Power-packed play on the court demands durable shoes that provide effortless traction. The right equipment begs for high-octane play, and players are getting serious about the shoes they choose.
Babolat pro and tennis coach Otis Vu shares his passion for the relationship between the tennis brand and its French compatriot Michelin, a unique collaboration that breathes fresh life into modern tennis shoes. Introducing technical soles that give as hard as they get.
How important is making the right choices in regards to gear?
OV: Hugely important and it’s a missed opportunity for so many players.
When it comes to sports science, aerodynamics and comfort, wearing appropriate gear will physically improve your performance, ensuring you keep on your toes with rapid reactions.
Choosing the right gear compensates for weaker areas of play, the intricate details in your equipment actually maximises your skill set. Harnessing the power of the small details lets you adapt to the ever-changing aspects of the game and stay one step, sprint or point ahead of your opponent.
What aspects of the game does the right shoe choice help with?
OV: I’ve playtested virtually every brand over the years! There are so many different aspects of the shoe that will bring your game to life.
When choosing your next shoe, consider these points before making your decision…
Influenced by surface, shoe stiffness and tread wear, choosing shoes that are made for the surface you play on will help you tear up the court and reduce the risk of slipping.
Ferocious play means you need to move quickly to return the ball. Agility on the court gives you cat-like reflexes, keeping you light and nimble.
Unstable feet aren’t balanced. You need to feel secure in your shoes and be able to easily shift your weight in order to project maximum power through your legs. Arch support can improve stability, prevent injury and inject extra force into performance.
Ask yourself: Is the shape right for me? How does the contour of the shoe compare to others? Are the above factors complimented?
What are the biggest issues you’ve had with tennis shoes in the past?
OV: Ultimately it boils down to the quality of performance.
I’ve had issues with durability in the past, shoes that just haven’t been able to keep up with me. I’ve also suffered through narrow shoes, they’re uncomfortable and it really shows in my play. If you’re uncomfortable on court, if you’re not getting the grip and the support you need to be at your best, your game will suffer.
What are the main features and benefits to look for when buying a new pair of tennis shoes?
OV: The outsole, it needs to be durable while providing excellent traction, and comfortable insoles are a must. Above all else, I need a shoe that lasts and of course I want them to look great.
You need to think about the surface you play on, whether it’s clay, hardcourt or grass, the shoe should maintain grip through aggressive play.
You also need a high-performing upper. The material should withstand tough abrasion without sacrificing on the comfort factor. Your shoe needs to adapt to the natural flex of your foot and the right cushioning. It should feel like a custom fit.
What differences have you noticed playing tennis on Michelin technical soles?
OV: The difference is obvious – it’s the durability. You often lose durability to compromise for performance, but Michelin soles actually combine these traits. It’s the best of both worlds. I’m able to control quick direction changes on any court surface, inducing traction and allowing for nimble moves.
I take risks on the court but feel secure, without worrying about injury. I’m confident that my shoes will last for ages, without sacrificing performance.
What do you think of the collaboration of Babolat and Michelin?
OV: It’s a match made in heaven.
What a great idea to combine two prestigious and innovative brands together and build a high performing unit. I’ve been blown away by the collaboration and have taken advantage of it since it first became available.
Babolat have been at the forefront of tennis for two or three lifetimes and Michelin tires are probably the best and most well-known in the world. I truly believe in both brands, so to have them working together is a real winner.
Otis Vu wears Babolat Propulse Fury and Rage. Favoured by pros both shoes support demanding footwork and explosive play, excellently performing across multiple surfaces.