Get Sweet with Your Feet: A Guide to Buying the Right Shoe for You
Buying the right pair of tennis shoes for your individual feet is a lot like setting a friend up on a date. You need to know what your friend is like, the kind of people he/she tends to get along with, and a brief history of his/her relationships before finding them the right match. With tennis shoes, imagine your friend is your feet and the shoes are his/her suitors. A well researched match will result in a great feel on the court, but a bad relationship could end in blisters and twisted ankles. And remember, its not all about looks, your feet want a partner that will offer comfort and support no matter what.
The first thing you want to do before buying a tennis shoe is to spend some quality time with your feet to get them a little more closely. For instance, most people don't know that there are two basic types of feet: supinated and pronated. You have supinated feet if you have a high arch and leave a cresent-shaped footprint. Pronated feet are flatter and leave a more filled-in impression.
Supinators tend to have wider feet, so they should look for shoes with ample room for their toes. Too little space will frequently result in uncomfortable blisters. Also, if you have a supinated foot you should look for a shoe with extra-cushioning under the arch.
If you have a pronated foot on the other hand, you need to look for a shoe with greater support all-around, especially on the medial side of the foot. Mid-cut shoes tend to work out well for pronated feet.
Now that you are convinced that you know your friends (err… feet) and understand their emotional (anatomical?) needs, you should get to know a little bit about their relationship history. Take out your old tennis shoes and look at the bottom. Try to find the places where the shoe wore out the most quickly in the past. If you tend to hit an open forehand or drag your toe on your serve, you will probably find that the area under the big toe has worn out quite quickly. Make sure to look for a shoe that has extra support in that area. If you have had ankle issues before, you will want to avoid low cut, lighter shoes, and look for a heavier shoe with mid or high-cut.
Also, you should know that feet tend to swell quite a bit during a tennis match. If possible, try to get fitted for a shoe right after a match. Also, do some quick split steps and quick stops while have the shoes on. You might a few funny looks from the other customers, but at least you will have plenty of toe room when you get out on the tennis court.
Ok, now that you have all the pertinent information on your feet and their history, its time to find them the perfect match. Now, just like any good friend you are going to be a little bit picky.
First, look at the upper part of the shoe. You'll be looking for the level of ankle support your tennis shoes will be able to expect by examining the cut of the shoe and the laces. The higher the shoe is cut, the more firmly they will support your ankle, but mid to high-cut shoes tend to be heavier, which limits mobility. Brand-wise, Nike tennis shoes and Reebok tennis shoes tend to feather-light, low cut shoes, while Prince tennis shoes and Wilson tennis shoes offer better options for those in need of support. Be sure to check the laces to see if they run through reinforcements that run up the side of the shoe, these will offer support.