How to Help Your Players Find the Right Fit
By Ken DeHart, PTR & USPTA Master Professional
For tennis players, shoes are critical pieces of equipment that can affect performance on the court. Your players’ shoes need to be comfortable, yet they need to provide support that allows for the best movement to the ball. And they must be suited to the court surface.
Making sure your players use the right footwear is a key to keeping them playing tennis more, and continuing to frequent your shop to buy equipment.
So, how do you help your customers find the right pair of tennis shoes? Here are some questions you should ask:
- Are you looking for a tennis shoe for fashion, for optimum performance on the court, or for both?
- Are you totally “in love” with the shoe you have been wearing? If so, you may want to buy several pairs, as shoe companies often carry a certain model for a short period of time before introducing a “new and improved” version of your favorite shoe.
- Are you a hard-court or clay-court player? The soles of hard-court and clay-court shoes are different. Clay-court shoes allow players to slide, while still providing traction to change directions. Hard-court shoes should provide traction without sticking to the court, which might cause an ankle-rolling issue.
- Do you have a narrow foot or a wide foot? The shoe needs to support the foot to allow for quick stopping and change of direction without causing discomfort over the course of a match.
- Do you prefer a low-cut shoe or a 3/4 high shoe? A higher cut shoe does little to support the ankle but it can provide information to the player — when the ankle starts to roll outward, it touches the higher cut shoe and begins to self-correct.
- Do you prefer mesh or leather uppers for your shoe? Mesh shoes can “breathe” better and are often lighter than leather shoes. Some mesh shoes are even washable by removing the insole.
- Are you a “toe dragger” on your serve or ground strokes? You may want a shoe that has a warranty and extra material in the toe of the shoe to prolong shoe life. Some companies offer a six-month warranty if the shoe wears out before that time. This may be a key selling feature for your customer.
- Does your club have a “white shoe and clothing” rule? Some clubs may still require traditional “all-white” apparel.
- What is your size? Athletic shoe sizes can be different than dress shoes, so be sure to measure your customer’s feet. One foot often is larger than the other, so be sure your customer tries on both shoes.
- Do you wear orthotics? If so, your customer may need a slightly larger size shoe to accommodate the special insole. The insert may require a taller toe box as well.
- Do you wear one or two pairs of socks? Some players wear two socks for comfort, especially on hard courts, and to allow moisture to be pulled away from the foot. It may require perhaps a half size larger shoe.
- Does your toe box need to be wider because you have challenging feet? For example, does your customer have a bunion that needs to be accommodated, or a second toe that is longer than the big toe (Morton’s syndrome), which is quite common. Your customer will need to allow for these to prevent calluses and blisters on the feet.
- Do you need a closed or open lace pattern? Most consumers don’t realize they can vary the lacing pattern on their shoes for best fit and comfort. Open patterns allow for the laces at the end to be pulled tighter, which might work best for a narrow foot.
See all articles by Ken DeHart