Tennis is a dynamic sport that requires agility, speed, and precise footwork. Whether you are a seasoned player or a beginner, taking care of your feet and ankles is crucial to staying on top of your game and preventing injuries. Here are some essential tips to ensure your feet and ankles are match-ready.

1. Choose the Right Footwear

Proper court shoes are a must. They provide the necessary support and cushioning to handle the rapid movements and sudden stops characteristic of tennis. Here is what to look for in a good pair of tennis shoes:

Stability: Ensure your shoes offer excellent lateral support to prevent your feet from sliding inside the shoe during side-to-side movements. Shoes with proper stability will decrease the risk of ankle foot sprains, injuries that are common in tennis. They also minimize slippage and sliding inside of the shoe, which can lead to painful blisters. My favorite pick for a shoe that offers significant lateral stability is the Asics Gel-Resolution 9 ®. Asics trademarked DYNAWALL™ technology provides built-in lateral support that runs from the heel to the forefoot. The DYNAWALL™ yields greater stability lateral stability, making this one of my top picks.

Ankle Support: If you’re prone to ankle injuries or have a high-arched foot, consider a high-top court shoe, such as the New Balance Coco CG1©.  High arches, also called pes cavus, combined with the intensity of lateral movements required to play tennis, can lead to ankle instability or recurrent ankle sprains. Lateral sole support in a shoe, combined with high-top can decrease injuries related to unstable ankles.

Cushioning: Adequate cushioning can absorb shock and reduce the risk of forefoot injuries. It is important to replace court shoeson a yearly basis. Court shoes will lose their cushioning in the forefoot with extended use, which can lead to conditions such as capsulitis or bursitis, and stress fractures.

Fit: Shoes should fit snugly without being too tight. We see many tennis players with bunions, hammertoes, and other conditions that require a wide toe box. I recommend purchasing the shoe in a wide or double wide width to provide the necessary room for the forefoot when these deformities are present. Tennis players with wide feet or bunions should consider the men’s Babolat™ SFX 3 All Court shoe which is designed with a wider toe box than other court shoes. For the length of the shoe, there should be a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If you are unsure of your shoe size, find a shoe store with associates trained in using a Brannock device, or schedule a consultation with us.

2. Warm Up Properly

Before hitting the court, a proper warm-up is essential. I talk with many of my players who develop plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis about the importance of dynamic warm-ups for preventing these conditions. A warm-up is important in preparing the body for the tenacity of tennis. Focus on these key areas:

Stretching: Stretch your hamstrings, calves, and feet. Leg swings and Frankenstein kicks are great dynamic exercises to warm up the lower extremities, while stretching the muscles of the thighs and calves. The heel drop calf stretch is another exercise that can be utilized as part of a warm-up for the Achilles tendon. Gentle stretches help improve flexibility and prevent muscle strain.

Dynamic Warm Up: Include activities like jogging, high knees, and lateral shuffles to get your muscles ready for action. Use the length of the court to complete these exercises and elevate your heart rate during your warm-up. Air squats and lunges are great additions to a dynamic warm up as well.

3. Strengthen Your Ankles

Strong ankles are less prone to injuries, especially on the tennis court. To strengthen the ankles, we emphasize strengthening the peroneal muscles that run along the side of the leg and foot. These muscles are important stabilizers of the ankle joint. Try to incorporate these exercises into your routine warm up routine:

Ankle Circles: Sit or stand and rotate your ankles in both directions. I often tell my patients to “draw the ABCs” with their ankles. You’ll feel your peroneal muscles activating during this exercise. Repeat this for three rounds, and complete three times a day for best results.

Heel Raises: Stand on the edge of a step, lift your heels, and then lower them below the step level. This should be done in a slow and controlled manner. Slowly raising the heels up while standing on the toes, and slowly coming back down strengthens the calf muscles, as well as the peroneal muscles. This exercise will improve balance and stability. This exercise should only be completed if you can do so safely without fear of falling.

Resistance Band Workouts: Use resistance bands for exercises like ankle eversion and inversion. The band can be wrapped around the ball of the foot to provide resistance as you rotate your ankle inwards or outward.

4. Pay Attention to Playing Surfaces

Different surfaces affect your feet and ankles differently:

Hard Courts: These can be tough on your joints because they do not afford the benefit of shock absorption that other courts may offer. Ensure your shoes have good shock absorption.

Clay Courts: Offer a softer surface but can be slippery. If you play on a clay court during the rainy season, it is important to choose shoes with excellent traction. Be sure to check your shoes every month to monitor for the tread wearing out and replace your shoes if you see this.

Grass Courts: Grass courts are softer on the joints but can be uneven. Ensure your shoes provide stability. Lace-up your shoes tightly and snugly.

5. Practice Good Foot Hygiene

Keeping your feet clean and healthy prevents many problems:

Keep Feet Dry: Moisture-wicking socks help prevent blisters and fungal infections. Bring a change of socks if your feet sweat excessively to always keep your feet dry.

Nail Care: Trim your toenails regularly to avoid ingrown toenails. Toenails that are too long can also succumb to microtrauma inside the shoes because of the forceful stopping and pivoting motions.

Check for Issues: Regularly inspect your feet for blisters, calluses, or signs of infection. Do not hesitate to see your podiatrist if you notice something out of the ordinary for you!

6. Use Orthotics if Recommended

If you have flat feet, high arches, or other foot issues, consider using custom orthotic inserts. We often recommend these when we encounter tennis players battling foot or ankle pain secondary to their foot structure and/or biomechanics. Custom orthotic inserts can alter gait patterns to minimize strain on the foot and improve or prevent pain. In addition, they can provide additional support and cushioning tailored to each patient’s specific needs.

7. Listen to Your Body

Pain is your body’s way of signaling something is wrong. If you experience persistent foot and/or ankle pain, it is essential to:

Rest: Give your feet a break to prevent further injury.

Ice: Use ice packs to reduce inflammation.

Consult a Podiatrist: If pain persists, seek professional advice. Early intervention can prevent more serious issues. At our office, we will do a comprehensive exam, including x-rays and ultrasound if needed, to diagnose the problem, and develop a treatment plan that works for you!


Taking care of your feet and ankles should be a priority for every tennis player. By choosing the right footwear, warming up properly, strengthening your ankles, and practicing good hygiene, you can prevent injuries and keep your feet in top shape. Remember, your feet are your foundation on the court—treat them well, and they will help you ace your game!

As always, we are here to help! Do not hesitate to schedule your consultation today.

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