I never played tennis until high school but played all four years up to graduation in 2000 at a 3.0 or 3.5 level. Played sparingly from 2000 to 2007. At the end of 2007, I started playing USTA and I'm about to start my third year at the 4.0 level.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley):
I mainly play doubles so I serve and volley a lot or chip and charge on the second shot. I try to get to net as quickly as possible before my opponents do. Mainly slice on the forehand but will hit a semi-western with an uppercut swing on sitters or if I decide to be aggressive with a second serve return. Backhand is a mixture of topspin and flat, not too much slice on this wing since I'm not that consistent with that shot yet. I really like to run a lot on the court so I definitely put some stress on shoes.
adidas Barricade Team and Nike Courtballistec 1.2
How many hours did you play with the shoe?
Just under 37 hours of court time.
Comments on shoe performance:
One word: Awesome!
Pretty comfortable straight out of the box though the material on the top at the front of the shoe was just a little bit stiff at first but most new shoes usually feel like that. I like to wear shoes for 3 days to work or wherever just to break them in a little bit and get used to them before taking them out onto the court. The top front of the shoe (that bends when you take a step) softened up after about 2-3 hours of court time so the initial slight stiffness went away. After that, I didn't even think about what was on my feet and just worried about running down every ball!
I have a fairly normal arch and had no issues in this area. No soreness after 3 straight hours of practice. I've had shoes (can't remember which ones but not tennis) that pushed up against my arch and made it uncomfortable just standing.
I'm in between a 10.5 and 11 shoe size so just went with the 11 for this playtest. When I first put them on, they weren't snug but the straps helped especially the top strap. No issues with my foot moving around inside the shoe or anything. After the first week of playing in them, I started wearing two socks and this really helped provide more of a snug fit. I was able to change direction and stop on a dime with no fear of rolling my ankle or anything.
Pretty good in this area, even while wearing two socks. When I take off my Courtballistec 1.2, I can really feel the heat radiating from inside the shoe but did not experience that with the Propulse 4.
This is my first high performance shoe and also first one that came with a durability guarantee as I've always bought the cheap version (Barricade Team/CB 1.2) of shoes, whatever I can get for around $35 to $40. I also rotate my shoes so I'm not quite sure how long it takes me to go through a pair so it's tough for me to gauge durability for comparison's sake. The heel portion of the sole is usually the first to go for me though and the heel here is starting to show some wear especially on the left shoe as I tend to drag my left heel on many shots. If I had to guess, I'll probably wear these out in three or four months or so. See below for some pictures after one month of wear.
Looks pretty good so far but I only drag my left toe slightly. I have never put a hole in the toe area before and as mentioned above, the heel goes out for me first.
This is the area that sticks out the most for me. The first time I played in these, the shoe felt so sticky on the court and I was stopping so suddenly I felt like I would lose my balance! As I got used to the traction and found out what this shoe was capable of, I could stop easily with confidence. I was making tons of screeching noises on the court (with the shoes, I'm not Vika) especially when I would serve and volley and the returner lobbed forcing me stop quickly and run back. Really impressed with this aspect of the shoe.
The static weight is in line with my past shoes so it had no effect on me. I didn't feel like it was weighing me down at all.
General reaction/comments on overall performance:
I was really happy with the performance of this shoe and wouldn't hesitate to buy these. I'm starting to realize the cheap shoes I buy aren't that great for my feet considering how much I play. Sometimes my achilles hurt after long practices (especially with the CB 1.2). I will make a hard stomp on tough to reach shots and my toes really feel it (again on the CB 1.2). Did not have any issues like this with the Propulse 4. I might try a 10.5 next time just for a more snug fit without having to wear two socks and it'd be lighter too even though that wasn't an issue for me.
The black/yellow colorway is awesome and I heard a lot of good comments from others when I wore these, even when I wore outside of tennis. Almost everyone I hit with are Nike/adidas people so I'm glad to mix it up with these great shoes.
Thanks TW and Babolat!
Pictures (click thumbnails):
After one month: