Run, stop, pivot, lunge, jump! Unlike running, which is solely a forward motion, tennis requires a lot of agile movements - running shoes simply aren't suitable!
Generally, tennis shoes need to offer more lateral support to help you with sudden changes of direction and jerky stops and starts. They also get a lot of wear and tear, so they need to be made from durable materials, which tend to be stiff and heavy. The soles are usually flat and highly durable to offer you long-lasting traction on the court. Finally, forward lunges to meet the tennis ball as it skims over the net put extra strain on your toes, so most tennis shoes have reinforced toecaps.
The problem is that there is a lot to consider when buying them and there is a vast amount of brands, series and individual models to choose from. To make things easier for you, we'd like to highlight some of the main types of shoes you will encounter during your search.
The first thing to think about when choosing a tennis shoe is your typical playing court. Clay courts tend to be more slippery than other courts, which means that your shoes need less lateral support because your movements will be less abrupt. On the downside, the grains can irritate you if they get inside your shoes, so avoid mesh-like uppers and go for solid material like leather or vinyl.
Grass courts offer you more natural cushioning, so your shoes can have less of that, but lateral support will come in handy for sudden directional changes as these will feel jerkier than on clay courts.
Hard (or concrete) courts are the most demanding on the player and his on her shoes. This type of court is hard on your feet, so you need more cushioning, but because it isn't as slippery as clay courts, you still need lateral support. Hard courts wear down the soles of your shoes quickly, which means you lose traction early on - choosing shoes with a durable outsole will ensure your shoes last longer.
Next to watch out for is your instep type: overpronating tennis players are more likely to get injured because their ankles lean inwards, causing a misalignment in the legs. Shoes offering plenty of support should counteract this negative effect. Underpronators, however, tend to wear down the shoe more because they rest a lot of weight on the outside of the heel and toes. In this case, hardwearing shoes will prevent you from having to buy anew every other month. People with a neutral instep are rather lucky, as they can choose to have more or less support, depending on personal preference.
Your weight and playing style also have a big part in determining what you need from your shoes. Heavier players need more support and durability, whereas lighter players will benefit from lightweight shoes that don't weigh them down during the game. Remember, though, that extra support also means extra weight (consequently, less stamina). You need to work out how much additional weight you're prepared to carry around the court in exchange for the support.
As for playing styles, there is no standard list of them, but two particular styles stand out for needing specific characteristics from your shoes: baseline players and serve-and-volley players. The first tend to stay at the back of the court running side to side, which is why they need more lateral support. The second do a lot of forward and backward lunging, so the shoes soles need to be durable and the toecap should be particularly cushioned and reinforced.
One final tip: if you've had tennis shoes before, at Keller Sports there's probably a newer model of the shoes you like. Just ask our customer care team for advice on matching you with the ideal pair of shoes. Remember that Keller Sports offers you tennis shoes for men and women, as well as all the tennis clothes you need to go with them. You will benefit not only from our expertise and experience but also from our great service: delivery is fast and takes your order directly to your front door! Have a browse around and see what you can find!