Wilson Tennis Shoes

Choosing The Best Tennis Shoes 

Choosing the best men’s tennis shoe or the best women’s tennis shoe comes down to 1 major rule and then 4 basic questions. Here is the rule: Never use Running shoes to play tennis! If you are a regular tennis player, you know what I am going to say, so skip down to the next section, but if you are just starting out, here is the quick low down on why running shoes are not tennis shoes. Running Shoes are designed to go in ONE direction – Forward. Their toes round up and they have no side to side stability – because they are designed to go in one direction. When you start playing tennis you will go all over the place. And eventually, so will your ankle or your knee or your hip if you are not wearing the correct shoes.   Fortunately the solution is simple - get some good Tennis Shoes - and the Our Tennis Shoe Buying Guide is here to help!

Now onto the basic questions that will help you to determine the best tennis shoe for your game.

1. What is your style of play?

2. What type of court will you play on most of the time?

3. What size shoe is best for you?

4. Do your feet, ankles or knees require something special?

What is your style of play?

Picking the right tennis shoe begins with a very simple question – what type of tennis player are you?  Are you aggressive with your movement and therefore need a tennis shoe that enhances your agility and speed?  Or are you more conservative in your play, tending to favor the baseline with power strokes that require stability?  In a nutshell, are you looking for Agility or Stability?

Agility Shoes

Agility shoes enhance your movement by decreasing the overall weight of the shoe and utilizes technology that transfers energy into your game helping you feel a little more propelled with each step, lunge or push.  Agility shoes are designed to flex and bend and will feature insole and midsole foam that provide an energizing spring in your step in any direction you move.  They may sacrifice some stability and cushioning but they will be lighter and more flexible for your aggressive game style.

In addition, tennis shoes that emphasize agility often have a slightly higher heel to emphasize forward movement.  This nifty aspect of shoe technology is called “heel drop” and can really make a difference if you want to emphasize the serve and volley of your game.  Adding a millimeter or two to your heel height, tennis shoes range from 10mm to 13mm, can encourage being on your toes, ready to move to the net. 

Stability Shoes

If the baseline is more your game, then going with a women’s or men’s tennis shoe that emphasizes stability and control is ideal.  A little heavier than the agility tennis shoe, you should feel a solid connection to the ground, allowing you to utilize your body effectively for power strokes.  These tennis shoes will also have increased support at the heel and on the outside of the shoe. 

There will also be added cushioning, adding to the overall weight but also increasing your endurance and energy throughout the match.  If you do overpronate or have ankle or knee concerns, a stability shoe is also ideal for you since they resist rotation and provide a strong supportive cushion. 

What type of court will you play on?

Most U.S. tennis players play most of their matches on hardcourt with the occasional clay court match. Therefore the best type of men’s or women’s tennis shoe is a multi-surface shoe that has a sole that is durable for hardcourt play and can be used in a pinch on clay court surfaces.  These soles feature materials that can handle the stress of the hardcourt, providing the stability and durability needed for the unforgiving hardcour surface.  

Clay court shoes are great if you play all or most of your matches on clay.  These have a herringbone pattern up and down the sole and little to no separation between the front of the shoe and the heel, allowing the player to slide on clay with relative control while still having traction when running forward.  Some hardcourt shoes will blend the herringbone pattern into their sole making the shoe a more ideal hybrid if you play on both surfaces with some frequency.   Grass courts require a very specific shoe with small little round pebbles all over the sole of the shoe. 

What size of shoe is best for you?

First, using the brand size chart for the shoes is a great start at determining what size tennis shoe you need. The easiest way to do this at home is to stand barefoot on a piece of paper and have someone trace your foot.  Then, simply use a flat ruler to measure the length of your foot.  Take those measurements to the specific size chart and voila!

Now, it’s good to note that it's okay to have a little room in your shoe.  Going with a ½ size larger and adding a pair of socks can make a world of difference if you suffer from blisters or other wear and tear issues on your feet.  Tennis is hard on our tootsies so having the extra room to breath and the extra cushioning of two good pairs of socks can often make a world of difference.

Do your feet, ankles or knees require something special?

Good tennis shoes all provide the stability and cushioning needed for all types of players and most types of feet. Concerns about pronation (basically low arches with inside worn shoes) and supination (higher arches with shoes worn on the outside) are often alleviated in good tennis shoes because they all provide good support and cushioning that can alleviate most symptoms of pronation and supination. 

Pronation and Supination can influence your decision on the best shoe, particularly if you wear orthotics.  In that case, it is important to take the width of the shoe into consideration.  Some shoes provide a wider toe box which can increase the room needed for special insoles or orthotics to make your foot more comfortable. 

Plantar fasciitis and bunions are also common issues in tennis players feet.  Beside orthotics, a slightly larger shoe with more room in the toe box combined with two pairs of socks can often make a big difference in comfort and stability

Good tennis shoes last about 40 to 50 hours of play.  The basic rule is to replace your tennis shoes the same number of times per year as you play per week.  So if you play 3 times a week, replace your shoes 3 times a year.  If you keep your shoes fresh, you should see little discomfort in your knees and ankles if that is a concern.

Do your feet get really hot when you play?  Well, some brands, Prince and Babolat specifically, provide venting on the bottom sole, helping to cool your foot during play.  However, be careful not to wear your shoes outside, especially in the rain or snow!