You’ve probably heard that if you wait until you’re thirsty to have a drink, it’s too late – you’re already dehydrated. Well, the same idea applies to tennis shoes. If your traction is compromised, or after playing you feel more soreness in your ankles, knees or lower back than usual, your kicks have likely already passed their expiration date.
There’s no exact science to determining the life span of your tennis shoes. Unlike a car needing an oil change, shoes don’t obey odometers. And different models have different lifespans. Lightweight shoes sometimes are not as supportive or padded and tend to wear out more quickly, while heavier, more stable, more cushioned shoes are often sturdier and provide longer wear.
But there are other considerations as well. Bigger players will wear out shows more quickly, and the frequency and style of play – as well as the court surface on which you’re most frequently playing – also plays a role. For instance, a serious baseliner hitting the hard courts several days a week will obviously do more damage to his or her shoes than a casual doubles clay-courter.
In short, how often or aggressively you play can determine whether you need a new pair every few months or as infrequently as once a year.
If your shoes don’t squeak anymore on a hard court; if they’re no longer providing the traction to which you’ve become accustomed, or you’re feeling more foot and ankle soreness than usual after playing, those are all tell-tale signs that your shoes have seen better days.
But even if you don’t notice those signs, the general rule of thumb is about 45-60 hours before the midsole is worn out. So if you play once a week for an hour, you should be replacing your shoes at least once a year.