If The Shoes Fit
Tennis involves a lot of footwork, and requires the proper shoes to be able to support it. In fact, finding the right shoes is just as—if not more– important as finding the right racket. Many people jump into the sport with regular running shoes, but there’s a reason there’s a specified category of shoes for tennis. Running shoes have soft, thick heels that are made to support forward running, but that’s it. Tennis involves so much more variety in footwork (such as lateral movement, and quick turns, stops, and starts) that the players need more support in their shoes to prevent injuries and provide them with a more comfortable playing environment. To provide that, tennis shoes are made with heavier, stiffer materials that are durable, but breathable. The soles are also flat to prevent stumbling and sliding. There are many different designs out there though, that provide different combinations of priorities.
The large selection in this category of shoes can appear daunting at first, but if you keep in mind some of our suggestions, you could narrow down the selections to a precious few until you finally find the best fit. The four things you should take into consideration when picking out the perfect shoes are: your foot type, body type, court type, and playing style.
First, in regards to your foot type: if you don’t already know which it is, we have two methods you could use to check to see whether you have pronated, supinated, or ideal feet. The most common way of checking is to look at the bottom of your most used shoes. If there is wear on the inside of the sole, you have pronated feet. If the wear is on the outside of the heel, your feet are supinated, and if the wear is even all around, you have ideal feet. Another way to check is to wet your feet, and then to step onto either dark construction paper, or a dry sidewalk. If the gap under the arch of the foot is large, you have supinated feet. If there is a complete impression, you have pronated feet, and if there is moderate space in the arch area, you have ideal feet. Now that you know your foot type, take a look at our list below to find your needs.
Most commonly associated with injury
Needs the most support and cushioning available
Wears shoes out faster
Need extra durable soles
Flexibility to choose any kind as long as it’s comfortable
Prioritize shoe based on surface of play
Next you need to be truthful with yourself. Do you have a bigger, heavier body, or a smaller, lighter one? Please remember this also has to do with weight and not just way you look. If you have a heavier body, you will need more durability and cushioning in your shoes to help absorb the impact for your feet. If you have a lighter body, you will need lighter shoes that won’t make you tired too quickly.
Next comes the playing surface. Different court surfaces have varying requirements for shoes because of the diverse levels of impact they cause on the feet.
Most common, and most challenging on the feet
Needs as much cushioning as is comfortable
Lateral support also needed, stops and starts particularly sharp on this surface
Herringbone patterned bottoms (the zigzags) can help with that best
Gives most cushioning
Can forgo some cushioning in favor of lateral support
Can afford slightly lighter lateral support
Have solid upper of leather or synthetic material
Next you need to look at your style of play.
Style of Player:
Extra lateral support
Needs more support for ankle stability
Needs highest amount of cushioning and shock absorption
Particularly if you play on hard courts
Serve and Volley:
Need Toecap that gives extra protection to the front of your foot.
Extra durable sole
Now that you have your perfect shoes, you need to understand they will not last forever. Playing with bad shoes can cause injury from slipping or lack of support. The rule of thumb is said to replace your tennis shoes after every 500 miles of wear, but it’s difficult to measure how far we’ve run on the court over time. The best way to check, is again, looking at the bottom of your shoes. When the tread pattern starts to look less distinct, you need new shoes—especially if you start to see bald, smooth spots. To get a sense of time, many of the more regular players tend to replace their shoes about every 6 months on average.
Now you can always put your best foot forward in every game!
For more information on this topic, please feel free to read these articles: