Types of Tennis Shoes
Since tennis players have various playing styles and skill levels, the type of shoes differs significantly.
Although several factors influence your choice of tennis shoes, the most significant is your tennis playing habits.
Most brands distribute their tennis shoe range into categories as per the court type, material, weight, and foot shape.
For instance, those looking to play on all-clay courts will require tennis shoes designed for that surface.
Similarly, some types of tennis shoes are made for a specific foot type.
You should choose a different type of shoes if you have a high arch.
Moreover, tennis shoe choice depends on your preferences.
You can choose from canvas and EVA to leather, vinyl, and polyurethane, choices in tennis shoes are simply endless.
So, how do you determine which tennis shoe is perfect for you?
In this guide, you will learn how to choose suitable tennis shoes from different types of tennis shoes, make a wise choice, and clear up common misconceptions about purchasing tennis shoes.
Table of Contents
What to Consider when Selecting Tennis Shoes?
The main factor you should consider when deciding which tennis shoes to buy is the outsole.
Tennis footwear is generally categorized by the type of surface the shoes will perform on, and naturally, this means the difference between weight, speed, and stability.
Shoes with exceptional stability and durability are usually heavier, and lightweight shoes allow better speed on the court, which means players can reach the ball faster.
Should You Consider the Level & Style of Play when Buying Tennis Shoes?
Yes, you should! When purchasing a new pair of tennis shoes, you should consider the level and style of play to find the right match.
If you are a beginner player and are still learning the sport’s rules, it is a good idea to invest in inexpensive yet reliable all-court shoes.
But, if you are an intermediate or advanced level player, make sure to choose tennis shoes that meet the high demands of your level.
Let’s not forget, your play style dictates the type of shoe you will wear.
An aggressive baseline player who runs side to side continually should choose an ultra-stable pair.
Conversely, an all-court player will benefit the most with a lightweight pair as it will allow maximum speed.
Different Tennis Shoe Models Explained
Almost all mainstream tennis shoe brands offer different tennis shoes to cater to a wider variety of players’ preferences.
Presented below is an overview of the most famous tennis shoe models and their key features:
#1. Pro Staff Wilson Shoes
They are dubbed social shoes as they are widely used in most major tournaments and suitable for all tennis courts.
Pro Staff Wilson Shoes usually come in white color, but gradually, the brand is introducing colored varieties, particularly in their unisex designs.
#2. Air Vapor Shoes
Air vapor is an incredibly effective technology making on the court surface easy, no matter if you’re, leaping or running. It allows seamless movement and a fast-paced game.
Air vapor shoes provide extra bounciness, are lightweight, and highly comfortable.
#3. Classic White Shoes
Classic White Shoes are manufactured with a thick sole and feature an all-white design. This means even the shoelace is white.
These are generally unisex shoes and are considered a part of the standard all-white tennis uniform. Despite that, white shoes are simple in design and not always lightweight (so it’s worth checking)
Most players avoid buying all-white tennis shoes, thinking that they will be difficult to clean.
#4. Gel Tennis Shoes
Like air vapor technology, gel technology is also a relatively new entrant in the tennis shoe industry. Gel tennis shoes tend to be highly shock-absorbent.
The gel is inserted in the heel region of the shoe, and they are designed to reduce injury risk.
Gel tennis shoes are preferred by male players more than females and are particularly popular among middle-aged players.
#5. Barricade Shoes
Barricade shoes feature knit fabric, while memory foam is inserted in the heels for additional comfort.
These are usually more expensive than other models on the list. Barricade shoes are the preferred choice of athletes.
#6. Hyper Court Shoes
Hyper court shoes have high heels, which make them shock absorbent. Moreover, these shoes are lightweight and breathable. Both male and female players like hyper-court shoes because of their fantastic support and stability.
Tennis Shoes and Court Surfaces
Tennis footwear brands prevent address the varying demands of different tennis court surfaces and the different play styles when designing shoes.
Apart from considering your style of playing and skill level, it is necessary to check out the surface you will play on when buying shoes and select a model/design that suits your requirements.
Let’s have a look at the appropriate shoes for different types of tennis courts:
#1. Hard Court
If you frequently play on hard courts, select a shoe that’s non-marking because it will help you avoid scuffs when changing directions.
A shoe that’s not made for hard courts can scratch the court surface and damage the outsole.
Hardcourt shoes have more cushioning and can withstand shocks well.
The surface can be hard on your feet, so these shoes are designed to offer optimum protection for your joints and feet.
The popularity of court surfaces varies considerably in different countries.
Still, the fact remains this is the most common type of court you’ll get to play on because they are easier to maintain and more affordable.
However, hard courts could be harsh, so if your shoes don’t offer sufficient cushioning, you may end up injuring your feet.
The ideal tennis shoes for hard court should have the following characteristics:
- A durable outsole featuring toe guard and reliable tread
- Shock absorbing capabilities
- Sufficient protection around the upper
- Superior stability for quick-paced starts and stops
#2. Clay Court
Tennis shoes created for clay courts are usually lightweight, as this type of surface doesn’t require as much protection as the hardcourt.
The ground is not too hard, and therefore, the shoes won’t require a lot of cushioning. However, clay courts can be slippery.
Therefore, shoes made for these surfaces have treads to allow maximum grip on the ground.
The grips are far enough apart and don’t clog with clay.
It is worth noting clay is the second most common surface in tennis.
It is also the slowest of all tennis court surfaces since the ball loses speed and will bounce higher after hitting the ground.
Furthermore, clay is a loose surface, so it may get stuck or clogged to the shoe’s outsole if it isn’t designed for clay surfaces.
When the outsole gets clogged with clay, the player will lose traction.
To avoid these issues, choose a pair of shoes that feature:
- A herringbone-style tread should cover the entire length of the shoe. It will release the clay naturally whenever the shoe twists or exes and ensure consistent slides.
- A woven or tightly-knit upper to prevent clay and dust from entering the top of the shoe while playing.
- Stability during side-to-side or lateral movements.
- Remember that shoes designed for clay courts aren’t suitable to play on hard courts as they won’t be as durable or comfortable.
#3. Grass Court
Tennis shoes designed for grass courts provide good traction on the court and have shallower treads to prevent dents in the grass.
Like clay court shoes, grass court shoes are also lightweight and typically constructed from mesh and synthetic materials.
It must be noted that grass court is the least common surface you will get to play on because it is expensive to maintain in the long haul and more challenging.
The grass is also slick, but it is the fastest of all court surfaces.
The ball will frequently skid on the grass surface and will bounce low.
You will find grass courts to be more forgiving and less durable. But with your tennis shoes, traction will remain a top priority.
Therefore, the design features you should look for in grass court tennis shoes include:
- The outsole should feature subtle bumps or pimples covering the entire length of the outsole for maximum traction.
- Stability is critical to ensure that you don’t slip on the surface.
#4. All Court
Many tennis footwear brands offer all-court tennis shoes, which incorporate most aspects of the shoe features discussed above.
If you aren’t planning to play professionally or play on a particular court, go for all-court tennis shoes.
Each court surface offers different playing characteristics and challenge the player uniquely to achieve proper traction and perform their best without the risk of injury.
Generally, all court shoes feature an outsole that caters to the varying demands of all court surfaces.
Since the hard court is the most common of all surfaces, these shoes are ideal for hard courts, and you can occasionally play on grass and clay courts as well.
For instance, a common feature of all court tennis shoes is their herringbone style treat that, although it doesn’t perform as well as an original herringbone tread designed for clay, is sufficient.
Types of Tennis Shoes Based on Materials
You will find tennis shoes in various materials, which suit different court surfaces.
Listed below are some common tennis shoe materials:
Canvas shoes are generally lightweight and highly breathable.
These, however, don’t always offer the best integral support. If you don’t need additional support, go for canvas shoes.
These are an ideal option for playing tennis in warm weather.
People having high arches or any other foot issues will probably prefer tennis shoes made of EVA.
They are not just lightweight but also very supportive. EVA tennis shoes have better cushioning than other lightweight synthetic shoes, but they quickly deteriorate.
Leather tennis shoes are often the most expensive ones in the market. The best thing about leather tennis shoes is they are highly supportive and keep your feet dry.
But they aren’t as breathable as lightweight shoes.
Vinyl shoes are cheaper than leather shoes with more or less the same benefits.
Polyurethane shoes are the heaviest of all types of tennis shoes we have mentioned here. However, they are pretty stable and durable too.
Polyurethane material is generally used for the shoe sole and happens to be very durable.
Their only drawback is the bulky weight.
#1. Lightweight Tennis Shoes
Lightweight tennis shoes are also called Matchday tennis shoes. These are light, breathable, and very responsive.
Lightweight shoes are made through advanced technology in which every possible method is tried to cut on excess weight.
Also known as Matchday tennis shoes, Lightweight tennis shoes are breathable, responsive, and light.
This is why these shoes offer a dynamic and low-to-the-court playing experience, and you can move smoothly in all directions.
Though lightweight tennis shoes are reinforced in some specific areas to ensure better support, they aren’t ideal for everyday use on the court.
That’s because they aren’t the best day-to-day shoes. Players prefer to use it to enhance speed and movement.
#2. Hybrid Tennis Shoes
Hybrid tennis shoes don’t naturally fall into any tennis shoe categories previously discussed. They comprise the best of both worlds.
These shoes tend to be lighter and durable as well. You can consider them all-around tennis shoes.
It is a relatively new category, representing the technological advancement sports shoe making has undergone recently as material development and testing are concerned.
Hybrid tennis shoes are also better-performing value shoes.
They are made with slight modifications on the material and designing part to mimic the most popular lightweight and durability models while remaining in the budget shoe category.
You can buy hybrid tennis shoes for less than $100.
Types of Tennis Shoes
Let’s have a look at the different types of tennis shoe:
#1. Lace-up Shoes
Laces are undoubtedly an integral part of any tennis shoe. These help the player keep the shoe tighter and fitter enough to play comfortably. Players tie laces in several ways.
People usually prefer lace-up shows as these are unisex and allow the player freedom to move.
#2. Synthetic Shoes
Traditionally, all sports shoes were built with cotton, given the exertion caused while running. Lately, technological advancements have made synthetic shoes more breathable.
Synthetic fabrics come in many bright colors.
#3. Thick Soled Shoes
Tennis involves different movements, from running forward to moving laterally and jumping.
Therefore, the shoe sole must withstand the shock and prevent the player from getting injured. This can be achieved with thick-soled shoes.
These shoes feature stiffer soles that ensure maximum shock absorption. However, a thicker sole makes the shoe a little heavier.
#4. Outsole Shoes
Shoes having wider soles are outsole shoes. These allow superior grip and have a better cushioning effect. Outsole shoes are lighter and reduce injury risk significantly.
Tennis Shoes Categories
There are only a handful of tennis shoe categories that players usually look out for when purchasing a new pair.
Most of the tennis shoe designs available on the market cater to the critical demands of the sport.
However, some tennis shoes incorporate more than one characteristic that players usually desire. This includes speed and performance improvement.
The shoes’ weight impacts both, and that’s why there are two main categories of tennis shoes- lightweight and heavy.
Given the evolution of tennis’s physicality over the past few decades, players’ demands have also evolved compared to previous years.
As the game has become a lot more aggressive and competitive, so have the players.
Therefore, players want shoes that help them get an edge over their opponents by moving around the court faster. This demand has made lightweight shoes more popular.
However, it is essential to note that the shoes’ weight varies in different sizes.
That’s why no hard and fast rule can be applied regarding the weight of a shoe.
When the same size is compared across different shoes, it becomes apparent which model skew in this direction.
Every tennis player has different demands, preferences, and foot shapes.
This is why there cannot be a one-size-fits-all formula to determine which type of tennis shoes is the best for a particular player.
There are so many factors that play a decisive role in your tennis shoe selection, it is hard to focus on a single factor.
You need to assess your play level and style, the type of court, foot size and shape, and personal requirements related to movement and performance.
Another important aspect is the budget.
If you are a beginner player, go for hybrid shoes as they will be cheaper.
But if you are a professional player, leather shoes would be a better option.
It is equally important to learn about different tennis shoes to ensure that you invest in the correct type of shoes and perform your best on the court.