A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Tennis Shoes

By: Chase Pearson

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Tennis Shoes

Why do I need to buy a separate pair of shoes for tennis?

While it’s very tempting to play tennis in running shoes or inexpensive gym shoes, this is actually rather dangerous. Tennis shoes, or specifically court shoes, are designed for the abrupt, explosive start-and-stop lateral, medial, and diagonal movements that tennis requires.

Running shoes aren’t designed to stop on a dime and instead will add to your momentum and propel you further in whatever direction you’re moving. This can make for some serious tripping, falling, and injuring no matter how fit, agile, or quick you are. Gym shoes don’t have near the amount of traction or tread needed for tennis, and they certainly don’t provide good protection against any kind of toe drag, scuffing, or skidding, let alone occasional sliding.

Finally, tennis shoes usually have supportive and stabilizing technology that protects your ankles and feet from the kinds of movement that tennis can require (see Carlos Alcaraz sliding on clay in Nike or Iga Swiatek sliding into the splits on a hard court in Asics).

Iga Swiatek SlidingMale Player Sliding

Why you should invest in good tennis shoes!

Even though the expense is a very real worry, a $130 pair of tennis shoes is more than worth it, especially when considering how they will protect your body and improve your game. $130 isn’t worth a potentially much more costly injury. That said, any shoe that hovers around the $100 mark is good option.

How do I find a shoe that fits me without trying it on?

Now, the actual shoe shopping itself presents its own challenges as well. Since tennis is a relatively niche sport in the US, finding retailers that sell court shoes is rare, especially if you don’t live in a tennis area or a big city. Luckily Tennis-Point offers free returns on orders over $69.95 and 2-day shipping. The more you learn about your foot type, the better prepared you’ll be to find shoes with features you need to perform your best and avoid injury on the court. Using the guide below will help you determine the type of shoe you should be using based on your foot pronation.

The three foot types determined by the wet foot test:

Foot Pronations

Overpronation: Players with overpronated feet will notice excessive shoe wear on the inside area near the balls of the feet. If you step in water with your bare feet and leave a mark on the ground, you’ll see that the whole impression of your foot appears with little or no visible space. If you find yourself with a flat wet footprint a.k.a. overpronated feet, you’ll want to find shoes with superior lateral support to prevent injury to your knees or ankles.

Underpronation: If your shoes are worn down on the outside of the heel and forefoot, you likely under pronate your feet. Your wet feet test would reveal a large empty space in the center arch area of the foot mark. Players will want to invest in shoes that provide greater flexibility and shock absorption, plus added space for the heel.

Natural: Players with even shoe wear and a balanced/neutral foot mark in the wet test have an ideal foot type that is suitable for most tennis shoes.

Final Tips!

  1. Court shoes tend to run smaller and narrower than gym shoes or sneakers. If you’re a runner, then you’ll understand. The general rule of thumb is to go up one-half size from whatever size you normally wear unless otherwise noted. Your toes will thank you later.
  2. Lighter shoes = quicker movement and heavier shoes = durability. There are plenty of shoes that balance both.
  3. The only difference between clay shoes and all-surface shoes is the outsole tread. A clay shoe has a herringbone tread that helps dislodge clay particles more easily.
  4. 6-month warranties usually indicate a higher quality shoe, but not always. These also only apply to the outsoles, not the laces, toes, or upper construction. The replacement is typically done directly through the manufacture.
  5. Preserve your investment by wearing your new tennis court shoes only when you're on the court. Use your regular tennis/running shoes for cross-training or to run errands after you hit.

Take the first step towards improving your game and protecting your feet on the court! Head over to Tennis-Point now to discover your perfect tennis shoes!