When it comes to playing tennis, or any other racket sport for that matter, feet and legs are the main contributor to success. ‘Mind your footwork’ is something you’ll hear often court side, when you visit training sessions or tennis matches. However, as players, we are used to spend a great deal of research on the best footwork training techniques or the newest pair of clay court shoes, but no so much to attention goes out to the first thing we put on when we want to play. Yes, I’m talking about tennis socks.

So, in this article I’ll dive a bit deeper into the what and why of tennis socks and why it is important to choose the right ones for you.

In a hurry? These are my top three picks. 

Tennis Socks Buyers Guide

Basic points to consider:

  • What type of cut-off do you like (high, mid, ankle)
  • What type of materials do you like (full cotton, polyester, mix or other synthetics)
  • What level of support do you like? 
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Can you buy in bulk?

What type of cut-off do you like (high, mid, ankle)?

One of the most typical images of playing of tennis players on a gravel court, is the amount of red dust above their ankles. As a frequent player on gravel courts, I’ve encountered this numerous times myself. I can tell you from personal experience, you’ll find gravel dust everywhere. Above and in your socks, all around your shoes and of course, in you’re bag and even washing machine. 

That’s why I like to play with high ankle socks in any case. By having the highest cut-off out there, at least I’m limiting the amount of gravel dust that comes in my socks. I’ve played with ankle cut-offs too (when my long socks were in the washing machine) and I can tell you from first-hand experience, that it gets worse with every lower cut-off height. 

For playing purposes, there really can’t be said that one should be preferred over the other. I like longer cut-offs because they allow me some margin. On colder days, I pull them a bit higher. On warmer days, I’ll push them down a bit more. This is completely personal, of course. 

My best friend preferred playing with ankle cut-offs. That worked better for him. 

One question you could ask yourself here is, how often you play on gravel courts. If you play the majority on red clay, I would definitely recommend playing with higher cut-offs. Keep in mind though, that the same idea applies to artificial grass courts. Because the top layer is often sand, you’ll find a lot of sand in your socks too. However, you probably won’t be bothered that much by sand as opposed to gravel dust. 

What type of materials do you like (full cotton, polyester, mix or synthetics)?

Tennis and racket sports socks come in all types and variants. So you’ll find them in a lot of fabrics too. Mainly full cotton, polyester, mixed materials or other synthetics. Cotton is the most commonly known material, that used to be the main fabric for almost all tennis clothing. However, nowadays, cotton is considered to be an inferior fabric. Cotton will absorb moisture like sweat, but will not allow for fast evaporation of the moisture. That’s why you typically see large sweat stains on cotton shirts.

Polyester fabrics aren’t much better when it comes to dealing with moisture, but at least they are a bit better. Some people don’t like the feel of polyester, especially when it comes to socks, but in general, they can ‘glide’ a bit more in your shoe.

There are tons of combinations of mixed materials and full synthetics, so you’re only choice is to check out the labels or product descriptions before you buy.

Personally, I like the look and feel of full (white) cotton tennis socks the best, because they don’t slip so much in my shoes (I have more room between my feet and socks and the outer sole of my gravel court shoe). Also, because the full cotton socks are a bit thicker, they help dampen the shocks on my feet and toes a bit more (I also use special protection gear for my feet).

What level of support do you like?

Modern day tennis socks come with a variety of available feet support. Most commonly, they have added cushioning in the heel section and or instep section of the feet. This extra support can prevent a bit of friction on the most intensively used parts of your feet during a game, but also can put some added pressure on your feet in general. However, this is quite personal, but I don’t like it. Especially when your feet will ‘inflate’ a bit during a game, with extra blood in them, your feet can use all the extra space you have in your shoe. But if you like a bit more of cushioning, this type of sock could be just for you.

How much would you like to spend?

Now, this is a tricky one to answer… Socks will be probably your biggest repeat expenditure, just right after tennis racket strings, and that means you better have a good idea of how smart you’re spending it. But this mainly depends on how much you actually need to spend on it. If you’re a beginner, you won’t use that many socks during a season. If you’re a top level amateur, you’ll need a great deal of them.

Most often, you’ll just start to spend more on tennis socks as you’re level of play starts to grow and the frequency you play with. However, keep in mind that if you play on gravel courts, this process will only be sped up and count on spending even more on them. This is because the red dust is devastating for your full (white) cottons and they will naturally deteriorate faster over time. They will loose their ‘stretch’ and become more prone to breaking. You can wash them as many times as you want, but you will never get them fully cleaned again.

My personal advice would be to replace your socks, when you feel they have lost all ‘stretch’, feel a bit uncomfortable on your skin and are not fully white anymore after washing them. In general, full cottons will wear out faster than polyester or mixed socks.

Considering all the above, you’ll probably need to find a perfect match between durability and price point. This is a difficult journey, because it all depends on your own demands and desires, but generally speaking (and based on my own experience) I would stay away from the most expensive socks, as well as the cheapest ones out there. Find a range or budget that you are comfortable with, and start buying some different sets and test which ones you like best. Then, start to look for good deals on them, which you can probably find when you can buy them in bulk or at least bigger numbers.

Can you buy in bulk?

Buying tennis socks in bulk sounds easier than it is, of course. Where do you find these good deals, and at the same time, are not forced to buy by plane or ship load. This used to be a tedious process, but luckily Amazon has done the bulk of the work for you. You can find some good deals on larger sets, that won’t break the bank. Also, by buying multiple sets in one go, you’ll save on shipping costs, unless you’re already in the Prime program.

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