Guide to tennis shoes – what to wear on grass, clay and hard courts

How to pick tennis shoes – according to surface type?

There are three main kinds of tennis surface: grass, clay and hard court. Different tennis shoes are more suitable for each surface – so here is everything you need to know about the kinds of shoes used on different surfaces.

Different courts = different tennis shoes

Tennis is a very different sport depending on the surface you choose to play on –  watch any of the majors and the differences in style of play are obvious. On Wimbledon’s lawns, the ball stays low and fast, but over at the clay courts of Roland Garros, the game is a little slower and the ball can bounce up higher. Your style of play therefore needs to adapt to the court surface too, and your shoe is the first thing to think about – it is, after all, the point from which any shot originates.

Read this ASICS tennis shoes guide to find out the different kinds of tennis shoes for different surfaces.

Guide to Tennis Shoes - What to Wear on Grass, Clay and Hard Courts
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Grass court tennis shoes

Serve-and-volley players have always done well on grass courts thanks to the speed of the ball off the surface. It rewards those with a big serve and who can get to the net fast.

Your tennis shoes need to match you step for step:

  • Good grip because grass courts can be slippery, either because of dew or because it’s worn down over time
  • A flatter outsole so that they don’t damage the court – in fact, players at Wimbledon must wear completely flat tennis shoes
  • Flexible upper so that when you run forward towards the ball, your feet are not constricted
  • There’s less need for durable outsoles on grass courts since the surface is softer underfoot and doesn’t damage your shoes as much as hard courts

Clay court tennis shoes

How are clay court tennis shoes different to grass court shoes then? Essentially, clay courts are a little slower and baseline play is the most common tactic – players with lots of power can stand back and unleash huge shots. As such, there’s a need for stability and lateral support – that’s because you’re moving side to side before setting your feet for the shot.

Look for tennis shoes which give you:

  • Great grip since dusty clay courts don’t offer you much traction
  • A well-designed outsole that releases clay from its grooves and doesn’t leave marks on the court
  • Durable sides so your shoe doesn’t get damaged as you slide for a ball
  • Lateral support as you move side to side along the baseline
  • A tight upper that keeps your foot secure as you move around the court

Hard court tennis shoes

Hard courts are sometimes considered a neutral ground – a mid-point between clay and grass in terms of bounce and speed of the ball off the court. It suits many different playing styles, with both fast and powerful players evenly matched.

Hard courts demand a lot from your tennis shoes though. So, you’ll need:

  • A tough outsole that can handle the demands of a hard court surface
  • Cushioning and bounce-back because the hard court can be unforgiving on your feet and legs
  • Tough upper that gives you stability when you’re moving around the court

Browse the ASICS tennis shoes collection collection to find the right pair for the surface you prefer playing on. Once you have the right footwear, amp up your style and comfort in ASICS’ professional standard tennis clothing.