How to choose kids' tennis shoes
Tennis shoes for kids
Tennis is a great way for kids to enjoy competitive sports and get some exercise. However, tennis can be an expensive sport when you take rackets, clothing, tennis balls, court fees, coaching fees and competition fees into account.
What’s more, tennis shoes are often the last thing parents consider as their child kicks off their journey to the US Open or Wimbledon.
However, the biggest dream killer in sports is injuries, and the biggest impediment to performance, aside from skill, is equipment. Selecting the optimal tennis shoe for your little athlete can keep injuries at bay and make sure training is as effective as possible.
Key considerations when choosing kids’ tennis shoes
Before purchasing your child's first or even second pair of tennis shoes, consider what stage of the tennis journey your athlete is on and what types of tennis shoes suit their age, ability and style.
Tennis shoes vs. other sports shoes
The good news is tennis shoes are made in the same size and dimensions as traditional sports shoes. This means that should you make an expensive purchase to further a sport that soon becomes a fad, the tennis shoes can be used for other sports or even for casual use.
However, kids grow at different rates and tennis shoes can be expensive. It's important to know where your child is on their tennis journey before selecting an unnecessarily expensive pair.
Laces vs. straps
One of the most common questions parents have is whether or not to choose velcro straps or laces. Younger athletes who are just learning to tie laces may benefit from velcro tennis shoes, while older kids may opt for lace-up tennis shoes.
Beginner: If your child is just starting out with tennis, no specialized tennis shoes are required. This means shoes with adequate ankle support and shock absorption will do the trick. Should you opt to purchase tennis shoes for your athlete, choosing a fashionable, durable and multifunctional sneaker that can be used for play or other sports is a great way to save time and money.
Intermediate: The intermediate stage begins when your child can manage the tennis racket correctly and takes learning seriously. This can be day one, two or even at the end of year one or two of playing tennis, depending on their level of coaching. At this stage, shoes that support skill development, prevent injuries and optimize performance are required. This means choosing a lightweight, durable, non-slip, breathable shoe capable of supporting the foot when performing complex tennis skills and movements.
Advanced: Advanced tennis kids are kids who train regularly and may be competing or are looking to compete soon. At this stage, rackets typically take precedence. However, sourcing a shoe that protects against the pitfalls of fast play (such as overpronation and supination) while supporting the foot's arches is crucial. What's more, kids who dream of winning a grand slam need a shoe that offers improved athletic performance and enhances energy efficiency.
Types of tennis shoes for kids
There are three main surface types in tennis courts: grass courts, clay courts and hard courts. Each tennis court type comes with its own potential for falls and injuries. For this reason, different types of tennis shoes are suitable for different types of tennis courts.
Clay court kids’ shoes
Clay courts are undoubtedly one of the most popular surfaces for kids to play tennis on. Fans of the French Open know clay surfaces slow down the ball while causing it to bounce higher than on other surfaces. For those who train or compete on clay surfaces, this means that a shoe that incorporates shock absorption and anti-slip technology to protect feet, ankles and knees is essential. Clay tennis shoes are typically designed to provide stability and promote movement by incorporating zig-zag tread patterns for grip and tight upper knits to optimize movement.
Grass court kids’ shoes
If your kid loves Wimbledon and happens to train on grass, you’ll need a shoe engineered for that type of play. Typically, grass provides a fast-paced game full of solid serves and volleys. This means that kids need to be able to get around the court effectively and efficiently. Grass tennis shoes typically have a flatter, thicker outsole combined with good grip and flexibility to support turns and sprints.
Hard court kids’ shoes
Hard courts such as the ones used in the US Open are the most commonly used type of court because they’re easy to maintain, can be used year-round and are typically beginner- and pro-friendly. Hard courts usually have a surface coating of carpet with firm, level and durable concrete or rubber underneath. This means hard surface tennis shoes require durable outsoles, high shock absorption and firm but flexible heel support. The grip may not be an issue as there are little to no slides on hard courts.
Best tennis shoes for kids
Best kids’ shoes for beginner tennis
PUMA Smash 2 Leather Sneaker: available at Amazon
These are a durable set of sneakers that provide plenty of grip on the tennis court without marking up walls and furniture in the home. Even if your kid ends up abandoning their tennis career, this is a stylish pair of shoes for casual wear too.
Best kids’ tennis shoes for intermediate players
ASICS Kids Upcourt 3 GS: available at Amazon
While these shoes were originally designed for volleyball, their design and traction make them ideal for tennis and lots of other high-speed and torque sports. The sole is durable with gel cushioning in the heel for added comfort and a breathable lining that’s perfect for a highly athletic sport like tennis.
Best kids’ tennis shoes for competition
Wilson Unisex-Child Rush Pro Jr QL Tennis Shoes: available at Amazon
If you have an older kid who takes tennis seriously and competes regularly, this shoe provides optimal support and stability. The shoes’ arches and soles are built to combine support with flexibility to enhance speed and power while lowering the risk of injury.
Lauren Farrell is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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