Lately, I’ve been seeing more players wearing gloves on the pickleball court. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I grew up playing racquetball from an early age with my dad. A glove is a pretty standard piece of equipment in racquetball and I still always wear one when I play. But interestingly, if you look at other racket sports like tennis- no one wears gloves!
After comparing the gloves currently on the market: my top pick for the best pickleball glove is the HEAD AirFlow Tour Glove. Scroll down to see my full review and other top picks, or jump down to see a more stylish option for women’s pickleball gloves.
So a lot of new pickleball players wonder: Do I really need a pickleball glove? It’s a good question! Below I dive into reasons why you may (or may not) want to wear a glove when playing pickleball. If you’d like to know what to look for in pickleball gloves and see our full reviews read on…
Best Pickleball Gloves
Franklin Sports Pickleball-X Performance Glove Review
The Pickleball-X Performance Glove By Franklin Sports is one of the first gloves on the market that was specifically designed for pickleball and as a sponsor of the 2017 Minto US OPEN was presented as the “Official Glove of the US Open Pickleball Championships”.
Regardless of the title of the official glove, Franklin is leader in the sports glove market and well-known sports equipment manufacturer …most notably batting gloves for baseball. If you watch any Major League Baseball, you’ll see a lot of pro players sporting Franklin batting gloves.
So you may be asking: What does baseball have to do with finding a pickleball glove? Well, batting gloves actually do have a lot in common since they are used to increase grip on the bat (like the paddle handle), absorb sweat and prevent hand fatigue. Basically those are the same features we are looking for in a pickleball glove.
Since Franklin has proven themselves as a leader in other sports gloves, they definitely deserve a closer look.
The Pickleball-X glove is made with sheepskin leather palms. Unlike some cheaper models with thin leather palms, these feel solid and seem durable. The leather palms are made with Pittards “gripster” technology.
Pittards is a glove manufacturer that was established in Somerset, England in 1826 (that’s not a typo), they know gloves! Unlike most leathers that get more slippery as hands sweat, the” gripster” technology is used to improve the grip as the leather gets wet with sweat, softening and expanding the surface area to increase grip.
The other main feature of the gloves is that they have open fingers. The gloves cover up to the middle of your fingers but leave the fingertips open. This increases airflow to keep your hands cooler and drier. The Pickleball-X gloves also have a sturdy adjustable wrist strap to keep the gloves solidly fitting on your hands.
Apart from the Pickleball-X gloves, there are very few other gloves designed specifically for pickleball. There are some others, such as the “Advantage Pickleball Glove”, that also has an open finger design. However, after looking at it I didn’t think the quality was worthy to make this shortlist of recommendations.
So, for other options, we look to racquetball gloves. They provide the same features that we are looking for: a glove with a cushioned palm to improve our grip, absorb sweat and relieve hand fatigue.
Best Pickleball Glove for Women
Although there are women’s gloves in other sports like golf, I have yet to see a pickleball glove for women.
Personally I think the most important feature is the quality of the glove’s leather and the ventilation on the glove backing so I would pick a Cabretta leather glove with a high-quality mesh backing like the ones reviewed above but I do understand that style is an important factor for a lot of people, especially when it comes to pickleball apparel and accessories.
I get it, just like not everyone wants to wear plain white pickleball shoes, the black and white gloves we reviewed above may be a little lacking in the style category for many women.
If you’re looking for more colorful gloves, GloveIt makes some very pretty ladies gloves. They have over 20 very original and unique designs.
Although the gloves were originally designed for golf, these could easily work as a good women’s pickleball glove since they have the same features we are looking for in a good glove: they are made of high quality, soft Cabretta leather palm and feature stretch knit lycra backing making them both comfortable and breathable. They are sized for a woman’s hand and sold individually for right or left hand.
As an added bonus the glove material provides UPF 50 sun protection which I think makes them a top pick as one of the best pickleball gloves for women.
HEAD AirFlow Tour Racquetball Glove Review
The Head AirFlow Tour Glove features a Cabretta (sheepskin) leather palm. As I mentioned above, this is the most supple and plush leather used in sports gloves. It has that natural feel I associate with leather and the gloves will stay soft longer than other, cheaper leathers.
The entire palm surface is perforated with small holes across the palm all the way up to the tips of the fingers.
The glove backing is made of Nylon mesh Lycra which also creates maximum airflow from the back side of the glove. Because of all these design features, and the materials used, the “AirFlow” really does live up to its name and would be a good choice for anyone looking to avoid sweaty palms.
Wilson Clutch Racquetball Glove Review
The Wilson Clutch Racquetball Glove features “Sticky Skin Technology”, which is done using silicone strips across the synthetic palm material. The silicone gives a tacky feel to the glove palm and helps improve your grip.
The Wilson Clutch is made with microfiber suede leather, which is a synthetic “faux” leather. Although it’s not real leather, it gives the feel of leather but you can tell the difference between this and more expensive sheepskin leather. One advantage is that because it is leather-free, it is machine washable.
For me the one thing about Wilson gloves is they come with “dive padding”. Serious racquetball players dive for shots which not only can cause a lot of wear and tear on gloves…it can hurt! The dive padding is on the outside of the pinky finger on the back/side of the glove.
This feature is pretty useless on a pickleball glove (unless maybe you are a super aggressive player that is planning to dive for shots? (indoors I could see maybe). The padding doesn’t really bother me since it doesn’t affect the comfort of the glove, it’s just a feature that doesn’t really come into play in pickleball.
Glove Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Pickleball Glove
Why Wear a Pickleball Glove?
Gloves are not required for playing pickleball but are becoming more widely used and many players recommend them because they feel the glove improves their grip on the paddle, makes it more comfortable (increased cushion), lessens hand fatigue (especially during a long day of pickleball) and helps their overall game. Here are the main features to look for when buying a glove:
Do your hands sweat a lot?
Ok, sorry -it might sound like a gross question…but it just a fact that some people sweat more than others and it’s important to think about when buying a glove. If you notice that your hands easily sweat then it’s important to pick a breathable glove with maximum absorption.
There are also a couple of new pickleball gloves on the market, including the Pickleball-X Performance Glove, which has open fingers (half finger is covered but fingertips are open). These are a good option if you sweat more since the open fingers increase airflow and keep hands drier.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a sports glove is the quality of the leather used on the palm and the backing material used (back of the hand).
Best Pickleball Glove Palm Materials
Sheepskin Leather (“Cabretta”)
- Plush & supple feel.
- Softness lasts longer than other leathers.
- Highest price
- When brand new may feel as soft as sheepskin
- Lower price
- Shorter lifespan
- Loses softness
- Makes your grip very sticky
- Gives a solid, stable feel
- Switching between forehand and backhand grips may be slower
Added synthetic texture gives a great grip on the pickleball paddle.
Doesn’t have the supple feel of natural leather
- Increased airflow
- Sweat less keeps palm cool
- Lower absorption
- Not great for heavy sweat
- Mesh Backing
- Advantage: Breathable, better airflow, less sweat.
- Disadvantage: Less absorption, less durability
- From Thickest to Thinnest: Neoprene, Textured Lycra, Lycra, Spandex
- Advantage: better padding, more cushion, and superior absorption
- Disadvantage: Less airflow vs. mesh
As I mentioned above, the Pickleball-X Glove would be a top pick for best pickleball glove if it were sold individually for right or left hands. Until Franklin decides to break up the pair, I recommend the Head Air-Flow Tour as my top pick. Women looking for a more stylish pickleball glove that is also comfortable (and gives UV protection) should check out the line of women’s gloves by Gloveit