We spent over 45 hours researching and testing more than 15 different types and brands of tennis shoes and found that proper fit, lightweight feel, and performance were the most important factors for consumers who were shopping for tennis shoes. adidas Men’s Barricade Court 3 Tennis Shoe scored high marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. These stylish and high performing tennis shoes are perfect for tennis playing. The breathable mesh upper provides plenty of airflow to your feet. The outsole is super durable thanks to the Adiwear design and quality. The Cloudfoam midsole offers exceptional cushioning and step-in comfort that lasts through the whole game.
Tennis Shoe Buying Guide
When it comes to choosing the right pair of tennis shoes there are several things that will factor in to the right shoe for your needs. We have listed these factors below so you can determine your specific needs before you start shopping.
- Playing Style – How you play tennis determines how you move on the court There are two basic play styles :
1. Baseline – a baseline player will spend the majority of the game time at the back of the tennis court. This means they make a lot of side-to-side or lateral movements. If you spend most of your time at the back moving back and forth look for shoes that have extra cushioning, durable soles, and plenty of extra lateral support as well.
2. Serve-and-volley – Serve-and-volley players like to approach the net frequently which is a very different playing style from baseline players. This type of player needs shoes that have a reinforced sole as well as toecap since a lot of your playtime you’ll be on your toes. Volleying will often cause the player to drag their feet so extra durability in these key areas will ensure the shoes last longer. Look for shoes that have extra arch support as well since you’ll be playing on the balls of your feet frequently.
- Court Surface – Some tennis courts will be harder on your shoes than others will. Concrete courts wear shoes out the fastest of all the different types of court. The reason for this is the amount of friction that is caused when you drag your feet across the ground. If the courts you play on most often are made of concrete look for shoes that have a reinforced upper, super durable outsole and plenty of strength in the overall construction that will provide lateral movement support as well as stability. If you are playing on softer courts like clay and grass you’ll need to look for a completely different shoe. Clay and grass courts can be slippery so look for shoes that offer a lot of traction but you want to make sure that the outsole will not damage the court.
Common Tennis Shoe Materials
Tennis shoes are made from a variety of materials. The different areas of the tennis shoe will feature different materials as well that will factor in traction, wear, durability, comfort, and other factors. Below we have listed the different parts of the tennis shoe along with some information about each part so you understand where to look for reinforcement and features during your browsing.
- Sockliner/Mid-sole – This part of the tennis shoe lines the bed of the shoe and is responsible for the comfort and cushioning your shoe provides. The midsole can vary in thickness. Mid-soles are most often made of PU or EVA and are flexible, lightweight, and durable.
- Upper – The upper is the part of your shoe that covers the entire foot. A lot of tennis shoe uppers are made from durable materials like leather or synthetic leather. Many feature mesh in the upper which provides ventilation that will keep your feet cooler and a lighter weight shoe. Uppers will sometimes combine materials for more durability by adding synthetic materials in the wear-prone areas and mesh in the areas that don’t come in contact with the court.
- Outsole – The bottom of your tennis shoe is known as the outsole. The outsole of the shoe is responsible for stability, traction, and support. This is also the part of the shoe that will wear the fastest since it is in contact with the ground constantly. Look for a durable outsole that offers a traction pad that suits the court you are playing on. Don’t forget to factor in your foot type so you know whether to look for additional heel reinforcement or arch support.
- Toecap – The toecap of the tennis shoe is located above the toes and needs to be reinforced to allow protection for medial foot and toe drag.
- Toeguard – toe guards are extra rubber that is added to the front of the tennis shoe for extra protection against toe dragging.
- Collar & Heel Counter – The collar of the tennis shoe is the top part of the shoe’s upper that is above the heel counter. The heel counter is an insert made of plastic or some other kind of composite insert that is fitted into the heel cup of the shoe. It reinforces the heel as a whole and provides additional support.
- Vamp – The vamp of your tennis shoe is the part of the toe area that bends when you stand on your toes. It is often perforated to provide extra breathability. You want the vamp to be flexible.
There are several features you want to look for when you are looking for a high quality tennis shoe. We have listed these factors below.
- Cushioning – Look for shoes that provide ample cushioning. You don’t want that cushioning to be so soft that it provides no support. The two most often used materials for cushioning include EVA and polyurethane. Of the two, poly is heavier and more durable. EVA is less stable than poly but it is lighter in weight.
- Lateral support – Tennis involves sudden and rapid direction changes throughout the game. Make sure you choose tennis shoes that offer lateral support. Holding the foot steady is very important in preventing foot and ankle injuries. Another good idea is to purchase shoes that have a special lacing system that offers increased lateral support as well. Sturdy uppers and wide outsoles are good if you’re larger built. If you have weaker ankles look for high-tops or wear ankle braces in addition to the shoes.
- Soles – The factor to look at when choosing the right outsoles is the court you will be playing on. If you play on hard courts a lot look for the common herringbone pattern. If you are playing on grass courts you can look for shoes that have the tiny rubber studs that prevent slipping. If you are playing on indoor carpeted courts look for smooth soles so your feet don’t grab which can cause all kinds of ankle and knee injuries. If you play on clay courts you can choose shoes that are specially designed for clay courts. This will enable you to slide the way you need to when playing.
- Comfort – Comfort is very important when it comes to tennis shoes. If your shoes are uncomfortable it can affect your game especially if there is significant discomfort involved in wearing them. Tongue padding prevents the laces from biting into your foot. To break in your tennis shoes properly, wear them around the house for a few days before you play a game in them. This will also help you identify any problem areas your shoes have.
- Size – Think about three things in regards to size: width, height, and length. If you choose tennis shoes that are too big you will get blisters. If they are too small they will crush your toes and hurt your feet and could cause permanent damage. Periodically measure your feet as you get older since your feet can change.
- Tennis shoes only – Do not be tempted to purchase a shoe that is not designed for tennis. No matter how good they look they do not offer the right support and features. Using a non-tennis shoe can result in injury.
- Warranty & Guarantee – Many tennis players that play frequently will go through tennis shoes about every 6 months. Warranties and guarantees protect you from going through shoes too fast due to faulty construction. You don’t want to have to worry about tiptoeing around trying not to mess up your shoes. Look for shoes that have a good warranty and guarantee and register the purchase if required so you do not void the warranty.
- Length of break in time – New tennis shoes need breaking in time. Take a look at the customer comments to see if others who have purchased the shoes you are interested in mention the time it took to break the shoes in properly. Wearing shoes right out of the box and then playing a game can result in injury.
- Style and looks – Tennis shoes look great for the most part and can range from simple styles that are all one color to brightly colored ones with accent colors. Take a look at what the pros are wearing if you want to get an idea of the styles that are popular on the court. If you want to look your best on the court make sure your tennis shoes match your tennis clothing, just don’t make looks the only factor you consider when choosing a pair.
There is a lot more to choosing the right pair of tennis shoes than just finding some that fit and that look good. Taking playing style, court type, and foot type into consideration are major factors in ensuring you choose a pair of tennis shoes that will help support your feet, ankles, and knees properly while you are on the court. With all these things to consider you could be feeling a little overwhelmed.
We have taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation for you by providing you with reviews of the three top-rated tennis shoes on the market. All three of these selections come from popular brands in the sporting goods industry that are known for quality shoes.
Once you have determined your playing style and foot type, it will be much simpler to narrow down your choices and choose the shoes that will work for your specific needs. If none of the three selections we have reviewed work for you, use the information you have learned in the buying guide to sort through the different styles, types, and brands.
This information that you have at your disposal from this guide will enable you to understand what each shoe you are interested in offers. This knowledge will allow you to make a confident decision on the right shoe for your needs.