The Importance of a Good Sole

When looking for new tennis shoes, it's important to pay close attention to the sole. When it comes to soles you want something durable and with a good tread design for improved traction and stability.

The type of court you are playing on makes a big difference in the sole you need. In the U.S. there aren't many grass courts, so many shoes available here are for clay or hard court surfaces.

Clay court shoes are usually flat and often have a tight herringbone or wave pattern. These patterns are designed to provide much-needed grip and slide control. This is important because it will help you to defend your territory and cover more area, all while conserving energy.

At first glance, the sole of a hard court shoe may look similar to a clay shoe as they usually use a herringbone pattern. However, if you look closely you will probably notice that the pattern is less uniform and less dense. Another difference that you (probably) won't be able to see is the rubber used. Hard court shoes have harder and often thicker rubber to make them more durable.

Can you wear clay shoes on a hard court?
You can but you may not have enough cushioning or traction. And, your clay court shoes will not last as long on a hard court. They simply aren't built with the same durability.

Can you wear hard shoes on a clay court?
Not really. In fact, some hard court shoes can damage clay courts because of the deeper grooves.

So what if you play on both types of courts and only want one pair of shoes? Try an all-court or all-surface shoe with a herringbone pattern. While an all-court shoe will work on both types of court, you may eventually want to get a pair of shoes for each court. Shoes made for a hard court will have high-performance specifications only available in shoes made for that playing surface and vice versa.

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