What’s Your Shoe Size?

Nike Lunar Ballistec (Nadal)

One of the most important pieces of tennis “equipment” are your tennis shoes.  But are you wearing the right size?

Bigger Feet With Age

One time when I went to buy new tennis shoes in my local New Balance store, I told the clerk my size; but she insisted on measuring my feet.  She said, “Most people don’t realize that their shoe size gets larger as they age.”

And she was right.  I was a half-size larger than I thought.

Tight or Loose?

John McEnroe created a stir when he reported that Raphael Nadal likes to wear tennis shoes that are a size and a half TOO SMALL for his feet.  Rafa denied that, saying he wears “normal” sized shoes (US 10).

But that does lead to the question … is it better to wear tennis shoes that are on the tight side or on the loose side?  Personally, I feel more secure in shoes that fit tighter (I do wear a thin pair of “wick-away” socks under fairly heavy Thurlo tennis socks).

That way, I don’t feel that my feet are “sliding around” the toe box – and jamming my big toe unnecessarily to create “tennis toe.”

How about you?

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11 thoughts on “What’s Your Shoe Size?

  1. i’ve worn Kswiss for around 30 years (probably 50 pairs). and, i’ve always worn 2
    pairs of socks. the Kswiss were always a little heavier than other sneakers
    but support was great. i hated loose sneakers. i guess that’s why i usually
    had 6 or 7 black toes.

    Joe. i think the tighter shoes lessen the black tennis toes. thanks, george

  2. I have platypus feet. They are almost wider than they are long. I need a 4E width and only New Balance makes tennis shoes in different widths, as far as I am aware. But the problem with New Balance I have found us the heel breaks down much too soon for me. So I am left with a pair of shoes whose soles still have a few more months of wear but the shoes are unusable because the heel is destroyed from wear. In the last few years I have been wearing Babalots that are a full size too long for me feet. The extra length makes up for the lost width and I find the entire shoes hold up much better than New Balance. What’s more, my toes don’t bash into the inside of the sneakers and I have yet to have tennis toe since I switched to the Babalots. People with normal width feet don’t know how lucky they are.

    Marty, I too have wide feet and wear New Balance, but mine breakdown between the bottom and tops near the pinky toe. Thanks. George

  3. Tennis toe is due to repeated trauma to the toenail resulting in hemorrhage under the toenail which gives the toenail it’s characteristic blue-black discoloration.
    The trauma can occur from shoes that are either too loose, or too tight. The best prevention is to wear an extra pair of socks, which provides extra cushioning for the toenail and to find a pair of shoes which comfortably supports the extra pair of socks.
    One other foot problem that needs attention is arthritis at the junction of the great toe with the foot (MP joint). This can result in swelling of the joint necessitating a wider shoe. I have found New Balance 4E to be the best for this problem.

    Thanks, Doc. See you tmw. george

  4. Feet can flatten out with age as arches sag (like everything else). I’ve gone from a 13 to a 15, and the latter can be hard to find. Another thing that changes rather annoyingly over time is the shape of manufacturer’s shoe lasts. Adidas Barricades used to be perfect (for my feet), but not since model 6 and beyond– maybe the narrowing of the toe box was done to keep the Djoker happy? I’m now a K-Swiss BigShot guy, at least until they screw them up. When I find a pair that really fit well and don’t kill my toes, I stock up when they go on sale. Next year’s model may not be new and improved from my perspective. As for tennis socks, I’m with George– I love me some thick Thorlos!

    Joe, i bought a different New Balance model (in my same/new size) and the toe box was so small, i had to return them. thanks, george

  5. I needed new orthotics two years ago because I was feeling some pain in the feet.
    It turns out my usual size 13 were too tight, and I’m now wearing 14’s, and I’ve had NO problem at all.
    Also, I think ASICS makes the best shoe for me……light, flexible but strong.

    John, as Roy Emerson says (meaning something else), “You have to have Happy Feet”. thanks, george

  6. I had the great fortune years ago when I was living in Atlanta and I found a total rarity. He was a Chiropractor and also a Podiatrist, probably the only one in the US at the time. He lectured me many times about the size of my sneakers playing tennis. He said that whenever the shoe is too tight it has dire consequences on the knees, hips, back , etc. It throws the body alignment all off. He would even use kinesiology to prove it over and over. It puts the rest of the body in positions of weakness which will sooner of later result in an injury. I have taken his advice for many years and have been relatively injury free ever since.

    Dave, interesting side issues! thanks, george

  7. I need double E’s but buy 4E’s so that I can fit my two pairs of Thorlos in there. Feet have felt *so* much better since going to the two pair. Avia also makes some 4E’s and you won’t believe the price. 🙂

    Kevin, wow. TWO pair of Thorlos would make me feel like i was playing on marshmallows, i would think! thanks, george

  8. George… in reference to the “tennis toe” issue mentioned….. an Aussie friend of mine showed me a unique lacing technique that most people have no idea about but is designed into some of the major brands of shoes. Have you ever wondered what that last set of eyelets that seem too far past the normal last eyelet postion was for? Well, it’s designed for “lace locking ” as my friend calls it. The method prevents the foot from sliding forward) I used to wear Prince shoes and ended up with tennis toe every year. (Prince shoes don’t have the extra eyelets) I’ve switched to Asics which do, and haven’t had a problem since using the technique.
    It might be a little hard to describe with words but maybe I should make a YouTube video!

    Tom, yes, i see those extra eyelets. How to tie? thanks, george

  9. George, YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS! Telling Jomac that tighter shoes LESSEN, black toenails. Short shoes, as well as long shoes that aren’t tied tightly, are definitely the cause of black toenails. I can wear a 10 street shoes but my tennis shoes are 12 1/2! There’s plenty of length room at the toes but if I don’t have them tied tightly, I still occasionally end up with a black second toe. When I had my shop and sold tons of shoes, I told customers to rest the toe of the shoe on the floor, and if they couldn’t feel the end of the shoe with their toe, it would fit fine. I never had anyone come back with black toes.

    Fred, according to Dr. Fenster, both loose and tight can do it. Part of the solution for me is to stay off hard courts. Thanks. George

  10. Don’t forget bunyon with a tight shoe, as well as tie issues. Went to wider and larger size several years ago and foot problems have receded immensely.

    Howie, thanks.

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