How To Buy Tennis Shoes

Use this step-by-step guide to find the right shoes for the court.

Rule the court in the right pair of tennis shoes.


Tennis is a game of quick stops and starts, short sprints and frequent lateral movement—and you need footwear that can stand up to your game.


Think about your playing style, court surface and personal preferences when selecting your new pair of tennis shoes.


Tennis Shoe Styles

It’s important to distinguish the differences between tennis shoes and other footwear before making your purchase.

  • Frequent stops and starts while moving around the court influence the way tennis shoes are designed.
  • Tennis shoes are typically more flat with specifically designed patterns on the sole, all depending on which type of court surface you generally play on.
  • Other types of shoes have thicker, softer heels that decrease weight and cushioning to lessen impact—tennis shoes are built sturdier.
  • Running or other athletic shoes are designed for the repetitive forward motion of running or walking.


Playing Style

Think about choosing a tennis shoe based on your playing style.


Baseline Player

  • A baseline player primarily plays along the back line of the court.
  • The type of shoes needed for a baseline player requires a lateral support.
  • A highly durable sole is also necessary due to constant lateral motion.

Serve-and-Volley Player

  • A serve-and-volley player frequently charges the net.
  • This type of player often slides their back foot along the court during the serve, so a shoe with a durable toecap (also referred to as a reinforced toe) and medial inside the arch is essential.


Court Surface Type:

The type of court surface you play on has an impact on the type of tennis shoes you purchase. A hard court surface like concrete requires shoes with more durability, while a soft court surface will need shoes with more traction on the sole.


Hard Court (Concrete)

  • Tennis shoes for hard courts are designed with more durability in mind, offering a more resilient, outsole and more supportive upper.
  • Soles may wear out more quickly on hard courts—be sure to check your pair of tennis shoes for wear and replace when necessary.
  • Upper and outsole materials are designed tougher, using leather or vinyl.

Soft Or Clay Court

  • Tennis shoes for soft courts are designed with non-damaging traction in mind.


  • Tennis shoes for multi-court wear are designed for play on various surfaces.
  • These shoes allow you to play in conditions with a hard or soft court without changing your shoes.


Foot Type & Shoe Fit:

Determine your foot type before selecting your tennis shoes. There are three basic foot types: Overpronation, neutral and underpronation.

Feet Types


If you are unsure of your foot type, a simple “wet test” will help determine it. Simply, wet your foot and step on a dark piece of construction paper. The characteristics of the imprint determine what type of foot you have.



  • If you see a complete imprint of your foot, you experience overpronation.
  • Overpronators tend to roll their foot inward during every stride, and they need a stabilizing tennis shoe.


  • Your feet are neutral if a moderate space is visible in the arch area.
  • Athletes with a neutral foot type can typically try just about any tennis shoe.

Under Pronation or Supination

  • Your feet are supinated if your imprint leaves a large, open area.
  • Supinators tend to roll their foot outward during every stride—a more flexible type of shoe will alleviate any shock issues while making quick, lateral movements.