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How to Find the Best Tennis Shoes to Improve Your Tennis Game?
Tennis is one of the most popular competitive sports in the world and individuals from all over the world are training continuously in order to be the best. Hundreds of manufacturers are constantly researching for new ways to create some of the best tennis shoes around, and tennis players everywhere have agreed that these are the most important items to have in a competition.
Although skill and experience are the most important things when it comes to winning a competition, using the equipment can tip the balance in your favor. This having been said, there is a surprising amount of technology that goes into designing and manufacturing a high-quality pair of tennis shoes. Everything from the type of stitches that are used to the elasticity of the materials can influence the performance of a tennis player.
We have gone through hundreds of pairs of tennis shoes and have selected the ones that not only feel the most comfortable but also enhance speed and agility. These are popular among both amateurs as well as professionals, so they should be great for any tennis player regardless of level. It is also important to mention that their high popularity is due to their quality, not because they come from a particular brand.
You will also find information, below, that will help you understand how you should choose a pair of proper tennis shoes and what to look for when deciding if they are worth the money or not.
Understanding the Structure of a Tennis Shoe
Although it may not seem like it, tennis shoes are very different in construction when compared to running shoes or general athletics pairs. They have 18 elements, all of which are important to whether they increase or decrease the performance of tennis players. Here is what each of them does and why it is important:
- The Lining – This is the fabric that coats the interior of the shoe. It is meant to improve comfort and to prevent damage to the skin or the development of calluses;
- Eyelets – These are the circular holes on the upper section of the shoe that hold the shoelaces in place so that they don’t shift around and the knots come undone while playing;
- Lacing – The use of laces allows to finetune the fit of the shoes;
- Ventilation holes – Small holes are typically punched out only at the front of the shoe in order to help release moisture and to let the skin breathe;
- Toe cap – Essentially a reinforced section at the tip of the shoes that improves their durability;
- Toe guard – This is a reinforced part of the sole that is slightly extended forward and then upward, up to where the toe cap begins. It further increases durability and also helps keep the toes of the wearer in a comfortable position when leaning on them;
- Upper – This is the upper section of the shoe. It is usually made from a soft material that offers a full range of motion;
- Heel panel – A piece of material that covers the heel portion of the shoe and is usually flexible in order to allow the wearer to lean back without chafing;
- Shoe tongue – This piece of material is usually heavily padded in order to comfortably hold the foot in place while the shoes are worn;
- Insole – This is the interior sole of the foot. It is often made from a rubberized fabric that is slightly springy. In some pairs, the layer that can be removed and replaced with a separately bought insole;
- Midsole – A layer that is designed to absorb impacts and vibration in order to cushion the food. It is generally made from foam and its heel section is reinforced in order to offer more support while running;
- Heel counter – An insert made from a rigid, lightweight material that is meant to support the heel of the wearer;
- Collar – The padded collar helps keep the foot in place when moving;
- Non-marking outsole – An outsole made from a specialized material that does not leave track marks on the court. This section provides traction for the entire foot;
- Heel traction section – This area has additional traction-enhancing material in the heel area in order to make it easier for the wearer to come to a full stop;
- Arch – The middle section of the outsole which usually contains several flex grooves and may also contain additional materials designed to support the foot;
- Flex grooves – Small grooves are made in various sections of the outsole in order to make it easier to bend the forefoot while wearing the shoes;
- Toe traction – Meant to enhance the wearer’s ability to pivot, this area is made from a traction-enhancing rubber;
Tennis shoes can vary greatly in terms of materials and overall design, however, they all have these elements. Together, they help prevent accidents and protect the wearer’s feet during training and competitions, but also increase his endurance and agility.
The Top 5 Best Tennis Shoes for 2021
ASICS Men’s Gel-Dedicate 6 Tennis Shoes
… dedicated tennis shoes designed for increased comfort
Perfect for clay or grass courts, the ASICS Men’s Gel-Dedicate 6 Tennis Shoes offer a large amount of padding and support, making them some of the best tennis shoes for individuals who value comfort more than flexibility.
The pair comes with an EVA layer that helps absorb impacts and vibrations in order to increase comfort when wearing it for prolonged periods of time, as well as GEL sections that provide increase cushioning for the forefoot. Furthermore, the specially molded TRUSSTIC SYSTEM enhances control and helps control torsion by ensuring that the foot cannot shift around in the shoe while the wearer is moving.
- Gel components – The gel sections greatly increase comfort but do not take away from the stability of the shoes;
- TRUSSTIC SYSTEM – The midfoot section basically makes sure that the foot cannot move at all while the wearer is turning or jumping, making the pair feel like a second skin;
- Great for training as well as for competition – The mix between rigidity and comfort make the pair great for any tennis-related activity, and at any level;
- Sizing issues – Sizing is slightly awkward and you must carefully measure your feet according to the manufacturer’s instructions in order to ensure that you get a pair that will fit you perfectly;
What makes it different?
These are some of the most comfortable tennis shoes that are commercially available. They are also surprisingly durable, especially when considering that they are handmade. Overall, the shoes are made from top-quality materials and are great for both amateurs who are not used to long workouts, as well as for professionals who need a comfortable shoe to help them focus on their game, not on their pain.
Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 8 Running Shoe
… a comfortable running shoe that’s also great for tennis players
The Charged Assert 8 is a very light pair of running shoes that are designed for individuals that have a neutral foot type. They feature a comfortable EVA sockliner which helps keep the foot in place while the wearer is moving, as well as a charged cushioning midsole system that uses compression molded foam in order to offer the perfect balance between cushioning and durability.
From a structural point of view, the shoes are made from synthetic leather and textile materials and have an all-rubber sole that provides excellent traction on any type of surface. Furthermore, the fabric is porous and allows the skin to breathe during workouts.
- Neutral foot type – The fact that the shoes are for a neutral foot type means that they can be used by virtually anyone without any issues;
- Great shock absorption – The thick rubber sole and the EVA sockliner work together in order to absorb most of the shocks generated by jumping and running;
- Running shoes – These are great running shoes that can also be used for tennis, but they are not designed specifically for this purpose and the sole lacks some of the flex groove designs that would make them useful on a hard court;
What makes it different?
The main feature that makes the Charged Assert 8 some of the best tennis shoes around is the fact that they offer enough flexibility for most types of surfaces and that they are light enough to increase mobility while playing. The synthetic materials that make up the body of the shoes are also extremely durable and should be able to last for a long time, regardless of the sport that they’re used for.
ASICS Men’s Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe
… a modular running shoe that is great for hard courts and clay surfaces
The Gel-Venture 6 are considered to be some of the best tennis shoes due to the fact that they offer a good balance between support and comfort, and allow the wearer to remove the sockliner in order to use a separately bought medical orthotic. This essentially makes it easy to customize the shoes according to the preferences of each individual. Furthermore, the running shoe comes with a rearfoot GEL cushioning system that absorbs much of the impact generated by running or jumping, while not increasing the weight.
Apart from the increased cushioning that it offers, the pair also features an outsole that is partially made from ASICS High Abrasion Rubber, which offers great traction on any type of surface. The sole itself is highly durable and suited for both grass courts as well as hard-surface ones.
- Removable sockliner – Medical orthotics can be used with these shoes, which can also improve their fit;
- High traction – The outsole of the shoe is made from a high abrasion rubber that increases durability and provides great traction on hard surfaces;
- Useful on grass – The design of the sole offers increased grip on grass, wet or dry;
- Not ventilated – The shoes do not have any type of ventilation, which can make them difficult to use in hot climates;
What makes it different?
The Gel-Venture 6 offers great customizability, allowing the wearer to use a medical orthotic and features a sole design that is suited for any type of surface and activity. Furthermore, the padding near the heel can absorb the medium to high impact forces generated by jumping, relieving tension from the back and knees.
New Balance Men’s Mx623v3 Training Shoe
… well-ventilated shoes that are great for hot summer days
The Mx623v3 are specifically designed to be universally useful as far as training shoes are concerned. You can use them on any surface and they have great lateral ventilation that allows the skin to breathe and eliminate excess moisture.
It is important to mention the fact that these are entirely made out of leather, which means that they will last for an extended period of time if properly maintained and that smell-causing bacteria are less likely to develop inside them.
As far as structural construction is concerned, the shoes have a non-marking rubber outsole, and a shock-absorbing midsole made from injection-molded EVA foam. Furthermore, the pair features an efficient Abzorb heel design that helps mitigate powerful shocks caused by jumping and running.
- Non-marking outsole – The non-marking outsole is perfect for indoor hard courts;
- Great ventilation – The sides of the shoes have holes punched out that allow the skin to breathe and make wearing the pair during summer more comfortable;
- Great for clay courts – The design of the sole is perfect for clay courts and will not get clogged;
- Not very flexible – The sole of the shoe is not flexible enough for grass courts and does not perform well on wet surfaces;
What makes it different?
This is a pair of high-quality, all-purpose training shoes. Although they are not designed specifically for playing tennis they are durable and light enough to be used in any scenario. Furthermore, they are entirely made out of leather, making them flexible and easy to clean.
ASICS Men’s Gel-Challenger 12 Tennis Shoes
… premium tennis shoes specifically designed for hard tennis courts
As far as mid-range products go, the Gel-Challenger 12 are considered to be some of the best tennis shoes around. This is mainly due to the fact that the pair features a Solyte Midsole material that offers enhanced cushioning and durability when compared to EVA foam. Furthermore, both the rearfoot and the forefoot are protected by a Gel cushioning system that absorbs most of the shock generated by running and toe-off phases while also offering a high range of movement.
The included Ortholite sockliner that is designed to help with moisture management can be removed and replaced with a separately bought one. It is also worth mentioning that the sole of the shoes is manufactured using Trusstic System Technology, which ensures that it is as light as possible while maintaining structural integrity.
- Great for hard courts and clay surfaces – The soles of the shoes feature multiple flex grooves that offer increased mobility on hard surfaces;
- Efficient cushioning – Both the forefoot, as well as the rearfoot, are cushioned using Gel material;
- Included moisture-management sockliner – The shoes include an advanced sockliner that can help prevent moisture from building up as you play;
- Heavy – These are heavier than running shoes and it may take a bit to get used to wearing them;
What makes it different?
The Gel-Challenger 12 Tennis Shoes offer near-perfect support and great cushioning all-round, however, they are slightly heavier than other pairs on this list. This having been said, they are great for both amateur and professional tennis players who are looking for a more durable pair of shoes. These can last about twice as long as other models in the same price range.
FAQs About Tennis Shoes
How do I determine my foot type?
The easiest way to determine your foot type is by doing the wet test. To do this you will basically need a shallow pan and some water. Pour the liquid into your container and then step into it with only one foot. There should only be enough water in the pat to get all the parts of the bottom of the foot wet.
Next, take the leg out of the pan and step directly onto a flattened brown paper bag. This will leave a footprint of the bottom of your foot and should help you determine what kind of arch you have. For the best results, you should try to smoothen the bag as much as possible.
Once you have the footprint it is time to analyze it. If you can see half of the middle portion of your arch and there is an obvious curve to it, then you have a neutral foot type. Those who can only see the heel, the ball of the foot and a very small portion of the arch have a supination foot type, and individuals who can see the full footprint have overpronation.
Do I need tennis shoes to play tennis?
Not necessarily, however, finding the best tennis shoes for your foot type and using them can improve your performance on the court and also help protect you from injuries that are related to this sport. Generally speaking, any type of sports footwear can be worn, but running shoes are the closest in terms of design and features when compared to tennis ones. Also, keep in mind that certain hard courts will require that players wear tennis shoes at all times in order to not damage the playing surface.
It is also worth mentioning that having a pair of shoes specifically for this sport can help extend the lifespan of others. Tennis footwear is more durable than other models because they have specifically designed soles that wear out slower than those of running shoes.
Can I wear tennis shoes for running?
Yes, but it is not advised to do so. Tennis shoes tend to be heavier and less flexible than ones designed for running. Furthermore, the soles of tennis shoes are usually designed for lateral movements. They do provide a lot of traction, however, specifically designed running shoes are less stiff and are better for forwards motion, especially when you have to start or stop.
Not using an appropriate type of footwear for a particular sport can also cause your shoes to degrade faster than they should due to the fact that you use them on different types of surfaces.
Finding the best tennis shoes may seem overwhelming at first, but it simply takes a bit of thought in order to determine exactly what you need from a quality pair of footwear. First, look at the way you play, and also take into consideration that the shoes must be made for the type of court that you train on. Once you establish these details analyze your old shoes, preferably a pair that you’ve worn while playing tennis and try to figure out what you didn’t like about them or what you wished they would do better. Doing this will make it easier to choose a model that caters to your specific needs.
Finally, look at the products that we have reviewed and try to find a pair that you will be comfortable with. All the shoes that we have included in this guide have been tried and tested by both amateur tennis players as well as professionals and are durable enough to last up to a year of daily workouts.
Overall, finding the right shoes can considerably improve your performance on the tennis court, however, this means that you must also consider getting medical orthotics that fit you perfectly and also try to establish what kind of foot type you have. Cover all these bases and you will find that practice sessions will be more enjoyable and competitions will seem easier than ever before.
Tennis Shoe Buying Guide
Quality tennis shoes aren’t cheap by any means, but they are a worthwhile investment, especially when considering the fact that most are designed to last for at least a full season. Furthermore, they can make a big a difference just like the tennis racket that you use, when it comes to competing in tournaments.
Before looking at what you should pay attention to when looking to buy a new pair of tennis shoes, it is important to mention that there is no universal formula for choosing the best pair. Go through the tips below and think about what you find least comfortable in the shoes that you already own. Also, think about the various movements that you will have to make while playing in order to decide on what portion of the shoe you need more protection or grip.
This having been said, take the following into consideration when looking to buy a new pair of tennis shoes:
Choose the right sole for your style of playing
Tennis shoes have different types of soles depending on what kind of surface they are designed to be used on. While any tennis shoe can be used on any type of surface, you will get a bigger performance boost if you match your equipment to the type of court that you play on.
- Grass tennis shoes have a flat, non-marking outsole and are much more flexible than the others due to the fact that they must allow the foot of the wearer to slightly dig into the grass. These also have a large number of rubber nubs, somewhat similar to the ones found on soccer footwear. The small protuberances increase traction when playing on wet grass and even during rain;
- Clay tennis shoes typically feature a non-marking sole that has a pattern that offers more grip but cannot get clogged. They also offer increased lateral support as well as an upper that fits tighter around the foot, for increased security while running or jumping;
- Hard court shoes are vastly different from the other two due to the fact that they are designed for hard surfaces. As a result, they have more cushioning, their soles and uppers are very durable, and the outsoles have a large number of flex grooves. These can be used on any kind of surface, including grass, but they won’t offer the same amount of traction on soft, wet surfaces as they do on hard courts;
Ideally, the best tennis shoes to get will be the ones that you will use the most. This means that you will have to consider the type of court that you are training on – or if you want to get them for a tournament – that you will be competing on. For example, if you are training on a clay court, but may have to compete on a hard-floor one, then it may be better to buy footwear designed for the competition location and use it while training as well.
Also, please keep in mind that while the hard-court shoes can be also used on clay and grass, the grass models do not offer the required amount of traction for any other type of surface than the one that they were designed for.
Determine what is your foot type
Each of us has a different posture which influences our sense of balance and the way we move. There are three foot types that must be taken into consideration when buying sports footwear:
- Overpronation – This foot type is characterized by a flat arch which leads to the ankle rolling inwards during movement. Those who have this particularity should focus on finding footwear that has great lateral support and improves stability. They should also consider getting quality insoles designed for this specific foot type or orthotics;
- Neutral – This is the regular foot type that has no particularities. It is considered to be perfectly healthy and to offer a perfect range of movement. Most individuals will have a neutral foot type. The best shoes, in this case, are ones that are comfortable and do not restrict the natural movement of the foot in any way;
- Supination – If your feet have high arches then it will cause your ankle to roll outwards when you move. The best way to compensate for this issue is by looking for shoes that are neutral cushioned and offer a lot of flexibility. No specialized in insoles are required;
Look at the anatomy of a tennis shoe and consider what you want
Each manufacturer designs tennis shoes differently. Whether they do this as a result of specialized research, polls done among professionals, or simply as a way to make their products look nice, they will have the same basic components. Look at the list above and consider what your ideal type of tennis footwear would look like.
The best way to understand what from a shoe is to look at a pair of sports shoes that you already own and establish what you do not like about them. Once you understand what elements you were not comfortable with you will be able to make an informed decision regarding your next pair of tennis shoes.
For example, tongues that have more padding usually make the shoes more comfortable, but also prevent your feet from shifting around inside them while moving and jumping. Furthermore, the heel counter is essential to having great stability as it reinforces the heel and locks your foot into place.
It is also important to mention the fact that most professional tennis courts require that all players use non-marking shoes in order to prevent them from damaging the floors while moving. As an added bonus, non-marking rubber outsoles offer great traction which can help you move easier on the court.
Understand what the right fit should feel like
A common issue when it comes to buying sports footwear is the fact that many individuals do not know how a shoe that fits perfectly should feel like. This is mostly due to the fact that there are hundreds of manufacturers and most of them compete to create great-looking footwear, which is not necessarily comfortable or useful in terms of performance.
This having been said, it is difficult to establish a general rule to help you determine what the perfect fit should feel like, however, there are certain signs that should be taken into consideration:
- The shoes shouldn’t be too loose or too snug – Ideally, they should offer an additional ¼ or ½ inches of space. Also, the forefoot should fit snugly and the heel should not slip forwards or backward while running. If the shoe fits but you still feel that your heel shifts from side to side, this can be corrected using separately bought insoles;
- The footwear should be comfortable – Your chosen shoes should never cause any sort of pain or discomfort, and this includes irritation and chafing. Please keep in mind that basically, any sort of shoes will cause chafing after wearing them for an extended period of time, which may lead to the formation of calluses. The only way to prevent this is to not train for more than 3-4 hours at a time and to take the shoes off in order to let your feet rest;
ATTENTION: The padding on even the best tennis shoes will slowly wear out as you wear them, and they may become less comfortable after a couple of months of training daily.
- The tennis shoes should be the same shape as your feet – Look at the type of arch that you have and try to find shoes that have the are made for your foot type. Also, shoes tend to stretch after wearing them for a while, but the perfect fitting shoes should be perfect for the volume of your feet without seeming tight in length or width;
Pro tips to ensure that your chosen tennis shoes fit perfectly
Here are a few things that you should do in order to ensure that the shoes that you’re trying on will always fit perfectly:
- Wear the right socks – Socks can vary in thickness and this will affect how you feel when fitting shoes. Make a habit out of wearing the same socks that you use while playing when trying sports shoes on. This will give you an idea of how you will feel on the tennis court;
- Try out several types of movement – When buying new tennis shoes, you need to get a feel for how the shoes will behave while playing. This means that you should try to replicate some of the maneuvers and movements that you usually make on the tennis court. If the shoes feel great and nothing seems out of place, then they should be perfect to use;
- Try on multiple sizes – Many individuals are in between sizes when it comes to footwear, which can make it extremely difficult to find shoes that fit well. The best way to compensate for this is to try several sizes and see which one feels more comfortable. Smaller shoes can be stretched, however, this can take a few days and may deteriorate the fabric;
- Use your own orthotics or insoles – If a shoe seems too big or doesn’t feel exactly right, consider getting rid of the insoles that come with the shoes and using your own or adding separately bought orthotics;
- Try on different designs and compare them – Different manufacturers design their tennis shoes differently. Some use different materials while others make various sections smaller or larger. Look for different designs and try them on until you find a pair that fits perfectly;
Make compromises or find the perfect balance
Unfortunately, even with the current technology in terms of shoe manufacturing, you will still have to choose between various qualities that they may have:
- Increased durability or lightweight
This is one of the most important decisions that you will have to make, and the outcome will have a large impact on how you play tennis. Although there are methods that some manufacturers use in order to make tennis shoes both lightweight as well as durable, you will still have to choose if you want a lighter pair of shoes that have a thinner sole or higher durability.
Generally speaking, lightweight shoes will have to be replaced every 6 months, however, they will help increase your agility while playing. On the other hand, a heavier pair that has a sole that is half an inch thicker will be able to last twice as long but will cause you to get tired more easily.
- Flexibility and Performance or Increased Lateral Support and Stability
Another big choice that you have to take into consideration is whether you want a flexible shoe or one that is stable. Most models that are designed for hard courts have a large number of flex grooves that increase the wearer’s range of movement, however, they usually do not have great lateral support and would not be as stable as pairs that offer more support and cushioning.
Overall, it is just a matter of deciding if you need shoes that allow you to be more agile or fi you prefer ones that offer more support and can be worn for longer periods of time without causing any pain or irritation.
Finding a balance between quality and value
Finding the best tennis shoes largely depends on how well you understand your needs. The footwear should complement your play style. Furthermore, if you are a professional player, or are moving from amateur to professional, you should start looking at tennis shoes as an investment. Their purpose is to help you play better and to protect you from pain and accidents.
Finding the balance between quality and value is usually a matter of preference, however, there is one golden rule: always be ready to pay more for tennis shoes that you will use during competitions.
There are many tennis shoes that cost under $100 and are generally great for training, and even for amateur competitions. Professionals, on the other hand, must be prepared to pay more. Although they are more expensive, premium pairs are made from high-quality materials that are both lightweight, as well as extremely durable.