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 stability.

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 shoe.

3 - Shock Adsorption - jump up and down, the shoe should feel "springy"

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.

All Court

Clay Court

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 support.

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 name.

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                   Regular Holes


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:

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 Adidas.

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.
US - UK - European Sizing Chart

Junior Shoes

US UK Europe
13 12.5 31
13.5 13 31-1/2
1 13.5 32-2/3
1.5 1 33-1/3
2 1.5 34
2.5 2 34-2/3
3 2.5 35-1/3
3.5 3 36
4 3.5 36-1/2
4.5 4 37
5 4.5 37-1/2

Thank you for reading this.  Please give me questions, comments, and suggestions.
Richard Marks, owner.  email link