Experienced tennis players know that one pair of shoes is probably not enough, unless you always play on the same surface. Grass, clay and hard tennis courts each present different challenges for players, and it's important to match the type of shoe you wear to the sort of surface you play on. Learn more about the shoe considerations you need to make with the following types of tennis court.
Some players enjoy hard courts because the speed with which the ball bounces is somewhere between grass and clay, and people also enjoy the firmer footing. However, these surfaces can also put your feet through their paces. With the wrong type of shoes, hard courts can increase the risk of injury, as your feet need cushioning and shock absorption.
Choose shoes that have a tough outsole that can stand up to the hard court's surface. Good cushioning and bounce can help your feet and legs cope with the rigours of a hard court, and a tough upper will give you more stability as you move around the court.
The clay court is often the most challenging surface to play on. The surface can make it harder to deal a killer serve, giving the other player more time to hit the ball, which, in turn, improves speed and discipline.
Clay surfaces need stability and lateral support as players tend to move from side to side more before taking a shot. As such, good clay court shoes have:
- Good grip to cope with the dusty clay.
- Durable sides to cope with sliding movements.
- Lateral support.
- A tighter upper to keep your foot secure.
Clay-court shoes also tend to have an outsole that releases clay from its grooves, so you don't leave marks on the court.
Grass courts offer players a more unpredictable game, with a fast, low bounce and a slippery surface to play on. The slipperiness of the surface means that you have to make lots of small adjustment steps to get into the right position, so you can see why the right shoes are crucial.
Grass-court shoes need a great grip, to stop you slipping around. However, you'll also need a flatter outsole, so you don't damage the court. A flexible upper will also help you run forward towards the ball without constructing your feet.
Some shoes that work well on a grass court will also work well on an artificial grass court. However, the layer of sand found on an artificial grass court can sometimes more closely resemble a clay court surface. As such, some players prefer to use clay-court shoes on artificial grass. This decision will ultimately come down to personal choice and technique.
The right tennis shoes are essential, according to the type of tennis court surface you play on. Talk to a sports shoe supplier or your local tennis court for more advice.