Tennis Shoe Technical Information
The soles on modern tennis shoes are specially designed.
1 - The toe is made of a long lasting material.
Obviously this is a wear point for tennis shoes.
2 - The front
and rear sections are made with a special pattern to dig in
and hold you on the court.
3- The center arch of the sole is made of stiff plastic to
prevent twisting. When you push off on your toe,
you want the rest of the body to follow, you don't want that
force twisted away.
4- the heel has a stiff plastic heel cradle for added
5 - MOST IMPORTANT, soles have special shock adsorption.
Wilson has DST, which are small balls of foam (or air in top
quality shoes), other manufactures have their own
technologies. All work. But work better in the
more expensive shoes.
How to tell if the sole is not good quality
1 - Twist the sole front to back. It should hardly
twist. Compare several in different price ranges and you
will see the difference.
2 - Isolation. This means that if you step on a pebble
or twig, you should not feel it through the thick sold.
Push the end of a ball point pen into the bottom of the sole
in various places. If you can feel the point, forget the
3 - Shock Adsorption - jump up and down, the shoe should feel
Top quality Wilson Tour Spin sole
Cheap Reebok Lifestyle Club C
You can see the different toe, heel and mid-section
materials on the Wilson and you can see the plastic arch stiffener. In contrast the Reebok is a single material,
no arch support, and no deep tread.
Clay Court vs. All Court
The pictures below are of the good quality Wilson Trance II
shoe. Same uppers, but available in Clay and All
Court. Notice the difference in the tread. Both have
a plastic arch stabilizer; but it is
covered by tread in the clay court version.
Modern, quality tennis shoes have a noticeable way to attach the
laces and the top of the foot into the sole. Some shoes have
a plastic gizmo which the laces go through and which covers
the foot down to the arch area. This is most visible in
the below picture of the top quality Wilson Tour II shoe
Top quality shoe: plastic support connects shoe top to sole
Other shoes give this support with internal hidden fabric strips.
Cheaper shoes have no connection and do not give as good support. See this picture of the cheaper quality Wilson
Advantage II Shoe - there is only flexible artificial shoe leather for
Lower Quality: top to sole connection uses only shoe material
Breathability and Moisture
Obviously Tennis shoes need a way to let fresh air in and the foot
moisture and smell out. This is done in two ways.
The first is breathability. This is a fancy name for fabric
with holes in it. The more breathability the better.
Mesh fabrics are the best. But they is more expensive. Also mesh is not
strong so (again as you can see from the picture) the shoe
needs other structural components to give support. This
makes shoes with mesh more expensive
Top Quality: lots of breathable mesh
and well perforated leather in toe box
A second type of breathable material is leather, or simulated
leather, with little holes in it. This does not breath as
well as mesh, but it is cheaper, stronger, and wears better.
Many top quality shoes use mesh tongues and leather uppers.
An example of this is the nice quality Wilson ProStaff Fusion
below; the tongue is breathable mesh, unfortunately it does not
show well in the picture
Medium Quality: mesh tongue and perf leather
Another aspect of moisture control is absorbency. The
shoe lining, especially on the bottom of the foot where there is
no way to breath, has to adsorb moisture. The better shoes
have liners with special moisture adsorbent materials. For
example, Wilson has the "Nanowik Moisture Management
Lining". Most other brands have good absorbency, but no fancy
The easiest lacing systems have the laces running through special
loops which are in the direction of the laces. These let you
pull the laces smoothly and tightly. The alternative is to
have traditional holes in the shoes; the laces have to twist and turn
which makes lacing harder.
Compare these two top quality Prince shoes.
Superior parallel loops
There are various lacing techniques for problem fit.
Basically one can skip holes for looser fit in certain
areas. Or some areas can be tied off with a lace
block. See: http://walking.about.com/od/shoes/ss/shoelacingtofit.htm
I have not said much about fit. All tennis shoes today are
made on good form fitting lasts. Or course each company uses
a different model, some for wide feet (New Balance), most are for
average width feet. If you find a brand that works, stick
with it. For example, I personally fit Wilson or
Prince size 9, but I find Adidas feels funny. Others love
One problem is sizing. One would hope that a size 9 from
every manufacturer would be the same. This is not the
case. Wilson, Prince, and Adidas do conform. Babolat
runs a little small. Nike has such a large variation, that you
are gambling to purchase them on the internet.
- UK - European Sizing Chart
Thank you for reading this. Please give me
questions, comments, and suggestions.
Richard Marks, owner. email