Clay and tennis go hand-in-hand all the way back to the early 1900s. Back then, it was actually used as a protective coating for grass courts to avoid unwanted wilting in the simmering summer heat.
From those humble beginnings, the crushed red brick has become an entity all of its own and now sits atop of one of the thrones that make up the triad of primary modern tennis court surfaces.
Arguably the most demanding of the three, clay carries with it a number of unique features that help to distinguish it from its hard and grass counterparts. It’s because of these notable differences that you’d better be prepared if you plan on taking your first tentative steps out onto a clay court near you.
So kick off your hard-court sneakers, sit with us awhile, and we’ll talk you through your options if you’re looking to buy the best clay court tennis shoes.
Best Clay Court Tennis Shoes for Men & Women
Adidas Adizero Ubersonic 3 Tennis Shoe (Men & Women) - Editors Choice
Whether or not these shoes win the award for the best shoe on this list, they must surely win for the best name! So let’s have a look and see if the product itself matches up.
This is yet another shoe that has much more colors readily available for men. The men’s options are great, with a total of 10 altogether. On the flip side, the women only have a choice of two, which is a real shame because the two that are offered look fantastic. If only there were a bit more variety…
One of the reasons that Adidas can be so creative with some of the patterned designs with this shoe is because the actual shoe itself is very straightforward. The simple mesh synthetic material covers the majority of the top body of the shoe which allows your feet to breath as you grind out hard fought and physical victories.
The lightweight structure allows for easy manoeuvrability of the durable chassis, which is massively beneficial on a surface as demanding as clay.
The outsole is rightfully the most solid part of this shoe with the tough rubber tread allowing you to settle comfortably and quickly into a clay court rhythm when you begin playing.
Despite sounding somewhat complex, the Ubersonic is designed for quick pace around the court and for that reason, Adidas have chosen to out some of comforting tech seen in some of their other shoes. If you’re looking for a shoe that won’t weigh you down easily, this is it. With the color options that the men’s come with, they could very well be the best men’s tennis shoes for clay courts…
ASICS Court FF2 (Men and Women) - Premium Choice
ASICS again here and once more, you’ll notice the great color options available for the men’s shoes. Red, maroon, green, white, black and blue are all here and all have a sleekly modern look that will fit in well with most modern tennis clothing.
The women have a pink, black, mint green and white model to choose from. It’s better than two but still… MORE COLOR VARIENTS PLEASE, ASICS!
The midsole and insole of these shoes are made out of foam, providing the firm cushioning feeling necessary for racing back and forth across a highly movable surface like clay.
The enhanced ASICS durable compound is in these shoes as well, promising that extra rubberised stability that make for that long-lasting durable clay-court feel.
These shoes have been designed with a specific focus on cooling systems. The removable sock liner gives players that extra spring in their step as they dive across the court in lengthy clay-court rallies. It’ll also help you keep on top of moisture and work as a sweat management system.
ASICS gel technology is used throughout the base of the shoes as well to absorb the shock of any jumps you’re making to smash down on those hard-to-reach lobs up at the net. You may be unable to venture to the net much on clay so when you’re given the chance, your feet need to be ready!
This is another solid clay court shoe from ASICS. As a brand, they’ve continually focused on coming up with new ways to diversify and change the clay court shoe landscape with gel comfort tech.
ASICS Gel Resolution 7 Clay Court Tennis Shoe (Men and Women)
We’re really not sure if we’ve made it clear that ASICS make some high quality clay court tennis shoes so we’ll throw this one in for good measure, just to be safe!
These shoes are very clearly a budget option. If you came here looking for color, you’re not going to find it here with only a plain white being available for men and women. Not bright flashy lights here.
Outside of the lack of color though, there’s still a good amount going for this shoe. The flexi-fit upper structure makes for a solid base for you to repeatedly plant your foot as you’re sliiiiiiiiding about on court.
The rear and forefoot gel cushioning is here as well to provide the ASICS promised comfort and the toe protector makes sure that you’ll be well prepared should you accidentally stub your toe off the net post as you wildly celebrate that glorious put-away volley winner.
In general, this is a basic standard clay court shoe with a cheap price tag to match. If you’re looking for ASICS quality without the bells and whistles designs, this could well be an option for you, especially if you’re a beginner when it comes to clay court tennis.
ASICS Gel Resolution 8 Clay Court (Men and Women)
Starting with the men’s shoe, we’ve got a nice selection of colors that range from a blue and white mix over to some darker variations. Altogether, there are six different looks to choose from and they all look pretty fantastic if court fashion is at the top of your priorities list!
Over with the women’s version, we only have two colors to pick from! What is this?! To be fair, both the blue and red pairs look good but it would have been nice to see a few more options available…
In any case, the form-fitting shape of these shoes provides that nice close-cut lace-up that will prove useful for foot support. That’ll help, especially in the middle of lengthy clay court matches.
On top of this, the memory foam lining will actually offer a uniquely personalized feeling to these shoes as they mold in against your heel. This will make sure that you feel secure if you’re taking your first tentative steps onto a clay court to play.
The outsole is interesting here as well. ASICS claims that the compound used to craft it is 50% more durable rubber than on their regular shoes and so are built to last rigorous continual clay court play.
The enhanced toe protector on these shoes will come in handy, especially if you’re new to sliiiiiiiding around on a tennis court. You want to make sure your toes are well looked after and these will make sure you avoid any nasty twists or turns.
ASICS has gone to great lengths to make sure that these shoes are immensely comfortingly flexible to players by using gel throughout the forefoot and rearfoot designs to offset shock vibrations. This will also allow for ease of movement while on the court.
Altogether, this clay court offering is a solid option for players looking for a shoe that prioritizes comfort above all else.
Adidas Solecourt Boost Clay Tennis Shoe (Men & Women)
Adidas sliiiiiiiiiiides in with their claim for the crown of best tennis shoes for clay courts with their Boost footwear.
First things first, these look great! Adidas has worked wonders with the 100% synthetic materials available to them. The sleek, dotted front design pattern and simplistic color scheme present an overall appealing look that should slot nicely in with most of your kit options. The only downside is that there are only a black and blue model available for both men and women.
The chassis of these shoes is built so that you can slot your feet into them for a solid, structured fit for when you’re scampering about the court.
Adidas has aimed for a snug feel with these so that you can stop being distracted by uncomfortable footwear. The Boost has been created so that you can forget about what’s on your feet and concentrate far more on perfecting your slow and draining clay court rally shots.
Adidas opts for an abrasion-resistant front toe section rather than an all-over protective structure. This allows for flexibility while still offering a tough defensive covering in case of emergency.
With this shoe, the Boos an option for players looking for a comfortable pair of clay court shoes that also look fantastic. With a price tag that doesn’t break the bank and the Adidas mark of guaranteed quality, these could well be worth a purchase!
Babolat Jet Mach II Tennis Shoes (Men & Women)
THE WOMEN GET MORE COLOR OPTIONS THAN THE MEN! FINALLY!
The three color patterns available for the women look fantastic here, with a trio of eye-catching looks that will fit in well if you’re looking for a pop of visual energy around your feet! The men are unfortunately left with a simple white design which looks rather boring in comparison…
Both the men’s and the women’s variations of this shoe are made up of an interesting combination of materials. Inter-woven and hyper-durable Kevlar is combined with polyimide fibres to create the overall base structure… If that confuses you as much as it does us, don’t worry. It simply means these shoes will survive if you toss them off a skyscraper… Probably.
Babolat is unsurprisingly marketing these shoes as the best that money can buy, going as far as to say that the men’s version is the lightest tennis shoe currently available and the women’s is the most versatile.
With the men’s shoe, Babolat have focused far more on using lightweight comfortable foam as a way of offloading any excess weight from the chassis. The women’s shoe looks to be slightly more aerodynamic, offering a heavier memory foam insole and compression technology to keep your feet performing at their very vest throughout your matches.
While Babolat have removed some of the durability from the men’s shoe in an effort to lighten them, with the women’s, they’ve created a perfect all-round clay court shoe that looks fabulous. With a reasonable price point, these could well deserve the title of the best women’s tennis shoes for clay courts…
K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme (Men & Women)
K-Swiss might not be the first company you think of when looking for the best clay court tennis shoes… And yet here they are and here we are, giving you a product breakdown!
The women are once more given the short-straw in terms of colors, with only a light blue pair readily available. The men fair slightly better with a selection of four but if we’ve learned anything from this list overall, it’s that we want more variety when it comes to clay court shoes!
With that said, these shoes are another decent clay offering. With a synthetic upper-lining to give maximum comfort and a hard rubber tread, they are built to last repeatedly intense rallies.
K-Swiss are pushing this as a competitive player’s clay shoe and they’ve provided a cushiony midsole to help with high power return of serves. This should also come in handy when setting up for powerful shots from back on the baseline.
There’s not much more to these shoes but there doesn’t need to be and K-Swiss know that their target market is the no-nonsense and to-the-point clay court grinder searching for a shoe to help them maximise their game.
If that sounds at all like you, this shoe is for you.
Clay Court Vs Hard Court Shoes
The differences between hard court and clay court shoes are primarily to be found in the grip design and structure.
It’s not often that you’ll be able to tell what kind of court a shoe is supposed to be used on simply from a quick first glance at them.
Unsurprisingly, hard court tennis shoes need to be immensely durable in order to put up with intense pressures players put on them consistently as they sprint around the court. With hard flooring, shoes NEED to provide comfort and so you’ll often find the inside of them padded to help with weight you’ll be putting on them repeatedly.
The grip of most hard court shoes is often referred to as a herringbone, a chunky block zigzag pattern designed for maximum traction across a flat, smooth cement surface. The thick rubber used to make the bottom of these shoes will be built to last.
And so we turn to the clay court variations. With clay shoes, comfort is also of paramount importance but in a different kind of way. Rather than aiming for that thick, cozy kind of feel for your feet that hardcourt shoes offer, clay shoes are usually stitched a bit tighter to help you avoid any excess clay cascading around your socked feet in big match moments.
The herringbone grip design is here as well but you’ll notice it seems sharper and smoother than the hard court soles. Clay is a movable surface, always breaking up and cracking, and it’s because of this that the grips of your shoes need to be ready to let that happen. Why you ask?
Because on clay, you need to sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide. Movement on clay is unlike both hard and grass courts. If your shoes aren’t designed properly, you won’t be ready to slide. And if you’re not ready to slide, you’re probably not ready for clay court tennis.
How to Choose the Right Shoes for Tennis?
This is really up to you! There are fresh colors coming out every single day and it’s entirely up to you if you want to pair your footwear seamlessly with the rest of your tennis kit scheme or not.
This goes for most shoes but something to keep in mind with clay tennis is that the clay itself WILL ABSOLUTELY 100% stain your shoes. We’re sorry, there’s nothing you can really do to avoid it other than let it fade over time. They’ve yet to release self-cleaning clay tennis shoes unfortunately…
Now there’s an idea…
In any case, we’d personally recommend against a white shoe for the above reason. Unless you like that off-white dusty red-ish pink-ish look!
We’ve touched on this up above but we’re coming back to it again here briefly.
Try and make sure that your shoes have a smooth overall grip. Regardless if it does have the herringbone design that we touched on before or not, take a look to see if the grip will allow you to shake clay off them easily. Clay getting caught in the grip of shoes can lead to a loss of traction and overall slide control when on court.
What we’re saying is, look for a shoe with a grip that grips but doesn’t grip so well that it overgrips and becomes stuck.
You following us? Good!
When hunting for a good pair of clay court shoes, try and find a pair that has a close-knit make-up. This means that the shoe will sit close in against your foot. When it comes to sliiiiiiiiiiding on clay courts, the last thing you want your feet to be doing is moving around INSIDE your shoes as well.
You want the support of your clay shoes to act as a porous shield against the granules of clay that will threaten to enter your shoes as you play. Try and find a securely comfortable fit that provides the support necessary without being painfully tight around your feet.
The price for clay shoes vary wildly depending on where you look and what brand you’re looking at.
However, we feel it’s necessary to say that generally speaking, you’ll find that shoes designed specifically for clay will be fairly expensive. Clay courts shoes require a different specific design structure and layout than regular all-court tennis shoes.
With that said, please don’t think that you need to go running to your nearest Nike department store to part ways with your cash over the brand new Federer clay shoes. There are plenty of affordable clay specific footwear out there and we hope we’ve highlighted some of them here for you today!
Should I Buy Clay Tennis Shoes?
As an answer to this question, we would ask you a counter-question: do you play on clay often?
If so, yes! Absolutely! Go for it.
If not… Maybe also yes!…
We know, we know! This likely isn’t the helpfully solid answer you were looking for. But let us first unpack what we mean before you exit this article complaining about how useless we are!
If you’re local courts are hard, grass, carpet or all-weather artificial courts, it goes without saying that we’d recommend an all-court tennis shoe suited for those surfaces.
If you’re local courts are clay, clay court shoes should be your front and centre option.
Now if your local courts aren’t clay but you know you want to possibly spread your wings and play some more tennis on that surface regularly, do you still buy a pair of clay shoes?!
Well, we’d first suggest trying out clay first to see if it’s a surface you want to spend a bit more time on. If it is, go for a pair of clay shoes. If it’s not, you won’t yet have wasted your money on a pair of shoes suited for a surface you don’t like.
Experiment with clay before investing in clay is what we’re trying to say!
And here we are again, at the end of another journey. You still with us?
Good. Now for a final few things.
Clay can be an immensely rewarding surface to play on but it can also be physically demanding and difficult if you’re not ready for it. When it comes to buying the best clay court tennis shoes, find a pair you feel comfortable adapting to so that you’re not worried about your feet when you play on the surface for the first time.
You want to come to clay prepared for the challenges that it presents and we hope we’ve played a small part today in your process to ready yourself for it!
Good luck, have fun and enjoy the sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide.