Ultimate Tennis Shoes Buying Guide: What Should I Get?

Tennis Shoes – there's loads to choose from, what are the key things to look for when choosing?

Which Tennis Shoe to choose?

We’ve put together a key summarised and more detailed list for you to help with your decision. We’ve also detailed aspects that you may not have considered when buying a good pair of tennis shoes that’s right for you and how you can use this guide to find the right product on our site.

Key Factors to consider are the following:
- Shoe Support
- Comfort & Fitting
- Playing Surface
- Weight
- Player Level
- Shoe Durability
- Looks

Different Tennis Shoes

1. Shoe Support

So often, Tennis Shoes are treated as an after thought to Rackets, but choosing shoes with the right support for your playing style is SO important.

Why you ask? Just look around at the number of players with knee or hip injuries. You MUST have shoes that can really absorb your running around the court if you want to avoid injury. These injuries are typically caused by either bad technique or poor footwear, so please don’t cut corners when choosing the right Tennis Shoes. You need shoes with good cushioning and shoe structural strength. Go for a respected Tennis or Shoes brand that really know what they're doing.

On our product pages you’ll see we’ve given a rating for every Tennis Shoe to enable you to easily assess how good the shoe is in this area! Take full use of it, no other retailer out there offers this level of help.

A number of Tennis shoes will also make comment on certain shoe support technology, such as graphite plates and power cushion shock absorbers. These are usually good clues that the shoes have been properly developed to support the bodyweight of a player when moving and change direction at fast pace.

2. Shoe Fitting & Comfort 

Who hates playing with a new pair of shoes and within an hour you’ve got foot blisters? We’ve all been there and it’s just limiting to our abilities to enjoy Tennis and play to our best! Secondly, a good fitting pair will help reduce the risk of rolling your ankles and causing injury when really pushing yourself on the court.

Fit & Comfort are technically 2 aspects but effectively they cover the same thing. Look out on our shoe product pages for “Shoe Size Length Fit” and “Shoe Size Width Fit”, different brands/manufacturers make their shoes in different ways, and really annoyingly you’ll find a size UK7 with an Adidas shoe is not the same as a UK7 Babolat shoe, so keep a close eye for our comments in the product pages for this. This is particularly important for players with narrow/wider feet than the average person.

You’ll also want to note almost all Tennis shoes are made to be ergonomic or “ergoshape”, this is intended for shoe stability when playing and particularly providing also flexibility in the toe area. How does this help? Simple – it enables explosive movement when moving forwards and backwards.

On our product pages also look out for the “Designed For” shown in our specifications section, this will sometimes say “Comfort”. If you see this, it simply means the priority in the develop of the shoe for the player in our opinion has been comfort.

One side suggestion we sometimes would recommend is also purchasing insoles to help with fit further or ankle supports to stop yourself rolling your ankles if you have done it before.

So how can you tell if your shoes are a great fit? Simply put the shoes on and you’ll want it so that the toe is not pressured when lunging into a shot or when stopping badly, this typically means theres a small finger gap between your toe and the end of the shoe.

Finally, remember, when you get your new shoes, you must expect a short period of “wear in”. This is wear your shoes are adjusting to your foot shape. To help minimise this happening on court we would recommend to wear your new shoes around the house for a week to allow them to soften and stretch a little.


3. Playing Surface & Shoe Outsole

Tennis Shoe Outsole Types

Tennis Shoes are pretty unique in that players may need more than 1 type of playing shoe depending on what playing surface they’re on. Why? Simple put grip! Different surfaces need different shoe grip setups to make the most of them.

The outsole of the shoe is the area that grips the surface. You’ll notice different shoes are made to grip in different ways depending upon the playing surface.

We’ve listed on our product specifications in the tennis shoe pages the preferred playing surface of each individual shoe we sell to help you with in.

So what are the Tennis Shoe Types?

- All Round / Hard Court Tennis Shoes – the most versatile type, they will offer good durability on hardcourt surfaces, and typically are the most popular tennis shoe type and style. The reason for this is because they can usually be used on other surfaces too. They can be spotted for having a modified herringbone pattern on the outsole for best grip on court. They’ll typically also include excellent cushioning with a midsole to help transfer energy into each step, combined with shock absorption due to the harder surface being plated on.

- Carpet Court Tennis Shoes – these will typically have smooth soles and are made to give you the right amount of grip for the surface. Please note, they are not designed for other surfaces and will wear out much quickly on other court types.

- Grass Court Tennis Shoes – the unique thing about these shoes is their “pimples” in the soles, to provide the ideal grip level for grass or “grass like” surfaces. The “pimples” wear out quickly on other surfaces, so please don’t use them that way.

- Omni Court Tennis Shoes – designed for articifical grass and hard courts, they have an outsole designed for both surfaces, however they’re rarely made

- Clay Court Tennis Shoes – Designed to effectively slide and more around all types of clay surfaces, they feature a full “herringbone” grip pattern for maximum effectiveness. These shoes can also be used for hard court surfaces too. The full herringbone grip pattern is made to balance the need for both grip and sliding ability on court to get to shots. 

Clay Court Shoes will also typically include a tight fitting shoe upper for maximum stability and keeping clay from entering the shoes themselves.

4. How Lightweight the Shoes are

Annoyingly the brands are often pretty cagey with this information! Also factoring in the different sizes its often hard for them to provide it too. However, a lightweight shoe is super helpful for players who depend on fast movement and reactions in their games.

Typically though, be careful to get the balance right on lightweight shoes as you’ll often find the shoe support is lacking as a result. In our experience, as a generalisation we’ve also noticed a lightweight shoes oftens offers less durability and breaks down after less use.

On our product pages lookout in the specifications section where it says “Designed for”, if you’re looking for a “Lightweight” shoe, we will generally state it there.

A lightweight shoe is typically better suited to smaller, younger or lighter players on their feet. You need to have excellent movement on court and good technique to use them effectively, as often mentioned they will lack the structural support of some heavier shoes out there.


5. Your Playing Level at Tennis

Tennis Player Level Chart

So often players “get all the gear but have no idea”. We care about you guys n girls, and honestly sometimes there’s no need to spend more than you need to on a good pair of Tennis Shoes! As a result we’ve added a bar rating from 0-100 for the player level the shoe is potentiallty intended for. You’ll typically also notice the price of the shoes are usually aligned to the playing level too.

Typically you’ll find the higher the playing level of the Tennis Shoe, the more technical and technology features are included in the shoe to maximise playing performance. Some of our top end Tennis shoes are played and used by the world’s top players.


6. Shoe Durability

So it’s important to remember with durability, a lot of it is dependant upon the players level of shoe use, combined with their footwork technique. There’s so many factors in Shoe durability there’s not 1 rule for how long a shoe will last.

That said, a good clue to spot the more durable shoe is usually one built for comfort or featuring some higher end technologies in the shoe to provide good structurable support. We will detail these in the product description area.

One essential aspect is to make sure you use the correct type of tennis shoe for the surface you are playing on!

Typically the more you spend, the better durability a shoe will have with the exception of being if a shoe is made to be “lightweight”.

Look out for the product specifications section on our product pages and look for “Designed For”. We will state “Strong Support” usually where a shoe is more durable.


7. How it looks

For some this is the most important aspect! We won’t advise on fashion sense, this is down to your personal preference!


Other Regularly Asked Questions:

Do I need Tennis Shoes or can I play in normal shoes?

Short answer is a definite YES!

Why? Well the construction of a tennis shoe outsole combined with the ankle support means they’re built to enable you to significantly reduce injury risk when playing tennis compared to a standard sports trainer or running shoe. In addition to this you’ll be able to move off the surface better, meaning you’ll play better with a more effective support structure from your body as you go to hit the ball. 

The main difference between tennis shoes and other sports shoes or trainers are the outsoles, a support around the ankle in particular to enable a player for move in a very effective way around the court. There are other smaller aspects too, for example the toe guard on a tennis shoe when you drag your toes getting to a shot. Normal shoes in this area will wear down much faster.

What's the correct fit for a Tennis Shoe?

Typically we’d suggest a tight and snug fit to the foot to avoid too much movement in the shoe by the foot. This will reduce the risk of injury, avoid blisters forming so easily and improve overall responsiveness when playing with your movement.

So what does that look like? Ideally we’re recommending a small finger gap at the end of the toes to the shoe when wearing it. Being slightly more or less is fine, but the most important thing is that it holds and supports the foot properly. 

Look out on our product page specifications - we’ve really helped make this easier for you. See the “Shoe Size Length Fit” and “Shoe Width Fit”. 

How to measure your feet for the perfect fit when choosing tennis shoes?

Shoe Fitting and Measurement for Tennis Shoes

  1. Find a flat surface and place a piece of A4 paper on the floor.
  2. Stand with one foot on the paper (don’t forget to wear your tennis socks too!)
  3. Trace a line around your foot all across the outside of it.
  4. Measure the length of your foot tracing giving you your foot length
  5. Measure width across the widest part of your foot. This is your foot width.
  6. Check closely for the shoe sizes and the advice on the shoe specific product page, then match up and choose the best size for you.

What can I do to make playing in my Tennis Shoes more comfortable?

The number 1 obvious answer to this is, sports insoles! We stock a range of these and will really help reduce stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments whilst playing. 

An additional option is a paid of cushioned tennis socks too, again helping comfort and impact injury risk reduction, combined with better absorption of moisture when playing.

Shoe Insoles for Tennis Comfort