Like golf, tennis has social distancing built in. (Even when you charge the net, your opponent isn’t likely to be within six feet of you.) Also like golf, the shoes you wear can have a real effect on your performance. If you’re serious about the sport, you won’t be wearing sneakers.
“Running shoes are flimsier,” explains Mike Layton, owner and CEO of Westside Tennis in California. “They are going to have more of a one-direction tread,” he says. Tennis shoes “provide more support and stability, so they are a little bit more structured,” adds Karen Moriarty, co-owner of specialty store the Tennis Professionals — Sportech, in Rye Brook, New York. “If you start changing directions in a running shoe, you might hurt yourself because you are not going to be able to pivot on the ground as easily as you will with a tennis shoe,” Layton says. To be able to handle the quick, multidirectional movements required in tennis, “tennis shoes are typically a little bit heavier than running shoes, and they have better lateral support on the inside and outside of the shoe. They are more solid around the whole perimeter of the shoe.”
To find the best tennis shoes for men, we spoke to six tennis professionals from around the country. Here are their suggestions.
Best overall tennis shoes
Three of our experts recommend this shoe. Layton, who has worn the Gel Resolution for years, says, “It hits all of the requirements for a good tennis shoe, including good lateral support and stability. I’ve had foot issues in the past but not with these.” He also says they are durable, long lasting, and very comfortable. “I think you would fit, no pun intended, a majority of people with this shoe, regardless of skill level,” he adds. Claire Ann Pollard, the head coach of Northwestern University’s women’s tennis team calls the Asics Gel Resolution her favorite, and Moriarty says they are consistently a top pick for her customers.
Best (slightly less expensive) overall tennis shoes
Harry Tong, the host of Tennis Spin and a buyer at California Tennis Club, says the Mizuno Wave Exceed Tour 4 is “the viewers’ choice and the critics’ choice of the year.” Even Tennis magazine named it 2020’s shoe of the year. “It is supercomfortable all around and fits all types of feet,” Tong says. “I’ve tried it on myself, and they have done a very, very good job with this shoe. It’s a shoe that 90 percent of people will love.”
Most responsive tennis shoes
Moriarty wears these and describes them as “a fast shoe with good flexibility.” Tong agrees, saying, “the Zoom Zero has great cushioning and flexibility for a quick change of direction. The attached-tongue design and heel insert keep you in the shoe for secure stop-and-gos.”
Best hybrid tennis shoes
For a comfortable, durable shoe at a good price, Phil Parrish, tennis director of the Longfellow Sports Club in Wayland, Massachusetts, likes Lottos. “They are lightweight but still have some cushioning to them,” he says. “It’s great to be low to the ground and light, but when you are on your feet all day teaching, you need something more than that.”
Most comfortable tennis shoes
Tong compares these to the Adidas Ultraboost and calls them “the softest, most cushiony, most bouncy shoe you can have in tennis.” Greg Pearson, owner of Tiki Tennis in Islamorada, Florida, agrees. “I have worn all brands of shoes, but New Balance are the most comfortable to me,” he says. Tong adds, “You want tennis shoes to hold on to you. It’s tight around the whole foot. Because of all the stop-and-go, you can’t have too much movement in the shoe or else you will get blisters and a black toe.” He cautions novice players that “it took me literally a couple of minutes to get my foot into the shoe the first time because it was new and firm.” But once your foot is secure, it should feel like “a soft, comfortable ski boot. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Best tennis shoes for wide feet
Because of the extra support and stability they provide, “tennis shoes, in general, are not as comfortable as running shoes,” Moriarty says. But of course, they do need to fit. If you find many tennis shoes to be too narrow, Tong says the Wilson Rush 3.0 is “the go-to shoe for people with slightly wider feet.”
This is another great shoe for players with wider feet, Tong says. Parrish agrees, and Moriarty says this is one of the most popular shoes with her customers.
Best tennis shoes for narrow feet
Tong says, “The Vapor line has been a staple in the Nike line for over 15 years,” and Moriarty says it is consistently a top pick at Sportech. According to Tong, the shoe’s low profile lets players really feel the ground. “You can call it a minimalist shoe for players looking for a no-frills shoe with enough support for the all-around player,” he says. Parrish adds that “a lot of people wear them,” and, since “Nikes tend to run narrow in general,” he recommends these shoes for people who have trouble finding a snug fit in other shoes. Tong agrees that this is a great option for players with narrow feet.
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