Any seasoned tennis player will agree the choice of footwear is a crucial element to how well you play and how injury-free you stay. The best tennis shoe for you will fit snugly across the width of your foot and have at least a half-inch of space between the toes and the end of the tennis shoe, so your tennis shoe size might actually differ from your standard shoe size.
Your style and level of play will influence how quickly and how far you move in a typical game but whatever level you compete at you need shoes that fit properly, which accommodate your foot type, and support all those rapid stops and starts whether you’re moving forward, backwards or sideways.
The toe and sole areas are probably the zones of the tennis shoe subject to the greatest amount of battering, and all good tennis shoes will be particularly durable here. But the more durable you go the heavier the shoe and that will of course impact your speed and agility.
If you’ve played a while and have some shoes that need binning look at the key areas of wear and tear and ensure they’re the areas that are strong and reinforced in your replacements.
The areas of wear will also be down to your foot type, only 10% of the population have what are known as ‘neutral’ feet which have a slight arch on the inner and reasonable floor connection to the side beyond. The majority (around 60%) have pronated feet (AKA Flat feet) which drive more weight to the inside of the foot wearing the shoe there and often resulting in injury if the arch isn’t adequately supported. If you’re supinated it’s the opposite; the arches are high and the outer edge of the tennis shoe will wear.
The support you need will also be determined by your size and weight, the taller and heavier you are the greater your requirement for cushioning and support.
Tennis shoe materials tend to be either 100% manmade fibres or a combination of manmade and leather. You need your feet to be supported, comfortable and able to breathe.
Playing style is another critical factor. Do you run forward and back more than side-to-side? If you do, good toe support is a must. All decent tennis shoes will include some lateral support, but if you tend to play along the backline of the court then you’ll need even more lateral support than most to cope with the increased number of sideways movements.
Equally important is the surface on which you play. The harder the surface the more durable you need the sole to be. Concrete will quickly wear out a tread if it’s not fit for the surface and if you’re playing on clay or grass you need more traction on your sole to support those rapid stops, starts and changes in direction.
Lots to consider we know but once you’ve found your optimum tennis shoe, you’ll play better than ever.