How to Choose Tennis Shoes

Welcome to the ultimate tennis shoes guide by tennisnuts. As well as helping you decide on the right tennis shoe for you, this guide also aims to answer some the most frequently asked questions, and clear up some common misconceptions about the types of shoes suitable for tennis.

How do I choose a tennis shoe?

The biggest factor when deciding which tennis shoe to go for is its outsole. Tennis footwear can be categorised by the type of surface the shoe is designed to perform on. Another important consideration is the trade-off between weight, stability and speed. Shoes which offer exceptional stability and durability are often heavier, however shoes which are lightweight have the advantage of speed, allowing players to reach the ball quicker.

The different tennis shoe outsoles:

All Court Tennis Shoes

All Court tennis shoes are the most versatile shoes. They provide excellent durability on hardcourt surfaces, and are by far the most popular type of tennis shoe. While they can also be used on other surfaces, we recommend considering the other specialist options below.

Carpet Court Tennis Shoes

With smooth soles, these shoes are designed to give you the right amount of grip on carpet courts. They cannot be worn on other surfaces as the soles will wear out quickly compared to All Court shoes.

Grass Court Tennis Shoes

The outsoles on Grass Court shoes have pimples which provide the optimal amount of grip required on real and artificial grass surfaces. These should not be used on any other surfaces as the pimples will wear out

Omni Court Tennis Shoes

Recommended for playing on both artificial grass and hard courts, Omni Court shoes feature an outsole which combine the advantages of Grass Court and All Court shoes.

Clay Court Tennis Shoes

With a full herringbone pattern, Clay Court shoes are the recommended option to effectively slide and manoeuvre around real and artificial clay surfaces. These may also be used on hard court surfaces.

Do you need special shoes for tennis?

Yes. Tennis shoes are the most important piece of kit alongside a players racket and strings. The construction of a tennis shoe not only equips you with the correct outsole (as explained above), but provides you with the all-important stability, durability and comfort required to play the game competitively and without risk of injury. At the very least we recommend an entry level tennis shoe, however more advanced models incorporate the latest performance technologies to give competitive players a significant advantage on court. Playing with general or running shoes is a bit like trying to play tennis on stilts.

What is the difference between tennis shoes and trainers?

Tennis shoes offer numerous advantages over casual trainers. The main difference (apart from the outsoles as we have discussed above), is that tennis shoes are designed to cope with and support the player during the dynamic movements they go through when moving across the court. Other types of shoes such as running shoes are constructed with a focus on forward movement and therefore will not be suitable for tennis. Tennis shoes take into account the way a tennis players foot moves so they are able to add the right support and comfort exactly where it is required e.g. improved ankle support, and extra heel cushioning. Other differences are more visible like the toe guard which helps protect the shoe from toe drag. Shoes without a toe guard may easily show signs of wear and tear after a few sessions on court.

It should be noted that some of the best tennis shoe brands also manufacture casual trainers and footwear for other sports, however you must choose from the tennis range. e.g. asics make some fantastic tennis shoes, but their casual trainers and running shoes will not have the features required for tennis.

How tight should tennis shoes be?

Tennis shoes should fit securely for you to take full advantage of their benefits such as stability and comfort, however ultimately it is a matter of preference. Many of our customers prefer a 'locked-in' fit which makes the shoe feel like a natural extension of their feet, while others prefer a bit of 'breathing room'. If you prefer the latter, we have picked out some of our widest fitting tennis shoes. You may wish to visit us at our store in London where we will be happy to help you find the perfect fitting tennis shoe.

What are the best shoes for playing tennis?

With so many leading tennis brands manufacturing performance footwear, tennis players are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing top of the range tennis shoes. Our leading footwear ranges include:

K-Swiss Defier

The 'go-to' tennis shoe of hundreds of die hard tennis players around the country. Selling for over 20 years with only minor refinements along the way, the Defier cements itself as a benchmark for durable tennis shoes with its premium build quality and timeless design.

adidas SoleCourt

Replacing the legendary Barricade range, the SoleCourt is adidas' new all-round shoe delivering excellent support, comfort and durability. With a snug fit and hugely popular Boost cushioning, the shoe continues on from where the Barricade left off.

Asics GEL-Resolution

Known for their highly detailed research and renowned GEL cushioning, footwear specialists Asics have created one of the most complete tennis shoes with the GEL-Resolution. Favoured for its balance of comfort, durability and support, the shoe is used on tour by many professionals including Gael Monfils and Johanna Konta.

Asics Solution Speed FF

Increasing in popularity, the Solution Speed FF is one of Asics' ligher models featuring FlyteFoam technology for more responsiveness and speed. The flexible material and comfort have made this a leading choice for club players as well as pros like David Goffin and Julia Goerges.

Babolat JET

The JET from Babolat was one of the earliest ranges which packed stability, durability, comfort and into a lightweight tennis shoe. Utilising years of expertise, Babolat have made refinements to the range in order to meet the demands of modern players. The variety of colour-ways have also contributed to the range taking off.

What are the most comfortable tennis shoes?

The most important factor determining the comfort of a tennis shoe is the quality of its midsole as its role is to absorb shock, enhance support and cushion your landings. A shoe without a suitable midsole can lead to discomfort in the foot as well as knees and other parts of the body.

The midsole of most tennis shoes feature a type of 'cushioning technology'. Some of the most renowned cushioning technologies include GEL™ by asics, Air Zoom by Nike, and Boost from adidas. The flagship models of each brand will have these included, and some may also have extra cushioning added in targeted areas like the heel.

Based on feedback we have received over the years, Asics shoes with GEL cushioning are consistently regarded as one of the most comfortable tennis shoes.

How do I make my tennis shoes more comfortable?

Tennis shoes can be made more comfortable by using a shock-absorbing insole which reduces stress on muscles, joints, and tendons. We also recommend carefully selecting a pair of cushioned tennis socks which not only provide you with extra cushioning but may also include features such as moisture wicking, improved breathability and better grip, all leading to a more comfortable experience on court.

If your shoes have been used extensively, the midsole may no longer be in a state to provide the level of comfort and support required for tennis and in this case a new pair of tennis shoes will be required.