Why Court Surface Matters

Your best tennis shoe is one that provides the ultimate amount of comfort and support. There are three essential factors to consider when selecting a tennis shoe that’s right for your game:
  1. Foot-type
  2. Playing style
  3. Court surface

Learn about foot-type and playing surface here

Based on the type of court you play on determines the type of out-sole you need. Each court has different traction and durability requirements.


Clay Court

Clay court-specific shoes feature a full herringbone tread pattern. It’s characterized by a sharp, deep zig zag pattern along the entire out-sole. As you run around the court, and flex the shoe, the herringbone tread allows the clay to fall out between the grooves to maintain traction and minimize unwanted sliding. Some shoes feature a modified herringbone, which contains a rounded, more shallow zig zag pattern. The deeper and sharper the grooves are, the better the shoe is on clay. However, a modifed version allows for multi-court use.

Since out-sole durability is not as big of an issue on a clay court (as it is on a hard court) clay-court shoes will often have thinner out-soles, resulting in a slightly lighter, more flexible shoe.


Hard Court

If you are playing primarily on a hard court you should look for a shoe with a higher level of cushioning. Due to the unforgiving nature of the court surface, there is greater force placed on the joints and more impact-absorption is needed.

You’ll also need to look for a tread with maximum surface area. Unlike clay shoes, you’ll want an out-sole with less grooves which are also shorter and more shallow. By maximizing the rubber contact with the court, you’ll prevent unwanted court sliding.


Both Clay And Hard Courts

If you play on both clay and hard court surfaces, we’d recommend buying two different shoes. However, if that is not possible there are shoes that have out-soles designed for multiple court surfaces. For example, some shoes feature a combination sole (half herringbone) or a modified herringbone tread (as previously mentioned).

Note: intentional court sliding and accidental court slipping are very different. Tennis shoes are designed to prevent the latter. If you’re playing style includes the former, we’d recommend going for a shoe with a six month outsole warranty.

Bottom Line:
You need to consider three factors when deciding on the best tennis shoe for your game: foot-type, playing style and court surface. By selecting the correct footwear for court surface you will find the best shoe for the court’s traction and durability requirements. Ultimately, this will lead you to a shoe that provides the best comfort and support.


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