Choosing Your Tennis Shoes
|Tennis4you Technicals - Expert Tennis Tips
Written by Chris Lewis of Expert Tennis Tips.
Chris is a former Wimbledon Finalist and the webmaster of Expert
Tennis is a sport that requires constant and explosive changes of
direction. When looking for tennis shoes, whatever you do, make sure
that you purchase a pair that give you adequate lateral support.
You want tennis shoes that keep your feet secure, not a pair in which
your feet feel unsupported when you're moving. You'll not only get
around the court better, you'll also prevent tennis injuries.
Make sure your shoes have lacing systems that are specifically designed
for enhanced lateral support. Also, shoes with broad outsoles and
sturdy uppers are particularly good if you've got a large physique.
If you've had ankle problems or you've got weak ankles, but feel uncomfortable
wearing ankle braces, consider wearing hi-tops.
If you play your tennis on hard courts, you'll know the benefits of
wearing tennis shoes that provide proper cushioning. Playing with
shoes that provide little or no protection from the repeated impact
of your foot hitting the ground virtually guarantees, at best, unwanted
and unnecessary muscle and joint fatigue, and, at worst, a serious
The two main materials used for the cushioning of tennis shoes are
polyurethane and UVA. Polyurethane is heavier, but more durable. EVA,
although lighter, is less stable.
When determining the right amount of cushioning, avoid the two extremes;
namely, shoes that don't absorb enough impact because the soles are
too thin or too hard, and shoes that are so soft that they actually
give you negative support.
As well as shoes that give you adequate lateral support and the right
amount of cushioing, you want your shoes to be comfortable. The things
to look for are:
- adequate tongue padding so that the laces don't bite into you
- good arch support
- shoes that are neither too narrow nor too wide
- uppers that have adequate flex; i.e., no feeling of stiffness
For those of you with flat feet, you'll most likely be more comfortable
in something softer. If you've got arched feet, you'd be wise to look
for a firmer shoe.
As with any new shoes, they require some "breaking in" time. To avoid
blisters, break in your new shoes by wearing them around the house
before you play in them. This will also enable you to identify any
When choosing the right type of sole, the most important consideration
is the court surface that you'll be playing on.
For hardcourts, the traditional herringbone pattern is recommended.
For grasscourts, see if you can get tennis shoes with the small rubber
studs that prevent you from slipping. For indoor carpet, predominantly
found in Europe, you'll need completely smooth soles so that your
feet don't "grab", which causes excessive stress on the ankles and
knees. For clay, get recommended clay court shoes, which allow you
to slide effectively.
If you use excessive toe drag on your serve, look for shoes with heavy
exterior protection in the toe area. Also, make sure that the area
under the ball of the foot, which is where most pressure is exerted,
is well padded.
In choosing the correct size, there are three considerations:
Tennis shoes that are too big will cause blisters. If they're too
small, they'll crush your feet, which can cause chronic injuries and
However, once you've found the perfect size, remember that over a
lifetime, your feet change in size and shape.
As you get older, your feet tend to collapse and spread out. To ensure
that you don't end up mistakenly wearing the wrong size, you should
periodically measure your feet.
Never compromise the comfort and well-being of your feet. No matter
how appealing a shoe looks, don't sacrifice the function of a shoe
to attractive cosmetics or looking "cool".
And don't ever be tempted to buy a non-tennis shoe. You won't get
the right support or grip, and chances are you'll end up injuring
Today, the specialist shoe companies spend enormous amounts of money
researching and developing comfortable tennis shoes that give you
proper lateral support and cushioning, features that will not only
help you move better but will also minimize your chances of getting
As with selecting your tennis racquet, invest some time in selecting
the right tennis shoes. Both the short and long term benfits of selecting
the right shoes are major. You'll win more and you'll enjoy your tennis
longer, perhaps even years longer.