Wearing the proper tennis shoes is just as important as choosing the correct racket when playing tennis. Both are essential equipment. Tennis shoes are manufactured not only to prevent injury, but also to help you improve your game. Although all athletic shoes are often referred to as tennis shoes, real tennis shoes are made specifically for the sport of tennis.
What Are Tennis Shoes?
All tennis shoes have some things in common. A leather and/or synthetic mesh upper covers the sides and top of the shoes. Tennis can be particularly hard on your foot and ankle, sometimes exerting up to five times your own body weight on quick acceleration and sudden stops. Because of this, tennis shoes provide a lot of lateral support, much more than shoes needed for sports such as running.
The sport of tennis dates back to Roman times, but the evolution of tennis shoes as we know them dates from late 19th century in the British Isles. Upper class men and women played tennis or croquet on lawns in flowing white clothes. On their feet were expensive laced canvas or leather shoes with rubber soles. As time went on, the cost of the shoes went down and the quality improved. Beginning in the 1960’s, tennis shoe design improved in terms of both functionality and stylish design.
When buying tennis shoes, it’s important to try a variety of brands. Manufacturers size their shoes differently and fit varies within a brand name depending on style. Pay attention to length, width, and height of instep. Feet also vary depending on arch shape, with a flat-footed athlete needing more medial support.
Another thing to consider before you buy includes the type of court you’ll be playing on. Think about whether you’ll play mostly on hard court surfaces, clay, or grass. Remember that many clubs require non-marking soles, which prevent black marks on the court.
The amount of money you spend on your shoes will depend on a few factors. How often do you play? If your habit is to spend more than one day a week on the courts, it’s wise to invest in a quality pair of shoes that will stand up to frequent use. For those who have foot or ankle issues, paying extra for orthotics is worth the expense. However, if you only play an occasional game, a less expensive shoe should be fine, as long as the fit is correct.