Out of all the active hobbies you can choose for yourself, tennis definitely stands out for more than just one reason- not only is it a great way to maintain your health, fitness levels, strength and agility, but tennis is also considered one of the most social activities for couples, groups of friends, even families.
But if you prefer to spend your free time playing tennis, you probably know that what bears the brunt of the game mostly are exactly your feet. So, the next time you’re about to hit your closest sports venue and get into beast mode, it’s best to consider getting a pair of convenient tennis sneakers.
Trainers vs Tennis Shoes
If you thought that you can “get the job done” with your usual pair of running trainers, know that you’re wrong. Not only do tennis shoes have a much different construction than any other type of trainers, but they’re also designed to cope with your feet during the most dynamic movements and support them exactly where it’s needed.
This is not the case with running shoes and sneakers, since they’re designed with the main focus on forward movement which can lead to serious injuries caused by the motons a tennis game requires.
Choose the Right Outsoles
Now that we established why you should get tennis sneakers, it’s important to consider a couple of factors before investing. At this point, know that shoes for playing tennis feature different outsoles, and that’s due to different terrains having a different impact on your feet. This is why you should always pick the shoes’ outsoles depending on the surface you’re about to play at.
Hard Court Outsoles
You probably know that the most common surface for playing tennis is hard courts, but what you may don’t know is that hard court surfaces are the most demanding of all types. So, make sure you choose outsoles that will be able to handle the hardness.
Outsoles made for hard courts usually feature modified herringbone patterns, since they should be able to give you a good grip and protect your feet and ankles from injuries at the same time. They also feature ample padding as well as midsoles that absorb the shock and transfer the energy away from your feet’s vulnerable spots.
When it comes to their toe area, it’s usually built up and protected for the toe draggers. This level of protection is also often reinforced with the sturdy upper part, and such construction doesn’t only add on support and protection for your feet but also makes for a durable construction that won’t wear and tear after a couple of games.
Clay Court Outsoles
If you prefer playing tennis on a clay court, know that it’s very important to choose a pair of tennis shoes that will provide you with an excellent grip. This is only possible with full herringbone tread patterns (also known as zig zags) since they help keep clay out of your outsole and therefore give you a better grip when sprinting, stopping and changing directions.
In fact, this is due to herringbone design outsoles makes sliding from side to side more predictable so you can perfectly glide into a shot and recover. It also provides great traction which is essential for securely moving forward and backward.
In addition to this, tennis shoes intended for clay courts usually have a tighter knit upper for two reasons- to give you the required stability and keep the clay from entering your shoes during dynamic movements.
Grass Court Outsoles
Similarly to clay courts, the ones covered in grass are soft and not that dangerous for your body and joints. But let’s not overlook the fact that grass surfaces can be often wet and slippery, so you’ll undoubtedly need tennis shoes featuring outsoles with a good grip.
Such outsoles usually feature nubs (or pimples) that give these shoes a bumpy texture and therefore make it possible to move quickly without slipping and falling down or damaging the surface in any way. But have in mind that, unlike hard court shoes, the ones featuring grass-court outsoles can’t be used on other terrains.
Pick the Right Fit
Your tennis shoes should fit securely so you can take full advantage of them and ensure maximum stability and comfort. And while some tennis players claim that a “locked” fit feels like a natural extension and you won’t even notice you’re wearing sneakers, others just prefer a little bit of breathing room, especially in the toe area. So, make sure you choose according to your preferences, as well as needs.
If you’re still not sure about the right fit for yourself, don’t worry, you can always measure it very easily. The first thing you’ll need to do is to find a hard, sturdy surface and put a piece of paper down. Stand with one foot on the paper while wearing socks and make sure you’re keeping your body weight over your foot.
Now it’s time to take some measurements- trace a line around the outside of your entire foot and measure the distance, or your foot length vertically. Once you do this, measure horizontally across the widest part of your feet. Once you record these measurements, it’s always best to check your manufacturer’s sizing chart for the optimal fit.
What Else to Consider
Even if you choose the perfect fit for yourself, it doesn’t always mean that the specific tennis shoe model will suit your feet construction as well as your needs and preferences perfectly. For this purpose, don’t forget to pay attention to a couple of additional factors before you make the purchase:
Tennis shoes are designed with a stiffer construction than the other types of shoes so they can support a wide range of motions, and this is why you should opt for a comfortable pair. That being said, you might want to look for tennis sport shoes with cushioned midsoles and insoles for maximum support and comfort.
Except for looking for a comfortable pair of shoes, you probably want to get one that won’t get destroyed after a couple of good games on the court. And even though we talked about the outsoles as the part that is constantly in touch with the playing surface, it doesn’t mean that they’re the only component you should pay attention to.
In fact, the tennis shoe’s toe box and the upper section are also exposed to the tennis playing surface. Also, different players have different distinct movements that can also lead to unexpected damages. For instance, some of them tend to drag their foot when serving, which imposes the need for a sturdier toe box area in order to make the shoes last. So make sure you consider what area of the shoe is mostly exposed while you’re playing.
Whether it’s moving side to side hitting groundstrokes, coming forward and approaching the net or moving back to track down a lob- abrupt movements are very common when it comes to playing tennis. This means that you should opt for a stable pair in order to keep balance and prevent yourself from slipping or tipping around.
For this purpose, know that the wider the tennis shoes, the more balance and stability they’ll provide. Also, it’s recommended to choose a rigid sole such as the ones made from plastic to handle quick start and stop movements and prevent the shoe from twisting.
Finally, make sure you consider how much the shoe weighs since it can significantly determine your performance on the court. And as much as this is mostly a matter of preference, have in mind that heavier shoes tend to feel more secure and provide better balance, while lighter ones will provide you with the ultimate speed you need for “chasing” the ball.
Now that you know about the most important things to take into consideration, don’t wait to hit your favourite tennis shoes online or brick and mortar store and get the right pair for yourself, and see how scoring a deuce becomes the easiest thing in the world.