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Why Are Sneakers Called Tennis Shoes

Why Are Sneakers Called Tennis Shoes?

Shoes generally go by different names, from sneakers, trainers, athletic shoes, and any other collective name you might think of. But have ever wondered why sneakers are called tennis shoes, yet they are used for many different sports and athletic activities?

Over many years, footwear, in general, developed slowly. Well, we may not have all the chronicled records that go way back to ancient times.

Even so, we’re pretty sure that the first humans didn’t take long before realizing that having some animal skins over their feet could make walking a more comfortable activity.

For most history, shoes were crafted by cobblers and artisans who would fit them for individual subjects.

However, all that changed in the 18th century following the industrial revolution when the vulcanized rubber was invented. It was during this time when the first rubber-soled shoes were developed.

These shoes were known as plimsolls and were much different from what we call sneakers today. For instance, both shoes were the same, meaning there was no definite right or left foot.

Even with the odd looks, plimsolls were popular and prodded fast advancement of improved footwear and new styles.

In particular, people started using them for recreational purposes, such as playing tennis. Rubber outsoles were found to be non-marking on the tennis court, and it allowed players to start and stop smoothly.

Children of the time also found rubber shoes to be tranquil. They enabled them to sneak around secretly and without being noticed. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why tennis shoes gained massive popularity as sneakers. Most of the more prominent shoe brands in the industry today got their start during this period.

How the Name Tennis Shoes Came To Be?

There’s a whole list of names around tennis shoes, although, to some, they are simply sneakers. However, tennis shoes can be traced back to the 18th century. In this time, the British Navy needed shoes that they could wear and help walk on deck without slipping or sliding on the wet surfaces.

The runner shoe became popular with the rich aristocrats who started utilizing them to play a typical tennis sport, thus the name tennis shoes.

In 1839, Charles Goodyear (an American self-taught chemist and manufacturing engineer) developed vulcanized rubber, making the rubber-soled shoes more stable and resistant to heat. This contributed to the invention of the first athletic shoe.

In the late 19th century, several rubber companies were engaged in footwear production. One of them was named Goodyear, which used to create canvas and rubber shoes. Today, of course, Goodyear has transformed into a corporation majorly known for its rubber tires.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Rubber Company in the US developed the Keds, which was one of the most popular shoes used in tennis. All-stars later made an appearance in 1917.

In 1960, Adidas decided to evolve the way people played the sport by improving the shoes they used to play in. The brand replaced the canvas on the shoes’ uppers with leather. This happened to be a tremendous move, and other companies emulated the invention. It also sparked the development in experimentation with other materials used in the making of tennis shoes.

Later in 1970, Adidas was a forerunner launching shoes with polyurethane outsole and suede materials on the toe box and the mesh upper. This made the shoes durable, comfortable, and breathable and was a great achievement for Adidas.

In 1980, another progression in the evolution of tennis shoes occurred with the coming of the New Nike Air Trainer 1. This particular model delivered not only lateral support but also ensured secure foot. It accommodated the side-to-side movement involved in tennis. It also had an elevated heel, which was a tad higher than normal running shoes.

Thus, the modern time of tennis shoes was established and has evolved from strength to strength over the years, with manufacturers tenderizing more steady, supportive, and comfortable tennis shoes for excellent performance on the court.

Also Read: How To Stop Boots From Squeaking

So Why are Sneakers Called Tennis shoes?

Despite the fact that rubber-soled shoes or sneakers for that matter were invented for the British Navy, these shoes were largely used by the affluent for their sports. They were mostly used for tennis, which happened to the most popular sport of the time.

Perhaps this is the reason why sneakers are commonly referred to as tennis shoes. The need for footwear that would not damage the playing court, alongside the solace of a delicate rubber sole, triggered tennis shoes massive popularity. As a result, the soft rubber shoes invented for the navy were called sneakers or tennis shoes and sometimes athletic shoes.

Actually, all athletic designed shoes can be traced from the humble beginning of the tennis shoe, which came on board in the early 18th century. These days, people still refer to their shoes as sneakers, yet modern tennis shoes are far from typical athletic shoes.

Modern shoes have been developed into footwear that adheres explicitly to tennis players’ needs, allowing them to perform at their best while on the courts.

The Bottom Line

It is rather incredible to think that some of the more prominent shoe brands such as Adidas, Nike, and Puma were brought into being to improve and enhance the functionality of the first tennis shoe.

Although it is absolutely trivial conflating both terms, there’s actually a difference between sneakers and tennis shoes. Historically, sneakers were the first to hit the ground, and tennis shoes branched out from the sneaker range. From that point forward, tennis shoes have thrived on their own identity.

The substantial canvas and rubber-soled shoes that were developed for the British mariners to wear on wet decks later become popular with aristocrats who jumped at the chance to play sports. For that matter, the early footwear advanced to the tennis shoes or sneakers we know today. 

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