New Balance Tennis Shoes
In this article, we’re going to highlight some of New Balance’s most popular tennis shoe models, and break down how their technology improves your game.
Then we’ll ask you a couple questions that will help you narrow down which shoe would be the best match for you.
How New Balance tennis shoe technology improves your performance
The Fresh Foam Lav -- New Balance’s premium stability shoe
The Fresh Foam Lav was designed to replace the 1296 as New Balance’s most comfortable, top-of-the-line stability shoe. Thanks to Fresh Foam technology in the midsole, the shoe has an extremely comfy layer of cushioning. You can’t help but notice how great the cushioning feels on your feet.
The Lav has a low-to-the-ground feel, and the tread has a good amount of both grip and slip -- though it leans a little more on the grippier side.
Since this is a stability shoe, it’s on the heavier side of New Balance’s tennis shoe roster. So if you’re looking for more of a minimalist feel, the Lav wouldn’t be the best match for you. However compared to other brands, it’s actually a pretty light model, at 11.9oz in women’s.
If you had to find something to complain about, the Lav’s outsole is a little lacking when it comes to durability. But New Balance offers a guarantee and they’ll replace them if the rubber wears out too soon. So, not really an issue.
What you’ll notice:
- Adapts to your foot.
The unique kinetic stitch upper adapts well to just about any foot size. If you have more narrow feet, it fits snugly right away. But even for wider feet, it may feel a tad firm in the beginning, but as you begin playing it opens up quite nicely. And of course, New Balance is the one company that always offers wider options just in case.
- Extremely Comfortable.
That Fresh Foam cushioning really is a difference-maker. It has a distinct feel from other tennis shoe cushioning. All you need to know is, this shoe is extremely comfy.
The 996v4 -- New Balance’s light & minimalist comfort shoe
The 996v4 is New Balance’s premium comfort shoe. You could think of this model as a lighter (9.3oz, women’s), more flexible version of the Lav.
This shoe has a very comfortable glove-like fit, the upper is super soft, and the shoe rides nice and low to the ground.
The outsoles are pretty sticky, so they’re great for stop-and-starts, though they’re not the best for sliding into shots.
One tradeoff is that the 996v4 doesn’t have the stability tech that the Lav does. If you’re looking for top-shelf stability in your shoes, you’d probably prefer the Fresh Foam Lav over this model.
What you’ll notice:
- Mushy cushioning.
The Fuel Cell cushioning in the midsole is extremely soft -- you could almost describe it as mushy or squishy. In fact, it’s so mushy in the heel, if you’re landing hard you almost push through the cushioning and feel the floor. Something to be aware of if you plan on playing longer matches.
The 896v3 -- New Balance’s speedster shoe
The 896v3 is New Balance’s lightest, fastest model. If you appreciate that minimalist feel in a tennis shoe, the 896v3 might be right up your alley.
It has a really snug fit, in fact, it may seem a little too tight when you first put it on. But after playing in it for a little while the upper loosens up.
It’s got decent cushioning, though probably not enough for really long matches.
If you’re looking for a super light, minimalist, shoe to play tennis in, that you can also wear to the gym or even for running errands, you’ll love the 896v3.
What you’ll notice:
- Ridiculously light.
At 8.5oz, the 896v3 is running shoe weight. They’ve essentially stripped the upper down to a thin layer so that you’ll barely notice this shoe is on your foot.
- Malleable upper.
On the flip side, because the upper has no real form to it -- it’s completely malleable -- this means you won’t have much support in this shoe. If stability is something you’re looking for, this shoe probably won’t be your best bet.
Which New Balance tennis shoe is best for me?
In order to find the best shoe for you, you’ll need to answer a few questions:
There are a few questions to consider in order to narrow down the best shoe for your needs:
- Are you looking for a specialized shoe, or a shoe that can do a little bit of everything?
- What type of court will you be playing on?
- Do you prefer stability or speed?
First, are you looking for a specialized tennis shoe, or would you prefer a shoe that covers a little bit of everything?
- Specialized shoe -- Some players are looking for a shoe that’s built for certain features like stability or speed. If you’re looking for a stability shoe you’ll want to take a look at the Fresh Foam Lav, or the wider fitting and extremely popular 806. If you’re less concerned with stability, and more concerned with a light, and flexible shoe for speed, you’ll want to check out the cushioned 996v4, or the even lighter 896v3.
- Do-it-all shoe -- If you’re looking for a shoe that doesn’t necessarily specialize in any one area, but that doesn’t lack in any area either, you’ll want a jack-of-all-trades shoe like the 1006.
Next, what type of court will you be playing on?
And last, do you prefer stability or speed?
- Stability -- If you prefer a shoe that’s designed to protect you from rolling an ankle when making those hard stops, then you’ll want a stiffer upper that helps hold your foot in place. You’ll either want an elite model like the Fresh Foam Lav, or the wildly popular 806.
- Flexibility -- If you’re more concerned about being able to move your foot about freely then you’d want a shoe with a light upper that bends with your feet instead of holding them in place. You’ll either want a speed shoe like the 896v3, or a slightly more cushioned model like the 996v4.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I wear New Balance running shoes to play tennis in?
The short answer is: it’s not ideal. Tennis shoes are made with supportive materials to help with those rapid side-to-side movements unique to tennis. Running shoes simply are not designed to handle these types of movements.
If you’re set on doubling-up on your fitness shoes, your best bet is to use a tennis shoe for your runs.
Just note: most tennis shoes are very heavy compared to running shoes, which can tire you out quickly. So you’d probably want to pick a tennis shoe model designed for speed, like the 896v3.
I’m not sure which type of court I’ll be playing on just yet — which tennis shoe would be the best choice?
If you might be trying out various court types as you’re learning your preferences, your safest bet is to choose an all-court New Balance tennis shoe. Their tread is designed to give you good coverage no matter which type of court you’re playing on.
After you gain a feel for the different courts and which you prefer best, then you look into investing in a pair of tennis shoes designed for that specific court type.
How often should I replace my ASICS tennis shoes?
Depending on how frequently you play, how aggressively you play, and the specific shoes you play in, the answer will obviously vary.
But generally speaking, tennis shoe technologies tend to wear down after 45 - 60 hours of play. This equates to about 6 months to a year before you would want to upgrade to a new pair.
Here are a few key signs that’ll tell you it’s time to replace your shoes:
- When you notice the shoes are no longer squeaking on harder courts
- When the tread isn’t as grippy as it once was
- If you start noticing aching joints or any foot soreness after your matches.
Is it okay to put New Balance tennis shoes in the washer?
It’s not a good idea to run your tennis shoes through the washing machine. And definitely not the dryer because the heat, and the shoes being flung and banged around, can easily damage the tech and the materials. This is only going to shorten their lifespan.
How should I clean my New Balance tennis shoes?
You’ll want to clean the shoes using mild soap and a soft brush.
- Take the sockliner out and remove the laces
- Delicately scrub the dirty areas using the brush
- Rince the shoe using cold or cool water
- Instead of placing the shoes in the sun to dry, be sure to air-dry them
I still can’t decide — Which New Balance tennis shoes are best for a beginner?
- 1006 -- This is an all-around tennis shoe. It’s got some stability and some flexibility. It’s not too heavy, but not as light as a minimalist model.
Good tread. Great feel. If you’re just starting out, you can’t really go wrong with the 1006.
- 696v4 -- Not to be confused with the 996v4, This is a great tennis shoe for beginners. It’s very light and very breathable. And best of all, it’s extremely affordable, so you can put this shoe through the wringer while you’re learning your shoe preferences, without spending too much. Then once you’ve learned which features you prefer in a tennis shoe you can invest in a more premium pair moving forward.