Can You Run in Tennis Shoes?

A tennis racket, ball and a apir of shoes on a wooden floor.

Not too long ago, you can get away with wearing just one kind of shoe for all your activities. You can use your Converse All-Star shoes for all kinds of activities – anywhere between basketball and biking you can use it.

Compared to now where you are offered all kinds of shoes for all kinds of activities. You got tennis shoes, soccer cleats, basketball shoes, bowling shoes – basically all kinds of shoes for different activities.

But is getting a different shoe for different activities even optimal? Couldn’t you just re-use your tennis shoes for running, for instance?

The answer to that is a bit tricky though. We need to discuss other important things first.

Do You Really Need Different Shoes for Different Sports?

The truth is, you don’t.

However, this is a bit misleading. Sure, you can use the same shoes for everything but that doesn’t mean you would get the optimum result in all of your activities using the same shoes.

Take soccer cleats, for instance. You can use your basketball shoes playing soccer but they would be bad to play in. You would slip too much that you’d wonder if playing barefoot would’ve been the better option.

The reality is, these ‘specialized’ shoes are created for a reason. They are designed to give optimum performance for the sport of your choosing

Hence, tennis shoes are perfect for tennis and soccer shoes are perfect for soccer.

Can You Run with Tennis Shoes?

Compared to running shoes, tennis shoes are heavier. If you’ve been using running shoes for a while now, it may even feel like you’re running in bowling balls because tennis shoes are often made more rigid.

The reason tennis shoes are heavier is they need to be able to take in more abuse. A typical tennis game is full of sharp and sudden turns. 

A tennis player running to intercept the ball.

Compare that to running in which you only need to go in one direction at a consistent pace. It’s easy to see why tennis shoes are stiffer than the average running shoes.

That being said, yes, you can run in a tennis shoe. I mean if you watch tennis, the players run all over the court all the time.

Tennis players run an average of 1.5 – 4 miles per match, depending on the playstyle.

How Does It Feel Running in a Tennis Shoe?

To be perfectly honest, unless you’re deep into running, you likely won’t notice anything different. And even if you do, it’s minuscule.

The difference is more pronounced the longer the run is. If you are constantly running in the 10+ miles range, a running shoe would be the better option.

For midrange runners though, around 3 miles, using a tennis shoe for running would be just fine.

Some tennis shoes offer more running qualities though, so you have to check their build first.

It depends on many factors like the sole, material, cushion, ground contact, weight, durability, and a lot more.

In the next section, we’re going to talk about these things in-depth.

Tennis Shoes vs. Running Shoes

Cushion (Comfort)

Running shoes have better cushions compared to tennis shoes. The cushions are especially more noticeable in the front and back parts of the shoe. This is where the force is concentrated when running so it follows that this is where the cushions are going to be.

Tennis shoes don’t have much use for too much cushion. It still uses it, but not as much. 

This is because the feel of the court is important for players. You have to sacrifice a little bit of comfort if you want a better court response.

Sole (Traction)

A runner tying the laces of his shoes.

One of the biggest differences in tennis and running shoes is in their sole design.

Running shoes do not offer a lot of traction, at least compared to other types of shoes. The reason is you don’t need the traction as much when running since you’re really only running in one direction.

You rarely run sideways, and this shows on the sole design of running shoes.

Tennis shoes, on the other hand, have sole designs that are more aligned with basketball shoes. Traction is king when it comes to tennis. The stop-and-go gameplay rewards players who can stop on a dime. As a result, tennis shoes must have tremendous traction.


Tennis shoes are heavier. If you are a runner, this can become an issue, especially for long-distance running.

Contrarily, if you are only running for short distances, then the weight wouldn’t really be an issue.

There’s a reason why running shoes are popular in the casual setting. Running shoes are way more comfortable than any type of shoes, and that includes tennis shoes.


The materials used in tennis shoes, for the most part, are the same as the ones used in running shoes. The only difference is the weight or durability.

For instance, the thread count of the upper part of the tennis shoe is usually higher than the running shoe. This is because tennis shoes need to be rated higher than running shoes for obvious reasons.

Another key material difference is the sole. Running shoe soles are usually bouncier and made of lighter materials. But that doesn’t mean the materials would break down easily. 

Actually, they last quite a long time, especially if the surface you’re running on is flat.

Tennis shoes, on the other hand, while their soles are made from more durable materials, tend to wear out a little bit faster. There’s a limit to how durable you can make a shoe without losing mobility. The violent cuts, steps, and stops of tennis would tear through any material no matter how durable they are.

What Shoe Works for Other Sports?

A soccer and a pair of soccer shoes on a grass field.

You can get away with using one shoe for separate sports if the two sports share almost the same gameplay.

Rugby and soccer shoes can be interchangeable although there are some slight differences.

But in general, you can use your soccer shoes in a match of rugby or American football because the type of gameplay is almost the same. And more importantly, the surface on the field is practically the same for these sports.

One key thing to consider is the type of surface you will be playing on.

Soccer cleats, for instance, can’t be played on a basketball court, and vice versa.

Tips for Buying Tennis Shoes

You can never go wrong when you buy a popular tennis shoe. They are popular for a reason.

The tennis shoes that are the most popular tend to be the shoes that the top players wear.

One thing you can do is start reading reviews online. Even better is if you manage to go into a sporting goods store and try a few shoes to learn what they feel like on your feet.

Most people also consider their playstyle. If you like to extend a rally, then a more comfortable (more cushion) tennis shoe might be more of your style. If you are more of a power player, then an extra traction shoe is best.

Whatever your need is, surely there will be some tennis shoes that will fit your playstyle.

Different Court Surface in Tennis

In tennis, there are 4 major court surfaces, each different from the next.

You need to use different shoes for each court if you want to ensure you maximize your potential on the court.

The grass is considered the fastest surface. The somewhat slippery surface of the grass gives the ball a lower bounce while maintaining or even generating speed. This means that the ball is closer to the ground and is that much harder to return.

You will need grippy shoes in the grass, more than any other court.

This is a full view of a tennis court that has a clay surface.

Clay courts are the slowest surface, meaning that it slows down the speed of the tennis ball while also generating a higher bounce for easier returns.

This court favors players who rely on stamina and speed. Rafael Nadal is known as the king of clay, and if you’ve seen him play, you’ll understand why.

Why Even Run in Tennis Shoes?

The obvious answer is people just use whatever shoes are available to them at the moment. But it’s not always the reason.

Additionally, some people can’t afford to have a separate shoe for each of their sport. Having one shoe for several sports makes sense financially.

Also, some runners actually prefer the stability offered by tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are more stable and more durable than running shoes. 

If you find yourself always losing a footing in running shoes, then using a tennis shoe seems like a good option. I’ve known runners who run exclusively in either basketball or tennis shoes.

With all that being said, most would still recommend running in a running shoe. I know I would.

Running shoes are made for running. It’s in the name itself.

But if you only have a tennis shoe with you, then I see no problem with using it as a running shoe. It will do the job just fine.

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