Pickleball Shoe Cushioning Demystified: EVA vs. Gel vs. Air

Pickleball is a fast-paced game that makes you do quick lateral movements, jumps and sudden stops that put a lot of pressure on your feet. When a lot of pressure falls on your feet, the chances of injury increase if there isn’t any cushioning on your shoes. But, thanks to modern shoes, which come with integrated cushioning, which reduces the impact force in the pickleball and absorbs the shock absorption. However, EVA vs. Gel. VS Air: These are three types of cushioning that come integrated into the pickleball shoes these days. Which one is better?

Pickleball Shoe Cushioning Demystified EVA vs. Gel vs. Air

EVA is a cost-effective option with moderate shock absorption, while Gel provides targeted comfort, making it ideal for sensitive joints. Air cushioning offers maximum impact protection for overall cushioned support in pickleball. Make your choice based on what you need. To get a detailed comparison of each, knowing the pros and cons, read this article completely.

Playing fast-paced sports like pickleball can put a lot of strain on your feet and joints. To prevent injuries, cushioning technology is used in shoes to absorb impact forces and shock. There are three main types of cushioning: EVA foam, gel, and air pockets. Each has its own advantages, and choosing the right one can make a big difference. In this comparison of the three, we will explore which is best suited for pickleball players. You can stay safe, comfortable, and injury-free while playing by understanding the benefits of each.

Now, it’s the final time to compare EV VS. Gel Vs. Air pockets cushioning. I will compare EVA, gell and air cushioning types to help you choose the best one for your pickleball shoes. I’ll discuss their pros and cons and recommend the best type of pickleball shoes based on your playing style, comfort and foot type.

EVA Cushioning

Eva (ethylene-vinyl acetate) cushioning is made of foam; it’s lightweight, resilient, and flexible, making it great for pickleball players. Since the cushioning is made up of foam, it bounces back quickly, meaning when it gets compressed, it returns to its normal shape again. Pickleball players who enjoy comfortable, lightweight shoes that can handle moderate impact force use this cushioning. However, unlike Gel and Air cushioning, EVA cushioning tends to wear out sooner as it’s made up of foam only. It can also be affected by the temperature, whether it’s cool or hot, which can make it difficult for the player to get feet support and play comfortably.


  • Enhances mobility and reduces fatigue during physical activities.
  • Allows natural foot movement, providing comfort and ease of motion.
  • Bounces back to its original shape, ensuring long-lasting performance.
  • Quickly adjusts to changes in pressure, providing immediate support.
  • Offers a customised fit for individual comfort.
  • Enables swift movements and rapid changes in direction during sports activities.


  • Cushioning materials may deteriorate with regular use and lose their effectiveness.
  • Long-term use can lead to reduced shock absorption and foot support.
  • Extreme temperatures may impact the cushioning properties, affecting performance.
  • The quality and durability of cushioning can vary across different shoe models and brands, leading to inconsistent user experiences.

Gel Cushioning

In the Gel cushioning type, instead of the form, gel pads or capsules are embedded in the midsole of the shoes to provide cushioning. Due to the help of these two things, this type of cushioning provides more shock absorption, impact force, relief and comfort to the feet compared to EVA cushioning. The gel pads disperse the impact force evenly on the shoes, letting go less pressure and shock on your feet.  The gel cushioning type is the best for people who want high cushioning, stability, agility and injury protection on the ground, especially on harder court surfaces. It’s also the best for people with knee, ankle or foot injuries in the past.  

However, compared to other types of cushioning types, Gel cushioning tends to be heavier, which makes the shoes less responsive and sluggish. Moreover, the gel pads tend to leak or burst, which can result in the loss of the effectiveness and the support of the cushioning.


  • Excellent shock absorption.
  • Provides pressure relief for feet and joints.
  • Enhances stability and support.
  • Reduces vibration and noise during physical activities.
  • Offers protection to joints, minimising the risk of injuries.


  • Heavier than shoes without extensive cushioning.
  • Less responsive, potentially leading to a slower response time in movements.
  • Bulky in design, affecting the overall agility of the footwear.
  • Cushioning effectiveness may decrease over time with wear and tear.
  • Gel pads, if used, can potentially leak or burst, compromising the cushioning system.

Air Cushioning

Air cushioning is a highly advanced type of cushioning that uses air pockets and chambers in the midsole of the pickleball shoes. It provides superior shock absorption, impact force and energy return, which can help reduce the risk of ankle, knee, or any other foot injuries. Additionally, air cushioning allows for greater customization and comfort, as the air pressure can be adjusted to suit your preference and foot type. For pickleball players who want a dynamic and versatile shoe that can adapt to different playing styles and conditions, air cushioning is an excellent choice. It can enhance your performance by boosting your bounce and propulsion.

However, despite its many benefits, air cushioning also has some drawbacks. It is typically more expensive and less durable than other materials, as the air pockets can puncture or deflate. Not only that, air cushioning can be affected by altitude and humidity, changing the air pressure and the shoe’s feel.


  • Superior shock absorption.
  • Provides energy return for dynamic movements.
  • Allows customization for personalised comfort.
  • Offers adaptability to different playing styles and conditions.
  • Enhances bounce and propulsion during gameplay.


  • Typically more expensive compared to other cushioning options.
  • Durable, but prone to wear and tear.
  • Air pockets can puncture or deflate, compromising cushioning effectiveness.
  • Affected by altitude and humidity, which can change the air pressure and feel of the shoe.
  • Requires more maintenance and adjustments to maintain optimal performance.

So, EVA vs. Gel vs Air cushioning types, the comparison has been done. Which one’s better for you?

Eva VS. Gel Vs. Air Cushioning, which one should you go for?

When choosing pickleball shoes, it boils down to your priorities. If you want lightweight and flexible comfort, go for EVA. For excellent shock absorption and injury protection, Gel is the way to go, although it’s bulkier. If you’re after superior shock absorption, energy return, and adaptability, Air cushioning is the top choice despite being pricier and requiring more maintenance. Consider your playing style, budget, and willingness to maintain the shoes when deciding. To make it easier for you to decide which cushioning you should go for, I’m now going to teach you step by step how you can choose the right cushioning for you.

You need to consider the following factors when choosing your cushioning system.

Understand Your Playing Style

Are you aggressive and constantly moving, or prefer a more relaxed approach? Your playing style affects the impact on your feet.

Assess Your Foot Type

Flat feet, neutral arch, or high arch. Each foot type requires different levels of cushioning and support.

Know about the cushioning types

I’ve already explained all the cushioning types and compared them for easy selection. Find out which one meets your needs by comparing the pros and cons.

Try Different Shoes

Visit a specialty sports store and try pickleball shoes with different cushioning systems. Try out each cushioning type by walking, jumping, and doing pickleball movements. This will help you find the best one that suits your playing style, feet type, and size. If it hurts or makes you uncomfortable, it’s not for you.

Assess Comfort and Fit

Pay attention to how comfortable the shoes feel. Consider factors like arch support, heel cushioning, and overall foot stability. Ensure the shoes fit well, allowing some room for natural foot expansion during play.

Consult Reviews and Recommendations

Read online reviews and seek recommendations from experienced pickleball players or coaches. Look for feedback on the cushioning system’s performance and comfort during gameplay.

Consider Your Budget

Determine your budget for pickleball shoes. While high-end models might offer advanced cushioning technologies, there are also budget-friendly options with decent cushioning systems.

Final Decision

No one knows better than yourself which shoe cushion is the best for you. Ultimately, it comes down to your comfort, budget, playing style, foot type, and comfort preferences. It’s always a good idea to go for a reputable brand that is specifically known for its quality products to ensure that you’re getting the best shoes.

How to Get the Best Cushioning Type for You

Final Words

Pickleball shoe cushioning is crucial for shock absorption, agility, comfort, and impact forces. EVA, Gel, and Air cushioning are the most common types. If you don’t need too much shock absorption and durability, choose EVA. For moderate shock absorption on hard surfaces with good durability, choose Gel. Advanced pickleball players competing at a high level should choose Air cushioning for superior shock absorption, impact force, comfort, and durability.

Ameli Jame
Ameli Jame

Meet Ameli Jame, the Pickleball Maestro! With a paddle as her wand and the court as her canvas, Ameli has honed pickleball into an art form. Whether you're a seasoned player or a novice, Ameli's expertise and passion will elevate your game. Immerse yourself in the world of pickleball through her insights, strategic tips, and spirited stories. Get ready to smash, volley, and dink your way to pickleball glory under Ameli Jame's guidance. Let's score some points and have a smashing good time on the courts!

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