Minimalist shoes for Tennis?

Discussion in 'Shoes and Apparel' started by JohnMT, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Agreed, and also agreed that modern society and science has positive consequences too.

    No, not all things advertized are bad. But there are selfreinforcing trends that might not always be purely beneficial. The trend of more technology can be almost funny, for instance when racket manufacturers push each other to claim that they have more or less reinvented the tennis racket every two or three years. The consumer has to look at these things with a critical but openminded eye, imo.
     
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  2. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    You aren't arguing that humans are living longer because of heavily cushioned athletic shoes, are you?

    You do realize that the craze of running and competing in heavily cushioned shoes has only been going on less than half a century. Nike shoes started becoming big only in the 1970s. I don't think there has been any great increase in lifespan in the West during that time.

    There's definitely a risk of injury going barefoot or in minimalist shoes, but that's true for all exercise.
     
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  3. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    It seems to be well documented that the frequency of injuries for runners has not gone down as a result of the introduction of modern running shoes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
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  4. Readers

    Readers Semi-Pro

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    If it's on hard court, you won't really be playing tennis, you will be trying your hardest to not cripple yourself in one set.
     
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  5. yellowoctopus

    yellowoctopus Professional

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    Absolutely not

    I'm arguing that modern inventions, including the shoes, are not necessarily harmful as proponents of barefoot running, raw food eating, etc. might want people to believe. At the same time, I'm also acknowledging that the people that have taken commercialism to new heights are guilty of making modern inventions more than what it can or intended to do, even making up false inventions at times.

    Happy medium, I am.

    [​IMG]
     
    #55
  6. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    This keeps being put forward by people who have not tried it (I believe). I more or less have to look up a hard court and give it a try. What is the definition of a hard court, concrete, cement?
    For running barefoot, pavement does not rank very high in difficulty, compared to fx gravel.
     
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  7. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    When most people are talking hard courts, they mean concrete courts with a surface. The tradition in the US used to be a surface on top of the concrete painted red and green.

    There is no difficulty running barefoot on a concrete surface, as I've found myself, but the difficulty will be the quick stops and changes of direction. That can develop a lot of friction, and some of the top pros (Djokovic, Monfils) are sliding all over the hard courts. I'd definitely want some rubber under my foot for that.

    I still contend that I could move very rapidly on a hard court surface in a shoe that had that tough outsole material with no midsole or insole. I'd still be off the court, but my foot would ride much closer to the court. Bruising of the heel would be an issue until I adjusted my foot impact, but I think it is highly doable.
     
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  8. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Yes I'm not shure I would want to slide on them barefoot either, and I'm not the right one to test that anyway. And I totally agree with your point about a minimalist tennis shoe. Actually a thin, soft insole can be ok for a little added comfort, imo. And the thing is, you start adjusting your foot impact the second you change to minimalist shoes, and of course even more without shoes.
     
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  9. WildVolley

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    I've hit barefoot on a hard court because one day I happened to be going past the courts in flip-flops and saw some friends hitting. The flip-flops were worthless for hitting, so I took them off and just hit barefoot. Just hitting was no problem, but I didn't do any quick stopping.

    I live on the coast, so it isn't unusual to see barefoot people around here.
     
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  10. 6LOVE

    6LOVE New User

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    I train (CrossFit) and run in the minimalist Onitsuka Tiger Tai Chi (by Asics). To protect against the pounding of pavement, jumping rope, box jumps, etc. I create a full-length insole from PPT foam padding (orthotic grade material).

    This has worked perfectly for me for a year now so I am currently experimenting with a similar set-up for tennis. Instead of the slipper-like Tai Chi, I'm using the very lightly-padded Asics Mexico with the same PPT protective insole. They worked very well at the my last tennis lesson: I was working on the backhand and my coach said my weight-transfer was not right. The minimalist shoes gave me superior feel to make the necessary adjustments. In this limited experiment of hitting with my coach I experienced no stability issues whatsoever. With "zero drop" there's nowhere to fall! I totally agree that the only reason modern tennis shoes requires lateral stabilization is because they have such an extreme heel drop.

    I'm going to try the Asics Mexicos in a doubles match this evening, and will report back.

    If the set up is suitable for match play, but I find that the Mexicos wear too quickly I plan to try the Merrell Barefoot Road Gloves.

    I hope others will share their experience with minimalist and zero drop shoes on the tennis court.
     
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  11. 6LOVE

    6LOVE New User

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    OK, here's my update:

    Doubles went extremely well last evening. Movement was better in every way — getting to net, footwork while volleying, tracking down lobs. No question in my mind that minimalist shoes are safe on the hard courts. I am confident that any tennis player who has gone "zero drop" for running and training will prefer minimalist shoes on the tennis court.

    Unfortunately, my Asics Mexicos took a beating in only one doubles session. I ordered Merrell Barefoot Road Gloves, which have a sole designed to run on pavement. I'll let you know how they hold up on the court.
     
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  12. TeamHumphrey

    TeamHumphrey New User

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    I play in Inov-8s (f-lite 230s, bare-x 155, bare-x 150, whatever acceptable model happens to have had the cheapest price at the time I needed a refill). Playing on hard courts with minimalist shoes forces you to change your footwork, and I would say for the better. I certainly feel that I can react faster -- someone reading this can probably explain why the body is better prepared to move from a more natural position derived from the forefoot/heel relationship. Changing direction is...different...but I would say better now that I've been playing this way for a year. I can't stand going back to my old clunker "Tennis" shoes when I blow out my minimalist shoe earlier than expected. I am now starting to keep an extra pair around -- kind of like having spare racquets in the bag.
     
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  13. loosegroove

    loosegroove Professional

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    Serious question for people who like minimalist shoes, why not just try a pair of Chuck Taylors?
     
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  14. 6LOVE

    6LOVE New User

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    Try the Merrells. Harder rubber is wearing well.
     
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  15. Borrelli

    Borrelli Semi-Pro

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    I play in Diadora Borg elites or Stan Smiths, usually on clay but I wouldn't be against using them on hard court either. The leather on both is pretty substantial to provide enough cushion and support for me. Chucks or Jack Purcell's seem a bit too flimsy with the canvas uppers.
     
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  16. TeamHumphrey

    TeamHumphrey New User

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    @6LOVE I might try the Merrell's -- I didn't like the vibram outsoles in my New Balance's but I'll check out the Merrell's.

    @loosegroove -- There is a huge difference between "minimalist" shoes that strive to make you feel as if you are not wearing a shoe at all, and Chuck Taylors.

    The Chucks are heavy, inflexible, squishy, and lack ground feel compared to the new minimalist shoes. The toebox can also be a bit too narrow for some people. Finally, the outsole does not grip as well as some of the newer shoes.

    While relatively low to the ground, the old canvas chucks don't really have very good lateral stability, or even front to back stability -- your feet tend to move in the shoe, rather than the shoe and the foot moving as one.

    I am biased though -- I would wear Chucks for weight lifting, but not for any other athletic endeavor -- I have tried, but I have had more injuries potentially attributable to footwear in Chucks than any other shoe.

    If you are looking for a "normal", cheapish, and fashionable minimilish shoe, I'd look at indoor soccer shoes. The Adidas Samba might be a bit better than the Chucks performance wise.
     
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  17. NJ1

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    Having never had any joint problems playing soccer on concrete in them, I used to play in Nike Tiempo 5-a-side soccer shoes. My ankles felt like hell the morning after 2-3 hrs on court, so I wouldn't recommend Sambas either. For me, modern tennis shoes have been a godsend. YMMV.
     
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  18. loosegroove

    loosegroove Professional

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    Yeah. I definitely realize that Chuck's and the new minimalist shoes are VERY different. I was just asking since Chucks did seem like an option for a more minimal shoe, though obviously not as an alternative for those who want the Vibram styling. I recently hit with my Chucks because I was letting my friend wear my tennnis shoes and they felt pretty good. Though I have a relatively narrow foot and they fit me perfectly.
     
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  19. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I like the way that Chucks look, but they are much too narrow for me even to consider. I have trouble with them crushing my toes even when I go a size too long.

    On the positive side, Chucks don't seem to have an elevated heel and actually seem to be zero-drop. But they are still very heavy.

    I'm still hoping that a major tennis shoe company will step up to the plate and make a high-tech minimalist tennis shoe with zero-drop, durable outsole, low stiff stack height, and a light ventilated upper with a toe guard. I think it would actually sell. Especially if they kept the weight under 10oz.
     
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  20. NJ1

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    The Breathe 2k11s that I use for clay tick a lot of these boxes (aside from hard court durability which is woeful). That said, they're like +14oz and may still be too high for what you prefer, though with the Zoom in the heel they are the lowest I wear.
     
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  21. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    The last Nike I wore was the BF2, and the drop from the heel to the toe was quite noticeable in those. Do you think that the B2k11s have almost a zero-drop footbed?
     
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  22. NJ1

    NJ1 Professional

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    No, I was just trying to be helpful in recommending tennis shoe with a lower heel than the B'cades, CBs, Wilsons, Princes et al. The 2k11 and Propulse3 are lower than most, but I suppose still too high for what you are after.
     
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  23. WildVolley

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    Thanks for the advice. I wear Yonex 304s now because I love the last shape, but they most likely have a higher stack height than the 2k11s. The 304s also have an elevated heel, and are overly cushioned in my opinion. It seems that cushioning sells as a lot of people are convinced the extra cushioning is protecting their joints, even though some studies are suggesting higher torque on joints from more cushioning.

    While the 2k11s are on the right track, I'd like Nike or someone to step up and take the concept further by sticking with a durable outsole, but dropping the cushioning and stack height to a minimum. They could sell them as a game-day shoe that reduces ankle risk.
     
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  24. NJ1

    NJ1 Professional

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    I hear you re too much padding. I like cushioning to be really firm on all shoe types, I have a pair of casual (I know we're talking sports but as an aside) Feiyue's and they are too squidgy and give me back pain so I stick with Cons (which are *just* wide enough for me). This is also the case with seats (this may be even more off topic), my butt will ache within 45 mins if I'm on a squidgy movie seat but put me in a car with firm leather sports seats and I'm comfy for hours. All of this said, the 304s do sound like a nice shoe overall.

    I wonder how much lower they'll be able to get the heels without losing absorption. Zoom is supposed to be their lowest ride for Nike, but hopefully all the companies are looking to work in new tech that will offer an even better compromise. I would like that but would still probably stick with tank-like Barricades as they're the only shoes I can get to last me 3 months thanks to a toe drag on my 2hbh I just can't quit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012
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  25. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    The original Lacoste Repels are much lower to the ground than my last few pairs of shoes (Vapors VII I think and Adi Accelerators) and from the looks of them seem to have minimal drop from heel to toe.
     
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  26. mobyplay

    mobyplay New User

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    vivobarefoots

    have played 2-3 x a week in vivobarefoot shoes, evo 1 and 2. I have been able to play withou roling my ankles and any pain. Do have to avoid landing on heels and good balanced posture. The teaching pros have told me to get real shoes with ankle support, but would not go back.

    Would recommend with a slow transition period of 3-6months, since it feels drastically different. Need to build foot strength and alter movement.

    Use Vivo with socks, without caused blistering. Tried five fingers which fell apart on the tennis court.
     
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  27. texastornado

    texastornado Rookie

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    Can someone post a video playing a competitive match barefoot or in minimalist shoes? I'm currently wearing the 851's and train in MT20V2's. Doesn't seem like it would be possible to play competitively (sliding, direction changes) wearing what most people would consider minimalist shoes.
     
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  28. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    I tried warming up in some. Felt nice but playing a match you'd get probably less than 10 matches before the shoe was toast.
     
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  29. morten

    morten Hall of Fame

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    as a minimalist runner and shoe tester i love minimalist/barefootshoes, but the high impact and rapid change in directions in tennis draws me away from using them for tennis. But i am curious still, maybe for more casual tennis.
     
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  30. Bagumbawalla

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    #80
  31. TeamHumphrey

    TeamHumphrey New User

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    shoe addiction

    I have to admit being a wee bit excited about the new New Balance 996 that is about to become available -- it may not be "minimalist", but I like the idea of the mc 851 and this should theoretically be an iterative improvement.

    Slightly less excited about the new Wilson Pro Rush shoe that is said to have a 6mm drop -- reports are that it is still very stiff, so not as interesting as the direction of the NB line.
     
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  32. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    It is not at all hard to cut and slide barefoot, so tennis would be no problem if it weren't for the limit abrasion resistance of the foot. I do hard cuts and slides all the time on grass without shoes, but I don't have to worry about grass abrading the bottom of the foot. However, it shouldn't be difficult to change directions or slide on a tennis court in a minimal shoe like something from Vivo Barefoot. The original developer of vivo barefoot was a tennis player.

    The other big issue for tennis is that a lot of players heel plant into a stroke. That's something you can only safely do in shoes as your heels are not really built to absorb a lot of impact. So, to play well in minimalist shoes, you'd need to reduce the heavy heel planting.

    The main reason I don't play in minimalist shoes is expense. It doesn't make sense for me to destroy a pair of $100+ shoes in a few matches.
     
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  33. Harry_Wild

    Harry_Wild Professional

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    How about playing barefoot! That should be the minimalist enough! LOL:)
     
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  34. banter

    banter Semi-Pro

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    I haven't tried this shoe for tennis, but I like the Altra Samson.
     
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  35. Povl Carstensen

    Povl Carstensen Legend

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    Thats what I do.

    Looks pretty cool.
     
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  36. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    I've invested a lot of time into researching the benefits of minimalist shoes. One thing I can't find any info on is whether they reduce the chance of planting your foot and twisting your knee. I did this today. I was stretching for a backhand slice low to my left and planted my left foot. As I rotated into the slice, I twisted my knee.

    Since I switched to a shoe with slightly less cushion (gel game 3) I have twisted my knee a few times. I have also developed a dangerous habit of planting my foot. I always recover after, but in the match I am playing below 100% because of the pain in the knee.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
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  37. 6LOVE

    6LOVE New User

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    Are you asking about using "a shoe with slightly less cushion (gel game 3)" or about using a zero-drop shoe?

    Playing in a zero-drop shoe (Merrill Barefoot Road Glove) for a year now and have never twisted my ankle or knee. I'm not a podiatrist or expert, but I feel much more prone to twisting when I'm up high in a shoe with a substantial heel. I feel much safer with my feet planted flat on ground.

    As for less cushion, you have to be careful, especially if you have a history of plantar fasciastis. In fact I line the footbed of my Merrills with PPT foam padding (medical quality) to absorb shock.
     
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  38. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    I mean't less cushion in the heel, but i'm interested in the effects of a zero drop shoe, as well.

    I would never play tennis with such little cushion that I'm at risk of plantar fasciitis. But I would think playing in a shoe that has less cushion, and/or less heel drop, would provide more speed, stability and balance.

    I still don't know if it decreases the chance of planting your foot and twisting your knee. As I've mentioned, this an injury that I am suffering more frequently since I swapped to a shoe with less cushion in the heel. It is an injury that occurs in many sports. I've seen it happen live in soccer, where a player got his studs stuck in the turf and twisted his knee, rupturing his knee ligaments.

    I think I would agree with Rafa that there is less chance of injuring your knee on clay/grass, where you slide rather then planting your foot in a jarring manner.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
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  39. WildVolley

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    It is not exactly clear what you are doing? I don't understand what "planting my foot" means. Are you getting too much traction on the court, which is causing you to be able to torque your knee? Are you putting all your weight on your heel?

    Shoes that grip too well can be a problem, but that's not only a result of heel stack height, and usually not too much of an issue with modern tennis shoes.

    I'd focus more on strengthening your legs and changing your foot work patterns than shoes. But it is worthwhile to experiment with different shoes. Good luck.
     
    #89
  40. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    Yes, this is what is happening. My foot keep's sticking to the ground, causing me to torque my knee. I will focus on improving my footwork and conditioning.

    By the way, did you ever post in the TW shoe feedback thread? It might be a bit late now, but I know you are interested in knowing the heel drop of tennis shoes. Here is the thread - http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=456691&page=3
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  41. WildVolley

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    Don't know if I posted in that thread.

    Just thinking about it, perhaps a different heel height is causing your to plant your foot differently, as we definitely do adapt to different shoes. I walk barefoot and in minimal shoes most days. When I first started, my feet felt very tender and I had to be careful about heel planting. After doing it a while, my form changed and I can walk rapidly without hard heel plants or pain.

    Something similar may be occurring with a change in shoes. Your foot will be at a different angle with less heel drop than in a very padded shoe. You may be heel planting too much in the shoe with less heel and limiting your mobility which increases the chance of torque on your leg. Strange as it may seem, some runners claim that they can really notice a cm difference in heel stack height.
     
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  42. Carolina Racquet

    Carolina Racquet Hall of Fame

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    I read an article in the June '13 issue of Men's Journal all about minimalist shoes and tennis.

    The author states that both Vivobarefoot and New Balance are planning on releasing zero-drop shoes specifically designed for tennis in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

    Couldn't find the article on the web, but it's available in print.
     
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  43. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    I'm not sure if there is less heel drop then my last shoe. I only know, from my shoe measurements thread, that the heel of the GG3 is lower then my previous shoe the Nike CB 4.3. Your comments on less heel drop causing more traction are right, though. So perhaps the GG3 has less heel drop. Or, perhaps the problem lies in my footwork.

    You would think that with less cushion, their would be more knee stabilty, less traction and less torque. These are the sort of things that have me interested in trying a minimalist, zero-drop tennis shoe.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
    #93
  44. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    That's made my day. It's nice to know there are companies interested in making zero drop tennis shoes.
     
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  45. Carolina Racquet

    Carolina Racquet Hall of Fame

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    #95
  46. newyorkstadium

    newyorkstadium Semi-Pro

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    I've never seen it before and I've searched this forum for info on minimalist and barefoot shoes. Thanks, I found it really interesting.

    I would never go barefoot for tennis. I think minimalist reduces the risk of heel injuries. Hopefully someone will make a zero-drop minimalist tennis shoe, like Vivobarefoot or New Balance
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  47. robbo1970

    robbo1970 Hall of Fame

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    Go old school.

    Lighter weight, full leather uppers, and very quick around the court but enough sole to protect you.

    I've just got some Diadora Borg Originals and theyre really good. But anything like Nike Court Tradition or Stan Smiths would be lighter and more minimal.

    You'd never get the same cushioning under foot as you would with a modern shoe, but if you want minimal, that could be an option.

    And I never recall seeing the trainers getting called out to pro's in the old school days.
     
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  48. Carolina Racquet

    Carolina Racquet Hall of Fame

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    Not to start the foot debate, but I've discovered during my bout with plantar fasciitis that cushioning is not the end-all, be all.

    SUPPORT is key. Not only affecting the foot, but also the other joints that could be impacted by poor alignment. Without proper support, all the cushioning in the world is worthless.

    I'm not running out to buy the first pair, but I would keep an open mind.
     
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  49. morten

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    True Carolina, i agree
     
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  50. ericsson

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    That's what i hope for too, a leather tennis shoe, zero drop and wide toebox. Something like what King Roger uses ;-)
     

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