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Do I Really Need Specialized Tennis Shoes to Play Tennis?

Tennis 101: Do I Really Need Tennis Shoes?

Athleta at ShopStyle

The 2009 US Open tennis tournament starts on Monday, so over the next week, I'll be schooling you in Tennis 101, offerings tips for beginners and seasoned hitters.

If you're starting to dabble in tennis, you may be wondering if you need specialized tennis shoes. Growing up, I called all athletic shoes "tennis shoes," but there is a reason we have different shoes for different sports. Tennis shoes have a blunter toe than running shoes and are designed for sharp cuts and forward charging. Though running shoes offer a cushioned sole, they are designed for steady, forward motion and don't offer enough support for all that side-to-side movement. Not wearing the right shoe could lead to injury.

If it's your first lesson, you probably don't want to splurge on a new pair of tennies, but check the regulations at the court where you'll be playing, since many don't allow dark-soled shoes that could scuff the court. If you own a pair of cross trainers, wear those instead of running shoes, as they offer better support. And once you've decided to give tennis a serious shot, it's definitely worth it to buy a pair of tennis-specific shoes.

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Join The Conversation
vintagesugar vintagesugar 6 years
Good points about the shoes. I always called everything "tennis shoes" growing up, too. People just have so many different kinds of shoes now. Woe to those (and injuries, too) who wear the wrong ones. Tennis is a great game to be enjoyed at any age.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
Yeah, I think it's a regional thing...my dad always called all athletic shoes "tennis shoes" or "tennie runners" (he's from Pennsylvania) but I noticed that a lot of people around here call them sneakers.
syako syako 6 years
Agreed! You will quickly wear down the soles of your cross trainers resulting in a huge hole. In tennis your running and stopping, sprinting to the side and then back. Tennis shoes have thicker and stronger soles to prevent this.
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