PDA

View Full Version : Old school vs modern shoes


robbo1970
02-27-2012, 01:17 AM
Just a few thoughts going through my mind about modern tennis shoes.

I have always used old school style tennis shoes.....Nike Classic (Wimbledon), Adidas Stan Smith....amongst a few similar others. Recently I changed to modern tennis shoes and have had nothing but lower leg trouble since. My stretching and warm up routine has not changed. Having played physical sports for 30 years, I have this routine pretty well worked out.

The issue I found with the modern shoes is that I found them heavy and cumbersome and not easy to move around quickly in. I would say that for my 41 years I am pretty fleet of foot and the modern shoes I have a considered a light shoe.

What goes through my mind is that the likes of Borg, McEnroe, Nastase and the like, never seemed to have problems getting around the courts in these old classics, nor do I recall seeing them with their ankles and legs strapped up like the majority of modern players seem to have these days.

Obviously, the modern shoes claim to offer more stabilty.

But I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the true benefits of modern shoes compared to old school, because with my calf strapped up as I type, I'm struggling to see any. Is it that we see our modern heroes wearing these shoes and feel thats what we should also wear if we want to be taken seriously?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing modern footwear, I'm just curious to any experiences you have had and whether there are serious justifcations as to why they are preferred over the old classics?

banter
02-27-2012, 06:12 AM
What I notice with the older model shoes are that they are of zero-drop (or at least close to it), meaning the heel is at the same plane as its forefoot. Many modern shoes are elevated. This elevation is designed to keep players on the balls of their feet and provide some arch support. I'm sure there are more reasons for this, but those two are those that stand out. Now this raise and angle of the foot bed creates an instability that is not found in zero-drop shoes.

robbo1970
02-27-2012, 07:24 AM
See that sounds right.

Having a flat shoe, like the old school style is actually keeping the foot at its natural position and any lift or change is actually created by the person, rather than a shoe that changes the angle of your foot, then has to build in extra stability to compensate for lifting the heel up.

I just dont seem to recall the older players having any issues in running about or having visible foot, ankle and leg problems like you do these days with most top players being strapped up....and if anything the speed of the likes of Borg is still legendary today.

So if someone was to wear an older style shoe, is it so bad? I just see so much emphasis on the most modern shoes here, I just wonder if our reasons are for comfort and agility or because we just think we should get the latest shoes?

michael valek
02-27-2012, 08:08 AM
i love the older styles, except availability and the fact that on UK hard courts they wear out in about a month, doesnt help a lot....Mike

WildVolley
02-27-2012, 08:19 AM
What I notice with the older model shoes are that they are of zero-drop (or at least close to it), meaning the heel is at the same plane as its forefoot. Many modern shoes are elevated. This elevation is designed to keep players on the balls of their feet and provide some arch support. I'm sure there are more reasons for this, but those two are those that stand out. Now this raise and angle of the foot bed creates an instability that is not found in zero-drop shoes.

Good analysis. I've been complaining about this too for a while. Raising the heel pre-tenses the calve muscles putting the foot into a position that isn't athletic. For instance, sprint spikes, made for running as fast as possible do not have a built up heel.

The built up heel was taken from running shoes designed for heel striking. I believe that modern tennis shoes can be made with sufficient cushioning without resorting to lifting the heels.

robbo1970
02-27-2012, 08:47 AM
Good analysis. I've been complaining about this too for a while. Raising the heel pre-tenses the calve muscles putting the foot into a position that isn't athletic. For instance, sprint spikes, made for running as fast as possible do not have a built up heel.

The built up heel was taken from running shoes designed for heel striking. I believe that modern tennis shoes can be made with sufficient cushioning without resorting to lifting the heels.

And from one wear, I get a strained calf muscle.

Same goes for football (soccer) boots. Flat design, lightweight, not built up anywhere, yet designed for sprinting, jogging, stopping, turning and geberal foot speed. Ok the playing surface has more give in it, but from a design concept, more like old school than new.

I know what you mean Mike...paying 100 for some Diadora Borgs is steep, but I was thinking more along the lines of something like the Nike Court Tradition.....nice and basic.

michael valek
02-27-2012, 08:50 AM
yep, although even current model lower priced shoes, dont generally have the durability of the top of the range. i used to go through hi-tec tennis back in the 80s in about 2 weeks. remember them? awful. and personally i find current models much more supportive in terms of knees etc than the old stuff. maybe thats just because i'm 40 now, but i play just as much as back then, shoes just last longer.

robbo1970
02-27-2012, 09:33 AM
yep, although even current model lower priced shoes, dont generally have the durability of the top of the range. i used to go through hi-tec tennis back in the 80s in about 2 weeks. remember them? awful. and personally i find current models much more supportive in terms of knees etc than the old stuff. maybe thats just because i'm 40 now, but i play just as much as back then, shoes just last longer.

Yes I remember them. Inter made the same one but with navy trim instead of green.

Theres no doubt modern versions of the old school designs are better now. More padding around the ankle and durability on the sole. I have some re-issues of the Nike Wimbledon and there are few variations around of those. I just want feel like I'm wearing the shoes and not them wearing me, if you know what I mean.

I'm the same age as you, so I still want a fair amount of mobility.

banter
02-27-2012, 10:58 AM
See that sounds right.
So if someone was to wear an older style shoe, is it so bad? I just see so much emphasis on the most modern shoes here, I just wonder if our reasons are for comfort and agility or because we just think we should get the latest shoes?

Definitely, not a bad thing. It's all about what shoes works for you. Often times we are convinced that we need something- oh the powers of marketing!



The built up heel was taken from running shoes designed for heel striking. I believe that modern tennis shoes can be made with sufficient cushioning without resorting to lifting the heels.

I second this.

Bobby Jr
02-27-2012, 12:43 PM
I think one major difference between what Borg/McEnroe wore and modern guys is where they play most of their tennis.

Borg and Laver would have been lucky to have played more than a few matches on hard court each season for much of their careers. Like soccer players and their modern but flat boots, the surfaces themselves generally offered plenty of cushioning.

As soon as hard courts became more popular all those guys like McEnroe, Connors, Lendl etc switched to more modern shoes relatively quickly.

Ronaldo
02-27-2012, 01:01 PM
Try on the old Wilson Pro Staff or Nike Vapors. Both are light with not much of a heel lift. Must love shoes like the Nike Free.

Povl Carstensen
02-27-2012, 01:52 PM
Research shows that the advent of modern running shoes did not decrease the amount of injuries, on the contrary. I would think it is the same for tennis shoes, though there might not be statistics for it.
Shoe technology is to a large extent a marketing strategy. Like with racket "technology", manufacturers have to claim they come up with something new and better every two or three years, because thats what the competition does.
The percentage of runners and tennisplayers with injuries and problems, despite "high tech" footwear is staggering, so the OP's observations are not surpricing. Instead of fixing the problems of shoes with more technology (inserts, braces, etc), I recommend going the other way, reducing the problem by minimizing, simplifying, going back to basics. And the most basic is that we have a very capable, adaptive, ingenious design at the end of our legs, called feet. All imo and experience.

Bobby Jr
02-27-2012, 04:21 PM
Research shows that the advent of modern running shoes did not decrease the amount of injuries, on the contrary. I would think it is the same for tennis shoes, though there might not be statistics for it.
I would hazard a guess that people run on average considerably further when jogging or playing tennis than they did in the 1980s.

Shoe technology is to a large extent a marketing strategy. Like with racket "technology", manufacturers have to claim they come up with something new and better
Absolutely. I agree.

Remember the amount of injuries we see these days may not be significantly more compared to the 80s - it's just we are made much more aware of them when it happens to tops players. Likewise, the high-techness of footwear enables players to play beyond their natural (no shoes) limits by a big margin - meaning the incidence of repetition injuries could rise regardless of improvements in footwear. (for example - playing longer and longer matches on slower courts could increase the incidence of wrist injuries through nothing more than an increase in number of balls hit)

Borrelli
02-27-2012, 08:43 PM
I play with some old school diadora's (maverick and Borg elite) on clay and they work great but when it comes to hard surfaces there is no substitute for the modern cushioning and durability. Think I'm gonna grab a pair of those modern Jack Purcell Evo's for the clay this summer, they look to have a nice herringbone pattern.

P99
02-27-2012, 09:10 PM
im not too old, on my late 20's but if i can find some oscillates again id definitely stock up!

praetorean
02-27-2012, 10:08 PM
im not too old, on my late 20's but if i can find some oscillates again id definitely stock up!

true... these are the best kicks i ever wore too... the lowest ride...

robbo1970
02-28-2012, 02:09 AM
Thank you for some excellent views and opinons.

My main issue with the newer style shoes is the fact they feel cumbersome and heavy and as if they are dictating my running technique and foot work more than I am, hence the danger of strains, twists and muscle pulls.

I guess I need to almost blank out the words 'tennis shoe' to some degree when looking for something that works for me. I need comfort and support as well something that offers enough maneouvrability. If that ends up being a flatter, old school style and it works....it cannot be wrong I guess.

I can see that my thread has created some good points though and some boiling down to how marketing and media affects our choices.

Povl Carstensen
03-03-2012, 12:04 PM
Yes, that people do sport in shoes that are up around 400g each (plus double socks, inserts and braces) is a mystery to me.

jaggy
03-03-2012, 05:50 PM
I think Stan Smiths are just the cassiest lookingshoes made.

datanewb
03-04-2012, 06:00 PM
YES! YES! YES!

Most tennis shoes have over an inch of padding, are sloped like high heels and are rigid like a ski boot. Anyone ever try playing tennis in a pair of ski boots? I didn't think so. We should not be designing tennis shoes like ski boots. Modern shoes have excess padding and support. The more padding the shoe has in the sole, the more rigid the uppers must be to prevent rolling over.

I'm not old enough to have ever played in the same shoes as McEnroe or Conner, but I've spent a lot of time on message boards and reading reviews looking for the lowest to the ground shoes. Very often people will say such and such shoe is low to the ground (like the Adidas Adizero), but if there is over an inch of padding in the heel, how can that possibly be considered low to the groud. Merrell and Vibram make non-competition running shoes that feel as though you are barefoot. Why doesn't any tennis company make lower to the ground shoes?!?!?

Tennis Warehouse is imho, by far the best tennis store in the US (can't speak outside of this country). They also make the best reviews I've found anywhere. A big THANK YOU to Spencer and especially Chris, and all of the other play testers as well.

I have one suggestion, that would make buying tennis shoes astronomically easier!! Get a pair of calipers to measure the height of the sole (outsole, midsole, and inserts)! I love that the weight of the shoe is easily found under the description, but if the height of the shoe sole, perhaps at both the heal and the forefoot, was published, it would inform the consumer and retain more customers (AND reduce injuries).

Just a suggestion, but please, please, PLEASE consider it!

Ronaldo
03-04-2012, 06:16 PM
Go back to shoes that lasted 2-4 weeks, never again

banter
03-07-2012, 01:35 PM
Has anyone tried to modify their shoes to yield zero drop?