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Sneakers vs. Tennis Shoes

This is a close look into sneakers and tennis shoes to determine which is the better choice for your style, activity, fashion, preferences and the lifestyle of the wearer.

This is a tennis shoe together with a sneaker.

 I lost my balance when I realized that using a pair of sneakers to play tennis was not the best idea. Which shoe would be a better choice? My curiosity was heightened to the extent that I wanted to find out more about Sneakers vs. Tennis Shoes.

People confuse tennis shoes and sneakers all the time, mainly because they both look so similar to the eye. Yet, there are stark differences. Sneakers are casual shoes that are worn more as a fashion statement; while tennis shoes are designed specifically for use on the tennis court.

If you are curious about the differences between the two and what sneaker lovers should look for when choosing the perfect sneaker, then keep reading. We also delve deeper into what makes both shoes so unique.

What are Sneakers?

This is a woman wearing a bright white pair of sneakers.

Sneakers are casual and comfortable to wear, pairing well with jeans. They come in a variety of styles and colors.  They are made from materials like canvas and denim.

The soles of the sneakers are made of rubber.

Sneakers are made with cushioning to provide comfort for walking. Since they are casual shoes, there is no real need for any form of lateral support.  Sneakers are not sport-specific; hence they do not have any features that highlight this fact.

Guidelines When Choosing a Sneaker

This is a close look at a man wearing a pair of orange sneakers.

When choosing a good sneaker, price should not be your only deciding factor. Consider the following factors in your decision process.

1. Shoe Space

  • There should be enough space, both width, and depth so that the sneaker offers comfort.
  • There should also be enough toe room. The walking motion typically sees the extension of the foot by at least one centimeter in each direction.
  •  Therefore you should pick a sneaker with ample toe room based on the length of your longest toe.

2. Heel of the Shoe

  • The shoe’s heel must not exceed 2.5 cm in height. Otherwise, the heel and the ankle become more prone to sprains when walking.

3. Stability

  • The shoe should offer stability and support as the main purpose of the shoe will be for walking.
  • The heel cup should be soft and stable, offering verticle or horizontal heel movement.

4. Adjustable Strap

  • There should be an adjustable strap like Velcro or laces that will suit the individual’s needs.

5. Style, Colour, and Price

  • With the ever-changing trends of the fashion industry, choosing a sneaker that can fit well to suit the profile of budget, aesthetics, and color would be the way to go. 
  • Purchasing a sneaker based on current style trends can cause the user to overcapitalize only to find that the trends have become quickly outdated.
  • Sneakers are an important part of hip hop, and the most popular brand of sneaker is Puma, Addidas, and Nike. These hip-hop artists get paid millions of dollars to be their brand ambassadors.
  • Sneaker companies encourage this trend since it means producing limited-edition sneakers in limited numbers that can cost thousands of dollars. These sneakers are sold in exclusive establishments like Saks Fifth Avenue, making the sneaker industry a very lucrative market.

What are Tennis Shoes?

This is a woman wearing a pair of white tennis shoes on a game.

The design feature of the shoe is centered solely around the sport.  The design varies based on the choice of the tennis court.

The tennis shoe has to also offer maximum support to the player, with safety being of paramount importance. The shock-absorbent material protects the player from any shock during the game.

Due to the vigorous motion of the sport, the tennis shoe provides great lateral support. Being much slimmer than normal shoes, they offer protection to the player’s ankle.

Why is it Important to Wear the Right Tennis Shoes?

Tennis shoes are engineered with properties to get you around the court more efficiently and safely.  Since it is a fast-moving sport, it is highly recommended that you choose a shoe that provides both stability and long-lasting durability, with safety being of the utmost importance.

Unique Features of a Tennis Shoe

This is a man putting on his tennis shoes.
  • They have specific threading designed to give you maximum traction on the court. The shoe is heavier but slimmer, which guides agility.
  • The thinner and harder heels provide stability.
  • The thin padding on the inside of the shoe does not restrict the lateral movements of the player.
  • Tennis shoes are typically flattering with design patterns on the sole, making them more comfortable for the player.
  • Made from carbon rubber, it is stiffer, which allows it to be more durable.

Guidelines When Choosing a Tennis Shoe

It is first essential to determine the court at which you are playing tennis.  If playing on a hard court, you will need a shoe with the right amount of traction. If playing on a clay court, you will need a shoe that has patterns across the outside.

The grass-court shoes will have a bottom with nubs to prevent slipping.

Running around the tennis court can make your feet hot and sweaty. It is, therefore, best to choose a lightweight, breathable well-ventilated tennis shoe, especially in summer.

The most popular choice would be the K.Swiss Bigshot Light 2.5 for men at about $139.95 and the Bigshot Light 2.5 for women, priced at about $110.

The thin padding on the inside of the shoe does not restrict the lateral movements of the player.

Differences Between Sneakers and Tennis Shoes

This is a woman with her collection of sneakers and tennis shoes.
SneakersTennis Shoes
Designed specifically for casual wear.Designed for use on the tennis court.
They are made of materials like rubber and canvas.They are made of shock-absorbent materials.
Do not offer lateral support.Offer lateral support as a support mechanism to compliment the sport.
Sneakers have more padding and cushioning, which serves a purpose for running and walking.Tennis shoes do not have to cushion as this will restrict the easy side-by-side motion of the player on the tennis court.
You can purchase them at any shoe store.You can purchase them at any athletic store.
The soles are heavier.The soles are slimmer.
Prices of sneakers vary and can be more affordableMore expensive due to its specialized features.
The sneaker is less flexible.Tennis shoes are more flexible.

Which is More Popular: Sneakers or Tennis Shoes?

This is a man wearing a pair of brown sneakers.

In the US as a whole, the more popular choice would be the sneaker. This statistic is largely based on the internet search where 75% of the traffic was for sneakers, while 25% for tennis shoes. Tennis is a specialized sport, which might not suit all tastes.

Mississippi ranked number one when it came to the search for tennis shoes.

Can I Wear Sneakers to Play Tennis?

This is a woman putting on her tennis shoes before a game.

Sneakers may be aesthetically pleasing to look at but are not the perfect choice for playing tennis. A tennis shoe is specifically designed for the sport at hand. Any other shoe not designed with this criterion in mind will not serve the purpose. Sneakers do not fit that purpose.


Sneakers vs. Tennis Shoes: the choice is solely based on their required usage.  Each fits their role perfectly.  One thing that you cannot deny is that they both have games. The one has a game in the fashion arena and the other on the tennis court.

Whatever reason you have for purchasing a sneaker or a tennis shoe, always ensure that you bring on your “A” game while putting your best foot forward.


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