Putting your Best Foot Forward: Finding the Right Shoes for Your Best Tennis Game

For your best tennis game, choose the right shoes based on the court you’re playing on, your foot, and your body type.

New to tennis and not sure where to begin? Let’s start with the basics: finding the perfect shoe. Now you may think that any old athletic shoe will do, but after years on the court, I can state with authority that it all begins with the shoes. Not only will the right shoe help your overall game, but it can also prevent certain injuries, and positively affect your playing style based on the type of court. You must think of your tennis shoes as equipment, not just apparel.

Let’s first consider the type of court – is it clay, grass, or a hard court? Each requires a different type of shoe. On grass you need excellent grip, flat soles (so as to not damage the court), and a flexible upper for unrestricted movement. On clay courts, you need extra lateral support and stability, since they offer a more powerful swinging opportunity. They must also offer a great grip due to the dusty ground, a sturdy upper for more security, and a well-designed outsole that doesn’t trap the clay or damage the court. If playing on a hard court, extra cushioning throughout the shoe is necessary to soften the pounding your legs will take. You also need a tough upper for stability and a rugged outsole that can take the beating of a hard court.

Next, let’s look at your foot and the fit of a shoe. Most feet can be described in three types: pronated, supinated, and ideal. Which are you? In order to find out, take a look at any often-used shoe in your closet to see how the tread has been worn down. If you find most of the wearing is on the inside of the sole and around the ball of your foot, then you are pronated. If most of the wear is around the outside of the heel, then you are supinated. If the wear seems even, then you have an ideal foot. It is important to know the difference in order to pick a shoe that will assist your body type. Ideal foot types can basically choose any tennis shoe. Supinated foot types need to find a shoe with an extra durable sole, as they tend to wear out their shoes quickly. Pronated foot types need extra support and cushion, as they are the most liable to sustain an injury.

Lastly, we need to look at your body type. A larger body type needs more stability and cushioning than that of a smaller body type. If a heavier body type uses a lightweight shoe, the soles will wear down more quickly, which can lead to injury and will certainly lead to purchasing shoes at a higher rate. Whether you are playing for fun or are in serious training mode, you must consider your body size when purchasing a tennis shoe.

All tennis shoes are designed with these things in mind, which is why any old “athletic” shoe won’t do. Running shoes are designed for the forward pattern a runner makes, while a well-designed tennis shoe is created to handle the constant pivoting, jumping, and multi-directional movements a tennis player makes. Of course you also want to look your best, which is why there are many options in the tennis shoe market to choose from.  Just be sure to keep these nuggets of advice in mind when shoe shopping so that you can enjoy your time on the court and play the best game possible.