Whether you're a seasoned pro at playing round robins or just getting ready to try your hand at a beginner drill, a good pair of tennis shoes is a must. Because of the extensive range of motion required in tennis—backpedaling, lunging, sidestepping, and even sliding (for Francesca Schiavone wannabes)—running shoes and other nonspecific sneakers won't cut it on the court. Writer Emilia Monell knows firsthand how good footwear can improve one's sense of well-being by providing structural integrity across the foot and a sense of confidence on the inside. IMG Academy and Columbia University varsity player and Monell explains, "My coaches always said I had more energy the first day I got new shoes." ”
Considerations beyond your control include things like court surface preference (do you prefer clay or hard courts) and weather. Do you switch surfaces depending on the time of year? Choosing the best tennis shoes for your feet and playing style can be a challenge due to the wide variety of factors involved. Perhaps you have wider feet and require a shoe with more toe room, or perhaps you are one of the many people who suffer from plantar fasciitis. I asked a number of tennis professionals—including store buyers, college coaches, and club directors—for their recommendations on the best women's tennis shoes on the market today. If you know exactly what you're looking for, you can skip down to the section about that specific shoe style in our table of contents. Otherwise, here are ten suggestions that should work for everyone from serve-and-volley specialists to baseline stalwarts.
"Best" "Best (less expensive) "Best" "Best for narrow feet" "Best for wide feet" "Best for older players" "Most responsive" "Most durable" "Best for plantar fasciitis" "Best for sliding"
Resilience: Tennis practice involves so many similar motions that you'll wear out your equipment in the same spots over and over again if you don't take proper care of it. In high school, I was the captain of the tennis team, and I went through a lot of tennis shoes because my foot dragged when I served. In order to withstand the pivoting and start-stop wear and tear that tennis players put their shoes through, tennis shoes "are more solid around the whole perimeter of the shoe," as Mike Layton, owner and CEO of Westside Tennis in Santa Monica, California, puts it. Although the shoe's design may appear bulky at first, that extra mass is what ensures a reasonable lifespan. To determine if your shoes need to be replaced, Monell suggests the following method: "Place the two ends of one shoe between your hands and apply pressure; if the shoe caves in on itself, it has lost support, and it is time to get new ones." Shoes wear out at different rates depending on how often you play. According to Monell, professional athletes should replace their training shoes every three months. Alternatively, casual players can use the same pair of shoes for an entire season.
It's not unusual to see athletes (like Serena Williams) wearing tape around their ankles on the court for support. The structure and support of a tennis shoe are tailored to the unique demands of the sport, which places a high load on the joints and requires a great deal of lateral movement and frequent changes in direction. Tennis shoes, as stated by Layton, "are typically a little bit heavier than running shoes" and "have better lateral support on the inside and outside of the shoe" to safeguard the ankle and prevent strain or twisting when moving laterally. Karen Moriarty, co-owner of Tennis Professionals — Sportech in Rye Brook, acknowledges that this can be a learning curve for newer players. You may be surprised to find that tennis shoes are noticeably stiffer than your typical pair of running or walking footwear, as she explains:
New York City Racquet Sports co-owner Woody Schneider says, "the best shoe is the one that fits your foot the best." The movement in tennis matches is often described as "explosive," and if your shoes don't fit properly, you'll really feel that explosiveness. It's important to have a wide toe bed for support, but not so much that your toes constantly hit each other and get bruised. My big toenail cracked and (bloodily) fell off several times because my foot kept smashing the front of my shoes during split stops, even though the shoes were a size too big. Your feet (wide, narrow, injured, etc.) will determine how well the shoes fit. ), so I've done my best to specify in each entry which type of foot the shoes support. Try on the shoes in person to make sure they fit properly, and if you must buy them online, look for a store with a generous return policy.
Superior strength and stability with a wide range of possible sizes
If you are unsure of where to begin, the Asics Gel Resolution comes highly recommended by four of our experts and is a safe bet. The Resolution has been Layton's go-to tennis shoe for years, and he says it has excellent lateral support and stability. In the past, I've had problems with my feet, but not with these. He also notes that they are long-lasting and incredibly soft to the touch. He claims that, "regardless of one's level of expertise, this shoe should fit the vast majority of people." In addition to being a favorite of Claire Ann Pollard, head coach of the women's tennis team at Northwestern University, Asics Gel Resolution are also a top seller at Moriarty's store. The Gel Resolution is our top pick for a men's tennis shoe. (It was also a top pick in our list of the best women's workout shoes due to the support and stability it provides.) )
Durability issues | Adjustable support | Squeezes in tight
For less than $100, the NikeCourt Air Max Volley is one of the best shoes you can buy. For Monell, who worked out with Sloane Stephens and Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, these Nikes were "really great for narrow feet — I always felt like the other brands were just too wide for me." Those women who have narrow feet may have trouble finding a comfortable and secure fit in tennis shoes because of the wider toe bed. According to Monell, whose ankles felt more supported than in previous training shoes, this pair has a "good balance of lightness and support."
Super strength | Bold structure | Roomy cut
This New Balance pair is "the softest, most cushiony, most bouncy shoe you can have in tennis," according to Harry Tong, the host of Tennis Spin on YouTube and a buyer at California Tennis Club. (The Fresh Foam Lav was also chosen as the most pleasant men's tennis shoe.) Tong says the cushioning is like that of the popular and springy Adidas Ultraboost, and the boot fits like "a soft, comfortable ski boot." According to Tong, tennis shoes should "hold on to you and be tight around the whole foot. There's a lot of starting and stopping, so your shoes can't be too flexible or you'll end up with blisters and a black toe. "New Balance is the most comfortable brand I've tried," says Greg Pearson, owner of Tiki Tennis in Islamorada, Florida. The toe-drag tip (which protects the toe from wear) and New Balance's NDurance rubber outsole (which comes with a 6-month warranty) make this shoe exceptionally long-lasting.
[Note from the editors: New Balance has just released a revised model of the Fresh Foam Lav called the Fresh Foam X Lav V2, which we have not had a chance to evaluate. ]
Long-lasting, supportive, and comfortably roomy, these shoes have it all.
Extra heel cushioning, thick soles, and padding to absorb shock are crucial in a tennis shoe for those with plantar fasciitis. When it comes to shock absorption, durability, and comfort, this Babolat shoe has it all thanks to its thermoplastic rubber outsole and tube compression system in the heel. According to Schneider, this shoe is impressive because it provides "about as much comfort as you're going to find in a tennis shoe" while maintaining adequate stability. In the spirit of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Mason dubs this the "best-fitting tennis shoe." e , many different types of players (narrow, wide, high-arched) have reported that this model is a great fit. For those with plantar fasciitis who need to wear custom orthotics, extra-cushioned socks, or inserts, Schneider notes that these shoes are cut slightly on the wider side. New York tennis pro and academy owner Anthony Evrard recommends Babolat shoes because of their durable Michelin rubber outsoles.
Better wear resistance | Sliding support | Regular size
Many runners adored the Nike Zoom Vapor X, so the release of a successor is certainly noteworthy. If you ask Mason, the React Vapor NXT has "great Achilles and lateral support." Plus, in contrast to some other Nike models, this one isn't abnormally skinny. With the soft foam near the arch and the firmer foam along the outside of your foot, you'll be able to propel yourself forward with every stride. The modified herringbone outsole provides the ideal amount of grip, making this shoe a great choice for players who like to slide. The inner side of the shoe, a high-wear area, is reinforced with both rubber and tough plastic to ensure it doesn't wear down when you skid across hard or clay surfaces, adding to the shoe's durability.
Lightweight | Adjustable in shape and support | Slightly constricting
Since Nikes typically run narrow, tennis pro Phil Parrish from the Longfellow Health Club in Wayland, Massachusetts, suggests these shoes for anyone who has trouble finding a snug fit in other brands. The outer mesh of this model is reinforced with a thin, flexible overlay for increased durability. Like the previously described NXT model, this pair is "also lightweight but slightly narrower," as noted by Mason. Rubber is omitted from low-wear areas to further reduce weight and bulk in this shoe. And according to Dana Mason, a buyer at Mason's Tennis, clay allows for a lighter, less cushioned shoe due to the surface's natural give. The medial eye-stays, or those closest to your toes, are covered in this shoe for extra protection, making it suitable for sliding.
Strengthened durability | Robust reinforcement | Roomy fit
Tong and Parrish say that this is a fantastic shoe for players with wide feet, and Moriarty and Dana Mason agree, saying that it is one of their best sellers. According to Mason, "it's going to be a wider shoe all over" if you get a women's B width (D is a women's wide, which translates to a men's regular). If your foot is slightly wider than average but not wide enough for a D-width shoe, this could be a good option for you. (If you discover that you actually need a wider shoe, she suggests the New Balance 1006 that you can see down here.) Mason gushes over them, saying, "It's really nice on a hard court because of the durable sole." Thanks to its Durawrap Flex technology, which provides support without stiffness, the K-Swiss Hypercourt Express is also famous for requiring a short break-in time.
Durability improved | Cushioned support added | Wider width available
Wide, lightweight, and cushioned tennis shoes are often what players over 40 are looking for. The New Balance 1006 is an excellent option if the above criteria apply to you. It's ultra-cushioned and supportive, making it ideal for athletes with foot problems. According to Dana Mason, the D width and lightweight design of this model make it a hit with the senior population. The New Balance REVlite foam compound, used in the construction of this shoe, reduces the shoe's overall weight by 30 percent while providing the same amount of cushioning and stability as traditional foams. This New Balance model is ideal for more experienced players due to its combination of responsive cushioning and lightweight design.
Durability is average; support is malleable; and the size is about right
A pair of responsive shoes will help you react quickly in any situation, whether you're returning a serve, hustling at the baseline, or scurrying for a drop shot. We recommend the Asics Resolution as the best all-around shoe, but for the most responsive feel, Dana Mason recommends the Asics Solution Speed FF 2. In order to provide a more responsive feel on the court, the FF 2 has a bit less padding than its predecessor. Mason recommends it highly, and it is her go-to shoe, because it is both lightweight and has a generous toe box, making it ideal for clay courts.
Longevity at its peak; Superior structure; Generic form
Reminiscing on my time spent in juniors and at tennis camp, I recall seeing the Adidas Barricade being worn by both boys and girls. Barricade, a shoe worn by Greek player Maria Sakkari, has evolved significantly since its debut in 2000. The lock-in lacing system on the current model is what makes it so great; it shapes the tongue to your foot for the best possible fit and stability. The Barricade is a hefty, long-lasting shoe that lives up to its name in terms of durability. Jeremy Rellosa, a writer for The Strategist, grew up playing in the Barricade and, despite not having tested the women's model, he abused them on the court for years. I'm the worst foot-dragger in the group, but my Barricades have held up." When I wore regular shoes, I dragged so much that my toes would eventually rot, but not so with the Barricade. "If you've got wear and tear around the heels, you're not on the balls of your feet enough during play," Monell says about how to tell if your shoes are in good shape. If you're maintaining correct footwork, you should notice most of your wear and tear concentrated in the ball of your foot. ”
• Anthony Evrard, President and CEO of Court 16 Tennis Club and Academy
Mike Layton, CEO and owner of Westside Tennis
To contact Dana Mason, buyer at Mason's Tennis, please call:
Emilia Monell, a former junior and collegiate tennis player turned author; Mark Mason, owner of Mason's Tennis
• Tennis Pro & Sportech co-owner, Karen Moriarty
• Phil Parrish, Longfellow Sports Club's tennis director
This is Tiki Tennis, and the owner is none other than Greg Pearson.
Jeremy Rellosa, Strategist author; Claire Ann Pollard, head tennis coach at Northwestern University
New York City Racquet Sports co-owner Woody Schneider
• Tennis Spin host and California Tennis Club buyer Harry Tong
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Women's Top 10 Tennis Shoes