One of the most difficult decisions to make in the game of racquetball when it comes to equipment is buying racquetball shoes. Note I say racquetball shoes because many players play in regular tennis or track shoes that are not optimized to give you the specific performance you need in a small court area that requires constant direction change, good gripping support, etc.
A player’s best option when it comes to making this decision is to order it online and take the chance of it not fitting in size and/or not being a comfortable fit. Ordering online is a great, time saving option and to make sure you order the right size… here are some suggestions.
Here are 6 steps in helping you make the right decision the first time.
1. Know what you are looking for in a shoe.
– Do your feet need special attention?
– Do you experience pain in the arch of your feet? You may need more arch support.
– Do your feet pronate (apply majority of your weight onto the inside sole of the foot)? This can be corrected and a proper fitting shoe can help.
– Do you need insoles for more support? Are you flatfooted? Do you have high arches? Is comfort your main concern or is it the weight of the shoe?
– What is your budget?
– How much would you pay for a good pair of racquetball shoes? (Note: top quality racquetball shoes frequently cost less than half of what top athletic brands cost and in most cases are about the same cost of a quality sneaker (seriously). The highest priced racquetball shoes are all well under $100 and many high quality shoes cost $60 or less.
2. What shoes are most high caliber players playing with? Ask them for their opinion on the shoes. What shoes are other players talking about? Is there a particular brand that most players talk about? Are you loyal to a brand and do they offer shoes?
Testimonies of personal experiences are as good as it gets.
3. Talk to a knowledgeable person about the indoor shoes you are wanting to purchase and if it is right for you. Someone who sells racquetball shoes on a regular basis would have good ideas as to what works for you.
4. Know your size. I can tell you from personal experience that having a shoe that is not the right size can cause long term pain. As you get older, your body changes including your feet.
We just got back from a tournament where we set up our pro shop and strung racquets and sold equipment to players. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that more than half of the players looking into shoes were off when they told me their shoe size. I measure up their foot before putting a shoe on and more than half of the players trying on shoes were off at least a half size to a whole size. One player was off by a whole size and half and now new why his big toe was hurting.
Be careful of size differences. If you are purchasing online, make sure that you read the descriptions carefully to find as close to the right shoe size as possible. Shoes sizes can be different between each shoe company and from country to country.
A couple of ways to get your foot measured could be to go to a shoe store and get your foot measured. They won’t have a problem with this as you are a potential customer for future purchases. You can also measure your feet from the comfort of your own home.
If you prefer to measure your feet from home follow these directions from an article from about.com: http://shoes.about.com/od/fitcomfort/ss/measurefeet.htm
Choose a shoe that gives you a thumbnail space from the front of your shoe to your longest toe. Have someone (family, friend, significant other) check the fitting while you stand with your shoes on with all your weight on your foot. You should have a thumbnail length in space.
How do the sides feel? They are new and will break in but know when a shoe is too narrow. One good way to know… Ask yourself… Are they REALLY tight on the sides?
5. Order from a secured website if online otherwise call them.
6. Know the return policy if you are unhappy with the shoes? Don’t be stuck with shoes you are not happy with. As long as a retailer can resell them at full value (repackage them correctly and make sure you haven’t marked up or walked outside with them, etc.) you are sure not to have any problems returning the shoes. A good way to try them to be sure of happiness with the shoes is to wear them around your home for a few hours.
Look for my other article on what to look for in a good supportive shoe for your indoor game.