Kirill Yurovskiy: How to choose tennis sneakers

Tennis is a game of agility, quick movements, and split-second decisions. To make sure you’re performing your best, it’s essential to have the right footwear. Proper tennis sneakers provide the needed support and traction to optimize your game and prevent injury. An incorrect choice can hinder your movement, reduce your grip, and increase the risk of injuries like sprains or strains. This guide is dedicated to helping you make an informed decision when picking out your next pair of tennis shoes. Source:

Understanding the Basics: Sneaker Anatomy

Before diving into the world of tennis shoes, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the basic anatomy of a sneaker. Here’s a breakdown of the essential components:

Upper: This is the top part of the shoe, often made of leather, synthetic materials, or mesh. It provides ventilation and determines how well the shoe fits around your foot.

Midsole: Acting as the shoe’s primary cushioning system, the midsole absorbs shock and determines the level of support. It’s usually made from EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane).

Outsole: The bottom part of the shoe, it’s responsible for traction and durability. It’s typically made from rubber or a synthetic material.

Toe Box: This is the front part of the shoe. A spacious toe box ensures your toes aren’t cramped and can move comfortably.

Heel Counter: Positioned at the back of the shoe, it stabilizes your heel and prevents excessive movement.

Knowing the different parts of a sneaker will help you better understand the features that different tennis shoes offer.

The Playing Surface: Grass, Clay, and Hard Courts

Different tennis court surfaces require different types of traction, and this influences the type of shoe you should select:

Grass Courts: Grass is a slippery surface. Shoes for grass courts have nubs or pimples on the outsole, providing better grip. They also tend to have a flatter sole, allowing for more surface contact.

Clay Courts: These courts can be slippery, especially when dry. Shoes for clay courts have a herringbone pattern on the outsole, enabling players to slide with control and get rid of clay that might become trapped.

Hard Courts: These courts are abrasive, requiring shoes with a durable outsole. Hard court shoes offer more cushioning in the midsole to absorb the shock of the hard surface and often have a modified herringbone pattern for multi-directional traction.

Remember, using the wrong type of shoe for a specific court can not only affect your performance but also decrease the shoe’s lifespan.

Foot Type and Arch Support: Finding Your Fit

Just as there are different tennis courts, everyone’s foot is unique. Understanding your foot type and arch can help you select a shoe that provides the right support:

Normal Arch: If you have a regular arch, you’ll likely have a normal pronation, meaning you’ll need a stability shoe.

Flat Foot (Low Arch): This type often leads to overpronation (foot rolls inward excessively). You’ll need a shoe that offers motion control and maximum support.

High Arch: With this foot type, underpronation or supination (foot rolls outward) can be common. Look for a shoe with extra cushioning to absorb shock.

To determine your arch type, you can do a wet footprint test. Wet your foot, step on a piece of cardboard, and examine your footprint. If you see most of your foot, you likely have a low arch. If you only see the outside edge with a narrow connection between the ball and heel, you have a high arch. A normal arch will be somewhere in between.

Cushioning and Shock Absorption: Protecting Your Joints

In the swift-paced game of tennis, every jump, sprint, or sudden stop sends shock waves through your feet, rising up to your knees and hips. Therefore, cushioning in tennis sneakers is vital. Quality midsole cushioning ensures that the impact is absorbed, reducing stress on your joints and preventing potential injuries.

EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate): Lightweight and flexible, EVA provides decent cushioning. It’s a popular choice in many tennis shoes.

PU (Polyurethane): Though heavier than EVA, PU offers more durability and can be excellent for players seeking firmer support.

Gel or Air-based Cushioning: Some brands incorporate gel or air units in the midsole for additional shock absorption.

When selecting sneakers, consider the kind of cushioning and how it aligns with your playstyle and physical needs.

Traction and Grip: Staying Stable on Court

A proper grip on the court is crucial. Slips and slides can lead to injuries and can seriously impede your performance. The outsole pattern and material determine the shoe’s traction.

Herringbone Pattern: Ideal for clay and hard courts, this pattern offers multi-directional traction and allows players to slide safely.

Nubs or Pimples: Best for grass courts, these provide an improved grip on slick surfaces.

It’s essential to choose a shoe that matches the court type to ensure you have the best grip possible.

Durability: Investing in Long-Lasting Footwear

Tennis can be hard on shoes, especially for players who spend a lot of time on the court. Investing in durable sneakers not only ensures value for money but also consistent performance.

Reinforced Toecaps: Many tennis shoes come with reinforced toecaps, especially for players who often drag their toes while serving or lunging.

Durable Outsole Material: Look for shoes made with high-density rubber or those labeled as “durable” for hard courts.

Guard Rails: Some models incorporate guard rails or additional material around the shoe’s edge to protect against wear when sliding.

Brands might offer a durability guarantee, so if the outsole wears out too quickly, they may replace the shoe.

Breathability and Comfort: Ensuring Optimal Performance

Playing tennis can be intense, and feet tend to sweat. Shoes with proper ventilation ensure that your feet remain cool and dry.

Mesh Uppers: Many tennis shoes use a mesh material for the upper part, providing optimal breathability.

Moisture-wicking Linings: Some shoes come with inner linings designed to wick away sweat, keeping your feet dry and preventing blisters.

Apart from breathability, overall comfort is paramount. A shoe might tick all the technical boxes, but if it’s uncomfortable, it won’t serve you well on the court. Consider factors like the padding around the ankle, how the shoe laces up, and its overall fit.


Choosing the right tennis sneaker is essential for optimal performance and injury prevention. By understanding the sneaker anatomy, knowing the requirements of different court surfaces, and finding a shoe tailored to your foot type, you can ensure that you’re well-equipped to ace your game.

Remember, while the technical aspects are important, comfort should never be compromised. Always try on multiple shoes and sizes, and where possible, mimic tennis movements when testing them out. With research and attention to detail, you’ll be ready to dominate the court with the perfect pair of tennis sneakers.