Shoe trends

JBH

Rookie
Advances, or at least changes, in tennis shoe design tends to follow running shoes. This is fairly expected in good part as many of the leading tennis shoe brands also make running shoes. Advances in design, materials, and manufacturing techniques can be easily and cheaply transferred from the sales leading running department to the tennis world.

Two of the chief areas of change in recent year’s running shoes have been weight reduction (through the use of advances in foam materials and the elimination of motion control devices) and a change in fore-foot fit to what may be termed the ‘Altra fit’. The basic concept behind this fit style is a change to a far wider toe box, the idea being that this allows your toes to splay naturally, which significantly enhances balance and reduces muscle tension.

Below are two current model tennis shoes that have begun to embody this concept: The K-Swiss Hypercourt Express 2 and the Adidas adizero Ubersonic 3. To the right is the Altra ‘TMP’ model.





This type of fit makes obvious sense for tennis, where balance and eliminating of tension are key components. The chief drawback is that this fit relies solely (excuse the pun) on foot retention from the arch back, and running generally doesn’t require the pivoting, sliding, and overall lateral movement of tennis. A typical response from many players has been that the lack of solid (narrow) forefoot produces a lack of stability and control, as well as foot movement that can result in blisters and jammed toes.

My experience as a runner is that there is a missing link in the current tennis solution, which are socks. If runners used ‘tennis’ socks in their running shoes, they would absolutely have the same types of issues that tennis players experience. Fortunately, the running world has done our homework for us.

Below are three variations on trail running socks that are designed for use with this type of shoe fit. Their shared design structures are moderate heel cushioning, a thinner / grippier mid foot, and a softer/thicker forefoot to resist sliding by filling any void area.




On the bottom is the InjiniI Performance Trail. Injini was an originator of ‘toe socks’, that that concept meshes naturally with the wide toe box design.

In the middle are balega Enduros. The Enduros are lighter, cooler, and more comfortable out of the box, but lack the foot retention of the others here.

On top are the Darn Tough Athletics. They are about 50% merino wool. While warmer than the others, which are 100% synthetic, their ability to eliminate foot movement is unparalleled. They also have the novel feature that they share with all Darn Tough models - They’re guaranteed for the file of the user. Since they cost about the same as many others, perform better in most regards, and you never have to buy more...
 

Tennis sprew

Hall of Fame
Very cool post, I agree with the bit about socks, considering that I just use the Nike everyday plus cushion socks and double sock. However in my opinion these big brands like Nike and adidas need to start investing more in wide options. adidas has none. Nike has one, the vapor x.
 

airchallenge2

Professional
Fit is critically important. I remember Jim Courier or some other big name like that, they liked half size smaller shoes for game day. This way, their shoes were really, really tight. I don't think an Altra like shoe would work for tennis. On the other hand, I do agree that we need more knowledge on what kind of socks are out there. Footwear and socks work hand in hand the way racquets and strings do,
 

Tennis_Hands

Bionic Poster
Very cool post, I agree with the bit about socks, considering that I just use the Nike everyday plus cushion socks and double sock. However in my opinion these big brands like Nike and adidas need to start investing more in wide options. adidas has none. Nike has one, the vapor x.
Oh, really?

 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
Fit is critically important. I remember Jim Courier or some other big name like that, they liked half size smaller shoes for game day. This way, their shoes were really, really tight. I don't think an Altra like shoe would work for tennis. On the other hand, I do agree that we need more knowledge on what kind of socks are out there. Footwear and socks work hand in hand the way racquets and strings do,
That other big name may be Rafa.
 

Tennis sprew

Hall of Fame
That other big name may be Rafa.
Has he talked about his shoes at all seriously? I mean, like an interview cause I know they are important to everybody except newbies to tennis. However has he actually said what he likes for shoes?
 

airchallenge2

Professional
Has he talked about his shoes at all seriously? I mean, like an interview cause I know they are important to everybody except newbies to tennis. However has he actually said what he likes for shoes?
He does talk about his shoes and foot problem in his book. Specifically how nike customizes his shoes on one foot (left?) to have a hole/cut out under one of his metatarsal bones. I don't remember him mentioned anything about size, though
 

jhick

Professional
I believe another key component are insoles. Tennis shoe manufacturers should work on improving them (especially would help with foot and knee problems for middle aged and older players).
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
I believe another key component are insoles. Tennis shoe manufacturers should work on improving them (especially would help with foot and knee problems for middle aged and older players).
Suspect stock insoles are throw-aways for most manufacturers.
 

WestboroChe

Hall of Fame
I use custom orthotics for my flat feet but I think almost any serious tennis player would benefit from them. Really makes almost any shoe fit right (within limits).

Personally I question whether or not these new shock foams are really capable of delivering the kind of cushioning we need for hard courts. For example Yonex claims that their foam is able to allow for thinner mid soles to reduce weight without sacrificing comfort. Having worn several pairs of Yonex shoes I call BS on this. I think this is just a way to promote shoes that are "lighter and faster" with a "low to the ground feel" which is just marketing speak for shoes with less cushioning.
 
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