When it comes to sports and the playing experience, you can never underestimate the value of choosing a good pair of shoes to work with. Each sport has its own requirements regarding support since they require different aspects of movement, balance and weight distribution. This also leads to certain sports seeming very similar to others, and you might wonder whether it is okay to choose the shoes you use for one of them in another similar sport.
The case is evident in both basketball and tennis, two sports that are both played in courts and have similar challenges and requirements. They both need you to stop and move as quickly as possible, as well as lateral movements – so the shoe requirements they have are very similar. This raises the question of whether they actually have any differences, as well as what these are and if you need to get a separate pair for each game. However, we have done most of the work for you, so read on.
Requirements of each shoe
In order to answer the question of what makes these shoes different in their approach, it is important to know the requirements that each game presents on players.
Similar to any other athletic shoe, there are certain factors to keep in mind before going for a pair. These include:
- Sizing – this goes without saying, you require a shoe that fits you correctly. The problem is that plenty of manufacturers will make shoes that are either too small or too big, which causes issues for many people. Make sure to measure your foot and try the shoes, and return it if it does not provide ample toe space or takes care of your foot width.
- Comfort levels – the main focus of comfort and cushioning for basketball shoes is always the heel and arch of your foot. If it does not fulfill this criteria, then it will be uncomfortable for you.
- The rubber sole – the court you play on will determine the rubber that will work well. If you mostly play in indoor courts, choose shoes with soft rubber that will not leave marks on the floor, and choose hard rubber if you normally play outdoors. This is due to soft rubber wearing out very quickly if you use it on the pavement surfaces outdoors. The ventilation in outdoor shoes is also more due to the greater amounts of heat, which means they will feature mesh materials. As a rule of thumb, outdoor shoes will have tough rubber that holds up to the challenges of pavements, and they will place higher focus on breathability, while indoor shoes have softer rubber that tends to stick to the surface for extra grip
- Traction – this is very important, regardless of whether you play indoors or outdoors. Otherwise, you will suffer due to low performance and chances are high that it will lead to ankle injuries (the most common injuries in basketball players).
- Support – When it comes to ankle support, you cannot afford to skip it in basketball shoes. As a general rule, the best basketball shoes will always be higher in their heels. This is because they will support the ankle better when you jump, make lateral moves, and make quick movements of stopping and starting. Due to this, tennis shoes are not exactly the best when it comes to ankle support since the focus is primarily on protecting the heels and toes as you move around the court ((which are vulnerable to injuries in tennis players).
- Playing style – there are two styles you mostly play in; the baseline player, and the serve-and-volley player. Baseline players enjoy playing along the court’s backline, and the shoes will require plenty of lateral support and well as a very durable sole (due to the constant horizontal movements). For a serve-and-volley player, you are charging the net frequently, which means sliding your back foot along the court. You therefore require a shoe with a reinforced toe (durable toecap), as well as a medial within the shoe arch.
- Type of court surface – for a concrete surface (hard court), you need a shoe that is more durable, because the soles will wear out faster. Check the outsole and upper, which will mostly use vinyl or leather materials. For a clay court (soft court), the traction of the shoe must be non-damaging, while if you prefer multiple courts, you should get those specifically for multi-court use.
- Shoe fit and foot type – if you have over pronation, you will require stabilizing shoes due to the tendency of your foot to roll inwards. For neutral feet, any tennis shoe can work, while under pronation needs a flexible shoe that allows for quick movement.
- Type of surface – for instance, clay court shoes have a zigzag like pattern to prevent clay from lodging inside and allow controlled sliding, while grass court shoes have pimply patterns that provide extra grip (grass is the most slippery surface).
They mainly tend to be high-top to protect the ankle, as this is the most prevalent area of injury
They tend to have a low top as opposed to a high one, to prevent rubbing against the ankle and causing abrasion
Emphasis of protection is the ankles and heels
The emphasis is on protecting the heels and front part of the foot
Depending on the court you play on, the sole will vary between soft and tough rubber
The sole traction depends on the surface you play on – grass, clay or hard courts
Regarding the issue of support in both basketball and tennis shoes, they will cater to different parts of the foot and protect different areas from injury. In the case of tennis, most injuries occur in the heel and toe box (the front part of the shoe), and the shoes have extra cushioning to protect the heel during lateral movements. However, basketball requires a lot of protection of the ankles due to jumping frequently, and the shoes will emphasize the protection of the ankles through their high tops.