe. They are very aware it’s at their own risk, as the lack of support increases your chance of turning an ankle. I mentioned the Tyson McGuffin shoes, the Viper Court, as an option. I don’t have a pair but have now seen a couple of pairs in the wild. As I suspected from the pictures online, they are lacking in a degree of lateral lockdown/support but with great comfort: they work really well for club players who may not be as dynamic in their movements. Reviews online from Foot Doctor Zach on YouTube and others agree with that assessment and I trust his assessment of shoes. Tyson tweaked the first model for the Pros to accommodate more aggressive movement. For many players, the Viper Court will suit them well. You can buy them here in men’s and here in women’s.

Thanks to Sam Basford, I now have in my possession a pair of the Viper Court Pro from Skechers in the Tyson McGuffin colourway. I’ve had them for a few days now, so feel capable of reviewing them fairly.

The first thing I need to mention the sizing: I am a UK 10 or EU 45 in pretty much every brand out there. There is a small amount of variation here or there between styles of shoes and their intended purpose. However, one of those sizes always fits me well and most of the time it’s the same size in both sizing charts (UK 10 equals EU 45). I saw another review online that mentioned that these shoes run slightly large and I have to concur. The labelling for the shoes is US 11, UK 10 and EU 44.5. I found the EU sizing tends to be the most consistent for me as not every brand translates exactly across the three sizes. I found these shoes to be at least half a size too large. That would mean that if I bought my true EU 45 size, I will be a full size too big. Zach’s review says go down half a size for a performance fit: as he is based in the US I think he’s probably right and down half a size is where you need to go. If you are in the EU, you may need to go down a full size. UPDATE: I tried my true size at the Skechers English Open and I’m probably sticking with the slightly larger shoe, as I’m now wearing an ankle brace to play so the extra room is handy. Either shoe size will work if you stick to UK sizing and adjust for the roomier fit of Skechers in the main.

I fixed this fit issue with slightly thicker socks: Thorlo pickleball socks packed out the extra bit of space and I also tried my Nike Elite basketball socks, as they have a little bit extra padding. If you like to wear thinner running style socks, you’re going to have to be careful on your sizing choice. The other option is to wear two pairs of socks with the associated benefits in preventing blisters by shifting friction from foot to sock, to sock to sock. I’ve also used socks with rubber grip on the sole to stop the toe jamming that happens with a slightly too large shoe.

The other key areas for assessment with shoes are fit, cushioning, traction, support and durability. My fit assessment is going to have to be tempered by the fact I am a half a size too large in this shoe. Factoring that in, they seem to fit well all round and similar to most other brands. When I had my feet measured on a 3D scanner, my true shoe size is more like a nine or 9.5 but in any running or tennis shoe, they’re just a little bit too short and too tight on width. The classic “thumbs width from the end” trick shows these are a half size too long. Once you’ve adjusted for the overall sizing, most foot types will be fine in a standard version of the shoe and they offer a wide fit, if you do know you have a wide foot, in all the other colour options in the States.

Looking at the cushioning,  it seems to fit somewhere between a high-performance minimal cushion match day shoe and the more robust stability shoe. It’s a bit of a “tweener”, which means it should work well for many players. The inner soles came glued in, but are removable: I normally pull out any insoles in my shoes, and replace with some kind of orthotic. For this shoe out of the box, I felt no need to do, so it remains to be seen how much is actual cushion from the insole, and how much from the actual cushioning in the midsole of the shoe.

Traction on the shoes is excellent. The outsole is made out of Goodyear Gold Performance rubber: it has excellent grip with a wide herringbone pattern and pretty deep grooves. On my initial wear, I experienced a couple of incidents of toe jamming: as the shoes are slightly large, this may be the main contributing factor, as well as solid contact with the court from the outsole. If it was poor, I wouldn’t be toe jamming the end. I’ll take too much over not enough traction every time. There seems to be enough structure to the shoe prevent this happening in your correct size. Foot Doctor Zach’s test on traction suggested they will have excellent outsole durability.

Support is possibly the most important factor for a pickleball shoe: you need to feel your foot locked in and down on the foot bed of the shoe, preventing any chance of turning your ankle. This shoe has a lateral outrigger flaring outside at the forefoot. A couple of times I actively noticed this preventing my foot landing on the side: the rubber was so grippy it kicked me back upright and the support kept my shoe from twisting. It also has a pronounced heel cup support that curves with your Achilles tendon.  There’s a hard plastic shank in the mid foot to prevent the shoe twisting when planting or sliding. 

Upper materials wise, it’s an airy mesh that looks like a knit but actually isn’t: it doesn’t stretch like Nike Flyknit or the Adidas Primeknit. This suggests it has enough structure to offer support. It doesn’t show your sock colour through the mesh so it’s pretty tight and may not breathe as much as you first think. These are part of Skechers Arch Fit range so you would expect them to have decent arch support and they do. The support seems to come from the inner sole over the actual design of the shoe so could lessen over time. It’s a rare shoe where I am not going to need to pull the stock insole out and replace it. 

Durability is always hard to measure on a new shoe so part of this will defer to Zach, the shoe guru. Everything points to a durable outsole from his sandpaper test and my initial wears.  Over a week and close to twenty hours of on court use is showing pretty much zero wear and they clean up well. For the upper, it should last well as the outsole is sweeping up in the medial forefoot to add extra rubber for side draggers. For toe draggers, there is additional rubber on the toe to protect the mesh from wear and again the outsole flares up to add protection.  The mesh upper feels robust enough to manage the flexion in your toes but might suffer from extreme toe dragging as it’s not as reinforced as some tennis shoes. 

Value for money is excellent.  At $115, it is well under the norm for a similar level of shoe from Nike, adidas or Asics. It competes well on price with the “racket brand” shoes from Babolat, Head and Wilson. I have heard that this Pro model will reach the UK in the next few months. I imagine it will mirror the pricing of the standard Viper Court shoes of dollars equating exactly to pounds. At £115, it will compete extremely well in the marketplace with the big brands. UPDATE: they have launched a single colourway in the UK for men ( women’s to follow soon) at £120.

With the exciting announcement of Skechers as the official shoe of Pickleball England and title sponsor for the English Open, we can hope that the Pro version might be available at the Open this year (UPDATE: it was available online). I’d strongly recommend getting a pair if you can get prior to an official UK release: there are a few more neutral colour ways on offer if the confetti soles and highlighter coloured contrasts are a little too much for you!

2 thoughts on “Now you can wear Skechers to play pickleball”

  1. Great detailed review Rob, thank you. It confirms for me that the only way to buy the correct shoe is to be able to try them, purchasing online is a real issue. As far as this particular shoe goes, it’s design is very loud and definitely not my taste. Why do so many shoes come in such disgusting colours? It also has too much mesh for my liking. I really would need a shoe with more support. At the price I would be worried about fit for purpose but what do I know. Skechers and Tyson obviously know what they’re doing m!

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for the comment. I deliberately bought the loud Tyson colourway and I’m getting far more complements than criticisms! It’s also getting them noticed, which helps spread the brand. Don’t worry about the mesh: it’s actually all backed with fabric so isn’t really mesh at all and has the support you need. I’ve not slipped off the footbed once, even half a size too large.

      With online purchases, you can always return for free: my problem was i needed to buy from another continent!

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