As enthusiastic players of pickleball for the past decade, we’ve seen our fair share of both perfect and questionable fashion choices on the court.
The big question:
Is there a pickleball dress code?
Simply put, yes and no.
Dress code varies depending on the event or venue. Let’s dive into the specifics.
Casual Vs. Tournament Dress Code
When it comes to pickleball apparel/clothing, the line between what is appropriate or inappropriate can blur depending on the context.
While playing town pickleball or certainly in your driveway, comfort is king. Players often wear anything that helps them move and perform well. Most pickleball played in the US is casual, recreation style pickleball meaning you have nothing to worry about as far as clothing items.
However, if you’re playing in a tournament, there are rules set by the governing bodies, such as USA Pickleball, that players are expected to adhere to. You may be disqualified before even start.
During casual pickleball games, the sport is much more lenient with its clothing rules. Who in your local YMCA is going to tell you that a certain t-shirt of skort is not appropriate? The main focus is on comfort and flexibility. To us, that’s the way it should always be. Pickleball players wear shorts, t-shirts, and athletic shoes, avoiding any apparel that might restrict their movement.
In a tournament, the dress code may be more stringent. The guidelines set by USA Pickleball typically require players to maintain a professional and respectful appearance. Some tournaments also mandate sport-specific attire, such as tennis-style skirts for women and collared shirts for men. While only a subset of pickleball players play in tournaments, you should know the rules upfront – don’t take a chance and show up with your head-to-toe MAGA outfit.
The Unsuitable Pickleball Apparel: What Not to Wear
Inappropriate or unsuitable pickleball attire includes clothing that is overly revealing, offensive, or unsafe.
Flip-flops or sandals: Not sure who would even want to try these other than returning to your resort late at night and passing this funny looking tennis court and trying it out. Sandals can cause accidents as they do not provide the necessary support for the quick movements required in this fast-paced sport. Just silly to entertain using this type of footwear in pickleball.
Denim: It restricts movement and is simply a bad choice for pickleball apparel. It is not inappropriate in that it’s offensive – it’s just unsuitable to being comfortable on the court.
Clothing with offensive language or symbols: Now this one will get you in trouble, kicked out of a tournament or a whack in the face. These items will (should?) make sense to you when you see them. Your mother brought you up better than this.
What not to wear in pickleball…
Inappropriate or Offensive: The No-Go’s in Pickleball Attire
Now, it’s vital to dig a bit deeper into what counts as inappropriate or offensive in the world of pickleball clothing or other items. By understanding this, players can better navigate the attire rules and stay within the guidelines, whether during casual games or official tournaments.
Offensive Language or Imagery
This category includes clothing that depicts explicit language, hate speech, discriminatory remarks, or offensive symbols. In line with USA Pickleball’s guidelines, this type of attire is considered unsuitable and offensive as it goes against the spirit of respect and sportsmanship integral to pickleball. If you have to think, for more than a second, whether an item is offensive then it’s offensive.
Overly Revealing Attire
We get it: comfort and mobility are crucial for a game like pickleball but clothing that is too revealing or provocative can be considered inappropriate. This could include extremely short shorts, skirts or skort, low-cut tops, cleavage leaving nothing to the imagination or transparent clothing. [Yes, that exists, too.]
Any attire or accessories that could potentially harm a player or others are deemed inappropriate. This includes clothing with loose strings or fringes that could catch on something, jewelry that could cause injuries, or shoes that don’t provide adequate grip and support.
We know what you’re thinking:
Will someone be checking the grip of my court shoes? No, not directly. If a tournament director (TD) saw you clearing had running shoes or sliding on a bone dry pickleball court then, yes, he/she may call this to your attention and offer a solution. Of course, the solution is to make sure you have the proper pickleball footwear long before you show up.
In summary, inappropriate or offensive pickleball clothing is anything that compromises safety, shows disrespect, or causes discomfort to other players. Please avoid such attire so the game remains enjoyable, respectful, and safe for everyone involved. We should not have to overthink this.
Pickleball Fashion: Making a Statement on the Court
Over the years, pickleball fashion has evolved from basic athletic wear to incorporate more style and personality.
Many players now sport bright colors, bold patterns, and even custom-designed jerseys that reflect their personal style. Brands like Pickleball Bella and Fila are setting trends in pickleball attire, providing stylish options designed for optimal performance.
All these are fantastic. Pickleball fashion for women in 2023 has evolved by light years. Some of the fresh colors and styles are a welcome addition to what used to be tennis knock offs.
A Look to the Future: Could Pickleball Dress Codes Become Stricter?
As pickleball continues to grow in popularity, questions have arisen about whether the governing bodies of the sport, such as USA Pickleball, will implement a stricter dress code.
We think an absolute yes.
Each year, USA Pickleball comes out with updated rules and guidelines. Some of which you think they sat around with handfuls of edibles and a carton of Doritos. While no changes are planed that we know of, this could evolve as the sport continues to gain more mainstream attention (e.g., celebrity owned teams, nationally televised games, etc.). Oh, it’s coming.
Why a Stricter Dress Code Could Be Implemented
There are several reasons why a stricter dress code might be considered:
As pickleball tournaments gain more spectators and media coverage, there might be a push for more professionalism in player attire to match the growing stature of the sport.
Sponsorship and Endorsements
As we see in other sports, sponsorships can often lead to stricter dress codes, as brands may want their athletes to present a certain image.
Certain types of clothing or accessories might be deemed unsafe as the sport evolves and new risks are identified.
The Potential Drawbacks
On the flip side, there could be resistance against a stricter dress code for several reasons:
Players might argue that more stringent rules could impact their comfort and performance on the court.
One of the appealing aspects of pickleball is the ability for players to express their personalities through their clothing choices. A stricter dress code could potentially stifle this expression.
While it’s always a possibility that governing bodies could impose a stricter dress code in the future, they will likely consider the benefits and drawbacks carefully, taking into account player feedback and the spirit of the sport. For the most up-to-date information, it’s best to check with official sources like the USA Pickleball Association.
Rules Regarding Pickleball Attire
While there is a degree of flexibility, there are certain rules regarding attire that players should adhere to, especially during tournaments. The rule book emphasizes clothing that maintains a respectful and professional appearance.
According to the pickleball regulation, rules, and guidelines:
Athletic shoes must be worn.
Shirts should cover the upper body adequately.
Shorts or skirts should be of a reasonable length.
Any attire with offensive or inappropriate content is not allowed.
In conclusion, pickleball, like most sports, has some general guidelines regarding appropriate attire. These rules aim to maintain the spirit of the game, prioritizing safety, respect, and professional conduct. These rules will most assuredly be added upon and more broadly enforced in the future. Whether you’re playing a friendly match in your backyard or competing in a professional tournament, being aware of these guidelines will ensure a positive and respectful pickleball experience.