Ben Johns wearing blue shirt, white shorts, purple and yellow tie dye arm sleeves, black and gray leggings, and white hat at the 2023 Cincinnati Open.
Collin Johns and Ben Johns at the 2023 Cincinnati Open. PPA Tour

Men's pro pickleball needs fashion help

DALLAS, TX – I say this with nothing but love and respect for male pro pickleball players, but some of them genuinely struggle with their fashion.

Just look at best dressed lists from past PPA tournaments - rarely does a man make the list.

The ladies consistently look good. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the guys. 

The PPA Masters was the most aesthetically pleasing event for the men so far this season because they had to wear white. There were clear-cut parameters that needed to be followed, and the players looked good. 

men's doubles match at PPA Masters tournament and every player men is wearing all white
A men's doubles match at the 2024 PPA Masters. PPA Tour

That cannot be said about the ensuing tournaments. The trend for the men is that the majority of them struggle with color coordination. 

I love men’s pickleball. I appreciate the athleticism and the fast hands battles, but their fashion leaves me uninspired, or at worst, cringing.

While bold colors and patterns are typical for athleisure and athletic wear, the guys need to elevate their style.

Just look at tennis fashion and compare it to pickleball.

Tennis Fashion

Tennis players have some of the best fashion in professional sports.

Each year, tennis players step up their fashion game both on and off the court.

Tennis players have always been trendsetters. Case in point was Björn Borg in the 70s, who merged disco style with athletic wear at the height of his career. Then, streetwear entered the tennis scene, most notably when Serena Williams sported a jean skirt at the US Open in 2004. Denim mini-skirts were all the rage in the early 2000s.

Tennis fashion has become such a staple that even the celebrity guests attending the Grand Slams are expected to dress to the nines, with trends emerging at each tournament like Kentucky Derby fashion and in depth reviews of the best tennis fashion from the most notable fashion magazines across the globe. 

Today, tennis court style reflects a clean, preppy, and country-club chic aesthetic. It’s timeless, classic, and makes players look sophisticated. 

From recreational players to the pros, the majority of tennis players look styled. Some of the most put-together outfits come from the country club moms at my local tennis court.

Since tennis has a long, rich fashion history, it’s had years to perfect its style. Compare that to pickleball, and the fashion scene is just getting started. And needless to say, there’s some major room for improvement. 

Pickleball Fashion

Pickleball fashion tends to favor bright colors, neon patterns, and even sparkles. In some cases, the whackier and bolder, the better. 

World No. 1 Anna Leigh Waters even sported a FILA Whataburger inspired outfit to win her sixth consecutive Triple Crown at the Seattle Open this past summer. That choice was fun, sporty, and a little silly. It’s pickleball.

Anna Leigh Waters in orange and white striped shorts and orange tank top
Anna Leigh Waters at the 2023 Seattle Open. PPA Tour

Recreational and amateur players are experts at this, too. Just look at some of the best dressed amateurs at the 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships. Some of these players were having a blast out there on the court. There were even three guys in the crowd who dressed up as pickles. What a delight!

But, should pro pickleballers step up their fashion game? I think so. 

I love the male pickleball pros, but some of their outfits are fashion travesties.

Pickleball Worst Dressed

In a 2023 recap episode of King of the Court, hosts Jimmy Miller and Tyler Loong had an awards ceremony, with one of the categories being worst dressed male pros on the PPA Tour


The nominees were Ben Johns, JW Johnson, Dylan Frazier, and Zane Navratil. Three of those guys consistently rank in the top 10 male players on tour, so they’re real faces of professional pickleball. 

And yet, they made it on the worst dressed list of 2023. 

Johnson took home the victory thanks to his “cow pants” look. These pants received quite a bit of negative feedback, even scoring a dedicated post on the memes of pickleball page


Look, I understand. Professional athletes should be more concerned about their gameplay than their outfits. However, we live in an image-is-everything kind of culture where a massive part of the athlete’s self-promotion is from sports photography and their social media accounts. Sometimes, you have to dress the part. 

Just check out Waters' Instagram feed. She always looks sharp and professional in her FILA gear. It doesn't hurt that she's basically unstoppable on the court, too. 

It’s clear she took just a little extra time into styling herself for competition, which makes her a standout compared to some of her mixed doubles opponents that look like they just randomly picked out their shirt and shorts from the top of the laundry pile.

Pickleball Best Dressed

The King of the Court Podcast decided to have a best dressed category for the pro women, instead of a worst dressed, to further support the contention that it’s not the women who are struggling, but the men. 

Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith celebrating together in pink skirts and white tops
Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith at the 2023 Takeya Showcase. PPA Tour

Hurricane Tyra Black, Paris Todd, and Lucy Kovalova received nominations, but Kovalova took home the victory. According to Miller, Kovalova takes a lot of pride in her outfits and doesn’t wear the same outfit twice at a tournament. 

“Being the best dressed is actually in the top five accomplishments of this year. The competition was tough this year, but now this year I’ll have to try even harder to defend my title,” said Kovalova in her acceptance speech.

Fashion taste isn’t strictly for the women. In fact, male tennis player fashion is just as celebrated as the women. For professional pickleball, though, the ladies are far outshining the guys. 

So men, let’s step it up, or at least learn to color coordinate. 

I’m not saying the pickleball court needs to turn into a runway, because what we really care about is good gameplay, but perhaps a little bit more attention to outfit details could help the pros in the long run. 

What do you think? What are some pro pickleball fashion fails you’ve seen on the court? Share your thoughts on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).