Best Tennis Shoes
If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best tennis shoes are, then I recommend the ASICS Men’s Gel-Challenger as the best pair for men and the ASICS Women’s Gel-Dedicate as the best pair for women.
People often overlook a tennis shoe and pick any old pair of sneakers. By doing this, they put their feet and ankles at a high risk of injury. Please don’t be that guy!
To make sure injuries are kept at bay, I decided to hunt down the best shoes on the market. Not only will these reduce the risk of an injury, but they also provide your feet with enough cushioning and support to move more effectively around the court.
Here are the best tennis shoes in 2020:
- Asics Men’s Gel-Challenger
- Asics Women’s Gel-Dedicate
- Adidas Men’s Gamecourt
- Adidas Women’s Adizero Ubersonic
- New Balance Men’s Lav V1
Why You Need the Best Tennis Shoes
But the reason tennis is second for me behind ping pong is simple. For a long time, I didn’t have the right shoes. That made the experience unpleasant.
Your feet withstand a lot when playing tennis, no matter the surface. The running, jumping and exertion on your ankles and feet can be extreme. Even on soft grass courts, your feet can feel the abuse.
You wouldn’t drop 100+ pounds from your head to land on your feet, would you? After landing from a jump smash, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
It’s not like you can wear any old pair of sneakers or your summer flip flops, either. You need tennis shoes and ones that won’t wear out after a few matches.
What Makes Tennis Shoes Different?
So when it comes to tennis shoes here is a list of must-haves that we’ve prepared for you.
- Look for stability in the shoe. You’ll need this given all the side to side and cross-court covering and lunging you’ll be doing. And if you’re an old school serve and volleyer then maybe you’ll be throwing in a few dives at the net.
- Durability – Tennis is an impact game, especially on the soles of your feet. So you’re looking for a pair of shoes that has a durable outsole.
- Good heel support
- Cushioning and shock absorption
- Lightweight shoes are always good.
- Great traction. You’re doing an awful lot of shuttle runs in tennis and a vast amount of sprinting and turning. So you’re shoes need to provide you with the right level of traction to support these activities.
There’s also just a bit of etiquette to when it comes to tennis
- You want non-marking shoes as well. No-one wants to leave their footprints all over the court.
Support and Stability
Most shoes will give you support front and back, but tennis shoes should offer support in every direction. So if you trip, your ankles will be spared, supported by the shoes.
Tennis involves a lot of lateral movement. Running sideways is risky, and it’s easy to roll your ankle and suddenly be in agony. Therefore, lateral stability is vital in tennis shoes. You often get a synthetic overlay that holds together the upper part of the shoe. This synthetic material is there to keep the foot in place. As part of the midfoot, you will find plastic supports under the arch of your foot. These supports stop your foot twisting and turning and promote a higher level of stability in your heel. Finally, you have what is known as outriggers in your tennis shoes. These outriggers make the front section of your sole wider, this is there to give you extra balance.
Tennis shoes come with sturdy rubber outsoles and reinforced toe caps. This is due to both the harsh court surfaces and the strenuous nature of the game. Tennis takes a lot out of you and your footwear. So, your tennis shoes need to be durable to deal with these conditions.
What you’re looking for are tennis shoes with an outsole durability warranty. This warranty is a sign that the shoe can take a pounding on the court of play. The warranty allows you to replace your tennis shoes within six months if the outsole gets damaged during regular use.
Apart from stability features, tennis shoes offer support in the heel. This is to keep your foot from rotating when it should be planted firmly on the ground. Collar padding in varying degrees of thickness gives extra protection to the ankle.
Cushioning on a hard court is vital. Have you ever jumped down from a height too hard and felt the pain radiate through your entire body? That’s what playing on a hard court is like.
The cushioned soles keep your feet safe from the slam and strain. The harder the court, the more cushioning you need.
Tennis shoes have more or less cushioning, depending on the court they’re intended for. Hard court shoes will have tons. Meanwhile, your regular shoes may have little to no cushioning.
Weight comes down to the type of shoe that you buy. Simply put, there are two types of shoe. Speed tennis shoes and stability tennis shoes. The speed tennis shoes are lighter, and construction is on the minimalistic side. You also don’t get the same protection as you do with a stability shoe. Whereas, the stability shoes will have all the features we’ve talked about in this article. Personally, that’s where I would spend my money.
Tennis is played on a variety of courts. The most common of these are:
The support and traction for shoes intended for each of these courts are different.
Hard Court Shoes
Most hard court shoes have a herring-bone tread pattern, which is like a sharp zig-zag line.
This is a great pattern for traction, but hard courts don’t need it as much as a clay court would. Hard courts are abrasive and scratchy in themselves, so you’re unlikely to slip.
The tread pattern on these soles is usually big rather than linear. You get some traction in every direction, but nothing that’ll hold you back.
Clay Court Shoes
If you haven’t played on clay yet, it’s great fun. The sliding you see the pros do looks awesome, but it’s part of the game. For this to happen, you need the correct shoes.
Ones without a grip, and you’ll slide on forever, without being able to get traction to move across the court. Ones with too strong a grip, and you won’t be able to use the clay surface to slide into the shots.
Clay court shoes have a herring-bone tread pattern, like hard court shoes. However, the pattern is narrower on clay court shoes.
This pattern is excellent at gripping the court, and the grooves and indents are narrow. When your foot scrapes along the court, there’s a limited area on the shoe that can slip. The ridges catch, keeping your feet stable as you run, gripping the surface.
The pattern is also horizontally linear. This gives you great back-and-forth motion traction.
Grass Court Shoes
Grass courts tend to be outside, so although they’re soft and spongy most of the time, they can get slippery due to moisture in the air in the summer and from rain.
These shoes have pimpled soles to give you as much traction as possible when you’re playing. This works by giving the soles a surface that doesn’t work well for sliding. The gaps between the pimples minimize the ability for the shoes to get caught on the grass slippery surface.
The Five Best Tennis Shoes
Now you know what goes into tennis shoes—cushioning, traction and support—you know what to look for when buying.
So you don’t have to go searching for shoes, I’ve compiled a list of the best, and I’ll let you know what surface type they’re fit for.
This ASICS Gel-Challenger pair don’t appear to be marketed for any tennis surface in particular. However, the enhanced cushioning in them suggests they’re great for hard courts.
ASICS are well-known to make tennis shoes for men that reduce shock and allow multi-directional movement. This pair is no different and provides the support you need for getting across the court.
Despite being light, the shoes are durable. Perfect, in my opinion, for the hard court. They should keep pain at bay as you run, jump and sweat your way to victory.
Speaking of sweat, the shoes have a moisture management system. What this does isn’t mention, but my experience tells me it’s to wick moisture away from your socks and feet, and deep into the shoe. That’ll keep athletes’ feet away.
If you’re worried this moisture might make your shoes start to smell, the sock liner (interior cushioned part of the shoe) is removable. So, it’s both easy to wash and replace if you need to put a new insole in.
These shoes are available in 8 color varieties and start at size 6, going up to a 15.
- Rear and forefoot gel cushioning system.
- Support in every direction.
- Light shoes for easy movement.
- Moisture management system.
- No arch support.
Here’s another cushioned shoe from ASICS. They’re a lot like the last pair I reviewed, but for women and without the removable sock liner. They also don’t have the moisture control feature, but they’re breathable. That should help with the sweating element.
The soles of these have a pattern suited for hard and clay courts. The cushioning is there to support the hard court players, while still being light on your feet. Also, the inside is molded and foamy for great support.
I’ve picked out this pair for how well they should reduce shock while offering all-around comfort and support for every movement. They should make you worry less about the pressure on your feet and ankles.
These shoes are available in sizes 5 to 12 and five colors:
- Cotton candy/peacoat.
- White/laser pink.
- Sour yuzu (yellow)/white.
- Available in multiple pleasant colors.
- Gel cushioning technology.
- Support in every direction.
- Padded tongue and collar.
- Toe box may be a little bit too wide for most women.
Adidas is the go-to brand for many tennis players, and this pair is of a high-quality suited for clay and hard surfaces. The soles are more geared towards clay courts, but they’ll work for hard courts, too. The cushioning is certainly fit for it, with a cloud-like foam midsole.
A standout feature of these shoes is the exterior mesh around the wide toe area. This makes the shoes extra breathable, keeping you safe from clammy athletes’ feet. Your feet do a lot of work during tennis, so this could be great for you if you’re prone to sweating.
You’re not only safe from sweat, but you’re also supported. The shoes offer support in all directions, for every move. They hug your foot tightly—so long as your feet are wide. Unlike the last two pairs of shoes, these are made for a wide fit.
All of this is encapsulated in a durable shoe that should withstand the harshest of games. The rubber soles will take the brunt of your movement and stay strong.
Rubber is flexible, so it’s unlikely to tear or shred. It’s also bouncy, giving you an edge if you have to jump for the ball.
These shoes are available in sizes 6.5–16 and three colors:
- White/matte, silver/black.
- Black/white/shock red.
- Breathable, helping keep athlete’s foot at bay.
- Support in all directions.
- Great cushioning for hard and clay courts.
- Available in muted but pleasant colors.
- The mesh part of the shoes isn’t as durable as the rest.
This is the only pair of shoes to specifically state what court they’re fit for. The soles look right for hard and clay surfaces, but they’re advertised for all court types. This could be great if you’re a versatile player.
These shoes are made snug and specifically for women, to offer support on the court. They’re stable but light for easy movement as you play.
Something the shoes don’t boast much about is cushioning, but I’d venture a guess that there’s a medium-level of support. If they’re all-court shoes, they’ll need something to cater across the board; not too rigid but not too flexible.
The shoes come in seven different color choices, and the sizes are between 5 and 11.5.
- All-court shoes.
- Come in several eye-catching colors.
- Breathable with an exterior mesh.
- Some customers comment on how the sizes run large.
New Balance’s Lav V1 are made for hard courts with excellent comfort and convenience.
The shoes feature ortholite inserts, which maximize arch support and help relieve pain. They’re also padded, which adds to your comfort and makes them perfect for their hard court intent.
The thick rubber soles are also fantastic for the hard court. It’s a ton of buffer between you and the ground and should help absorb shock as you play. These soles also have a dynamic tread pattern, which adds to the visuals and your traction on the court.
Breathable mesh encompasses almost the entire shoe, keeping sweaty feet and odors at bay, which is excellent for comfort.
The synthetic mesh material also helps keep the shoes light, so they shouldn’t hinder your movement around the court.
These shoes are available in sizes 5–15, with wide options available.
- Breathable mesh uppers.
- Thick soles to absorb shock.
- Ortholite inserts.
- Some customers found the wide sizes still aren’t wide enough.
Which Shoes Serve Best?
For me, the number one shoes are the ASICS Men’s Gel-Challenger, for a variety of reasons. One is that I love how the shoes have a removable sock liner. I’ve always wanted to clean the inner and exterior of the shoes separately.
As for tennis-specifics, they may not be the best shoes for grass or clay courts, but for hard courts, they seal the deal for me. The cushioning and shock reduction are incredible. Keeping your feet surrounded by comfort can be a big part of keeping the pain away.
For the ladies, the ASICS Women’s Gel-Dedicate female version is equally great. If you want the support and choice of colors but prefer a female style of shoe, they’re a great choice.