Can You Wear Vans for Tennis? (Read This First)

Tennis is a sport played by professional athletes and enjoyed by many casual players.

And because of the rising popularity of Vans shoes as casual all-day sneakers, many wonder if they can be worn for tennis. We did some research and here’s what we found.

Can you wear Vans for tennis?

You can wear Vans for tennis, but they are not ideal because they are skateboarding shoes. Playing tennis requires not only a lot of running, but many quick starts and stops, so Vans may not give you the support, cushioning, and traction that tennis shoes provide.

There are also several tennis court types, each one with different characteristics and different requirements. In this post, we answer: can you wear Vans for playing tennis?

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Are Vans Considered Tennis Shoes?

Before we talk about Vans and tennis, let’s determine what tennis shoes are.

Nowadays, the term “tennis shoes” is sometimes applied to almost any pair of sneakers, from trainers, running shoes, basketball shoes, to actual tennis shoes.

But how did these athletic shoes become labeled as tennis shoes, despite their purpose for different sports? The origin of the term “tennis shoes” goes back a few centuries.

According to Wonderopolis, the first rubber-soled shoes, called plimsolls, were developed in England in the late 18th Century. They were nowhere near the comfortable tennis shoes we know today. In fact, there were no specific right or left shoes!

These so-called “plimsolls” started to become popular and are being used to play casual sports, more commonly tennis. And because these shoes did not mark nor scratch the tennis court, they allowed players to stop on a dime and continue running quickly.

Moreover, people had also noticed that the rubber soles were silent. They were extremely quiet on the ground compared to the standard hard-soled dress shoes commonly worn then.

It wasn’t long before the stealthy nature of these shoes allowed the wearers to “sneak” up on people, hence the term “sneakers.”

Today, the term “sneakers” and “tennis shoes” are used interchangeably. Even Vans, which are skateboarding shoes, are sometimes called tennis shoes

But are Vans ACTUAL tennis shoes?

Vans are skateboarding shoes and are not designed for playing tennis. While the first pair of Vans were originally designed as deck or boat shoes in 1966, they became popular among skateboarders thanks to their rugged make-up and sticky soles.

With that said, we like using the term “shoes” or “sneakers” because both terms are neutral and not sport-specific. Hopefully, this clears up any confusion you may have.

Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired Collection

In early 2021, Vans bridged the gap between skateboarding and tennis by collaborating with tennis ball manufacturer, Penn, and creating the Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired Collection.

The Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired Collection features three court-ready footwear.

The collaboration includes three different footwear options: The Vans Authentics, the Slip-Ons, and the newly crafted, Lowland CC. All three shoes are said to be court-ready footwear.

You Can Wear Vans for Tennis, Though Not Ideal

Vans shoes are popular for skateboarding, not for tennis. They are designed to withstand the wear and tear of the skate park, not the challenging surface of the tennis court. But, taking the Vans tennis-inspired collection into consideration, can you wear Vans for playing tennis?

While the regular Vans collection of skateboarding shoes are not ideal for playing tennis, the Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired Collection, which features three tennis court-ready footwear, is suitable to play tennis in.

However, it’s important to note that even the Tennis-Inspired collection of Vans shoes are only ideal for a casual game of tennis. If you are playing lightly with your friends, we don’t see any reason for you to not wear them.

So if you really want to wear Vans for tennis, a pair of the Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired shoes is your best bet. But if you’re going to play professionally, Vans are just not ideal for tennis.

You may think that because the rubber soles of Vans are durable, it can withstand a game of tennis. The problem is not the durability of the shoes, but the safety of your feet.

For the most part, it’s very important to wear tennis shoes (shoes designed specifically for tennis) to play tennis. These shoes are designed to maximize your performance and protect not only your ankles but reduce the toll on your knees while playing tennis.

In fact, there are different tennis shoes for different courts.

We all know that tennis is a sport that requires a lot of quick starts and stops, which means you need enough support and traction to perform those movements effectively.

So imagine wearing a pair of Slip-On Vans during a game of tennis. It’s easy to imagine how easily it can slip off of your feet during a game of tennis, especially if the game is intense.

Or worse, you can injure your ankle while trying to return the ball to your opponent, or suffer painful heel blisters because of the constant rubbing when you are running around.

Different Shoes for Different Tennis Courts

Did you know that you may be required to wear non-marking tennis shoes when playing tennis indoors? Indeed, some tennis courts have strict rules on what you should wear.

The Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired Collection features three court-ready footwear.

According to Asics, there are three main kinds of tennis surfaces: grass, clay, and hard court. Choosing the right type of shoe for the style of court you play on can make a significant difference in your overall performance.

Hard Tennis Court Shoes

Hard courts are the most common tennis court type because it is affordable and easy to maintain. They are often considered the middle ground between grass and clay courts.

If you play tennis on hard courts, it’s paramount to find tennis shoes with:

  • A tough and durable outsole to withstand the toughness of the surface.
  • Adequate cushioning and shock absorption because of the hard surface.
  • Tough upper to give you ankle stability during quick starts and stops.

Because these courts are common, it’s easy to find tennis shoes that are designed for hard courts. Generally, if a pair of shoes does not specifically have a clay or grass court label, it can be safely worn for hard tennis courts.

Clay Tennis Court Shoes

Clay courts are the second most common tennis court type. It is the slowest in terms of delivering bounce because the ball loses a huge amount of speed after hitting the ground.

The Herringbone pattern helps naturally release clay as the shoe twists and flexes.

Because clay is loose and slick, players often slide on the court. It is also easy to lose traction because the clay can get stuck within the tread of the shoes’ outsole.

If you play tennis on clay courts, it’s ideal to find shoes with:

  • Excellent grip because clay doesn’t provide traction.
  • A well-designed outsole that releases clay when it flexes.
  • A secure upper for lateral movements.

Most tennis shoes have hard court and clay court versions, although the latter is far less common. While you can wear clay court shoes for grass courts, it is not recommended to wear them when playing on hard courts, so it’s best to own a pair specifically for clay courts.

Grass Tennis Court Shoes

Grass courts are used for professional tennis. But despite its popularity, it is the least common of the three simply because it is expensive to maintain.

Grass courts deliver the most bounce and are gentler to your knees, but it’s important to wear a pair of tennis shoes with:

  • Flat outsole so they don’t damage the court.
  • Excellent grip because grass can be slippery when there is dew.
  • Flexible upper for optimal side-to-side movement.

Because grass is a soft surface, players at Wimbledon are required to wear completely flat tennis shoes so it doesn’t damage the grass. Nonetheless, it’s hard to find grass tennis shoes because the court type is the least common, often reserved for professionals.

Bottom Line

Now you know whether you can wear Vans for tennis or not.

As you can see, players need to wear the right kind of tennis shoes designed for a specific type of tennis court surface. Not only does it improve the player’s performance, but it also helps protect the player’s feet from injuries as well. 

The Vans x Penn Tennis-Inspired Collection is a good option for a casual game of tennis, but if you’re going to play professionally, it’s best to wear high-quality tennis shoes.

So if you’re going to play tennis, why not invest in a pair of tennis shoes instead of wearing your Vans? You will enjoy the sport more and prevent costly injuries in the future. 

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