7 Best Lightweight Tennis Shoes in 2024

Brenton Barker
Brenton Barker on
7 Best Lightweight Tennis Shoes in 2024
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Step up your game with any of these best-rated lightweight tennis shoes. We are a team of experts who scrutinised airy shoes and put together an impressive list of the best kicks that weigh less than 400 grammes. These pairs are an excellent choice for players who are inclined to play aggressively on the court.

Known for top-notch quality footwear, giant brands like K-Swiss, Adidas, Asics, Head, and Wilson offer their latest high-performance shoes that enhance the agility and flexibility of players. They understandably come with minimal design and cutting-edge synthetic materials.

You have plenty of amazing options to select from. To help you narrow down the top choices, we’ve tested, reviewed, and higlighted top picks among these shoes for faster browsing.

How we test tennis shoes

From mesh and synthetic-made materials to knit or even leather shoes, we’ve vetted and double-checked every essential part of the footwear in the RunRepeat shoe testing lab. We’ve also do hours of playtests on the clay and hard court to assess their comfort and performance.

To finalise our comprehensive reviews, we do these steps:

  • We procure all the lightweight tennis kicks from a wide array of brands in the market. We invest our own funds to preserve the independence and impartiality of our rankings and reviews.
  • We play hours of tennis to evaluate each model for this guide. We carefully scrutinise each one based on various parameters such as weight, break-in period, cushioning system, outsole traction, breathability, lateral support, and more.
  • We perform a battery of mechanical tests to determine vital areas such as grippiness on different surfaces, lateral movement performance, and so on.
  • We then put our goggles on and be all geeky about the shoes. We perform another series of tests, but this time, inside our lab, we measure the properties of the shoes. We cut the shoes open and unearth all the technologies or simple details that make up the shoes.

Best lightweight tennis shoes overall

What makes it the best?

NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapour Pro is the most exceptional lightweight tennis shoe we tested and played in. We are literally zooming while in the pair because of how light it is. But don’t think for a second that light means less protection because, in Vapour Pro, it really isn’t! The best part is, that we can fiercely propel in the court with our feet fully supported and ankles fully secure.

Vapour Pro carries a weight of 12.10 oz (343g) as shown by our digital scale. In the court, this corresponded to lag-free motions, as well as a weightless feel. The underfoot ride of Vapour Pro surprised us because, for a lightweight shoe, it fantastically attenuated the impact from repeatedly smashing our feet on the court. We discovered from the 26.4 mm and 17.6 mm heel and forefoot stacks that the shoe has a drop of 8.8 mm. While this is a good amount for heel protection, we found that the Zoom Air unit is what really dampens impact.

While Vapour Pro is super light, it won’t fly off the foot. We recorded zero heel slippage in our actual games, plus we rated the heel counter stiffness a 4/5 based on our subjective assessment in the lab, confirming how strong the heel clasps onto our ankles.

The downside is that the outsole is easily eaten away by the friction from the constant slides. We measured an outsole hardness and thickness of 84.8 HC and 4.4 mm. This makes Vapour Pro vulnerable to quickly wearing out. If you consider this a red flag, we suggest picking up other pairs.

Pros

  • Extremely light
  • Breathable upper
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Stable platform
  • Glove-like fit
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Grippy outsole

Cons

  • Constricting plastic wall
  • Lacks durability
  • Break-in needed
Full review of NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor Pro

Best lightweight tennis shoes for speed

What makes it the best?

Among lightweight tennis shoes we playtested, ASICS Solution Speed FF 3 dominates the game with its unmatched speed. Our lab reveals it balances the extremes well: staying flexible while stable, grippy while durable, and breathable while protective. It amazed us on and off the court, allowing us to stay in the groove as we played the sport.

Once on foot, the shoe virtually disappears, weighing just 10.9 oz (309g), ensuring freedom of movement and effortless adjustments during play. Other than its lightness, the cushioning keeps us closely connected to the ground and launches us energetically. Maintaining our momentum feels effortless because of the manoeuvrable midsole that emerged 14.6% more flexible than average in our bend test. The Speedtruss technology adds stiffness torsionally to boost our stability and confidence.

The unwavering traction also keeps our footwork smooth and controlled. The Precision Sole’s pattern allowed us to stop, pivot, and slide as needed. The AHAR PLUS rubber maintains grip without sacrificing durability, and even the upper mirrors this by blending resistance to friction and breathability well. While greatly resisting our Dremel with a perfect score, the open mesh fabric mind-blowingly gets a flawless 5/5 rating for ventilation, keeping us cool throughout our sessions.

However, while the shoe is stable for most movements, it’s not enough for aggressive lateral movements. Baseline players should look for more supportive shoes.

Pros

  • One of the lightest tennis shoes on the market
  • Fantastic wear resistance and durability
  • Exceptionally breathable for a tennis shoe
  • Grounded platform with a great court feel
  • Shank adds propulsion and facilitates speed
  • Rockered heel makes transitions faster and smoother
  • Solid stability for a speed-oriented shoe
  • Perfect grip with enough give

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Not very stable for baseline players
Full review of Asics Solution Speed FF 3

Lightweight tennis shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

Our unsurpassed lightweight option for stable dynamic court play is the Mizuno Wave Enforce Tour. This tennis shoe ensured superb steadiness, leaving no room for doubt in our movements. And with its build that is far from a burden, foot fatigue was never an issue.

The Mizuno Wave Enforce Tour registered a weight of 13.05 oz (370g) on our scale. We realised that it is marginally heavier than average by 3.65% but best believe that on foot, we felt unrestricted by weight. There is also no sense of instability while wearing the Enforce Tour. Upon measuring the width of the platform, we understood why. The forefoot area at 113 mm is slightly wider than the average while the heel part is 11.6% broader at 99.7 mm.

The rigid heel counter also played a role in containing our feet and preventing ankle twists. We manually tested its firmness and rated it a 4/5. This provided a nice structure and support for our heels. 

However, we are not happy about the shoe’s durability. While we rated its toebox a not-so-awesome 3/5 in our Dremel test, the heel padding did so much worse with a score of 1/5. We recommend choosing a tennis shoe with better quality if you wish to enjoy it for a long time.

Pros

  • Fantastic impact protection
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Doesn't drag the foot
  • Comfortable even after long sessions
  • Great stability
  • Super grippy
  • Amazing lockdown

Cons

  • Not for narrow feet
  • Upper lacks durability
Full review of Mizuno Wave Enforce Tour

Lightweight tennis shoes with the best comfort

What makes it the best?

K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme is a featherweight tennis shoe that transported us to nirvana because of its offered in-shoe comfort. Non-dragging, lots of padding, and feels one with the foot – this is what the Hypercourt Supreme is all about which is why it has the best comfort out there. 

Our weighing scale registered 12.31 oz (349g) when we set K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme on it. It is not only lighter than the average tennis shoe by 2.2% but it also truly feels airy. This shoe also boasts generous padding which embraces our feet in pleasure. The tongue, specifically, measures 10.4 mm in thickness, 26.8% thicker than average. 

We also loved how the collar of the K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme comfortably contoured our ankles as it resulted in a more natural feel whenever we moved. This was substantiated in our lab test where we evaluated the firmness of the heel counter by hand. We rated it 2/5 in rigidness as it effortlessly succumbed to our pressing and pinching. 

However, we didn’t get much ventilation in the K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme. Our microscope evinced this as it displayed closely woven fabric placed between overlays without much perforations. We suggest opting for a more breathable pair if you want to avoid sweaty feet at all cost.

Pros

  • Nimble and lighter than average
  • Grounded feel underfoot
  • Outstanding durability
  • Very wide platform
  • Soft bootie moulds to the ankle
  • Excellent balance of grip and give
  • Flexible yet propulsive

Cons

  • Not very breathable
  • Not for narrow feet (upper stretches)
  • Not so supportive
Full review of K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme

Lightweight tennis shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

We subjected the Adidas Adizero Ubersonic 4.1 to numerous tests, and based on the results, we are confident to say that it has the best cushioning among all the lightweight tennis shoes that we tried. Our durometer measured the softness of the midsole to be 21.6 HA, which was far lower (therefore softer) than the 29.2 HA average. Besides having plush cushioning, the Adidas Adizero Ubersonic 4.1 also boasted of a pretty flexible build and very much welcome bounciness. 

Admittedly, the Adizero Ubersonic 4.1 was not the lightest shoe out there. In fact, its weight, 12.31 oz (349g), could be considered average. However, it felt much lighter than its actual weight on the foot. We attributed such a nice experience to the bounciness that the midsole also delivered. 

Another aspect that helped make the shoe feel light was its linear flexibility. The average tennis shoe would need 30.1N of force to bend at a 90-degree angle, but the Adidas Adizero Ubersonic 4.1 only needed 20.6N. Because of this, the natural flexions of our feet were met with negligible resistance.

Unfortunately, the outsole was rather soft. Our HC durometer gave it a rating of 73.4 when the average could go as high as 85.8. Obviously, this number raised concerns about the outsole’s durability.

Pros

  • Feels light and speedy
  • Plenty of heel cushioning
  • Bouncy midsole foam
  • Stable platform for a speed shoe
  • Very flexible forefoot
  • Excellent grip on hard court
  • Highly secure lockdown
  • Solid durability

Cons

  • Not so breathable
  • Not for wide feet
Full review of Adidas Adizero Ubersonic 4.1

Best lightweight tennis shoes for wide feet

What makes it the best?

The New Balance Fuelcell 996 v5 is available in multiple widths, so it automatically became our best bet for wide-footers among all the lightweight tennis shoes in our inventory. Aside from being wide-feet-friendly, this tennis shoe also felt light and nimble on the feet and was amazingly resistant to foot twists. 

Weighing only 11.85 ounces or 336 grammes, the NB Fuelcell 996 v5 was slightly lighter than the average tennis kick which weighed 12.84 ounces or 364 grammes. The shoe’s lightweight structure allowed us to move with much more freedom as we chased after the ball for more challenging rallies.

Footwork is incredibly important in tennis, and the New Balance Fuelcell 996 v5 made us feel more confident to move our feet because we had full trust that it would protect us from twists. Its base felt quite firm. Truly enough, when we manually twisted this shoe in the lab, we could not help but give it a 4 out of 5 for the impressive level of torsional rigidity that it displayed.

Breathability was OK, but it sure could still use some improvement. The smoke that we pumped in during the breathability assessments could not go through the toebox; it had to pass through the tongue, which could only let out so much. We gave the New Balance Fuelcell 996 v5 a so-so 3 out of 5 for ventilation.

Pros

  • Speedy around the court
  • Lightweight build
  • Very grounded feel
  • Lasting outsole (with a 6-month warranty)
  • Stiff and propulsive platform
  • Unmatched upper comfort
  • Wide-foot friendly

Cons

  • Could be more breathable
  • Not much side support
Full review of New Balance FuelCell 996 v5

Best budget lightweight tennis shoes

What makes it the best?

The ASICS Gel Dedicate 8 earned the title of being the ultimate budget lightweight tennis shoe out there. It is amazing how we were only charged a mere £90, 39.2% cheaper than the average, in exchange for supreme comfort and great performance. 

This tennis shoe is the opposite of a burden. With its 11.25 oz (319g) weight, it is not only 11.4% lighter than the average tennis shoe but it also feels incredibly lightweight on foot. Complementing this feathery weight is ASICS Gel Dedicate 8’s outstanding ventilation. We loaded the shoe’s interior with smoke and upon witnessing its quick escape, we gave the shoe a 4/5 in breathability.

Although we measured the heel and forefoot stack heights to be around the average at 28.6 mm and 18.4 mm, respectively, we are not left wanting more in terms of impact protection. We are protected against harsh landings while in court. 

However, we don’t suggest getting the ASICS Gel Dedicate 8 for players with narrow feet. Our calliper revealed that the broadest area of the toebox only extends to 99.3 mm, which is slightly below the average. We recommend getting the wide version for wide footers.

Pros

  • Among the cheapest you can get
  • Highly breathable upper
  • Decent outsole durability for the price
  • Much lighter than average
  • Sufficient impact protection
  • Surprisingly stable platform
  • Flexible in the forefoot
  • Good enough grip and give
  • Well-padded interiors

Cons

  • Very frail upper materials
  • Lacking support in the upper
Full review of Asics Gel Dedicate 8

When playing tennis, being light on your feet is a crucial element of your game. In terms of footwear, the quest for the right balance in comfort, support and agility often leads to a crucial factor: weight.

In this guide we’ll explore what makes lightweight tennis shoes the go-to choice for many players, including a focus on the essential features that set the best lightweight tennis shoes apart. Because an informed player means a smart player, and that might just be your advantage in the game.

6 types of tennis players that love lightweight tennis shoes

  1. The prodigy: There are plenty of young talents coming through with the world at their feet. But they don’t want to be held back by a pair of heavy and clunky tennis shoes.
  2. The enthusiast: Whether it's a scorching summer day or a chilly winter morning, this dedicated soul never misses their tennis sessions, and lightweight shoes help keep them agile.
  3. The strategist: Known for their on-court smarts and impeccable court coverage, this player prefers lightweight shoes as it allows them to react to every volley and chase down every ball that goes down the line.
  4. The weekend warrior: In between hectic work and family life, this player depends on their lightweight tennis shoes to get them through their Saturday morning club match because as much as they enjoy their tennis, the weekend is full of many more activities to embrace as well.
  5. The seasoned senior: Age is just a number for this seasoned player who chooses lightweight tennis shoes to maintain their agility and outsmart opponents with experience.
  6. The coach: Coaches spend hours on the court, acting as a hitting partner and demonstrating techniques with their tennis proteges. Lightweight tennis shoes provide the comfort and speed needed to keep up with aspiring players.

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And 5 types of players who prefer heavier tennis shoes

Sure this article might be about lightweight tennis shoes but it would be remiss not to mention that lightweight shoes don’t suit everybody, particularly these types of players:

  1. The stable mate: These players value the added weight of tennis shoes for the increased stability it provides. Particularly effective for players who aren’t skinny lightweights themselves, heavier shoes can help keep you anchored to the court reducing the likelihood of unnecessary post-match soreness and even injury.
  2. The shock absorber: Sometimes the additional cushioning and shock absorbing layers that manufacturers create their shoes with comes at the expense of a heavier shoe, and for players who prioritise these comfortable features - particularly on hard courts - might shy away from a lightweight tennis shoe.
  3. The durability devotee: Heavy shoes have been traditionally associated with durability, or ‘heavy duty’ if you will. While the technology is improving to make this durability lighter, there are plenty of players to this day who will err on the side of sturdy in the pursuit of longer-lasting shoes.
  4. The all-weather warrior: The reality for most local club-level tennis players is that, unlike what we often see on TV, outdoor playing means all conditions. From wet to cold to windy, and sometimes all three. Some players will lean towards heavier shoes with the theory that they will be better in poor conditions, for example by holding better traction than their lighter weight counterparts.
  5. The baseline bomber: Players with a baseline-dominant playing style, known for powerful groundstrokes, may opt for heavier shoes to support their aggressive movements and provide a stable base for generating maximum power.

The role that playing styles have on lightweight shoes

Considering weight is an important part of the process in researching and ultimately finding the perfect pair of tennis shoes. However, it’s not just the product to consider, it’s also your playing style. Different players look for different attributes in a shoe so that it suits them the best, not just because that’s what the marketing material told them.

The aggressive baseliner

Those players that find themselves rallying from the baseline will rely on endurance, agility and quick lateral movements. Although there may be some hesitancy for a baseline player to seek out lightweight shoes, they can be beneficial as it allows them to make fast directional changes while still allowing for recovery in between movements, thereby maintaining the endurance required for long matches.

The all-courter

The ability to adapt to different situations and surfaces is a tennis trait frequently sought after, yet infrequently found. However if this is you then you’ll find yourself seeking a balance between lightweight shoes (great for fast reactions on hard courts) and heavier weight shoes (best suited to clay courts as they provide the stability required for sliding across the court).

The serve-and-volleyer

If you find yourself at the net frequently, whether playing doubles or singles, you’ll be looking at prioritising stability and support in your tennis shoes. Sometimes heavier tennis shoes can provide more support allowing you to stay grounded and ready to clip that volley over the net.

The counterpuncher

Counterpunchers have a unique ability to turn their opponent’s power against them. Although known as being constantly in defence, their style - when done effectively - is one that puts their opponent on the backfoot regardless of how offensive they were playing.

For counterpunchers quick and nimble movements are a regular feature of their game, and as they gradually wear down their competition they find themselves requiring a somewhat unusual combination of responsiveness for fast movements and cushioning for long, drawn out matches.

Counterpunchers definitely benefit from lightweight tennis shoes as they turn their match from ‘counterpunch’ at the beginning, to ‘punchy’ at the end.

Anatomy of a lightweight tennis shoe

Understanding where the engineers concentrate their efforts in trying to make lightweight and reliable tennis shoes is an important part of your research. This will help you know what to look for and what’s important to you. Let’s drill down on those considerations:

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Midsole cushioning

The midsole is crucial for comfort and support, and these technologies offer lightweight yet effective solutions. Brands like Nike use Air Zoom and Asics has it’s own GEL technology in the midsole to provide responsive cushioning and shock absorption.

Outsole traction

Outsoles are often made with durable rubber compounds like Adidas' Adiwear, designed to provide excellent grip and durability on the court. The pattern and composition of the outsole play a significant role in enhancing traction during quick movements.

Upper materials

The upper material impacts the shoe's overall weight, flexibility, and comfort. Synthetic overlays and closely woven fabrics create the sense of stability while retaining durability, allowing the shoes to retain their integrity during all sorts of sharp tennis movements and throughout long rallies. A classic example of this is the Nike Court Air Zoom Vapour Pro which uses a thick and tightly woven mesh structure.

Toe cap

Many of the big tennis footwear brands are using technologies to reinforce the toe cap area to resist abrasion and extend the shoe's life. This is especially important for players who have an aggressive playing style, with fast and sharp court movements to and from the net, plus laterally across the court. K-Swiss has created their DragGuard technology for this exact reason, and they use it on their popular tennis models such as the K-Swiss Hypercourt Supreme.

Lateral stability

Many modern tennis shoes use a lightweight lateral stability technology designed to provide on-court stability. An example of this is Asics with their Twistruss system, as used on the ASICS Solution Speed FF 2. This is particularly suitable for the player who starts at the baseline but typically moves to the net and requires a fast, flexible and lightweight shoe.

Torsional rigidity

Tennis shoes need to provide torsional rigidity, meaning they resist twisting, to support quick lateral movements. Some brands integrate shanks or arch support technologies to enhance this rigidity without compromising weight. And shoe engineers know that they can play with this feature, as this recent study published in the European Journal of Sport Science found that “shoe torsional stiffness had no effect on running velocity, on stance duration and maximal values of ground reaction forces” [1], therefore allowing some slack with how shoes can be designed for torsion.

Creative engineering

Wherever the shoe has material is an opportunity for an engineer to create technological improvements, including weight reduction. Expect to see this improve in the coming years with fabrics that demonstrate unbeatable comfort and durability, but still being incredibly lightweight.

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How lightweight technology stacks up for each brand

So how exactly do the big brands keep their tennis shoes so nice and lightweight? There’s some serious research and development that goes into making the end product, so let’s take a look:

Nike

Renowned as being a worldwide leader for sporting footwear technology, Nike applies similar principles for their tennis range. Some of their lightweight innovations include:

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  • Zoom Air: Nike’s Zoom Air technology is renowned for providing responsive cushioning in the midsole section. It features low-profile but highly responsive air cushioning units which will enhance the player’s ‘feel’ for the court. Despite all of this, it remains remarkably lightweight and is a favourite feature of Nike tennis shoes for players at all levels.
  • Lunarlon cushioning: Nike's Lunarlon cushioning offers a responsive and lightweight foam core inside the shoe's midsole. It provides ample cushioning for comfort without adding unnecessary weight.
  • Outsole engineering: The outsoles of Nike tennis shoes often feature herringbone patterns and strategic rubber placements. This design optimises traction and grip without compromising on weight.

Asics

Asics is well-known for its focus on comfort and performance. To keep their tennis shoes lightweight, they incorporate the following technologies:

  • GEL technology: Asics integrates GEL cushioning in the midsole of their tennis shoes. It offers shock absorption and comfort while being lightweight.
  • Trusstic system: The Trusstic System technology reduces the weight of the sole unit without sacrificing structural integrity. It enhances stability and reduces shoe weight.
  • Lightweight uppers: Asics often uses lightweight and breathable materials for the upper construction, reducing excess weight while providing a secure fit.

K-Swiss

Strongly regarded in the tennis world, K-Swiss is known for its footwear and they employ some clever technology to keep their tennis shoes lightweight:

  • DuraWrap technology: K-Swiss uses DuraWrap technology to reinforce areas of the shoe that experience high abrasion. This adds durability without significantly increasing weight.
  • K-EVA midsole: K-Swiss utilises their K-EVA midsole for cushioning. It maintains lightweight properties while providing ample support and shock absorption.
  • Aosta rubber outsole: The Aosta rubber compound in the outsole offers traction and durability without excessive weight.

References

  1. Martin C, Touzard P, Horvais N, Puchaud P, Kulpa R, Bideau B, Sorel A. Influence of shoe torsional stiffness on foot and ankle biomechanics during tennis forehand strokes. Eur J Sport Sci. 2023 Jun;23(6):914-924. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2022.2153232. Epub 2022 Dec 12. PMID: 36437487.
Author
Brenton Barker
Brenton Barker
Brenton is an Australian with 20 years of experience coaching WTA and ATP professional tennis players, whom have won a total of 10 international professional Tournaments. Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching and was the former Head Tennis Coach at the Japanese Government Sports Science Institute. Brenton was also a former Manager & Head Coach of Australia’s Governing Sporting Body, Tennis Australia, and has been a Dunlop International Advisory Board Member since 2010. Additionally, Brenton was the Head of Player development for World No 7 and two-time Grand Slam Champion Johan Kriek.