Tennis Shoes Vs. Running Shoes (Everything You Need to Know!)

You might be constantly frustrated with seeing articles every minute that tell you to get out there and become more active – while also seeing more articles warning you about injuries people suffer in sports, and what you are doing wrong in your own activity routines. At the end of the day, you no longer feel like you are doing something worthwhile, instead boiling down to how you are doing it and emphasizing on doing it correctly.

One of these areas that many people get confused about is the issue of athletic shoes – specifically running shoes and tennis shoes. On the surface, they all look the same and function the same; but are they really? Can you use them interchangeably, or are they very unique and do they fulfill specific needs? To answer these questions, it is important to know the needs of both sports, which we will discuss in this article.

What makes them similar?

Both of these sports require extensive use of the feet, but the way they demand it is different – since both these sports will have different requirements from your feet and leg joints. This is why it is very important to have specific footwear that caters to the needs of each sport.

One tip to increase the effectiveness of your shoes when you head to purchase them is buying them from a specialty store that deals with athletic shoes, especially at the end of the day since your feet will be at their largest. Bring a pair of socks that you normally use in training and try on the shoes while wearing them, walking around in the store to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.

About running shoes

The main goal of running shoes is to cushion, support and stabilize the feet. There are three types: trail shoes (for off-road routes that have obstacles such as rocks and roots, and have aggressive treads), road-running shoes (designed for pavements and packed surfaces) and cross-training shoes (designed for balance activities, CrossFit workouts and gym use).

Some factors to consider when selecting them are:

  • Your running style – always check the wear pattern on the soles of the shoes you use during training, which will tell you the running styles through pronation. The sides of the sole that are more worn out and the part that is not as worn-out will tell you about the weight distribution on your feet as you move. They are three types: neutral (best technique since it relieves pressure on joints), supination/under-pronation (the sole is worn out on its outer edges due to outward rolling, so you need a well-cushioned and flexible shoe) and over-pronation (the inner parts of the sole wear out faster, and the shoes need extra stability to avoid injuries).
  • Type of shoe – if you have feet that tend to supinate or are neutral, you need neutral shoes to give support and shock absorption. If you have moderate or mild over pronation, then stability shoes are good to create a ‘firm’ post on the arches. If the over pronation is severe then motion control shoes are essential, and so on.
  • Upper materials – for breathability, nylon mesh and nylon work well, while synthetic leather is great if you do not want a long break-in time. The TPU uppers help to enhance durability and stability while preventing abrasions.
  • Heel-to-toe drop – this is the difference between heel height and toe height, which then affects the angle that the foot lands. High drop shoes (10 to 12mm) will promote heel striking, while medium or low drop shoes (0 to 8mm) will promote mid-foot or forefoot strikes.
  • Heel counter – if you suffer from Achilles Tendonitis, then the heel counter is important – it is basically the rigid structure around the heels, and gives you greater motion control.
  • Midsole – EVA midsoles are mainly for extra cushioning, mostly in gym shoes, posts (firmer EVA) make the midsole harder and give greater stability in the arch, shanks will protect your arches and heel and plates stiffen the front of the shoe to protect from hits.

What to consider when buying tennis shoes

  • 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).

Differences between both

Running shoes
Tennis shoes
Designed for different types of track surfaces
Designed for different types of courts
Have better levels of stability and have extra padding for better shock absorption
Have better lateral gripping, as well as flat outsoles and flexible uppers
Are meant to protect your joints while allowing you to pound the surface you are running on
Need a good grip and good side padding to allow the ankles to move freely

Final thoughts

If you are considering getting tennis shoes for your running session and vice-versa, they will not work well, because both games require different criteria, and the shoes are adapted to work in these different environments.