Other than the tennis racquet, a good pair of tennis shoes is the most important piece of equipment a person can invest money in. It is impossible to have the right type of movement on the court without footwear built specifically for that.
Numerous brands put out new shoes all the time, so it’s sometimes hard to sample the best from each company. How did we make the cut? We’ve not only gathered exclusive data about what tennis shoes pro players are using, but we also spent weeks of play-testing every single shoe from the major brands.
Before going through each one, here’s a sneak peek of the best tennis shoes and their overall ratings.
|Rank||Tennis Shoe||Overall Rating (1-10)|
|1||Nike Air Zoom Vapor X||8.8|
|2||Nike Air Zoom Cage 3||8.7|
|3||New Balance Fresh Foam Lav||8.7|
|4||Babolat Propulse Fury AC||8.6|
|5||Adidas Solecourt Boost||8.5|
|6||Asics Gel Resolution 7||8.5|
|7||Asics Court Novak FF 2||8.5|
|8||Fila Axilus 2 Energized||8.5|
|9||Lotto Mirage 100 SPD||8.4|
|10||Asics Solution Speed FF||8.4|
|11||Adidas Adizero Ubersonic||8.4|
|12||Yonex Power Cushion Eclipsion 2||8.3|
|13||Diadora Speed Blueshield Fly 2||8.3|
|14||Nike Air Zoom Zero||8.1|
1. Nike Air Zoom Vapor X
As the flagship shoe option from the most known shoe company in the world, it’s easy to see why so many people gravitate towards the Nike Air Zoom Vapor X. People love the simple, elegant design, the fact so many top pros wear it, and the easy fit from the very first wear.
When examining the Nike Vapor line, the only common complaint has mostly linked to its durability in the past. The company has focused hard on making the shoes a bit more durable, and the Air Zoom Vapor X now stands out as the best overall shoe for the vast majority of players.
Why do pros seem to love this shoe? It has a very low to the ground feel, and people also really appreciate the lightweight ride overall. Some tennis shoes can start to feel a little heavy over time, but these are perfect for matches in particular. You can read our full review in this post.
- Feels very lightweight on foot
- Low to the ground ride for excellent movement
- Available in many colors
- Not the most durable shoes (specifically on hard court)
- Hard to find clay court soles at times
2. Nike Air Zoom Cage 3
Right now, the shoe choice of Rafael Nadal is the Nike Air Zoom Cage 3. He has been wearing them for over a year now, and if it’s built strong enough for him, it’s built strong enough for the average player.
The Vapor line is the lightweight model, while the Cage line is for strength and durability. Players who are very rough on shoes will benefit greatly from having these on. They come with a six-month outsole guarantee, and the outsole is as good as you will find with any tennis shoe out there.
Keep in mind that the shoe has a booty construction. That takes a little bit of getting used to it first, but most people enjoy it for the most part. It locks a player’s ankles in and prevents the foot from moving around when it shouldn’t.
Just like the Vapor, the Cage 3 has been out for a while now, and Nike offers several different colors for people to choose from. There are so many options that a person will find something that they enjoy wearing on the court.
- Great durability
- Plentiful Colorways
- Glove-like fit
- Finding the right size is tricky
- Takes time to break in properly
3. Nike Air Zoom Zero
Out of the three Nike shoes to make this list, the Air Zoom Zero is the most recent addition to the tennis line. It helps having Zoom air under the entire foot, providing players with a very responsive ride. Even though tennis is about different types of movement, it adds a curved design to the sole that helps with natural momentum when going after balls.
If there is a drawback to this model, it is the fact that it seems just a little cheaply made. Maybe that is part of the reason why it is a very affordable shoe overall, but the outfall perform better, and the upper seems a little lazy. The upper is made of mesh, but it’s not as comfortable or flexible as the Vapor or Cage model.
Still, there is a market for the Zoom Zero. Some people were skeptical when it first released, but it has become a pretty popular shoe on tour. Nike athletes seem to like the feel of this shoe, and anyone who comes from the running background should give it a try.
- Most inexpensive performance shoe model from Nike
- Sole shape mimics running shoes
- Strong toe protection for toe-draggers
- Not particularly durable
- Not everyone is a fan of the liner
4. Adidas Solecourt Boost
For years and years, the Adidas Barricade line gained a ton of support. It was the durable shoe solution from Adidas, but they decided to step away from it and go in a slightly different direction.
Because so many people are loyal to the Barricades, the Adidas SoleCourt Boost did not get off to a very good start. Some people were simply not willing to even give it a try, but those who have actually like what it brings to the table.
To start with, the most noticeable feature is, of course, the Boost cushioning. Adidas has been using this type of cushioning in nearly every shoe out there, and it provides a very comfortable ride for tennis players. While the shoes are comfortable, it also doesn’t make people feel like they are lacking stability or durability.
if there is a complaint about the SoleCourt Boost, it is that it’s pretty heavy. At 15.7 ounces, it’s replacing the Barricade in that department. Some players don’t notice a difference, and they enjoy the trade-off with a more durable shoe. Others might struggle to move around quite as quickly, especially after playing hours and hours. You can read our full review in this post.
- Very soft, comfortable ride
- One of the most stable shoes around
- Borrows a lot of qualities from the discontinued Barricade line
- Not as durable as Barricades
5. Adidas Adizero Ubersonic
Since Adidas first launch the Ubersonic line, people have been very impressed with this slightly lighter tennis shoe option. It is more of a minimalist option, shedding some weight without giving up much in other departments. What a player gets is a very responsive shoe built for quick players.
On the upper, Adidas uses PrimeKnit, which ranks as one of the most comfortable and breathable fabrics out there. This helps to keep the weight down, without sacrificing much durability.
The outsole is what a lot of people love about the shoe. Adidas spent a lot of time making sure that they use not only the right material, but they designed it the right way for premium movement as well.
Every shoe, whether designed for hard court or clay court, comes with a herringbone pattern. It is a little more dense near the toes, helping with stopping and sliding on the court. Even on hard courts, more and more players are sliding all over the place, and the shoes help with that.
The durability won’t trump the SoleCourt Boost, but they are still a great option for people to consider. Don’t shy away from trying something new and exciting. This is the best Ubersonic Adidas has released by far.
- Lightweight, minimalist feel on foot
- Very breathable upper
- Customized fit
- Outsole wears out fairly fast
- Stability takes a small hit
6. Asics Gel Resolution 7
At this point, a lot of tennis players around the world have been very loyal to Asics. The Gel Resolution 7 is another step in the right direction for any type of player. While the company did change a few things here and there, it is mostly the same type of shoe with similar features as the Gel Resolution 6.
What’s new with the Gel Resolution 7? The upper design uses a TPU Wrap now, which helps to lock the foot in for added support and stability. The shoe also feels slightly lighter on foot, which is always a positive for players.
It’s still largely down as a great all-around option for tennis players who might not know which direction to go in. There is no such thing as a perfect shoe for every single type of foot, but this option certainly comes close. A player can feel very comfortable with the decision they’ve made going with a neutral, well-rounded option like this.
Asics uses their Gel Cushion System on plenty of other shoes in different sports, and it works very well with tennis. Hard court players, in particular, love the way these shoes can help negate the effects of such a hard surface.
- Excellent cushioning system
- New lockdown system helps with support and stability
- Lighter on foot compared to Gel Resolution 6
- Lacks some responsiveness compared to other brands
- A bit stiff to move around in early on
7. Asics Solution Speed FF
Those looking for an extremely lightweight tennis shoe that still has plenty of stability need to try out the Solution Speed from Asics. It officially weighs in at 12.3 ounces, which is about as light as a player will find for a quality tennis shoe. It’s not something that just weighs very little on the scale either. On foot, it has a very minimal feel to it that a lot of players love. Part of the reasoning is that it uses Flexion Fit technology.
The upper is seamless, wrapping around the foot and making a player feel very secure when performing any shot. It has one of the most comfortable uppers on the market. It helps players who sometimes feel limited by restricted uppers, or can’t seem to find a proper fit.
As is the sacrifice with a lot of the lightweight tennis shoes, the sole is going to a little quicker than some other options out there. It’s not a huge deal for most tennis players, but those who grind out points and we were around a lot probably will not get too much play time out of these.
Shoes, first and foremost, must be comfortable for players to excel in any sport. When trying these on, they win a lot of people over right out of the box.
- Weighs just over 12 ounces
- Very soft, comfortable upper
- Excellent traction for enhanced footwork
- Won’t hold up that long on hard courts
- Wider fit makes sizing tricky
8. Asics Court Novak FF 2
Despite Novak Djokovic being one of the all time greats in tennis, he’s always struggled a bit to evolve into a true trendsetter with his apparel and shoes. He has been with a few different companies so far in his professional career, and this latest option from Asics is not exactly flying off the shelves.
Despite not having much popularity, the shoe is an amazing option for players who rely on covering a lot of court. They can take a beating every single day, and last longer than any other tennis shoe on the market.
There is a reason why these shoes are marketed by one of the best movers in tennis history. Djokovic has outstanding court coverage, and these shoes fit his game perfectly.
As durable as the shoe is on the outside, Asics knocked it out of the park on the inside. From the moment they are put on, there is no break-in period needed. The mono-sock construction they use keeps the foot locked in during an entire match. Not everyone loves the fit, but those who love it feel like it locks down better than any other shoe on the market.
- Foot stays locked in with the proper fitting
- Offers a great blend of speed and stability
- Great support for sliders
- Mono-sock design doesn’t work for everyone
- Could be more flexible
9. Lotto Mirage 100 SPD
Lotto is one of those brands many tennis players tend to overlook. They don’t have a huge list of pro player endorsers, and they keep a pretty low profile overall. With that said, there are more than a few people who love the look, feel and performance of the Mirage 100 SPD.
Players who used the Raptor Ultra IV have a lot of positive things to say about this new model. It’s one of the best shoes available for people who love that molded feel on foot. It has a lot of similarities in that regard to a soccer boot, and it’s lightweight to help people feel fast moving around the court.
One nice bonus that Lotto provides is two insoles to customize the ride of the shoe. The 5.5 mm insole is meant more for comfort, while the 4.0 mm is for a slimmer, more close to the ground fit.
Due to its pretty unique fit, try these out if at all possible before purchasing. If that’s not possible, make sure to purchase somewhere with free returns. The length is a little short, and the width is slightly narrow. That might make a person fluctuate between sizes to get the fit they want.
- Molds to the foot like soccer cleats
- Two included insoles for a customized ride
- Provides great shock absorption
- Fitting is tough to get right (length is short, width is narrow)
- Upper could be more flexible
10. Fila Axilus 2 Energized
With the retail of the Fila Axilus 2 only being $110, this is arguably the best overall value for performance tennis shoes. Fila sticks with a very classic look, but they have increased performance to make this a great all around you. It’s built for any type of player, and it is durable enough to withstand hours and hours of play on hard courts.
The comfort with the shoes are pretty amazing, and a lot of that comes down to what’s under the foot. The shoe is very flexible and responsive when changing directions, and the sole has energized rubber in it. This provides players with more energy throughout the match, and a very low to the ground feel that so many people look for.
Some people might dismiss them due to the fairly simple look, but it’s something people know Fila for in the tennis world. Once someone tries them on, they can see that it has a lot of the same technology as the top models from other brands.
Fila understands that a lot of people love the shoe, which is why there are currently over 10 different colors for people to choose from. From a truly classic look to some brighter colors, most of them are easy to find well under $100.
- Low to the ground ride
- Energized rubber responds to different movements well
- Very affordable for a performance tennis shoe
- Fit is tricky (short in length, wide in width)
- Some consider the design too simple
11. Yonex Power Cushion Eclipsion 2
Yonex might have a well-respected name due to their racquets and grips in the tennis world, but they make some great tennis shoes also. Their most popular model is the Power Cushion Eclipsion 2, a shoe that Stan Wawrinka has been wearing for a while.
The company is very happy with its power cushion technology, and after trying it on, it’s easy to see why. They throw the numbers out that they offer a 25% more shock absorption and 12% increase in repulsion, but in Layman‘s terms, just understand that these are a definite step up from the previous model.
The feet feel much less tired after extended use, and although it is a little on the heavier side at 14.2 ounces, it still performs decently well as a nice middle of the road weight option.
Breathability stands out pretty well with the shoe, which might surprise some people. There is some strategic placement as far as double ressel mesh is concerned, and that helps with breathability quite a bit. Some of the heavier tennis shoes are problematic on really hot days because they don’t breathe as well as some other options.
- Outstanding shock absorption
- Cuts significant weight from the previous model
- Very supportive shoe in all areas
- Despite weight (14.2), feels heavier
- Uninspired design
12. Diadora Speed Blushield Fly 2
Diadora has a pretty rich history when it comes to tennis. They have produced some really good shoes in the past, and their most popular option right now has to be the speed Blushield Fly 2. The name is a bit of a mouthful, but people have gravitated towards this shoe mostly because of the cushioning and support he provides.
Where this shoe gains a lot of notoriety is right above the outsole. The midsole cushioning provides multiple layers directly under the foot for a very comfortable ride. Theodora refers to this as Blushield Fly technology, which is a fancy way to say molded EVA foam.
The upper helps to make the shoe very supportive, Especially through the toe area. Sometimes, uppers can feel pretty stiff, but that’s not the case with this option.
Diadora gets overlooked at times, but they offer a really good solution for any type of player out there. It’s available at a pretty good discount in today’s world, as they recently released the third version of the shoe. Try out the fit and see why it is one of the more underrated shoes on the market.
- Excellent locked in upper support
- Right amount of soft cushioning
- Very affordable
- Despite outsole guarantee, not extremely durable
- Not a ton of arch support
13. New Balance Fresh Foam Lav
Comfort has always been the main selling point of any shoe from new balance. It should come as no surprise that the Fresh Foam Lav falls right in their category, even if it is a heavier tennis shoe.
With the design help of Milos Raonic, the shoe took some bold moves to make it a little more playable and exciting with its design. So far, it has resulted in quickly becoming a fan favorite.
The Kinetic Stitching is something New Balance focused on to make the shoe extremely customized. When a person makes the proper adjustments, they can get the shoe feeling like it is a glove. Despite the pretty tight fit, the feet never feel tired or stuffed into a situation that is not breathable during hot match days.
Under the foot, the Fresh Foam is everything a person could expect from New Balance. It’s a tennis shoe that could easily double as a casual shoe just walk around in. A more modernized look gets New Balance out of the rut of constantly being labeled as the basic type of shoe.
- Very easy to get a great upper fit
- Extremely comfortable even late in matches
- Durable outsole
- Ankle collar takes time to feel right
- Most expensive New Balance tennis shoe
14. Babolat Propulse Fury AC
Like Yonex, Babolat is mostly known for other tennis products besides shoes. They have a few shoe models out there, and the most popular model is the Propulse Fury AC. Built for the aggressive player who is pretty rough on shoes in general, they look like tanks without being too heavy.
The Michelin rubber used for the soles of Babolat shoes has been a staple for years now. They claim to have one of the best outsoles in the business, and playtests show that they are contenders. It adds a little bit of weight to the shoe, but not enough that makes it too noticeable.
These are also very stable shoes, thanks to the Power Belt technology used by the company. It helps to lock in the heel and midfoot. With the foot not moving around nearly as much, a player can simply focus on their game and their movement.
The shoes aren’t recommended for people with wide feet, as they do run slightly narrow. It might become a bit uncomfortable to wear these shoes for a long time with wide feet, as the fit relies heavily on getting a close fit. For everyone else, it’s a shoe that most people feel they get a lot of value out of because it lasts so long.
- Extremely durable
- Adaptable fit
- Targeted cushioning in the right areas
- Still a little on the heavy side (15.4 ounces)
- Feel stiff in the beginning
What To Look For In Tennis Shoes
Still unsure how to make a decision? Below is a look at the most important things to consider before buying a pair of tennis shoes and some common tennis shoe-related questions many shoppers have. It can help people narrow down their decision by knowing what to look for.
It’s a challenge for a lot of people to find just the right tennis shoes that fit their game. It seems like at times, picking a racquet is easier than picking choose. It’s impossible to simply go off of recommendations from others, since every person’s foot is slightly different.
The key to any tennis shoe mostly comes down to comfort, stability, breathability, and durability. Why do these factors matter so much? If a shoe provides all four, players don’t even think twice about their shoes during the actual match.
This is a pretty simple part of any shoe purchase. Most tennis shoes do not require any break-in today. That means if the shoe isn’t comfortable the very first time it was put on and adjusted properly, it’s probably never going to be truly comfortable.
The shoe can be extremely stylish and endorsed by a shopper’s favorite player, but if it doesn’t fit properly, there’s another option out there that well. Take the time to try tennis shoes on and walk around in a store or at home before taking them on the court. Once they are used outdoors, it’s pretty much impossible to get a return after that if something doesn’t go right with the fit.
Tennis involves a lot of stopping and starting. A player is moving in many different directions throughout a match, and to prevent injury, stability is extremely important. Players must feel locked in at all times, as even a little bit of slippage can lead to feeling unsure. Not only that, but it could cause injury as well.
Shoes built for other sports just don’t work on the tennis court. One common example is running shoes. They don’t have the right amount of lateral stability to hold up in a tennis match. A stable tennis shoe can improve a player’s performance very quickly.
Tennis is predominately played during the summer months, and matches last hours at a time. It should come as no surprise that breathability is essential for any pair of tennis shoes. Without it, feet will overheat, sweat will be retained and the shoes will just not be comfortable.
Breathability matters quite a bit in any sport that is played outdoors during the summer months. Just a little bit of moisture in the shoe can start to form blisters as well. It’s a frustrating experience for anyone, because playing tennis should be all about having freedom of movement and not worrying too much about what might happen.
Tennis is predominately played on hard courts, which are very tough on shoes. Even the shoes built specifically for tennis are only going to last so long, as there is a lot of moving, stopping, sliding and more.
Each person is different as far as how they wear out tennis shoes, but one common area is right under the ball of a person’s foot, the heel, and the tip of the toe. The first two wear areas are due to how a person walks and runs, and by the tip of the toe is because of serving more than likely.
When a player serves, certain people drag their back toe, causing some damage to the shoe. Depending on how much they drag the shoe, it could start to develop flat spots or even worse, tears in the upper.
If a player is tough on shoes, it’s worth going after the shoes that offer the six-month warranty for the outsole. This way, if the sole does wear out, a replacement pair is available. Essentially, a person gets two pairs of shoes for the price of one. People playing a lot of tennis have been using this option for quite a while, and it certainly works wonders.
Are Surface Specific Tennis Shoes Necessary?
Since the vast majority of tennis courts around the world are hard, some players don’t come across too many clay courts in their lifetime. However, those who play on clay courts should look for clay court shoes if at all possible. They might not seem that different, but it can be a huge difference-maker.
The most noticeable difference will be, of course, the sole. Most clay court shoes have a herringbone pattern, and it is consistent throughout the entire bottom. This helps for stopping and starting, and also for sliding when needed.
Without shoes that have a good grip, it is very difficult to come to a stop on clay. Learning to slide on clay is a technique in itself, and is nearly impossible to do with standard hard court shoes.
If you are going to play on more than one surface and can’t afford buying shoes for each surface, you should consider an all-court tennis shoe. Check out this post for my current recommendations.
Why Surface Specific Shoes Are Important
An often-overlooked advantage of clay court shoes is the fact that certain areas are closed off as well. For example, at the top of the shoe with hard courts is a breathable mesh most of the time. While that helps quite a bit with breathability, it also allows for clay to sip into the shoe.
This could cause a lot of trouble, so it is usually made of finer material on clay court shoes. This still offers some flexibility and breathability, but doesn’t fill the shoe up with pellets of clay.
Ideally, every tennis player who plays fairly consistently should have one pair of hard court and one pair of clay court shoes.
Wearing clay court shoes on hard courts not only feel differently, but it’s a good way to get other players mad as well. Even well cleaned off clay shoes might have a little residue left on them, and it will quickly dirty up a clean hard court.
Here’s my up-to-date surface specific tennis shoes:
Any new model of tennis shoe should get a fair chance with an open mind from shoppers. There’s no telling which shoe will end up feeling best on an individual‘s foot.
It’s fine to be loyal to a brand or a particular line once finding something that works, but in the beginning, try as many brands as possible. For some people, the lesser-known brands end up fitting the best.