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Do you say sneakers or tennis shoes? Depends on where you live


By Jaclyn Brandt

on May 22, 2024

Red and black Selkirk pickleball shoes with Selkirk pickleball paddle.

 

If you are looking to find the best pickleball shoes for you, you may be confused by all the different types of shoes. But while you are searching, you should first know what you are searching for: and that may change based on where you live. The book Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide, by Josh Katz, breaks down regional dialects for different types of shoes.

Sneakers

If you live in the Northeast of the United States, including Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and through part of Pennsylvania, you are probably shopping for “sneakers.” While it may sound weird in the rest of the country, the generic term for athletic shoes in this part of the country.

It makes sense that “sneakers” would be regionally Northeast, since the story is that the Boston Journal coined the term in 1887 because the shoes would allow people to sneak up on others.

There is also a population in the south of Florida who prefers “sneakers” as their preferred generic athletic shoe term.

Tennis shoes

There is a large area of the United States that uses the term “tennis shoes” as their generic term for athletic footwear. This includes most all of the population outside of the Northeast and the south of Florida, including Alaska.

The only exceptions to this are Hawaii and small areas of Chicago and Cincinnati.

Gym shoes

According to the research, there are small pockets of the United States that prefer the term “gym shoes” as their preferred generic term for athletic shoes.

This is mainly only in Chicago or Cincinnati though, and the reason is unknown — although some Reddit commenters have their opinions.

Gym shoes commentary from Reddit.

 

Shoes

According to the study, Hawaii is the one lone state that continues to call athletic shoes just “shoes.”

What do you call athletic shoes?

No matter what you call your athletic shoes, you should be researching which types of shoes work best for the activity you are participating in: whether it be walking, running, or playing pickleball.

Here are some tips on finding the best types of pickleball shoes for you.

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