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Nike vs. Adidas - The Definitive Guide to Tennis Shoes

Updated on January 3, 2010

The Age Long Battle

Over the past 60 years, the struggle for the number one tennis shoe has raged between two industrial giants, Nike and Adidas.  Some argue that Nike tennis shoes are the best, while others say that Adidas are the future of tennis shoes.  The purpose of this hub is not to persuade you toward either brand, but to help make your own decision about which shoe is better.

The traits that will be examined in order to make deciding easier are:

·                 style

·                 comfort and

·                 durability 

Bios - Adidas

Founded in 1924 by Adolf Dassler (1900-1959), at the age of 20, invented the first pair of shoes with spikes.  Today known as cleats, this innovation soon became world renowned for its impressive traction and durability.  With more than 700 patents on new sports equipment and shoes before his death in 1959, Adidas was able to maintain its number one spot until just recently, with Nike in first place.

Bios - Nike

The current leading supplier of all shoes and apparel, Nike was founded in 1964 under the name Blue Ribbon Sports.  Eventually changed to Nike in 1974, the reason for Nike's great success in the shoe industry is due to its original designs and shoe soles.  Producing its first innovative and original design in 1974, called the Waffle Trainer, the company soon thereafter took the sport apparel industry by storm.

Nike - Just Do It

The powerhouse of athletic goods, Nike holds range over everything from shirts and shorts to watches and weights.

Because of this monopoly on the sporting industry, Nike has allowed itself enough room to expand its design.

Common traits among Nike shoes related to design are that they are:

  • Flashy
  • Bold
  • Consistently Endorsed by Professionals and
  • are constantly upgrading technology

For example, in the last line of Nike shoes (the Nadal Air series), the apparel featured strong contrasting colors, small dots for breathability and lunarlite technology (will be explained in the comfort section).

The next section, Comfort, is one of the more contested areas with Adidas. But don't take my word for it, judge for yourself.

Described as stiff and rigid, Nike claims that their toe section is stronger for better stability and traction on the court. As an owner of a pair of Courtballistec Nike shoes, I can vouch for this stiffness. Despite this fact, the small dots covering the exterior of the shoe do allow for greater movement and flexibility.

Another factor dealing with the comfort of the new Nike line is that of lunarlite technology. This addition to the shoe, a lighter and more reactive foam, allows for greater spring in the step while also allowing for greater impact force when stepping down.

Aside from these two traits, Nike shoes, as opposed to that of Adidas, have a much more comfortable interior. With slipper-likeness to the beginning of the shoe, the foot feels much less constrained and overall more comfortable.

The last trait of the Nike shoes to be examined is that of endurance. This seems to be the only area that Nike lacks in.

As a competitive tennis player, I constantly go through shoes every 2-3 weeks, and I have found that Nike shoes tend to last me at most 2 weeks. The reason for this is partially because they are so light, and also because so little rubber is used to support the ball area of the foot.

Also, in terms of shoe laces, Nike shoe laces are actually very strong. Because I prefer my shoes to be tied firmly and tight, I constantly am going through shoe laces. Due to Nike's strong shoe laces, I constantly find myself replacing all of my broken laces with Nike string.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Evolution of the Adidas Barricade Tennis Shoe

Adidas - Impossible is Nothing

The constant theme that I have noticed throughout the history of Adidas's tennis shoe lines is the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." As you can see, based on the pictures to the right, the same design has lasted through 5 different series of Adidas shoes.


Still, throughout my tennis career, I have continued to come back to Adidas's tennis shoes for one reason, and one reason alone: durability.

As I mentioned before, I constantly go through tennis shoes because of my regular tennis schedule. In my experience, playing close to 1-2 hours everyday (including sprinting, sliding and stopping), I have found that Adidas tennis shoes can last at minimum 2 weeks. (The longest these shoes have ever lasted is 2.5 weeks.)

Design, as mentioned above, is not a huge factor in the Adidas company. Holding, basically, the same design for the last 4 models of the Barricade shoe, it is easy to see why Nike, with all of its color and flair, is a much more attractive shoe. What is important about the Barricades though, is that movement is an extreme emphasis. From the shots of the bottom of the shoes, it is easy to see the circular pattern at the point of the ball of the toe. While this might seem insignificant to any recreational player, all competitive players know that this contributes greatly to a player's ability to turn and push in any direction. Not found anywhere in the Nike designs, this checks off as one of the few distinct and positive design traits.

The final category, comfort, tends to be a medium strength for the shoe. While not the same as the slipper-like feel of Nike's tennis shoes, the soles of Adidas shoes conform well to the shape of the foot very quickly, and don't put too much pressure on the toes.

One factor of the shoe that must be brought to attention is the weight of the Barricade lines. The reason that these shoes last so long is due to additional rubber on the shoe. Because of this, Adidas can often feel heavy to the user, but with practice, this feeling goes away.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

How did Adidas Win?

The reason that I believe Adidas to be the better shoe is because, from the perspective of a competitive player, while bold colors and new shoe technology are great, they don't win matches. When I look to buy shoes, I specifically target two things: endurance and traction. Because of the Barricade's weight, I can easily maneuver around the court. While some might argue that because Nikes are lighter this makes movement much better, I have found that once the shoes wear out (which happens quite often), I slide around the court unable to control the valuable seconds of time I need to get to the next shot.

The Factor of Price: One final reason why Adidas won out is because, typically, Nike shoes are much more expensive.



What do you think?

Do you think Nikes are better, or Adidas?

Comment, Rate or Follow and let me know what your opinion is!


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