Tennis Shoes vs Sneakers (Everything You Need to Know!)

Tennis shoes are designed to be worn when playing tennis while sneakers are just simple sports shoes you can wear as casual wear. You can wear tennis shoes outside the tennis court, but you can’t wear sneakers to play tennis. Historically, sneakers were invented first, then the tennis shoes branched out as a different type of shoes from the sneakers to take its own identity.

Tennis shoes

Tennis shoes are specifically designed to be worn on a tennis court to help improve and compliment your performance. The game of tennis has a combination of vigorous and swift movements that require the shoes to be comfortable while providing extra support for your feet. There are different types of tennis shoes depending on the kind of tennis court you’re playing on.

It could be a hard, clay, or grass court. When playing on a tennis court, you have to constantly change positions. Tennis shoes are made to provide lateral support to make it easier for the swift movements and with the help of tennis socks your joints are better supported which prevents ankle injuries.

Also, they’re made with a special material that can absorb the shock and reduce the friction in your joints as you move around the court. The toe area in tennis shoes tend to wear out quickly, so the shoes are reinforced with rubber or other durable materials and the soles are non-scuffing so that they don’t leave black marks that damage the court.

Tennis shoes to wear on different tennis court surfaces

Each tennis court surface requires different types of tennis court shoes to play. For example, if you’re playing on a clay court, the game is a little slower and the ball tends to bounce higher, but if you’re playing on a grass court, the ball plays low and faster. So, you should adapt your style of playing to the court surface and the kind of shoes you wear will play a big part in this change.

Hardcourt tennis shoes

tennis shoes vs sneakers

This is the most popular and common tennis court surface, but it’s also the most demanding concerning the durability of your sole. The soles of the shoes you wear on a hard court should be able to withstand the demands of this surface and have good cushioning especially at the forefoot as the surface doesn’t give in when you step on it.

The outsole should be more durable and most often it will be made with a herringbone pattern that allows for multi-directional movements and provides a good grip on the court. The shoes will also have enough cushioning and a midsole that will help in the transfer of energy with every step and in absorbing shock from the hard surface. They’re made with a tough upper which contributes to the durability and support of the shoes. Hardcourt shoes are very versatile and you can even use them on grass and clay tennis courts.

Clay tennis court shoes

The game on a clay court is the slowest compared to the other two surfaces so you will need shoes with more lateral support and stability since you will be moving more from side to side as you make your shots. The shoes should have enough traction to make it easier to move on the court.

The outsole of the shoes is usually made with a full herringbone tread pattern which provides excellent grip on slippery surfaces. This pattern prevents the clay from sticking on the outsole of your shoes so that you have better traction any time you’re on your feet moving from one direction to another. These shoes also have a tighter knit upper which not only helps with stability but also prevents the clay from entering into your shoes.

Grass court tennis shoes

Unlike the other two tennis court surfaces, the grass tennis court is much softer on your joints and body. You don’t need to wear shoes with durable outsoles as the surface is softer underfoot so it doesn’t damage your shoes like other surfaces. However, you need shoes that will provide you with a good grip since the grass can be very slippery. The outsole of these shoes has pimples and bumps across the entire sole that can only be used on natural and artificial grass to provide a good grip.

The outsole should be flatter so that it doesn’t damage the court and a flexible upper so that you’re more comfortable making fast movements on the court. You shouldn’t use them on other outdoor or indoor surfaces. These shoes aren’t widely available since the grass-court tennis season is short.


Sneakers are a wide variety of sports shoes that aren’t as sport-specific as tennis shoes. These are comfortable shoes that you can wear as casual or daily wear. They’re available in a wide array of designs and these simple athletic shoes are made with a canvas or synthetic upper and rubber soles.

They aren’t designed to be worn for any game, so if you wanted to buy tennis shoes to wear as casual shoes, you would be correct if you called them sneakers. Since sneakers aren’t designed to play a particular sport, they lack the specific features you will find in tennis shoes. However, sneakers provide you with more comfort and flexibility than tennis shoes. You can buy sneakers in most shoe stores and online shoes vs sneakers

Differences between tennis shoes and sneakers


You can get a pair of sneakers pretty much in every shoe store, but the best place to get quality tennis shoes is at a sports shoe store where you will find specific tennis shoes that meet the needs of specific tennis players. You can also buy tennis shoes and sneakers at online stores, but ensure that they have a return policy in case the shoes you order aren’t the perfect fit.

Lateral support and stability

Tennis shoes are specifically designed to be used on a tennis court whereas you can use sneakers for any practical sports so there is more focus on cushioning and support. For a tennis player, lateral support and stability are very important because of the many quick movements from side to side instead of heel-toe movements.

The cushioning of the tennis shoes is also an important factor, but a tennis player needs more lateral stability and a low to the ground feel since your feet are more on the ground when you’re playing on the court, you will feel more stable when you’re moving in all directions on the tennis court. This is the reason why you will find less cushioning in tennis shoes and more on sneakers.

Comfortable cushioning and support

Walking or running sneakers are made with more padding to make the shoes comfortable and provide your feet with cushioning and keep your feet stable as you move. When you’re running or walking, you tend to move in one direction, forward and sneakers have more cushioning at your toes and heels to help reduce the shock impact when your toes and heels hit the ground. Tennis shoes have less cushioning than sneakers and more emphasis is put on supporting your ankles to avoid injuries because of all the quick moves you make when playing on the court.

Specific purpose

Although both types of shoes come from one original design, they’re both very different. Tennis shoes are specifically designed to be used on a tennis court when playing tennis. They’re made with specific requirements like the weight, flexibility of the soles, type of support, breathability, and many more features that are necessary for the game of tennis.

Their design helps to enhance your performance on the court so that you can move more effectively on the court and change direction with ease. The soles of the shoes are also designed to provide good traction whether you’re playing on grass, clay, or hard courts.

On the other hand, sneakers don’t have any specific features like tennis or basketball shoes and they aren’t designed to play a specific sport, although they’re athletic shoes. They’re casual wear shoes that you can wear with any outfit in your wardrobe.

Weight and flexibility

Sneakers have padding which provides cushioning to your feet when you’re moving forward, but they don’t have the flexibility that tennis shoes have. Tennis shoes are more agile and flexible than sneakers and a bit heavier than your average sneakers. The padding and support found in tennis shoes add to the weight of the shoes which is good when you’re playing on a tennis court. However, both types of shoes are made with lightweight uppers and flexible rubber soles.


You can use sneakers to play tennis, but they won’t provide you with the necessary comfort, support, and traction your feet need to play on a tennis court. You can wear tennis shoes when you aren’t playing tennis. The tennis shoes vs sneakers comparison will help you understand the many differences between the two types of sports shoes.


Should tennis shoes have a snug fit?

You should buy tennis shoes that have a comfortable fit which means the heel shouldn’t be too tight to be just enough so that you don’t slip when walking. The snug fit ill also help you to move effortlessly on the court.

Should I wear socks with sneakers?

Yes, you will be more comfortable and especially when you’re breaking in the shoes. This will help avoid blisters because of the friction of the shoes on your bare feet.

Can you wear sneakers with skinny jeans?

Skinny jeans go well with sandals and heels, but you can also wear them with sneakers. The best type of sneakers is those with thin soles.

Can I wear black socks with white sneakers?

White socks are best when paired with white athletic shoes, track pants, and shorts, while darker socks go better with dark-colored athletic shoes. Black socks aren’t acceptable.

Are converse good for your feet?

Converse styled sneakers are good for your feet as they allow you to use inserts for extra support which help to better support your feet.