Wearing a decent tennis shoe is always important, but for those of us with bad ankles, choosing from the best tennis shoes for ankle support is crucial!
If you’re prone to sprained ankles and want to make sure your footwear protects you in case of a misstep on the court, we walk you through the shoes’ aspects to look out for.
Before we go into the full guide, these are the best tennis shoes for ankle support right now:
What To Look for in Tennis Shoes for the Best Ankle Support
With the right support, you’ll be able to enjoy your games more and not worry about permanent ankle instability from a sprained ankle.
But how do you find the best tennis shoes for ankle support? Let’s go through all you need to know here.
Are High Top Shoes Better for Ankles?
High tops aren’t necessarily the best option for ankle support because they can prevent your ankle’s natural movement. Although you might feel improved support, in fast sports like tennis, they might even put you at a higher risk of injury.
They can be useful when you’re recovering from an injury, but in general, they won’t be a guarantee of risk-free tennis. The best way to prevent problems is developing those ankle muscles, so make sure you strengthen them.
The upper’s material is important because it’s responsible for keeping your foot tight in place.
Lightweight, sock-like shoes often don’t have as much ankle support as sneakers that are fully padded on all sides.
However, they can sometimes give you a tighter fit, which is especially important when you’re a fast, advanced player.
Lightweight tennis shoes also have more ventilation, keeping your feet dry, especially if you tend to play in hot and sunny weather. Not having your sweaty feet slipping in the shoe helps you hold your grip better inside, not only on the outsole, preventing strain on the ankle.
Thick and Padded
For newer players, a padded leather or thick synthetic tennis shoe can help you keep your foot in place. These materials aren’t usually as flexible, making you slower but giving you more stability.
Be aware that leather and thick synthetic materials also have less ventilation, making your feet more sweaty when playing. However, they’re much more durable than fabric mesh on hard courts.
Your foot is the basis from which your posture begins, and the arch is the platform. If your feet are in an uncomfortable position, you’ll never have good enough support for your ankles, either.
When looking for shoes for tennis, take into account your arch shape and the subsequent support.
For instance, if your feet are flat, you’ll probably need more arch support than someone with highly pronounced arches. This can help you prevent pain in your ankles and up to your knees and hips.
You can test out whether your arches are flat at home:
- Get your feet wet in the shower and step out on the floor or a thin bath mat. It needs to be thin enough that your foot doesn’t sink inside.
- Inspect the footprint and pay attention to whether you see the foot’s full outline.
- With neutral or high arches, the print should be a half-moon shape, with only the midfoot’s outer edge touching the ground.
- If you have flat feet, you’ll see the whole outline on the mat.
The important thing is that the shoes feel comfortable for you. If you have arch pain but are unsure which shoe type to buy, test this method and consult a doctor for confirmation.
Lateral support refers to the support the shoe has on the sides. It’s crucial in tennis because of the sideways movements during a rally, taking off and landing with a serve and overall stability. It’s key to prevent your foot from rolling around, which could lead to a sprain.
While tennis shoes tend to have more lateral support than running or crosstraining shoes, the outsole width is the deciding factor. The wider and chunkier the outsole, the more lateral support it will have.
This is also a matter of understanding your playing style. If you’re new to the game and not used to playing fast, a shoe with more lateral support will likely be a good fit. When you’re more advanced, this might slow you down, so think about what you want to prioritize in your shoe.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Ankles
For tennis players who suffer from weak ankles, remember that you should by no means stop exercising.
Along with getting a supportive tennis shoe, protect yourself from injury by developing your muscles to support your joints and bones.
If you feel pain or pinching when performing these exercises, stop and move on to an exercise you can do without pain.
Before a game, warm-up your ankles by lifting one leg and drawing circles with your toes. If that’s painful, move your toes from side to side and up and down.
It’s normal if this causes a little bit of burn in your legs and ankles since you’re waking up the muscles. Just make sure it’s not hurting. If it is, stop!
Toe Raises and Heel Raises
This exercise is good before tennis, but you can also do it at home every day to strengthen your ankles.
- First, stand up and raise your toes in the air.
- Then, support yourself on your toes and lift your ankles. You can hold on to anything you have around you for balance.
- Do about 10 repetitions of this movement and improve little by little, aiming for 30 repetitions.
The name of the exercise comes from a dance move MC Hammer popularized in the 80s. It might feel a little funny, but it works!
- Stand up and point your toes in and then out to move your body from side to side, without lifting your feet off the ground completely. Take it slow; it isn’t easy on the first try.
- Try to take 10 to 20 steps on each side every time you do this exercise.
This exercise may seem easy, but it requires stability and focus and helps you prepare your ankles for those sideways movements when playing tennis.
- Stepping to the right, lift your left foot, move it behind your right foot’s heel and place it next to the right foot.
- Repeat with the right foot, stepping over the left foot to the front, placing it side by side.
- Go in the other direction, rotating which foot goes over and which goes under.
- Repeat this a few times in either direction.
Reviews of the Best Tennis Shoes for Ankle Support in 2021
These are the best tennis shoes for ankle support on the market right now. Now that you know what you’re looking for, check out our reviews to find the best one for your needs.
The GEL-Dedicate 6 is our favorite tennis shoe for ankle support, especially for players who are new to the game. It allows you to learn the basics and improve your technique while protecting your ankles from injury.
It has a comfortable, supported fit all around, thanks to the EVA foam midsole and padded interior. Overall, the shoe quality is excellent for its price, making it a customer favorite.
The upper includes tough synthetic leather at the front to endure hard court surfaces and mesh fabric panels on the sides to improve ventilation. It’s still not the most breathable shoe because of the synthetic leather, especially in the toe area. We don’t recommend it if you tend to play in hot weather.
This shoe has ASICS GEL cushioning in the forefoot and heel, making it responsive and light. Many customers love this feature because it doesn’t get pressed down and maintains its bouncy feel a lot longer than simple foam midsoles.
Customers also like the lateral support, which is enough to prevent your ankle from rolling around. It also has a good grip, which is essential for new players who are learning the basics and intermediate players with ankle issues.
The ankle design isn’t high, but the padding around the heel and tongue is enough to keep your foot firmly in place. It still lets you move around freely and allows your skin to breathe.
As for the negative comments on this shoe, some players note that the outsole can wear out quickly, especially if worn on a hard court. Still, we consider this shoe to be a good value for the price.
- Padded design that hugs your foot.
- Lateral support to prevent your ankle from rolling around.
- Great value for the price.
- Tough synthetic upper.
- Excellent for new players.
- Not the most breathable shoe.
- The outsole can wear out quickly.
The Gel-Dedicate 6 proves its worth by being our top pick for women, too! This pair is ideal for all court surfaces and has a stiff structure to support your foot and ankle.
In tennis, you need plenty of cushioning in the soles to absorb impact and keep your joints safe. These shoes include ASICS’s GEL technology for cushioning, which is bouncy and durable compared to many types of foam cushioning.
Overall, customers comment on the supported but soft feel when wearing them. The adaptable EVA sock liner molds onto your foot fast, so you don’t need a lot of time to break them in before your first match.
Players also comment on the upper’s comfortable fit, being a mix of fabric mesh and synthetic leather—padded but not too clunky. The synthetic leather does make it a bit too closed-up in the toe area, though, despite the mesh panels, so it’s not the most breathable model.
While these shoes are technically an all-court shoe, the outsoles are soft and will wear out quickly. With that, you’ll lose traction when they’ve degraded, putting you at risk of ankle and other injuries if you’re not careful when playing.
These shoes are best for players who don’t need a lot of arch support. If you need a little more structure inside the shoe, we recommend either buying some insoles for high arches or going for another model, such as the New Balance FuelCell 996.
The shoes’ quality is generally good but prepare for the outsole to wear out and lose grip quickly if playing on a hard court.
- GEL technology for amazing cushioning.
- Stiff structure that supports your ankle and foot well.
- Short break-in time.
- Stable and comfortable.
- The outsole wears out fast on a hard court.
- Not much arch support.
The Nike Court Lite was built to withstand rough games on hard court surfaces while protecting your feet. In particular, it has a structured and stiff design with a padded tongue and heel to keep your foot in place. Also, the synthetic leather upper and reinforced toe protect your feet from concrete.
Customers with wide feet love the wide toe box that doesn’t squeeze their feet, allowing for a natural foot position to keep your ankle aligned. On the contrary, the midfoot is tight to stabilize your foot and prevent movement.
The outsole is thick and stiff, which is good for structure, but some players do find it painful. However, the foam midsole feels thick and cushioned, making the movement easier on your joints.
Slipping on the court can make your ankles roll, and the outsole pattern on this model is designed to give you grip on all courts. It has the traditional herringbone on the front laterals to give you stopping power in fast sideways movements. At the center and back, the small spikes give you traction without being too big and clunky.
Overall, the shoe’s sole and design are quite heavy, so we don’t recommend this for advanced players with a fast and aggressive style. Instead, it’s best for beginner and intermediate players, especially those with foot and ankle issues who prioritize support and comfort over speed.
- Great traction on all surfaces.
- Tough upper for concrete courts.
- Stiff, padded structure for good ankle support.
- Wide toe box that doesn’t feel too tight.
- Heavy for advanced players.
- Stiff sole that can get painful for some players.
For players who want a comfortable, breathable and lightweight tennis shoe, the Adizero Ubersonic 3 might be the right alternative. It features a sock-like fit with an extremely breathable mesh fabric on the upper that hugs your foot without being too stiff and bulky.
Not all support needs to be stiff to work. This shoe is great for tennis players who don’t need lots of support but rather prioritize a tight fit that doesn’t obstruct movement. Customers love this model because it’s flexible and there’s no break-in time, but the fit is tight enough to give them confidence on the court.
Also, the freedom of movement helps keep your game fast and strong while softly stabilizing your foot. On the upper, the fabric goes up all the way to cover your ankle, giving it light protection without cutting off circulation.
While the design is wide and has lots of toe room, you can lace these up tight and get enough protection for your ankles. Players also love that the sole provides plenty of lateral support to prevent your ankle from rolling.
We don’t recommend this shoe for hard courts, as the mesh likely won’t endure more than a couple of games on concrete without breaking. It’s better for soft grass and clay. Just keep in mind that fabric mesh also lets in a lot of dust, which can get annoying but probably won’t hurt your game.
The outsole is another point where this shoe loses a couple of points. It can wear out fast, especially if you use these shoes anywhere else than on a soft court.
- Sock-like fit.
- Breathable upper.
- Not too padded—doesn’t obstruct movement.
- Fabric doesn’t endure hard courts.
- Outsole wears quickly.
This New Balance hard court tennis shoe is a favorite for those who play on hard courts in hot temperatures. It combines ventilation with support for a tight, padded fit and comfortable wear, even when the sun is blazing.
For instance, the mesh upper gives you some nice breathability and stretches out to mold to your feet. Still, the shoe is well-padded all around the heel and midfoot area, keeping your ankles comfortable and safe.
These shoes do run a bit large, so make sure you’ve got the sizing right before buying them. If you’ve got too big shoes, they won’t keep your foot in place and support your ankle well.
Concrete courts tend to quickly wear out tennis shoes’ outsoles and fabric, but customers consider this pair’s quality as quite good. However, some players do note that the grippy, wave-pattern Ndurance outsole could be more durable. The reinforced toe also helps protect the fabric upper from tears.
The FuelCell foam midsole provides bouncy cushioning, which is especially necessary on a hard court surface. This will help protect your ankle and knee joints when you’re jumping and running around the court.
Overall, this shoe feels bouncy and lightweight, so you’re able to move around the court quickly. Still, some advanced players comment that it’s not fast enough for really aggressive play.
- Breathable upper.
- Padded heel for support and stability.
- Bouncy cushioning to protect ankles and knees.
- Lightweight feel.
- Nice, minimalist look.
- Outsoles wear out fast.
- Not enough cushioning for aggressive players.
The K-Swiss Hypercourt Express 2 is a good all-court shoe with a padded heel and a tight fit to give your game a stable foundation.
The ankle is relatively low on this shoe, but if you’ve got the right size, your foot should feel stable and supported without restricting movement. If you need higher support, check out the other models on our list.
On the upper, this model includes mesh fabric mixed with a synthetic layer on both sides. This makes the shoe tougher and more durable for hard courts, especially when you’re fast and tend to drag your feet. The synthetic layer over the fabric does have long, thin openings that can potentially rip, though.
Your ankles will also benefit from soft cushioning and a good grip, preventing you from losing your footing. The K-Swiss Surgelite midsole is soft and responsive, and the outsole features a herringbone pattern for good traction on a grass or clay court—both features supporting the ankles.
As for the overall fit, note that the toe box is quite wide. If you don’t have wide feet, we recommend using an insert or insole to keep your foot in place. Some players with very narrow feet comment that their feet move around, preventing them from finding enough support.
- Responsive and soft midsole.
- Good traction on grass and clay.
- Nice support in the heel and midfoot.
- Breathable upper.
- Fabric can rip on the sides.
- Not ideal for players with narrow feet.
Mizuno is a runners’ favorite brand, so the company knows how to make lightweight shoes with cushioning. This extends into tennis, with the Wave Exceed being a good example of stability.
We picked this model because the overall fit is very structured and padded, especially around the heel, according to customers. It stabilizes your foot and keeps the midsole area tightly in place.
Also, the outsole is stiff and offers lots of lateral support for fast movements around the court. It can feel chunky for players who prefer a more lightweight shoe, but players appreciate the lateral support on the outsole.
The sole also features a deep, diagonal curve in the middle. It’s designed to give you faster and more powerful turns without sacrificing protection.
Players also love the SR Touch midsole that’s bouncy and light and allows you to move fast around the court while protecting your ankles and knees.
It also comes with Mizuno’s Wave plate that spreads and disperses the impact to a broader area of the foot. This relieves pressure from your ankles and tires your legs out less during long games, making you less-prone to fatigue-related missteps that can lead to injury.
In quality, Mizuno is also a good option. The plastic-enforced upper means the mesh fabric can endure long games on a hard court without getting ripped. Players also comment that the stiff and hard outsoles don’t wear out fast when they drag their feet on the court.
One thing that could use some improvement, though, is the insole, especially if you need lots of arch support. It’s thin, and players with flat feet comment about their arches collapsing, leading to ankle alignment problems. You can easily correct this with a good insole, though.
- Lots of lateral support.
- Padded and structured fit.
- Midsole absorbs and spreads impact well.
- Durable and tough quality.
- Outsole can feel clunky and big.
- Insole is a little thin.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Helps Bad Ankles?
If you have previous injuries or tend to sprain your ankles, try taping your ankles or using ankle braces or roll guards. Taping is a low-cost way of keeping your foot stable, especially if your shoes aren’t designed for perfect ankle support. In the long run, exercises can help you treat the problem permanently.
What Tennis Shoes Have the Best Support?
In our opinion, the ASICS Men’s Gel-Dedicate 6 are the tennis shoes with the best ankle support. They hug your feet and give you lots of lateral support, preventing your ankles from rolling around. They also cushion your jumps well with the ASICS GEL technology, which retains its form well.
Can I Use Running Shoes for Tennis?
You can use running shoes for tennis, but we don’t recommend it, especially if you have ankle problems. Running is mostly a forward and back fixed-plane motion for the foot, while tennis uses more planes and degrees of rotation for the ankle. This is why running shoes are light and cushioned, but tennis shoes give you more stability in the ankle.
What Is the Fastest Way To Relieve Ankle Pain?
You can generally use rest, ice, compression and elevation to relieve ankle pain. You can also use some ibuprofen or other common pain relief medication. If your ankle is swollen and the swelling doesn’t go away in a couple of days, consult your doctor.
We recommend the ASICS Men’s Gel-Dedicate 6 as the best tennis shoes for ankle support for men and the Women’s Gel-Dedicate 6 for women. This quality shoe is the favorite of many players with bad ankles because of its support and great value.
In particular, the thick padding locks your foot in and keeps your foot firmly in place, while the synthetic upper is durable even on hard courts. Also, the outsole is wide and thick, giving you plenty of lateral support from sprains.