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7 Different Types of Pickleball Shorts for Men

A male pickleball player in action.

According to USA Pickleball, around 4.8 million players existed in 2021. I must admit, up until a few years ago, I had never heard of pickleball. That changed when I walked by a small court and watched a few people play.

I did some research and now better understand the game and the appeal! If you’re like I was and new to the game, you may wonder, “what kind of shorts does a male pickleball player wear to such a game?” Luckily, there is no one-size-fits-all clothing or style that you must wear to fit in with other players or for success.

Instead, players wear different clothing based on the weather, comfort level, and personal style. Unlike other sports where extra padding, equipment, or uniforms are required, pickleball requires basic comfortable clothing which allows for movement. As a result, many players wear similar clothing types as tennis players, while others keep it simple and wear gym shorts and a performance shirt.

If you’re heading out to the court and want to learn more about men’s shorts or the most comfortable options, keep reading!

What is Pickleball?

A young man playing pickleball in court.

If you’re reading this article, you most likely know what pickleball is, but for those who arrived here out of curiosity, it’s important to understand the game before buying the gear. Pickleball is a fun sport that’s friendly, social, fun, easy to learn, and fast-paced that combines the elements of ping pong, badminton, and tennis. Pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors using a badminton-sized court with a modified tennis net.

Pickleball rules are like tennis, and the primary difference is serves must be performed underhand, there’s no doubles alley, the ball has less bounce, and there’s a seven-foot no-volley zone that extends from the net. The five main rules to remember are: the ball must remain inbounds, one bounce per side is required, serves must be performed at the baseline, serves cannot land in the no-volley zone, and the game ends when the first individual or team reaches 11, 15, or 21 points.

Types of men’s pickleball shorts

1. All-purpose shorts

Since pickleball is such a laid-back game, you can wear various shorts and not feel awkward. When looking for pickleball shorts, the three most notable features are comfort, correct length, and breathability, especially on hot days. Some of the best men’s short options include:

Amazon Essentials Men's Performance Tech Loose-Fit Shorts, Pack of 2, Black, Large

All-purpose shorts were developed to be comfortable and loose since active men require the highest comfort level with looser, cotton, or cotton blend fabrics. This material type delivers optimal comfort levels during any workout type. However, in recent years, some of the best workout short designs feature synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin while you’re sweating bullets.

Furthermore, this type requires minimal care, which I absolutely love, and wash well. When searching for all-star all-purpose shorts, you want a looser fit for the best possible versatility, thus allowing for a range of movements during pickleball games. From a length perspective, the best fit is mid-thigh or slightly longer, based on your taste and strong drawstrings.

Make sure not to choose men’s workout shorts that are too large because they can get in the way and even cause safety issues when running.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

2. You can’t beat basketball shortsChampion mens 9" Shorts, Mesh Shorts, 9", Mesh Basketball Shorts, Mesh Gym Shorts athletic warm up and track jackets, Black-407q88, Medium US

Although basketball shorts were made for basketball, athletes can use them for any sport. The key difference with basketball shorts is they were designed to be slightly longer than knee length, thus allowing athletes more room for movement and flexibility. For example, on the pickleball court, you need to move quickly without being restricted by your clothing.

Basketball shorts are also made from performance fabric, heavier than most polyester materials used with other short types.

3. The ultra-performing bike shorts

sponeed Men Bike Shorts with Padding Bicycle Road Biking Pants Gel Pad US X-Large Grey

Although biking shorts are closely related to compression shorts, there are several differences:

Bike shorts are recommended for recreational activities, while compression shorts are geared toward more serious athletes.
Bike shorts are constructed from spandex fabric, while compression shorts are made from other synthetic materials like neoprene, so they are more tight fitting. Bike shorts feature an added padding layer in the saddle region for comfortability.

For these reasons, bike shorts are an excellent choice for pickleball games.

4. Compression to keep you supported shorts

Nike Mens PRO Training Compression Short Black Large

Men’s compression shorts are constructed from a specialized stretch material that creates a tight fit to your skin. The purpose of this material is to conform to your shape and deliver extra support for the hamstrings, thighs, and groin when moving around. Also, this material type is excellent for protecting your skin from chafing and rashes on hot days or during lengthy pickleball games.

In addition, some experts cite that compression shorts reduce muscle fatigue and strain, lessen soreness, and improve blood circulation and muscle oxygenation. As a result, you will find countless competitive male athletes wearing compression shorts as their primary shorts or under a different short type. Additionally, compression shorts are moisture-wicking to keep you cool and comfortable throughout the game.

Although compression shorts conform to your shape, they lack a stretching ability to stop your joints from moving freely and prevent pulled muscles. Also, you may have to push a little harder to move flexibly, but this short type won’t restrict your movements.

5. Always helpful running shorts

Gaglg Men's 5" Running Shorts 2 Pack Quick Dry Athletic Workout Gym Shorts with Zipper Pockets Black/Green,Large

Since you will be running quite a bit in pickleball, running shorts are a logical choice since they are usually constructed from breathable, lightweight, moisture-wicking materials in all styles. When reviewing men’s pickleball shorts brands, you are on the right track if you come across these characteristics. The proper running shorts fit limits bouncing and chafing to keep you comfortable even on the hottest days.

This will also eliminate clothing distractions during games, so you can focus on performance. The two primary running short types are split and v-notch. Split running shorts are the best choice for flexibility, and since the fabric isn’t sewn together, they are breezy. Instead, overlapping fabric helps keep you covered.

V-notch shorts are a looser fit than split and are designed for an optimal range of motion. It’s always best to try out both types to determine your preference.

6. The same running shorts only with a liner

NELEUS Men's 2 in 1 Running Shorts with Liner,Dry Fit Workout Shorts with Pockets,6070,2 Pack,Black/Grey,US M,EU L

In addition to the two running short types, some come with liners that prevent chafing and help provide additional support. You can wear running shorts with a liner without needing underwear like swim trunks. Unfortunately, the liner can become uncomfortable after only a few washes because the elastic begins to cause chafing, requiring powder and moisturizer.

Also, the liner quality depends on the brand, so look for a middle-of-the-road option when purchasing running shorts with liners.

7. An unusual but functional swim trunk optionAmazon Essentials Men's 7" Quick-Dry Swim Trunk, Black, Medium

OK, this option is a bit of a joke, but if you’re most comfortable in swim trunks, you should wear them. While swim trunks won’t provide the same level of support as compression or bike shorts, they will keep you dry and comfortable during inclement weather or if you’re sweating profusely. So while these seem like a strange choice, don’t discount swim trunks!

Best men’s pickleball short materials

All-purpose and basketball shorts are available in various materials, while the others utilize specific materials to achieve the desired performance features. The main material options in men’s shorts include:

1. Bamboo, an interesting option

Bamboo is becoming an increasingly popular material in sportswear because it’s moisture-wicking, eco-friendly, and breathable. So if you find a pair of bamboo men’s shorts, it’s worth wearing them to the pickleball court to see how they fare in different conditions.

2. The common cotton choice

A basket full of cotton material.

Cotton or some type of cotton blend is the most common workout shorts material. The benefits of cotton include that it doesn’t hold as much bacteria as many of the other material options and, therefore, doesn’t smell as bad as others post-workout, according to a study released by the American Society for Microbiology. However, one of the biggest issues with this material is that when wet, cotton shorts can cause terrible chaffing, and powder or moisturizer won’t help.

To eliminate the issue, wear compression shorts under cotton.

3. Don’t mesh anything up!

Mesh is constructed from polyester or nylon and is fantastic for pickleball shorts because of its breathability. The garment is completely porous to promote airflow and keep you cool, even on the hottest courts. Many mesh shorts are now also using moisture-wicking material for added comfort.

While many brands have fully mesh shorts, you will also find it as a liner in running shorts. Fully mesh shorts tend to be loose-fitting but not baggy, where they will disrupt your performance on the court. Mesh is also commonly found in basketball and all-purpose shorts.

4.Nylon is actually a great shorts option

Nylon is an amazing choice for workouts because it’s flexible and quick drying. Furthermore, nylon wicks sweat from your skin and instantly dry on the material surface. Additionally, nylon is a breathable synthetic fabric that helps keep you cool throughout a pickleball game.

Finally, nylon is an incredibly smooth fabric, which helps eliminate any chafing issues during the game.

5. Not your father’s leisure suit polyester

Assorted color of polyester material.

Polyester is a durable, breathable, light, and highly affordable material that is common in all sportswear items. Polyester is a powerhouse fabric that delivers every performance characteristic you need during any exercise type. In addition, the material is UV-resistant, so ideal for outside games in the sun, features moisture-wicking properties, and keeps you dry.

The only downside to using polyester is the scent. Gear made from polyester smells incredibly strong after use, and the odor gets trapped in the fabric, even after several washes.

6. Polypropylene, which I thought was only a packaging material

Polypropylene is such a diverse material that it’s used for packaging and in shorts. The most closely related material is nylon, which is moisture-wicking, water-resistant, and breathable. During heavy use, the exterior of the shorts will become wet with sweat while the interior touching your skin will remain dry.

7. Spandex, like the swim shorts you don’t want to see at the beach

A purple spandex fabric.

Spandex is a stretch but form-fitting fabric with memory that allows it to snap back into place, so it’s the ideal material for games with a lot of leg work, like pickleball. Like polyester, polypropylene, and nylon, spandex is moisture-wicking to quickly evaporate sweat and is highly breathable. Many workout shorts blend spandex, polyester, and polypropylene to offer the highest performance.