Do Leather Tennis Shoes Stretch?

When you're getting a new pair of shoes, it's always crucial to get the right fit. That's especially the case when it's a sports-related shoe. So, what happens if you purchase a leather tennis shoe that fits a bit too snug? Will they stretch to fit? If that's your concern, let's go over the details.

If you've somehow managed to get tennis shoes made of genuine leather, they will stretch. They will mold to your feet after a few sessions in them. However, if you own a pair that uses synthetic leather, it won't stretch as much as genuine leather. So, you might have to consider returning the shoes. 

Getting a shoe that fits properly is crucial when footwork is one of the main aspects of your sport. What happens if the tennis shoes still feel tight? Additionally, how should your feet feel when wearing them? If these are some of your concerns, keep reading to learn more. 

Shadow of a tennis player getting ready to serve the ball, Do Leather Tennis Shoes Stretch?

Tennis Shoes Using Genuine Leather

The type of shoes you wear can influence your performance on the field. If you wear a pair of shoes that fit too tight, you're limiting the function of your foot. Likewise, if the shoe lacks support, you will roll your ankles frequently. 

Tennis player wearing tennis shoes


That's especially the case if you play tennis. You'd need quick reflexes to move back and forth on the court. Nowadays, most manufacturers tend to use synthetic material in combination with mesh. 

However, some brands still offer tennis shoes with an authentic leather upper. If you've managed to find a pair, you might be wondering if they will stretch after use. 

Do They Stretch?

Assuming the leather on the upper is authentic, it should stretch after a few uses. After all, leather isn't material that you make from plastics. It's a highly durable, flexible material. Manufacturers make it by tanning animal skin and rawhide. 

It often comes from cattle. In some cases, they source it from kangaroos. Regardless, it's skin. So, it naturally bends, stretches, and changes shape. If your leather tennis shoes fit a bit too snug, they should stretch after a few uses. 

If you feel uncomfortable wearing them, you can stuff them with newspaper or a towel. It should help stretch the shoes slightly. Then, take them out for a spin. 

This way, it should be able to stretch half a size to a full size larger. 

What About Tennis Shoes That Use Synthetic Leather?

As mentioned, most manufacturers today use synthetic materials with mesh. The need for synthetic leather comes from the demands of sports. Authentic leather is heavy. 

If you want a lightweight shoe, you'd have to look for one that doesn't use leather. That's what manufacturers have done. Most tennis shoes today will have a synthetic leather upper. Some call it faux leather or vegan leather. 

Tennis shoes that use a synthetic leather upper are difficult to stretch. It stretches less than genuine leather. And, if you do manage to stretch the shoe, it's often by an unnoticeable amount. 

The Reason Synthetic Leather Doesn't Stretch

Synthetic leather has a rough break-in period because of its composition. It uses a variety of materials. Some of the materials in its make-up include polyester, wax, dye, polyvinyl chloride [PVC], and polyurethane.  

Synthetic leather is more susceptible to wear and cracking because of this. So, if your synthetic leather tennis shoes are uncomfortable on your feet, it's probably best to return them. Otherwise, you run the risk of cracking and peeling the upper of the shoe. 

How Do You Break in a New Pair of Tennis Shoes?

Tennis player getting ready to serve the ball

At this point, you should be familiar with the material you're working with. Regardless if it's genuine leather or synthetic, both have a break-in period. The shoes are going to be uncomfortable when you initially try them on. 

And, if they're uncomfortable, they're not ready to use in an actual tennis game. So, how can we break the shoes in faster? It can be a time-consuming process. But, there are several ways to stretch them quickly. 

Wear Them

You can break the shoes in by wearing them in short bursts. Use them for walks in the park or other leisurely activities. You don't want to do anything intensive right away. 

If you want, wear them for practice or non-competitive games. Twenty minutes to an hour of usage can help you assess how they feel in terms of comfort, stability, and flexibility.

Use Thick Socks

If you want to stretch them further, you can wear thick socks. However, only approach this method in shorter bursts. So, wear them for about 20-30 minutes. 

You can go for longer. But, that will depend on your comfort. If it feels too tight, it's best to avoid breaking in your foot rather than the shoe. As always, practice safety first. 

Stuff the Shoes with Material

When you don't want to go through painful blisters, you can always stuff the shoes. Use a towel, shoe stretchers, or newspaper. Stuff the shoes when you aren't wearing them. 

The next time you wear them, they will have more room for your feet to wiggle around. 

Using A Blow Dryer

You can also use heat to aid in the stretching process. All you'll need is a blow dryer. Be careful not to apply too much heat. Most people would recommend using the low to medium setting. 

In addition, make sure to blow dry the shoes about six inches away from them. Blow-dry the areas that feel tight for about 20-30 seconds at a time. 

If you're applying heat to a leather tennis shoe, make sure to condition them afterward. This way, you don't dry out the leather. Proceed with caution if you're applying heat to a synthetic leather shoe. 

It's possible to melt the glues and crack the material. 

Are Tennis Shoes Supposed To Fit Tight?

Tennis player holding tennis racket and bouncing the tennis ball

There's a first time for everything. Maybe it's your first pair of tennis shoes. When you're new to a sport, the gear will be unfamiliar. 

So, how should the tennis shoes feel on your feet? It's going to be similar for all cases. The shoes should fit like a glove. In other words, not too tight, but not too loose. 

Tennis is a sport that requires quick reflexes and vigorous side-to-side motions. Therefore, if your shoes are too tight, you'll be unable to perform. You might find yourself rolling your ankles more than you should.

If you find that most shoes fit you tightly, you probably have wide feet. In this case, you'll want to look for shoes with a wider toe box. A good way to check if the shoe is the wrong fit is by using the insole. 

Take it out and step over it. If you have to bunch your toes together to fit your feet, try going half to a full-size up. New Balance is a brand that seems to accommodate wide feet. 

Should Tennis Shoes Be a Size Bigger?

Regardless of the type of shoe, most people would always recommend going a size up. It will usually depend on your preference. So, if you don't want to have too much space, go up half a size. 

In some cases, the shoe might have too much room. Like a tight shoe, a shoe with a lot of space can be troublesome. When you're struggling to fill the shoe in, some people recommend wearing an extra pair of socks. 

Shoes with too much space are a problem because they won't allow you to brace correctly. You need to have enough room in the toe box to avoid jamming your toes on hard cuts. But, it also needs to be fit enough to avoid having your heel move inside the shoe. 

How Do You Tell if a Shoe Is a Tennis Shoe?

Tennis player holding a ball and tennis racket

Tennis shoes have become synonymous with sneakers. So, it can be tough looking for information on tennis-specific shoes. However, we can narrow down our options by focusing on the features of a tennis shoe. 

Tennis shoes, as in sneakers, won't function the same as tennis-specific shoes. The sport of tennis has players making frequent stops and starts on the court. Thus, tennis-specific shoes need support for these movements. 

Characteristics of a Tennis Shoe

Tennis player focusing on the ball

Tennis shoes will usually be flat. They have soles with specifically designed patterns. The various patterns make them favorable for the different court surfaces a tennis player will play on. 

Tennis shoes also focus more on lateral support and stability. So, they'll tend to be sturdier than other shoes. Still, they're also more flexible and agile. 

Regarding weight, you won't go without noticing how heavy they are. The weight is due to the padding and support the shoe offers. Of course, it's all necessary for the movements that tennis requires you to perform. 

Nevertheless, there are still a lot of similarities that tennis-specific shoes share with others. It's almost impossible to differentiate them on a surface level.

In Closing

Shadow of a tennis player getting ready to serve the ball

Playing tennis in shoes that don't fit right is more than unpleasant. Blisters, cuts, and bruises are things people will usually want to avoid. Luckily, leather tennis shoes are malleable. So, you won't have to suffer that discomfort for long. We hope you found the information above helpful.

Before you go, do you have other shoe concerns? Are you planning on getting a new pair of running shoes? If you're buying a pair of Brooks running shoes, check out:

Do Brooks Running Shoes Stretch?

Are you also looking at Hoka running shoes? If you're curious about the sizing, check out:

Are Hoka Running Shoes True To Size?

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