Ever wondered how tennis shoes are made? Well, read on! We are going to tell you absolutely everything that you need to know.
It All Begins with the Design
If you buy a proper pair of tennis shoes, you will likely notice that they look drastically different from other shoes that you own. This is because most tennis shoes will be completely flat on the bottom. This is to help ensure good foot contact with the floor during play.
Yes, there are tennis shoes that have less flat soles. However, do bear in mind that these shoes are a lot more general purpose. They do work when playing tennis, but it is likely that the manufacturer is trying to make a shoe that will be purchased by as many people as possible.
You will likely notice that the padding in a tennis shoe is designed to be a little bit different from your typical sports shoe, particularly running shoes. This is because tennis shoes need to be designed for all of that fancy footwork and jumping.
If the support and padding have not been designed correctly, the player’s game will be impacted, and there is also a pretty decent chance they can end up injured.
This is why it is highly recommended, that if you are playing tennis, you purchase dedicated tennis shoes.
What Is the Process of Making a Tennis Shoe?
Despite the design of tennis shoes being functionally different from your standard sports shoes, the actual construction process is not actually that different.
It is important to note that, while we are going to give an overview of the manufacturing process of tennis shoes in the next few sections, this is only going to be a general overview. Every single shoe manufacturer will have a slightly different process.
Some companies claim that their process is ‘top secret’. They argue they have a unique formula for making the best shoe, which we’ve identified here. However, if we had to put our money on it, we would say that every company uses pretty much the same process.
The only differences will be a few variations here and there.
The Creation of the Top of the Shoe
This is everything bar the sole.
A tennis manufacturer will source fabric for the tennis shoe. For this type of shoe, it is likely to be canvas or leather. This is because the manufacturer wants a material that is lightweight, flexible, and durable.
Most of the top tennis shoes on the market will be made from leather. That being said, some manufacturers have been a bit more experimental with the materials they use. Some have started to dive into more synthetic materials.
The top of the shoe is not cut from the fabric as a singular piece. That wouldn’t work. Instead, the shoe is made up of several pieces of fabric. Ideally, the manufacturer will try to ensure that the smallest number of fabric pieces are used.
After all, the more fabric used, the more stitching that is required. Each stitch is going to be a ‘weak’ point of the shoe. If you have a lot of stitches in a tennis shoe, the speed of play will destroy your shoes much quicker.
The fabric will be cut with a piece of metal known as a die. The die is a fixed size and shape. This ensures that there is uniformity in the design.
Stitching the Shoe
Once all fabric pieces have been cut they will be stitched together. This is generally done by machine. However, in the past, these pieces would have been stitched together, by hand, by a cobbler. A long and laborious process!
Creation of the Sole of the Tennis Shoe
This process will be slightly different depending on the manufacturer and the type of shoe. Each manufacturer will create their shoe soles as this is an important process.
It is the sole of the shoe that is going to provide support for your foot. If it is not designed properly, then the shoe will be uncomfortable to wear .
Most soles will be made of rubber and foam. The manufacturer will likely have molds in place that allow them to shape the sole perfectly. Obviously, they will have a different mold for each shoe size.
Combining the Two Pieces
Now that you have both pieces of the shoe, they need to be fused together somehow. For this, the manufacturers will use a process known as cold welding. This process is also sometimes called cold cement. This is the only option for fusing the shoes together properly. You cannot heat the shoes up because they would melt. You have to cold fuse them together.
Liberal amounts of the polyurethane cement will be placed on the top of the sole. The top part of the shoe will then be pushed on top of this. The shoe will then be put through a hydraulic press and this hydraulic press will put a lot of pressure on the shoe.
By applying this pressure, the two parts of the shoe will be fused together, hopefully to never come apart again.
If you have ever had a pair of shoes where the sole of the shoe has come off, you will be able to see the PU cement.
This stage is actually one of the most important parts of the manufacturing process. If the two parts of the shoe are not cold-welded together properly, they will split apart. If this is the case, the shoes certainly will not be providing adequate support.
This is actually one of the main reasons why you should avoid some of the cheaper shoes on the market. They tend to skimp out on this process, which results in a sub-par shoe.
Obviously, the creation of a tennis shoe is a bit more complex than what we have detailed on this page. However, we hope you are walking away with a fairly decent idea of what the fundamentals of the process look like.