I believe it was the genius Tim “The Toolman” Taylor who said, “You need to use the right tool for the right job.” Now, I don’t know if he actually said this, but I can see him saying that while he’s talking to his trusty sidekick, Al Borland, on “Tool Time” or perhaps to his shy-but-wise neighbor, Wilson. Wow, did I really just date myself by using a “Home Improvement” reference? Regardless, there is some truth to that quote, and it applies perfectly to tennis shoes.
With the clay court season well underway, you might be inspired to try your hand (or feet) at playing on the dirty stuff. And, sure, you can probably take out your hard court tennis shoes and move around decently on clay, but I guess you could also probably hammer a nail with a wrench. It might get the job done, but it’s not the best choice, that’s all I’m saying. But if you’re even dreaming about moving and sliding around the court like Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, you need to pick up some clay court specific shoes. The right tool for the job. Simple.
What makes a clay court specific shoe different than a hard court or a grass court specific shoe is one main thing: the outsole. The outsole of a clay court shoe will usually feature a full herringbone (the zig zags) tread pattern. This pattern won’t allow the clay to lodge to the outsole so you can get a better grip when you try to start, stop or change directions. A couple of hits from your racquet between points should knock loose all the clay from the outsole. The herringbone design also makes the sliding from side to side more predictable so you can perfectly glide into a shot and recover, a la Nadal, but will provide the traction needed for moving forward and backward. So if you plan on playing on clay on a regular basis, you might want to consider picking up a pair of clay specific tennis shoes. The right shoe for the right surface.
Here at Tennis Warehouse, we carry a variety of clay specific shoes for both men and women. (Click on the image to enlarge. Click on the name to purchase.)
With the correct shoes on your feet and a bit of practice, you’ll be moving like a clay court champion in no time.