Best Tennis Shoes Guide – Men & Women
Picking the best tennis shoes to suit your needs will require a close examination of your foot type, foot size, play style, type of court you play on, and of course, preference in the types of materials and colors you want. Tennis shoes are designed to hold up to the rigors of the court, factoring in things such as quick stops and starts, short sprints, lateral movements, lunging, jumping, and fast pivots. As a result, tennis shoes will have extra lateral support, heavier and stiffer materials, more cushioning, shock absorption, reinforced soles, and reinforced toecaps. Besides comparing the best tennis shoes (for men and women) out there, we’ll also talk a little about all of the features of tennis shoes and what they do. Ultimately, you’ll want to find a pair of shoes that provide a good level of speed, agility, and endurance tailored to how you play. So, let’s start!
Tips On Selecting the Best Tennis Shoes For You
What Type of Foot Do You Have?
Your foot type influences the way you walk and stand, and can affect everything from the way shoes fit, feel, and perform. There are three main types of feet: pronated, ideal, and supinated. The best way to find out what type of feet you have is do either one of two things:
- Observe the wear on your shoes – Wear on the inside of the sole and around the ball of your foot means you have a pronated foot. Wear on the outside of the heel means you have a supinated foot. A neutral foot type will have even amounts of wear throughout.
- Perform a wet test – To perform a wet test, you’ll want to dip your foot in water and place it on a visible surface (e.g. brown paper bag, concrete) and check out how much inner arch appears.
A large open area means you have a supinated foot, or a high arch. Supinated feet tend to roll outwards since there isn’t much arch to provide inward stability, and supinated feet tend to wear shoes out faster than other types. The best tennis shoes for this type of feet is a pair with lots of durability (especially the sole), cushioning, and moderate to high arch support.
A complete impression of your foot means you have a pronated foot, or a low arch. Those with pronated feet have the tendency to roll their feet inward, which has the most potential for causing injury. Those with pronated feet should look for shoes that provide lots of stability and support, while having moderate to low arch support.
If there is a moderate space that’s visible in the arch area, this means you have an ideal foot, or neutral arch. Lucky for you, almost all types of shoes will meet your needs on the court, it’s just a matter of choosing whether you’d like lots of durability, flexibility, cushioning, stability, or a balance of all.
How Does the Shoe Fit?
This is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll want to find a pair of shoes that fit comfortably, without being too snug or having too much room. Running in the wrong sized shoes can lead to discomfort, pain, joint problems, and fatigue, and that’s not something to take lightly in such a demanding sport like tennis. So, find out if the shoes you are interested in run true to size, or if they are smaller or larger than normal. The best tennis shoes for you should fit true to size, with enough width and enough arch support for your type of foot.
Your play style affects the way you move around the court, and there are two general play styles: baseline and serve-and-volley. The best tennis shoes for you will be ones that take into account your style of play.
Baseline players spend the most time at the back of the court, which requires lots of lateral (side-to-side) movement. As a result, tennis shoes with extra lateral support, added cushioning, and a durable sole are highly recommended.
Serve-and-volley players like to approach the net often, and this play style is completely different from baseline players. Serve-volley-players need a pair of shoes with reinforced toecaps and soles, since a lot of play at the net requires you to be on your toes. Volleys often cause players to drag their feet along the ground as well, which is where the added durability in these areas help. You can also look for shoes with additional arch support since you’ll be on your toes often.
Court Surface Type
On to court surface type. It should be pretty clear that some court surfaces can wear out your shoes faster than others. Most notably, concrete tennis courts wear out shoes the fastest. This is due to the high amount of friction that results when your shoes drag along the ground. So, when playing on concrete, it’s best to find shoes that have a durable outsole, a reinforced upper, and an all-around sturdy construction to provide stability and support for lateral movement. Playing on softer courts like grass and clay will call for a different kind of shoe entirely. The best tennis shoes for these types of courts are ones that provide good traction–since grass and clay make players prone to slipping and sliding–while also having a non-marking outsole that doesn’t damage the court.
Shoes are made out of all kinds of materials and different areas of a shoe are designed individually to factor in things such as wear and traction. To find the best tennis shoes for you, you’ll want to find a pair that has features that focus on your type of play. Things such as reinforced uppers and extra cushioning would suit baseline players, while reinforced toecaps and soles can benefit players who like to volley. It all depends on what you want in a shoe.
The different parts of a shoe include:
- Midsole / Sockliner – The midsole/sockliner lines the bed of your shoe and provides cushioning and comfort. Depending on your foot type and preferences, the thickness of the midsole can vary. Most midsoles are made of either EVA or PU, which are both lightweight, flexible, and durable materials.
- Upper – The upper refers to the area that wraps over the entire foot, and is what distinguishes your shoes from sandals. Most uppers are made out of a highly durable material, such as leather or synthetic. Some also use mesh to reduce weight, stay cool, and provide for a breathable material. An upper can also be a combination of different materials, such as synthetic to cover the areas that wear the most while mesh covers places that don’t contact the ground to provide for cooling and breathability.
- Vamp – The vamp refers to the part of the toe box area that bends if you were to stand on your toes. Often perforated for breathability, the vamp must remain flexible.
- Outsole – The outsole is specifically the bottom of the shoe, which provides traction, stability, and support. This is probably the part of the shoe that wears the fastest, since it’s in constant contact with the ground, producing friction every time. With that in mind, you’ll want to look for an extremely durable outsole while also looking for a traction pad that will suit the type of court you play on. Also, remember that it’s important to consider your foot type and decide whether or not you need additional arch support or a reinforced heel.
- Heel Counter / Collar – The heel counter is a plastic or composite insert that fits into the heel cup of a shoe, reinforcing it as a whole and increasing support. The collar is the top part of the upper above the heel counter, which should fit comfortably without rubbing too high on your foot.
- Toecap – The toecap is located right above the toes and should be reinforced to provide toe drag and medial foot drag protection.
- Toeguard – A toeguard is extra rubber material added to the front of a shoe for additional toe drag protection.
Best Tennis Shoes For Men
For the best tennis shoes for men, we’ve gathered together shoes from Adidas, Asics, Babolat, New Balance, and Nike. You’ve probably heard of these brands before since they’ve been dominating the market of tennis shoes and are constantly improving on their previous models with newer technology that helps you play harder, better, faster, and stronger.
In our opinion, the best tennis shoes for men from Adidas includes the newer Barricade 2016 (breathable ballistic mesh upper wrapped in a shoe that provides incredible function), the minimalistic Barricade Club (with everything you’d need in a tennis shoe), and the Adizero Ubersonic. Many of these shoes feature technology such as ADIPRENE+ in the forefoot for propulsion and efficiency, ADIPRENE under the heel for extra cushioning, ADITUFF rubber outsole for high-wear durability, and the TORSION SYSTEM for energy return in the forefoot. Find all their men’s tennis shoes here.
Asics’ best tennis shoes for men are undoubtedly its line of Gel Resolution and Gel Solution Speed shoes, although their Challenger line is great as well. The Gel Resolution 6, Gel Solution Speed 2, and Gel Challenger 10 all provide lots of breathable space, lateral support, and stability in a low profile shoe, with a plethora of added features: memory foam in the heel and collar to fit with your foot, GEL cushioning, Solyte midsole, and reinforced toe caps to name a few. Its Gel Solution Speed 2 even won Tennis Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award for “Best Game Day Shoe”. You can view all their men’s tennis shoes here.
New Balance is also a top contender for making the best tennis shoes for men, and we’ve picked the MC 806, MC 1006v1, and MC 786v2 for our guide. The MC 1005 is a good choice if you prefer stability (S-Curve stability and ISS Support System), while the 786 and 696 both provide maximum cushioning for hard-hitters with their Abzorb technology midsoles. All these picks also feature an NDurance outsole, which is a long lasting outsole that provides great traction on the court. You can find more of their men’s tennis shoes here.
Of course, we haven’t forgot about Nike’s men’s tennis shoes. The only reason it’s last on our list is because we are listing brands in alphabetical order, if you hadn’t noticed. But anyways, besides being stylish, Nike’s tennis shoes also provide everything you’d need to perform your best on the court, such as advanced cushioning, breathable uppers, medial and lateral support, and grippy outsoles that stand the test of time. We’ll be comparing the Air Vapor Advantage, Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour, and the Vapor Court below, but for the most part, any of these shoes would be a good choice. You can view all their men’s tennis shoes here.
Best Tennis Shoes for Women
Now we’ll be going over the best tennis shoes for women. In our opinion, the best shoes available are also from the most notable brands such as Adidas, Asics, New Balance, Nike, and Wilson. Whereas we included Babolat for the best tennis shoes for men, we included Wilson in the best tennis shoes for women just because it feels like a better fit.
We’ve included the Adizero Ubersonic 2, the Barricade Club, and the ASMC Barricade in our list of Adidas’ best tennis shoes for women. All of these shoes include ADIPRENE for extra cushioning and an ADIWEAR/ADITUFF outsole for long lasting durability and traction. All of these shoes are also aesthetic, light weight, and breathable. Of course, you can also view their full selection of women’s tennis shoes here.
If you scroll on up to the men’s Asics section, you’ll notice that we’ve included the same exact shoes for women’s as well, just in different colorways. And there’s a reason for that too, which is that the Gel Resolution 5, Gel Resolution 6, and Gel Solution Speed 2 are Asics’ most popular tennis shoes, allowing for maximum performance on the court in sleek, low-profile models. With features such as memory foam, cool mesh, GEL cushioning, Solyte midsoles, and reinforced toe caps, it’s no wonder that the Gel Solution Speed 2 won Tennis Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award for “Best Game Day Shoe. Here you can view all of Asics best tennis shoes for women.
The WC 806, WC 786v2, and WC 696 all made our list of best tennis shoes for women, mainly because they are lightweight, low-profile, ultra-breathable, sturdily built (super long lasting NDurance outsole), and offers lots of lateral support, stability, and cushioning. For all other New Balance women’s tennis shoes, you can find them here.
When you think of Nike, chances are you’re thinking of athleticism. And Nike doesn’t disappoint with its line of best tennis shoes for women. The Vapor Court, Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour, and Zoom Cage 2 remains Nike’s favorites. Why? Possibly because of their tough breathable uppers, Phylon insoles, amazing lateral support, and reinforced toecaps on their rubber outsoles with XDR compound in high wear areas. But, then again, that’s just a guess. You can see more of Nike’s tennis shoes for women here.