How to Choose Tennis Shoes | A Comprehensive Guide

Nike tennis shoes on hard court

Tennis is a high-impact sport that requires quick movements, agility, and stability.

And one of the most important pieces of equipment for any tennis player is a good pair of tennis shoes.

However, with so many options available, selecting the right pair can be difficult.

From the type of court surface to your playing style, there are several factors you need to consider when selecting tennis shoes.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to choose tennis shoes that will meet your needs and help you perform your best on the court.

Anatomy of a Tennis Shoe

anatomy of a tennis shoe - how to choose tennis shoes

Before we look at how to choose the best tennis shoes for you, first we have to understand the different parts of a tennis shoe.

  • Upper: The upper is the top part of the shoe that covers the entire foot. The material and design of the upper can vary between tennis shoes, providing different levels of durability and ventilation.
  • Midsole: This is the cushioned space between your foot and the outsole. This area plays an important role in comfort and stability.
  • Outsole: The hard material at the bottom of the shoe is known as the outsole. This area needs to be the most durable as it will constantly be in contact with the court, meaning it will wear down the most.
  • Tongue: This is the area that sits below the laces and rests on the top of your foot. The tongue plays an important role in providing comfort and can come in many different designs.
  • Laces: This is the string of the shoe that you tie to secure your foot in place. But I’m sure you already know what the laces are.

Now that you’ve learned the anatomy of a tennis shoe, we can move on to the important factors to consider when you buy your next pair.

What to Look For in a Tennis Shoe

When selecting a tennis shoe for yourself, there are several factors you need to consider.


Tennis can be brutal for your shoes, so having durable shoes is vital as they can wear down very quickly.

The outsole is the area of the shoe that will wear down the most as it is always in contact with the court surface. However, this isn’t the only area that needs to be durable.

The side of the shoe is prone to wear and tear, which is usually caused by sliding. Nowadays, many tennis shoes come with extra protection in this area. Another area that wears out is the toe of the shoe, which comes into contact with the court when you lunge and slide.

However, different styles of play can lead to wear and tear in different areas. I’d recommend inspecting your current tennis shoes and seeing where they wear down the most so you know which parts need extra protection.


Ensuring you have a good grip on the tennis court is very important.

A tennis shoe’s outsole can be made from different materials, patterns, and textures that give different amounts of traction on the court surface.

A clay court shoe, for example, will have a full herringbone tread pattern on the outsole to prevent the clay from sticking to the outsole, allowing for a better grip on the court and making it easier to change direction.

On the other hand, grass court shoes will have small “pimples” on the outsole to improve grip on the grass.

Modified herringbone patterns are used on hard court shoes because they provide excellent traction when moving in different directions.


Tennis puts a lot of stress on your ankles and feet, which is why you need tennis shoes that are very supportive.

The majority of tennis shoes are quite supportive, but some are more so than others.

The Nike Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4s are a personal favorite of mine since they have a lot of support on the upper of the shoe, which keeps the foot from sliding about too much. This is particularly important if you have a history of ankle injuries.


One thing that’s worth noting is that tennis shoes aren’t as comfortable as regular sneakers or running shoes. This is because they tend to be stiffer than other types of shoes to increase support.

However, finding a tennis shoe that you feel comfortable in is still important, as you may be wearing the shoes for several hours at a time.

Comfort will vary across different tennis shoes. It is important you find a pair of shoes that provide a good balance of comfort and support.

If you experience sore feet from your tennis shoes, I suggest replacing the insole with one that provides some extra comfort.


When it comes to choosing tennis shoes, weight is a very important factor to consider.

Lightweight shoes will make you faster but are less durable, whereas heavier shoes slow you down but have better durability and stability.

It all comes down to personal preference.

Arch Support

Most tennis shoes feature a low to medium arch support which is suitable for most people.

If you’re someone that requires additional arch support, I’d recommend looking into replacing the insole of your shoes.


Price is an important factor to consider when you’re purchasing a new pair of tennis shoes.

Tennis shoes can cost as little as $100 and as much as $200+ on the higher end.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying expensive tennis shoes. However, if you’re a beginner, then the features you get with expensive tennis shoes may not be necessary for you.

But, if you’re an advanced player, then the added protection and support you get from premium tennis shoes may be worth the investment.

Once again, it is all personal preference.

What Court Surface Do You Play On?

Depending on the court surface you play on, you can choose from four different types of tennis shoes.

Hard / All Court Tennis Shoes

hard court shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

Hard court tennis shoes (also known as all court tennis shoes) tend to have the best durability as a hard court is the most demanding surface for your shoes.

They also feature more cushioning and shock absorption compared to other types of tennis shoes to protect your feet against the harder surface.

These shoes can be used on all court surfaces.

Read my guide on the best hard court tennis shoes to learn more.


  • Modified herringbone pattern
  • Extra Cushioning and support
  • Non-marking

Clay Court Tennis Shoes

clay court shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

Clay court tennis shoes are a lot softer than hard court shoes as the surface is much more forgiving on your feet.

They have a full herringbone tread to stop clay from getting stuck to your outsole and are lighter to help with maneuverability.

Read my guide on the best clay court tennis shoes to learn more.


  • Full herringbone tread
  • Lightweight
  • Thinner outsole

Grass Court Tennis Shoes

grass court shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

Grass court tennis shoes have “nubs” or “pimples” that help with grip on grass which can sometimes be slippery.

Much like clay court shoes, they are lighter than regular all court shoes.


  • “Nubs” or “pimples” on the outsole
  • Lightweight

Carpet Court Tennis Shoes

carpet court shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

Carpet is the most uncommon court surface. It is a lot faster than the others which means you need shoes that can help with faster movements.

Carpet shoes have a smooth outsole with no pattern.


  • Smooth outsole

How to Find the Right Fit

It is critical to pick a tennis shoe that fits you properly in order to avoid problems such as blisters.


Many of you should already know your foot size. If not, try on tennis shoes at your local store until you find the right size for you.

Ideally, you want a half-inch between the tip of your big toe and the front of your shoe.


Everyone has a unique foot shape.

Different tennis shoes may be better suited for different foot shapes. Ask at your local store what shoe is best suited for your foot shape, or check the details in the product description if you are purchasing online.

I’ve included a video below that helps you determine your foot shape:

Different Types of Tennis Shoes

There are three main types of tennis shoes for you to choose from.

Durability Tennis Shoes

durability tennis shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

An issue that many players face with their tennis shoes is durability. This is particularly common with players who play frequently on hard courts.

Typically, the outsole is the area of the shoe that wears down the most, however, it’s not uncommon for the shoe to wear down on the toe and the side.

Some tennis shoes come with extra protection in these areas to prevent them from wearing out as quickly.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Stability Tennis Shoes

stability tennis shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

If you’re someone that is prone to ankle injuries then you may want to look at tennis shoes that provide more stability.

However, it’s worth noting that stability tennis shoes tend to be a lot heavier due to the added reinforcements to protect your foot.

Here are some popular stability tennis shoes:

Lightweight Tennis Shoes

lightweight tennis shoes - how to choose tennis shoes

Tennis requires a high level of movement speed.

As a result, lightweight tennis shoes have grown in popularity in recent years as people try every available method to become faster.

However, these shoes will not be as durable or stable as other types of tennis shoes.

Here are some lightweight tennis shoes I’d recommend:


What are the Best Shoe Brands in Tennis?

As technology has advanced over the years, the number of good-quality tennis shoe brands has increased massively. I’ve listed a few of my favorite tennis shoe brands below:

  • Nike
  • Asics
  • Adidas
  • New Balance
  • K-Swiss
  • Head
  • Wilson
  • Fila

It all comes down to personal preference as to which tennis shoe brand is best for you.

What Brand of Shoes Does Djokovic Wear?

Novak Djokovic uses the Asics Court FF 3 tennis shoes.

The Court FF 3 is a premium tennis shoe that provides amazing cushioning while also giving exceptional support. It also has extra protection in areas that tend to wear down fast, making it ideal for players who are aggressive movers.

But they are on the expensive side.

However, for someone like Djokovic, I’m sure he can justify the cost.

What is the Difference Between Tennis Shoes and Sneakers?

Tennis can be a physically demanding sport.

This means that you need shoes that provide more support than regular sneakers otherwise, you can be at risk of getting an injury.

Tennis shoes also have soles that grip better on the court so you can stay balanced when you are hitting a shot.

However, tennis shoes aren’t as comfortable as sneakers as the main priority is to protect your feet.

Final Words

Well done! You now have all the information you need to choose your next pair of tennis shoes.

That means it’s time for the exciting part.

Get out there and try them out!

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