Gripping stuff: our guide to which grips work best for different tennis court surfaces

The two main surface categories for tennis courts are hard courts and more ‘slippery’courts such as clay, shale and synthetic clay grass.

The main features to look for in tennis shoes are cushioning, durability and the grip pattern.

Tennis shoes should provide stability for side-to-side movement with good ankle support. They tend to be constructed from stronger (and consequently heavier) materials than running shoes. They also have flat, durable outsoles designed to prevent stumbling and the toes are reinforced for stop and go action and where the shoes may ‘drag’ when serving.

Clay court and artificial grass sole plates

Ideally it is best to have a shoe with a predominantly herringbone pattern like the example pictured left. The rubber will often be reasonably soft so the shoe can mould effectively to the surface of the court. 

On shale and clay tennis courts the herringbone pattern provides optimal traction and allows for controlled sliding.  Designed for self-cleaning, the pattern releases clay from its grooves when it is flexed as you play.

Hard courts

On a hard court it is particularly important to have good cushioning – particularly in the forefoot as there is little ‘give’ in the surface.

The outsole pattern can vary but the rubber will need to be more durable. Again it is very often a herringbone pattern as this pattern allows for multi-directional movement.  Shoes should also have non marking rubber on the outsole to avoid discolouring the playing surface.

Grass courts

Purely grass court shoes have pimples across the whole of the sole and can only be used on natural grass or artificial grass, where they give a particularly good grip. They shouldn’t really be used on any other outdoor or indoor surfaces. They are not that widely available these days as grass courts are scarce and the grass court season is short. 

Indoor Carpet courts

These shoes have completely smooth soles and must only be used on indoor carpet courts.

OMNI court shoes

Omni court shoes have an ‘all round’ sole that gives good grip on real grass, artificial grass and also hard courts like the one pictured right. With the increasing popularity of artificial surfaces in the UK, these are some of our best-selling tennis shoes.

Omni court sole usually have a mixed herringbone/pimples pattern.

We hope this guide helps you to choose the correct tennis shoe, and whatever surface you play on, enjoy your tennis!