If you are in any way connected to the fitness or running world, you know that there is quite a bit of hype around the idea of using a minimal shoe for training and running. From Vibram Five Fingers to the New Balance Minimus, you can see athletes everywhere utilizing these shoes to strengthen their feet, as well as create a more natural feel in athletic movements. But, the question still remains: Are these shoes good for playing tennis?
If a minimal shoe can help improve functional movement, wouldn’t it make sense that it could improve your movements on the court? In this case, the answer is no. Tennis is a sport in which the shoe becomes part of the equipment. The lateral support, wide base and hard bottom of the tennis shoe will support multi-directional cutting, as well as allow the athlete to transfer adequate force into the ground to be fast and explosive.
With a minimal shoe, most of the energy is dissipated through the natural absorption of the foot musculature. This creates a great “training” situation because you can feel your connection to the ground through the proprioceptors. These proprioceptors dictate balance, stability and motor control. In a strength and movement training environment, this could be very beneficial to the long-term development of athleticism. But, with that being said, when you hit the court, you want to be in a proper tennis shoe to minimize the risk of injury, as well as express your game optimally.