Tennis Warehouse Playtest: Diadora Speed Blushield 2 AG

#51
TENNIS EXPERIENCE/BACKGROUND - Self taught current 4.5 league and tournament level player. Transitioned from other sports to tennis. Decades of tennis playing experience. Spectate for about 30 to 40 days of professional tennis including ATP, WTA, USTA Circuits, and WTT, each year.

MY PLAYING STYLE (i.e. serve and volley) - Well-rounded 4.0 - 4.5 singles and doubles player. One-handed backhand, flat fastball first serve (surprise) with an unpredictable kicker for a second serve. All court player that can rally, chip and charge, and serve / volley on offense, and all-court defender that tries to end points at the net.

CURRENT SHOE - Adidas Barricade Classic Bounce / Lotto Raptor

HOW MANY HOURS PLAYED WITH THE SHOE - Approximately twenty five hours of actual playing/court time. About twenty more hours of walking and casual wearing during the month-long test period. I got in a couple of matches (four hours) on clay, the rest was on hard courts.

NORMAL SHOE SIZE - US 10.75

PLAY TESTING SHOE SIZE - US 11

COMMENTS ON SHOE PERFORMANCE:

COMFORT - These shoes comfortably grabbed my foot the first time that I put them on. The snug fit around the heel has remained without getting mushy or soft. Interior cushioning fits snugly and comfortably and has very good feel. The interior sleeve feels like thick, plush felt. After periods of up to a couple of hours of play, to up to eight hours of wear, my feet remained comfortable during and after. They offer an extremely comfortable ride running-shoe level of softness. Most of the test was with the stock insole.

ARCH SUPPORT - My arch is about average, and I normally do not have any problems with my arches or their support. That is not something that I personally tend to look for in a shoe. The outside design of this shoe cradled my foot the way that it looks like it is designed to do. The mid-foot design cradles from the sides around to the arch area down underneath my feet. I did not have any arch issues with these Diadora shoes. The interior arch height and the level of support seem perfect for me. Even after much play and plenty of walking around it, the arch support has not diminished at all.

STABILITY/SUPPORT - The design of these shoes built-in support that very much compliments a natural foot shape. For that reason, they offer great stability and lateral support without feeling rigid or stiff. My feet tend to want to slide forward in shoes mainly due to the constant hard forward braking when playing serve and volley. I had no such problem with foot sliding with these shoes. During the test, surprisingly I did not notice any diminishing of support or fit.

VENTILATION - There is ventilation in these shoes. I did not have any real issue with overheated or uncomfortably hot feet. During play or after hours of wear, feet were definitely hot but never uncomfortably so. I do not have very sweaty feet so a wet interior was never an issue.

SOLE DURABILITY - So far, so very good. The herringbone style works well and is quite durable in tennis shoes. This particular model had more rubber in it's design style. Happy to estimate that I would not be expecting to collect on a six-month warranty on this model. The sole continues to look very new (after a cleaning) and looks to have most all of the original tread still remaining.

TOE DURABILITY - I am a toe dragger when hitting my one-hand backhand. My backhand gets attacked in matches much more often than my forehand. Because of that, I get the opportunity to drag my left toe plenty. After twenty five or so hours, the toe protector on my left shoe is just now beginning to show some sign of use. Not excessive and it seems that I would not wear through the toe anytime soon.

TRACTION - Most of my play was on hard courts, with about four hours of that being on a Har-Tru surface. Hard court traction is outstanding. I experienced zero slipping when striding and able to comfortably push off hard and stop confidently from lots of different angles. On the Har-Tru surface stopping, pushing off and changing direction was surprising good as well.

WEIGHT - These shoes play surprisingly light given the high level of stability. They are quick and do not have a bulky feel or play bulky at all. That may be due to the design evenly distributing the weight over the entire length of the shoe. So far, the reduced weight has not contributed to a less durable shoe.

GENERAL REACTION/COMMENTS ON OVERALL PERFORMANCE - These Diadora shoes should be held and in quite high regard and graded quite highly across the board. I examined these shoes quite carefully and I am impressed with the design and the quality of the craftsmanship and construction. Perfection. They have unique looking colors and markings. I continue to get compliments about the look of these shoes. The narrowing heel contributed snug and comfortable fit for me. These shoes feel lightweight and feel quite comfortable right out of the box. They are designed to have a foot-shaped, glove-like fit.

Most of the test was with the stock insoles but I did play with some custom orthotics and they performed equally well. The shoe flexibility and comfort was not compromised in in any way by the stiffer insoles.

A very nice offering from Diadora. These are really great shoes for a wide variety of playing styles and foot types. Well done Diadora.

Thanks Tennis Warehouse and Diadora for the opportunity.
 
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#52
A day late on this...sorry TW!

Tennis experience/background: Played Division II college tennis, currently a teaching pro.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Aggressive baseliner; I usually look to work the ball deep through the middle to create some angles and attack, though I'm working toward being more of an all-court player by being able to play neutral and defensive balls from more parts of the court and by moving better.

Current shoe: Nike Zoom Cage 3

How many hours did you play with the shoe? ~40

Normal Size: 9.5

Playtesting Size: 9.5

Comments on shoe performance:

-comfort: Out of the box, I could tell this was going to be a comfortable shoe. The cushion has this squishy but bouncy feel to it. I was worried that it would be too soft at first for me to feel super confident in my movement, but it's actually quite responsive. The fit was a bit wide in spots for my in-between C and D width foot. I like to feel the shoe wrapping around my foot, so I would have preferred a more snug fit, but that's really a preference and not a knock on performance, as my foot stayed locked in from the midfoot on back. I would have to wear two pairs of socks during a match just to feel like I didn't have to fiddle with the fit on changeovers, but for practice and teaching, they are fine. I actually taught quite a few lessons in these shoes--"Spiderman shoes" as some students called them--and was pleased at how my feet didn't seem as sore as they normally are after a few hours on court.

-arch support: I don't really shop for shoes based on "arch support," but I did feel the contour of the shoes beneath my arch, so there's definitely some thought put into this one. The heel-to-toe-drop seems to be pretty low, so I felt secure when moving, and I didn't think my foot was going anywhere. No arch discomfort to speak of here.

-stability/support: Really impressed with the support in these shoes. They're not built like tanks like a Barricade or old CourtBallistecs, but they hug my heel so nicely. That combined with the wide forefoot base kept me feeling stable and confident in my movements. Whether I was making a quick change of direction when attacking the net, scrambling to back up and play a chip out of No-Man's-Land or sliding to stop after a running forehand, these shoes had me covered. They are more than sufficiently stable without being bulky or super low to the ground (think Ubersonic 2s).

-ventilation: Played in an unusually warm and humid late-August and September for where I live, and they ventilated pretty well. The material around the heel collar tended to get damp and stay that way pretty quickly, but otherwise I didn't have any complaints. They definitely are good enough for indoor tennis, as I didn't have any problems with my feet feeling too hot in except for a couple of 90-degree days outside, and that's going to happen no matter which shoe I choose to wear. Another passing mark for these funky-looking kicks.

-sole durability: I put about 40 hours of teaching and playing on these Diadoras, and I'm just starting to see foam this week. They're probably comparable to the Zoom Cage 3s in this regard, though the toe on the Cages wears out much more quickly. I didn't have much balding of the tread until about 25 hours in, but once it started, it spread quickly. I figured I would be to the foam a couple of days after I had a small bald patch under my big toe, but it was more like a week to 10 days. The rest of the tread is still passable and I could get another month or so if I really need/want to--the cushioning is so nice that I might wear them for teaching until they burn out!

-toe durability: I wear the toe area of the Cage 3 before anything else, and I think it's a flaw in the design of that shoe, so just about anything is going to be better than that. The bumper material on these held up pretty well--no holes into the interior yet. There is a good deal of scuffing and scraping, but no holes. The biggest problem I'll have with the toe area is that the outsole portion that wraps up around the front will rub away and start a hole in the toe of the outsole (Vapor 9.5, Cages, Ubersonic 2s, Babolat Jets), which is not the case here. It's not Barricade or Gel Resolution toe durability, as I think I'll get through that bumper if I were to play another 3-4 weeks in them, but if the toe lasts longer than the outsole, it's a solid passing grade from me!

-traction: Responsive traction from this one. The tight-ish herringbone pattern was really grippy from the beginning of the test. Once it wore in, I was able to slide comfortably on our sticky indoor courts, which I appreciate. Dustier outdoor courts, I never had a problem coming out of a slide or planting and pushing off to transition forward in the court or stop and change directions. I got grip when I wanted it, and I was able to go without it when I didn't. This is one of the biggest things I look for in a shoe and was the most impressive aspect of this BluShield 2 for me.

-weight: It certainly isn't an Adidas Ubersonic or Babolat Jet, but I didn't feel heavy in these shoes. They felt about the same weight on my feet as the Cage 3s. When I went with 2 pairs of socks, this was especially true, as the upper felt closer to my narrow foot. The lower-feeling heel height probably plays a role in these shoes acting fast. I never thought that I was playing with a heavy or clunky shoe like I do in Barricades--love 'em despite the heavier feel--or Gel Resolutions. If anything, I felt fast enough, though not like I wasn't wearing more than a thin outsole like I do in the Babolat Jets.

General reaction/comments on overall performance: I haven't worn a Diadora shoe in 8-9 years, and I couldn't even tell you the name of that one. I was pleasantly surprised by this offering from them. From the general specs, it looked like it would be a heavier, stability-geared shoe. And while it is certainly stable, it's substantially comfortable and feels lighter than its listed weight. Impressive traction and low-but-ample heel cushioning kept me confident and in control of my movement. It's a nice compromise between the cushion and support of a heavier shoe and the responsiveness and agility of something lighter. I'd definitely look at trying this shoe another half-size down (9.5 is already down from my true size because of my narrow width) to see if I can get an even better fit in the forefoot. Other than that, which is more specific to me, Diadora has put out a quality offering for the player who prefers the feel and agility of a speed shoe but also wants durability and sturdier (but not bulky) support.

Thanks to TW and Diadora for a delightful playtest!
 
#53
Tennis experience/background: I enjoyed playing all sports growing up, but tennis became my passion after the first time I tried it at age 15. I began playing competitively during high school and was recruited for Division I college play. Unfortunately my college career never really materialized owing to an injury sustained in the gym. I still get calls from the 5.0 players and serve as a hitting partner for the local Division I women's team. You can decide what that means! :)

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): I am in aggressively minded all court player. My strengths of the serve, return, and variation off the backhand. Under the tutelage of a recent ATP player I have recently began renovating my WTA forehand to a more ATP style stroke with improvements in ease of power generated almost immediately apparent.

Current shoe: I've used the NIKE Vapor series since its inception and truly love them. Honestly my wine and pretty much only complaint with the vapor is its poor durability. Playing on hard courts that are relatively gritty I could go through a pair in the literally 3 to 4 weeks (playing anywhere from 3 to 5 times a week). A few years ago I had a knee injury and shortly afterwards a first-degree hamstring tear. This sent me looking for shoes with more support and during that time I've tried several, including the Adidas Barricade, KSwiss models and numerous ASICS shoes. The barricade certainly offered more cushioning, especially in the boost model, but I consistently found them too narrow. Likewise, another Diadora (the K-Star, I think) felt great in terms of supporting cushioning but was too narrow.

How many hours did you play with the shoe? I logged approximately 30 to 40 hours in the shoe.

Normal Size: 13

Playtesting Size: 13. The Diadora seemed like a true size 13 to me, and this is certainly not always the case. For example one of the challenges with Adidas is I wear a 13 1/2 which is obviously an uncommon size.

Comments on shoe performance:

  • -comfort: I found this Diadora remarkably comfortable. The fact is, as I made note of in earlier less formal comments, this use seemed almost made for my foot. The plastic unit serving to contain and stabilize the heel and the slightly wider forefoot/toe box are exactly what the doctor ordered for my triangularly shaped feet! this is one of the reasons the Vapors have been preferred for me over the years. The adaptive lacing system truly allowed me to customize the fit in a way I found difficult with other shoes. The Diadora "just fit" straight out-of-the-box and seemed to require little break-in.
  • -arch support: I have relatively high arches and use a custom orthotic after a bout with plantar fasciitis taught me a painful lesson about proper support! :) With the included insert the arch would've been a bit low to my liking, but please keep in mind my arches are truly unusually high. Compared to other shoes I would say this you has a medium to high arch straight out-of-the-box. Once that she was broken in I played it with both the Diadora insole and my custom in place and this was truly like riding on air!
  • -stability/support: I can honestly say I don't know I've played issue that felt more stable and comfortable. In fact, in terms of stability I've never played a better shoe. Support was excellent, but in this category very similar to my Vapors or Barricades.
  • -ventilation: If I were going to nitpick this you it would be around the issue of ventilation. I play in a very hot climate and tend to sweat quite a bit. Although the uppers are then related with numerous small holes, the ventilation was not as good as old say my beloved Vapors. However it was not horrible either. Simply good ventilation is probably a fair description.
  • -sole durability: Here is where Diadora has won me over. As the price of the Vapor escalated (and the shoe itself in the "X" version narrowed) my brain is some sort of critical mass when it came to the cost of the shoe relative to durability. Even buying last seasons model at a discount, wearing through a pair of tennis shoes in three or four weeks seems a little silly to me. Honestly, had the Vapor lasted even 6-8 weeks I could probably have rationalized the cost because I do enjoy the set and appearance of the shoe. But with a stack of Vapors piling up in my locker that look basically new on the top and are literally worn through on the bottom something had to give! As stated above, I wore the Diadora for well over 30 hours, maybe approaching 40, with literally almost no visible signs of wear!
  • -toe durability: I too drag my toe when serving and occasionally on the one hand backhand. There was at most minor wear in this area noted. My Vapors would be showing through at this point!
  • -traction: I absolutely loved the traction this you offered. Some will embrace their "squeakiness" while others will find it off-putting. Personally, I absolutely loved it. I truly felt there was a difference in my speed around the court with this shoe. Nothing dramatic, but a noticeable difference nonetheless. In fact, the major difference I noticed was in my ability to stop quickly. When doing so this you gripped the court in a way superior to others I have tried and at the same time the support and stability gave me confidence my aging knees would still be intact!
  • -weight: I've never thought much about the weight of a tennis shoe. To me it's always seemed a simple compromise. Lighter shoes will feel "faster" but lack support and cushioning. Heavier shoes Offer better support at the cost of speediness. I think it's the laws of physics, right? :) For me the Diadoras were terrific compromise between the two. I never noticed their weight on the foot, even though I played the lightweight Vapors all those years. What I did notice was the terrific comfort and support as well as stability

General reaction/comments on overall performance:

Please accept My apology for the slight ****iness of this review. I did post initial comments and follow-ups earlier in this thread. However my family was traveling for a much-needed while weekend when we all unfortunately contracted a virus! No fun. :(

As others have commented, Diadora is an iconic name in tennis and it was truly an honor and pleasure to serve as a play tester for the company here on Tennis Warehouse. I absolutely loved this shoe! in fact, when my last few pairs of Vapors have given up the ghost (and that will be long!) I will be migrating to the Diadoras. There combination of attributes, including ideal fit for my foot, excellent arch support, terrific traction and stability, and very importantly to me outstanding sole durability have won this player over. Others have complained about the bold Italian styling. I'm good with it! however if something were to come available in a tasteful black and gold I would be truly grateful!

Best,

BHBH
 
#54
I finally got a clay court match (Har-Tru, actually) with these shoes. As expected, traction and stability were great. I never felt unsure of my footing. I usually can't avoid playing on clay at least once a month, but somehow that happened during the playtest. So, I just thought I would reply now that I've fixed that.
 

mhkeuns

Hall of Fame
#57
Surprised to see the playtesters preferring the Diadora shoes over the Asics GR7. It's a great sign to be compared, or even surpass one of the best tennis shoes currently in the market.
 
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#58
These shoes are still holding up really well. They are still quite soft and are still providing very good support and traction all around. The tread wear is noticeable now, but is still at a minimum.

I will echo what other playtesters have posted about the traction on clay. I just happened to get the opportunity to play a little on Har-Tru during this playtest and the traction from these shoes was really quite good. It must be the soft, flexible sole creating a larger contact patch that helps to create the great traction.

If anyone is looking for shoes, it is easy to give these Diadoras a "must try" recommendation.
 
#60
Just picked a pair of these up based largely on this thread. Got them last night and almost as soon as I slipped them on and laced them up, they felt great! Looking forward to getting on the court with them over the next few days. These could be my new go-to shoe.
Good decision!!!!


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