There’s nothing more satisfying than walking onto the tennis court with a fresh pair of tennis shoes. All players know that having a good pair of shoes on the tennis court can really make or break the game, so it’s important that you wear a pair that works for you.
We’re going to review the New Balance 996 V4 tennis shoes, which boast the unique balance of being light, comfortable, and durable all in one. They’ve got some great features that tennis players of all levels will love. Read on for more.
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New Balance 996 V4 Tennis Shoes
New Balance first introduced their 996 shoes all the way back in 2013 as an evolution of their 851 line, which was wildly popular back in its day. Now in their 4th iteration, the 996 V4s are better than ever before. With a new, streamlined look courtesy of the flexible Hypoknit upper, the 996 V4s can go straight from the box to the court without a break-in period – something that can’t be said for many other tennis shoes on the market.
Under the feet, the 996s feature FuelCell cushioning that has a plush feel that all players will enjoy, though it does lean to being more on the minimal side. True to the way of New Balance, the 996 V4s come in both 2E and D widths, though both fits are capable of accommodating all foot types. The 996 V4s boast a significantly faster feel than their predecessors and feel extremely lightweight around the feet.
Unfortunately, like many other tennis shoes on the market, the 996 V4s sacrifice stability for their airy feel, which means that they might not be suitable for players who enjoy making aggressive directional changes.
Who Are These Shoes For?
The New Balance 996 V4 tennis shoes would make a fantastic pair of entry-level kicks for any player that is just starting out in the world of tennis. Their nonexistent break-in period makes them highly accessible, and their super lightweight feel allows players to be quick on their feet and nimble on the court.
They are also extremely comfortable, which is another benefit for new players since getting used to wearing sporting shoes on a hard court is often an uncomfortable experience. What’s more, if you are someone with wide feet and who struggles to fit into most other tennis shoes, you will love the spacious interior that the New Balance 996 V4s provide.
We also think that these tennis shoes will appeal to anyone that enjoys looking stylish both on and off of the court, thanks to their sleek, simplistic design. The 996 V4s are available in a range of colors, ranging from a modest white to an eye-catching neon green.
- PU Medial guard
- Rubber sole
- Full-length NDurance non-marking outsole
- Full-length FuelCell midsole
- Full-length NDurance outsole
- Synthetic upper material
- Lightweight feel
In both the midsole and the upper, the New Balance 996 V4s come packed full of comfort features, and they are definitely one of those shoes that provides comfort the moment you step into them, even for people with wide feet. The knit uppers wrap nicely around the feet, and with every move, they can flex without pinching.
What’s more, the FuelCell midsole provides a plush ride beneath the feet. Although there is a wider 2E option, the D width is more than capable of accommodating wide feet. The feel of the 966 V4s is plush, and one of its best features is that it does not need any kind of break-in period. The FuelCell midsole is responsible for this as well since it greatly improves the comfort of the shoe, especially in comparison to the 996 V4s’ predecessor.
If you have a problem with your feet overheating and becoming stuffy when you are on the court, you won’t have to worry about that with these New Balance shoes. They have plenty of ventilation that allows your feet to breathe and keep cool during those hot days. If you have high arches, you might find that the sock insert on these shoes is rather low, but its overall height and location are more than enough to support the undersides of your feet.
As far as underfoot cushioning goes, the 996 V4s are a little lackluster, and they certainly do not provide as much cushioning as the New Balance Fresh Foam Lavs. Unfortunately, the level of cushioning underneath the heels left us wanting, and you’ll definitely be able to feel the court coming through the heel cushioning, especially when at a full sprint or when making wide lunges.
For most people, this won’t be a problem, but if you aren’t careful, you could hurt yourself, and you might even see some bruising.
When it comes to stability, we have already mentioned that the New Balance 996 V4s are something of a letdown in this department. Overall, in comparison to the previous iteration, there is quite a bit more stretch in the uppers of these shoes, so you might feel as though your feet are being forced to the lateral side when you make sudden directional changes. However, the upside is that they are supremely comfortable, thanks to the soft and energy-absorbing nature of the FuelCell midsoles.
The shoes are able to contour to the feet quite nicely, and you should not notice any unwanted slipping in your heels. They are a bit too minimal and flexible to be very stable, however, which can be a problem for players that like to move around a lot and make aggressive motions on the court.
While the low to the ground profile does do a lot for the lateral stability of the shoe, we would have preferred to see a little more rigidity, especially around the midfoot area. The uppers tend to stretch when making lateral cuts, and while the flex from the chassis feels fine, your feet might spill over the midsole’s lateral edge.
Like we mentioned earlier, the lightweight New Balance 996 V4s are certainly not known for being the most durable tennis shoes on the market, but they are more than capable of withstanding a fair share of abuse. The fact that the shoes come backed with a six-month durability guarantee doesn’t hurt, either.
The 996 V4s play as though they were built for speed instead of durability, which only makes the fact that they hold up as well as they do more impressive. For as light as they are, they are quite durable – but you shouldn’t expect them to be indestructible.
For heavy toe draggers, you should not expect a whole lot of protection, but with that being said, the outsole does hold up quite nicely to abuse. All in all, advanced, aggressive players should look for a more durable shoe, but beginner and more intermediate players will appreciate the modest durability that the New Balance 996 V4s provide, we’re sure.
When it comes to traction, the multi-directional tread pattern that is found on the 996 V4s offers a stocky response, but once you have played with the shoes for a few hours, it will set it and provide a great balance between give and take. In any direction, the NDurance outsole material makes for incredible traction, and while it may be more on the grippier side, it still has enough give to allow for sliding on those aggressive stops.
When it comes to weight, you are going to struggle to find a pair of tennis shoes that are just as light and airy as the New Balance 966 V4s. They make you feel extremely fast and light on your feet, and the overall flex and comfortable uppers make them feel very natural. The 996 V4s move wonderfully with the feet, without restricting them, so that you can be as fast as you want when on the court.
Not only are the New Balance 996 V4s one of the lightest pairs of tennis shoes on the market right now, but they also ride impressively low to the court, which provides a great level of court feel. The knit uppers contour to the feet to provide an even more streamlined feel, and their superior comfort means you can wear them hard for hours without feeling any irritation or pain.
When it comes to style, we don’t hesitate to say that these shoes are up there when it comes to looks. Their simplistic design makes them fashionable both on and off of the court. The 996 V4s are available in a wide variety of color options, some of which are modest and sleek. In contrast, others are brighter and more flashy.
- Step-in comfort
- Comfortable upper
- Very lightweight
- Great ventilation
- Stylish appearance
- Lacks stability
- Low toe durability
Overall, the New Balance 996 V4s are a fantastic pair of tennis shoes for beginner players. They offer a supremely comfortable feeling and incredible flex while also being super attractive. However, more aggressive players might want to consider another, more durable pair of shoes.