The 3 Main Categories of Tennis Shoes
As the sport of tennis continues to grow in popularity, it has become increasingly common for shoe manufacturers to design at least one tennis shoe for each of the three following categories: lightweight shoes, durability shoes, and value shoes. The first is a low-to-the-court shoe designed for explosiveness, the second is a shoe with enhanced stability and support, and the third is a shoe with a straightforward design and moderate price point. There are pros and cons within each category, but understanding their differences should allow you to make a more informed decision when purchasing your next pair of tennis shoes.
Lightweight Tennis Shoes
At left is the Nike Men’s Air Zoom Vapor 10 Tennis Shoe in Black and Vast Gray. At right is the ASICS Unisex Court FF Tennis Shoe in Sulphur Springs and Black.
ATP and WTA pros are notoriously picky when it comes to two things: their racquets and their shoes. If they don’t feel comfortable hitting the ball with a particular racquet, then they will gravitate toward something that better fits their playing style. Similarly, if a certain shoe simply cannot perform at a high enough level, then they will refuse to use it. This is a major reason why tennis shoe manufacturers tout at least one lightweight, match-day tennis shoe. These shoes can cost a good amount of money because of their wealth of incorporated technologies and attention to detail. Their purpose is to be low-to-the-court and responsive in order to encourage explosive movements in all directions; however, they must remain balanced with adequate lateral support and overall durability. In many cases, this is done through a lightweight upper that is reinforced in key areas, advanced midsole technologies that enhance bounce back capabilities, and a thinner outsole.
Durability Tennis Shoes
Serious tennis players of all levels log countless hours on the court in order to perfect their games. These endless drills and exercises require a shoe that can withstand a good beating. To meet these demands, tennis shoe manufacturers offer high-end durability shoes. These shoes are bulkier than their lightweight counterparts, but offer vastly superior shock absorption, support, and cushioning as a result. They are much more resistant to wear and tear, and typically come with an outsole warranty. The overall purpose of these shoes is to assist with high-level practice and training. They tend to feature a number of technologies engineered to keep your feet and joints healthy, and have become lighter and more streamlined over the years. Athletes can expect durability shoes to make use of more supportive uppers and midsoles, as well as thicker outsoles.
Value Tennis Shoes
At left is the New Balance Women’s 696v3 B Width Tennis Shoe in Pigment and Vivid Coral. At right is the Diadora Men’s S Challenge AG Tennis Shoe in White and Black.
The final type of tennis shoe that many manufacturers create is the value shoe. In this case, value does not mean cheap or low-quality; it simply means that fewer or older technologies are utilized (in comparison to their more expensive lightweight and durability counterparts). As a result, they act as a cost-friendly alternative that can still deliver solid performance. Value tennis shoes are generally an admirable middle ground between explosive, lightweight shoes and highly supportive, durable shoes. You can expect technologies and features that cater to both. This makes these shoes a great option for more casual players who do not want to splurge on a top-of-the-line tennis shoe, as well as those who are new to the sport.
For More on Tennis Shoes
To learn more about tennis shoes, we encourage you to check out some of our other informational blogs: