What are Tennis Shoes?

Tennis shoes have become the go-to choice for anyone who wants to explore their athletic side. 

But what are tennis shoes, exactly? How are they different from other shoes?

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at tennis shoes and explore their history.

We will also discuss some unique elements that make tennis shoes so special and the material used for construction.

What are Tennis Shoes

Dark blue shoes with tennis racket and ball

Tennis shoes are specifically designed to provide maximum support and comfort while playing tennis. 

Tennis shoes started in the mid-1800s when they were first known as Plimsoll shoes. Over time, tennis shoes have evolved to meet tennis players’ needs and provide them with the best possible protection while on the court. 

Tennis shoes are made from a material designed to absorb shock and protect tennis players’ legs and feet during play. These shoes are highly padded to provide cushioning. They also feature a lot of lateral support for faster and more agile movements. The design of tennis shoes also helps promote natural motion and body mechanics while playing tennis. 

The soles of tennis shoes are made from highly flexible materials. They are capable of bracing the impact of your feet while they hit the ground.  

Tennis shoes are divided into sub-categories according to the type of court they are used for. For example, some tennis shoes are designed specifically for clay courts, while others may be made for hard courts or grass courts. 

All in all, tennis shoes can provide tennis players with the protection and flexibility they need to perform their best.

Why is it Called a Tennis Shoe

The tennis shoe’s namesake comes from its original purpose: tennis. As tennis began to gain popularity in the early 1900s, tennis shoes were developed to provide stability and support for those playing on clay courts. Unlike plimsolls, their predecessor, tennis shoes featured more support and cushioning for the wearer’s feet. The tennis shoe’s design was optimized for tennis players, allowing them to move more freely and comfortably on the court.

History of Tennis Shoe

Tennis shoes have been around since they were called Plimsolls in the mid-to-late 1800s. These canvas and rubber shoes were worn while bicycling, walking, playing croquet, and playing tennis.

Today, tennis shoes are an essential piece of tennis gear. The modern tennis shoe is the result of years of research and development. Tennis shoes have undergone many changes to offer tennis players optimal performance, support, comfort, and protection while playing on various court surfaces.

The First Tennis Shoe

The first tennis shoe was created in 1892 by British Navy sailors who wanted lightweight, flexible footwear on their slippery decks. These shoes were made from a canvas upper and rubber sole named “Plimsolls.”

Athletes began to wear Plimsolls for comfort on tennis and croquet courts. Special soles with engraved patterns were developed to increase the surface grip of tennis shoes. The British Army even ordered these tennis shoes in bulk.

Evolution of Tennis Shoe

Over time, Plimsolls gained popularity with tennis and croquet players due to their lightweight and flexible design.

In 1916, the United States Rubber Company introduced its tennis shoe brand, Keds—canvas shoes with rubber soles. One year later, Converse Rubber Company created its own version of tennis shoes—All-Stars.

It was in the 1960s that tennis shoe design saw tremendous advancement in innovation. Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon coach and co-founder of Nike, was at the forefront of tennis shoe design. He planned to create a lightweight tennis shoe with superior traction using nylon instead of canvas. Additionally, he sought to provide players with comfort through softer inner soles in his tennis shoes.

Nike’s success opened the door for other tennis shoes manufacturers, such as Puma and Adidas, to create improved versions to cater to tennis players’ needs. Over time, tennis stars became involved in shoe design, leading to its current look and feel.

It is evident that tennis shoes have come a long way from the original Plimsolls and have been revolutionized through innovation, design, and the involvement of tennis stars. One can only imagine what tennis shoes will look like in the future.

Modern Tennis Shoe

Tennis shoes, or sneakers, have become a staple in modern fashion. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, tennis shoe companies began partnering with professional athletes and offering an array of styles for consumers to choose from.

In 1970, only five tennis shoe models were available for purchase, but by 1998 that number skyrocketed to 285. Fast forward to 2012, and there were over 3,500 different tennis shoe models on the market.

The tennis shoe of today offers tennis players an optimal blend of cushioning, stability, and comfort. From lightweight tennis shoes to tennis shoes with maximum support, tennis shoes are available for every type of tennis player.

What Makes Tennis Shoes Different From Other Shoes

Tennis shoes labelled with their unique features

Tennis shoes are specifically designed with features that distinguish them from regular sneakers.

They have a flatter sole and feature unique patterns on the bottom to provide better traction depending on the court surface.

Here are some unique elements of tennis shoes.

Lateral support

Tennis shoes are built with heavier and larger materials than regular sneakers, which helps to provide extra stability around the midfoot region. This increased support gives tennis players better lateral support. It reduces the risk of ankle rolling or other knee and hip injuries.

Many players may find tennis shoes too rigid compared to what they are accustomed to wearing. However, it’s important to remember that the heavier and firmer a tennis shoe feels, the more stability it likely provides.


An outrigger is a small curved piece of material on the outside of tennis shoes. It’s made from lightweight and durable materials such as rubber or plastic, which helps improve traction during play.

This feature also provides extra stability for tennis players, helping them to make quick directional changes without losing balance or running off course. Its curved shape allows it to flex with the foot, giving tennis players a more natural movement and helping them stay agile on the court.

Toe Guard

Toe guards are placed at the toe area of tennis shoes to provide extra durability and protection. This area is particularly vulnerable to damage because it takes most of the force every time a player makes sudden direction changes or stops. Toe guards are reinforced in tennis shoes to withstand this wear and tear.

These guards are usually made of a durable synthetic material that supports and protects the toe area. The toe guard helps tennis players perform better on the court while protecting their shoes from damage.

Flat and Thick Outsoles

Regarding tennis shoes, the flat and thick outsoles provide many advantages for tennis players. The flat design allows for greater energy transfer and ease of motion, while the thicker outsole offers more durability.

Depending on the court surface, certain outsole treads can provide better traction and durability than others. For example, tennis players playing on clay courts would benefit from shoes with a full herringbone tread.

Choosing the suitable outsole for the court surface is essential to get the most out of your tennis shoes and maximizing performance. Regardless of which type you select, tennis outsoles are designed to give tennis players an edge.

Removable Insoles

Tennis shoes also come with removable insoles, allowing you to customize your shoe according to your needs.

With removable insoles, you can find options offering better arch support and cushioning for a more comfortable playing tennis experience. You can also choose insoles with extra cushioning to absorb shock or even replace the insoles with ones that provide increased arch support if needed.

By replacing the removable insoles, you can customize your tennis shoes according to your need. Ultimately, this helps to keep your feet comfortable during long hours on the court.

Shock Absorbing Technology

Shock absorption technology is a crucial feature of tennis shoes, designed to protect the feet from the impact caused by quick movements and sudden stops. This special technology absorbs kinetic energy when feet hit the ground while running, providing greater protection for your body and reducing the impact.

The sole of tennis shoes is designed with a thick layer and several layers of cushioning. This helps to reduce the amount of energy transferred from the ground to your feet when running and jumping, providing a softer landing for the feet.

The thicker sole also acts as an extra cushion against any sudden impact or shock. It also absorbs more kinetic energy and protects feet from sudden forceful movements.

Extremely Breathable Uppers

The uppers of tennis shoes are typically made from soft and breathable materials that allow air to pass through them and keep your feet cool and dry during exercise.

The breathable fabric also helps reduce sweat build-up as it wicks moisture away from the feet. This prevents blisters and other skin irritations, which can be very uncomfortable when playing tennis.

The uppers of tennis shoes are perforated to promote airflow, which enhances breathability.

This allows your feet to stay cool even when engaging in intense physical activity. Some tennis shoes also feature special mesh panels on the sides of the upper, enhancing air circulation throughout the shoe.

Crash Pad

The crash pad is essentially a midsole section extending off the shoe’s back beneath the heel counter. Its purpose is to provide increased cushioning for heel-toe running and to absorb shock when a player’s foot strikes the ground.

The crash pad helps to ensure that the tennis player’s foot is constantly supported while providing a comfortable level of cushioning during running.

In addition, tennis shoes with a crash pad are generally designed to provide extra stability and reduce the risk of injury when playing tennis.

Materials Used to Make Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes are made of a variety of materials. It is essential to understand the different materials used in manufacturing to find the perfect one for yourself. Here are some of the common materials that are used for tennis shoes:


Five types of materials used to make upper of Tennis shoes

The upper of tennis shoes is essential to the design and structure. It provides support, stability, and breathability to your foot. It also has built-in technology that allows sweat to evaporate quickly.

The upper layer can be made from PU Laminate (Polyurethane Laminate), TPU Laminate, fabric, mesh, and leather.

Inside the Shoe

Types of materials used to make insole and midsole of tennis shoes

The inside of tennis shoes can be broadly categorized into the insole and midsole.


The insole is the inner layer of a tennis shoe that provides cushioning, arch support, and overall comfort. It also helps to reduce shock from foot strikes when running. It is usually made of EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) or Poron material.


The midsole is the thicker middle layer of tennis shoes, lying just below the insole. It provides additional cushioning for shock absorption.

The midsole is usually made up of foam which can be molded into different shapes. Still, it can be made from different materials depending on the desired comfort level.

EVA foam, PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), and TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) are the most common materials for tennis shoe midsoles. Additionally, few high-tech midsoles are made with non-foam technologies like airbags or GEL to increase protection and durability.


Four types of materials used in Tennis shoe outsole

Outsole is one of the most important features when choosing tennis shoes. It is crucial in providing traction, stability, and durability.

When selecting tennis shoes, it is essential to choose a material that will withstand the rigors of the court game.

Most tennis shoe outsoles are made from either E-TPU (Expanded thermoplastic polyurethane), PU (Polyurethane), rubber, or TPR (Thermoplastic rubber). These materials are known for their durability and flexibility, allowing for a comfortable fit.

The outsoles feature different types of patterns. These patterns are designed to provide traction and grip on different court surfaces. Hence, choosing tennis shoes with the right pattern for the court you will be playing on is essential.

  • The outsoles with modified herringbone patterns best suit tennis courts like hard courts. As the pattern provides more grip on these surfaces, tennis players can make quick turns and sudden changes in direction.
  • For clay courts, tennis shoes with full herringbone patterns work best. This pattern helps keep clay out of the outsoles and allows tennis players to grip the court, particularly when sprinting, stopping, or changing directions.
  • Grass tennis courts need shoes with thicker, raised nubs or pimples that provide grip and reduce slippage on the grass. These shoe outsoles also help tennis players to stop quickly and make sudden changes in direction.

Some Popular Tennis Shoe Brands 

There are many different brands of tennis shoes on the market, each with unique features. Let us look at some popular tennis shoe brands listed below.


Navy blue Nike shoes with pink and sea green colored detailing

Nike is one of the most popular brands, known for its lightweight shoes that provide good grip and support. This brand has been making tennis shoes since 1988.

Nike shoes also provide high-performance tennis shoe that provides excellent cushioning and


Nike has special Zoom air units on the heel counter. This provides maximum cushioning to the foot. Additionally, they produce shoes for both men and women. 

Some of the best tennis shoes by Nike are,

  • Nike Court Air Zoom Vapor Pro
  • Nike Court React Vapor NXT
  • Nike Court Zoom Lite 3


Black and white Adidas tennis shoes

Adidas is another popular choice, known for its shoes that provide good stability and traction. They have been making tennis shoes since 1970.

This brand has BOOST™ technology which provides comfort and a bounce-back effect. They also have a range of shoes available for both men and women.

Some of the best shoes by Adidas are,

  • Adidas Barricade
  • Courtjam Control Tennis Shoe
  • Adizero Ubersonic 4 Tennis Shoe


Asics blue and black tennis shoes

Asics is a well-known brand known for tennis shoes. This brand is known for its highly detailed research and renowned GEL cushioning technology. Their shoes are lightweight and provide good grip and support.

Also, Asics have created one of the most complete tennis shoes with the GEL-Resolution technology. Additionally, they have a range of shoes available for both men and women.

Some of the best shoes by Asics are,

  • Asics GEL-Resolution 8
  • Asics Court Speed FF
  • Asics Court FF Novak

New Balance

Asics neon tennis shoes

New Balance is also a favored choice among tennis players. They have been making high-quality shoes for years.

Additionally, New Balance offers a unique “rollbar” technology in some of their shoes, which helps to improve stability and traction.

This brand offer shoes that have comfortable cushioning and provide support for all-day wear.

Some of the best shoes by New Balance are,

  • New Balance 806
  • New Balance Fresh Foam X Lav V2
  • Coco CG1

Advantages of Tennis shoes

Tennis shoes offer several advantages over traditional shoes. Some of the advantages of tennis shoes are as follows.

  • The tennis shoe features an Achilles notch. A U-shaped or V-shaped indentation is present on the back of the shoe collar. This notch reduces the pressure on the wearer’s Achilles tendon (a fibrous cord connecting calf muscles to the heel bone).
  • Tennis shoes are comfortable for all athletes, making them ideal for long-standing hours.
  • Tennis shoes provide improved traction, which helps to increase performance on the court.
  • Tennis shoes also offer stability and support for the ankle, reducing the risk of injury. 

How to Choose the Right Tennis Shoes

The right footwear is essential for achieving peak performance on the court. When choosing tennis shoes, there are several factors to consider.

Firstly, it is essential to consider the type of court you will be playing on. Tennis shoes are designed for different court surfaces, such as clay or hard courts.

Secondly, select shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning. This will help to protect your feet from the impact of sudden stops and starts.

Thirdly, be sure to choose a shoe with a firm grip. This will help to prevent slips and falls during quick movements.

Finally, Tennis shoes should be comfortable and breathable to keep your feet cool during intense matches.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can be sure to choose the right tennis shoes for your game.


What is the difference between tennis shoes and sneakers?

Tennis shoes and sneakers are footwear designed for active use but have some key differences.

Tennis shoes have a low-to-the-ground design. It helps promote agility, and they also have built-in toe caps to protect the feet. Sneakers, on the other hand, typically have a thicker sole than tennis shoes.

Unlike regular athletic shoes, tennis shoes are made to handle the quick movements and changes in direction that a player needs to make when playing on a court. Whereas sneakers are designed to handle forward motion.

How to take care of tennis shoes?

Here are a few tips on how to take care of your tennis shoes:

  • Start with removing the laces. Then, remove dirt and debris using a simple brush or damp cloth after each wear.
  • Once they’re clean, allow your shoes to air dry. Avoid putting them in the dryer, as this can damage the material.
  • For extra protection, you can apply a water-repellant spray to keep your shoes looking new for longer.

What makes tennis shoes different than running shoes?

Tennis shoes are designed to provide stability and traction while offering the flexibility to move quickly from side to side during a match. Tennis shoes have extra padding in the midsole and outsole to protect against lateral movements, providing additional cushioning and support.

In contrast, running shoes cater more towards the repetitive forward motion of running with less emphasis on lateral movement protection.

Overall, tennis shoes provide more stability and comfort for tennis players compared to sports shoes like running shoes, basketball shoes, etc.


Now you know what tennis shoes are, their history, and how to choose them. These athletic shoes offer several benefits over traditional footwear, such as improved traction, stability, and support.

Whether you need extra support for your ankles or want a lightweight athletic shoe that allows for quick movement, there is a tennis shoe out there that is perfect for you.

It’s essential to consider factors like court surface type, support level, and grip when shopping for tennis shoes.

With the right tennis shoes, you can improve your performance on the court and protect yourself from injury. 

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