Head Sprint Pro Men's Shoe Review
- Fast on-court feel
- So-so ventilation
Well, the name doesn't lie: The new Head Sprint Pro will help you race around the tennis court as fast as any other shoe on the market! Its lightweight, low-to-the-ground design had all of our playtesters moving at top speed and with total confidence. Head's Trinergy is a trio of technologies that get rid of unwanted shock from harsh landings and provide excellent energy return and stability to enhance on-court quickness. Ventilation and durability were about average, but in every other aspect this shoe belongs in the pantheon of high-end shoes. It's safe to say that this is the best Head shoe we've tried, and it belongs on the radar of any player who likes a lightweight, speed-oriented shoe.
Comfort - Score: 4.0
Our entire playtest team found the new Sprint Pro to be quite comfortable, but for different reasons. Jason found it to be a perfect fit for his slightly wider, flatter feet. He explained, "I loved how well these shoes fit my foot shape! Most shoes are too narrow, have too much of an arch or both. Not this time! I found the cushioning to be responsive and firm, but not harsh. It didn't provide the pillowy feel of a Prince T22, but it didn't need to. My only knock on these would be the slight break-in period that they needed."
Although the speed-oriented fit wasn't necessarily ideal for Andy, he still had no issues with comfort. He offered, "This shoe gets most of its comfort from the lightweight, low-profile design, not from plush cushioning or a perfect fit. When I'm wearing it I don't feel like there's a whole lot of shoe on my foot, which makes it comfortable to wear on court. There were no areas of discomfort, even when I put the shoe under stress by starting or stopping quickly. It definitely offers a pleasant ride, even after long hours on the court."
Chris found the shoe ready to go as soon as he took them out of the box, and he liked the ample amount of cushioning that seemed to get better as the test wore on. He said, "While the shoes had a firm and supportive feel, I found them comfortable enough to play in on my very first wear. They definitely broke in and softened up during the test, which improved the comfort. The level of cushioning was spot on for me. I felt low to the ground, yet there was ample cushioning to protect me from the pounding of hard court play. The Sprint Pros also held my feet well enough to eliminate any comfort issues such as sliding and jamming or blisters from rubbing. I liked the padding around the tongue of the shoe because it allowed me to lace the shoes tightly without the lace system digging into my feet."
Granville inserted his aftermarket insoles, as he does with every playtest, and was happy with the comfort and fit of the shoe. He said, "As soon as I slipped my foot inside I noticed the sizing was spot on. The insoles, as with most tennis shoes, seemed like an afterthought, so I replaced them with a pair of Cadence insoles, which had the desired effect. They added some cushioning while maintaining the low profile. They also raised my foot inside the shoe, improving the already good fit. There was no pinching or poking -- a very sold start for this Head shoe before hitting the court."
Ventilation - Score: 3.7
Breathability was somewhat middle of the road in the Sprint Pro. Our playtesters found them to run a bit hot, but never hot enough to cause any discomfort or hamper performance. Chris elaborated, "My feet ran just a tad hot in these shoes. I wore two pairs of socks to help fill out the wider fit in the forefoot, so that added to the warmth. There wasn't a ton of perforations to let my feet breathe, but there seemed to be enough to keep my feet from getting really hot. All in all, these felt just slightly hotter than average, but it was not distracting and did not detract from the overall performance of the shoe."
Andy found them to run a bit warm as well, particularly through one part of the shoe. He said, "The forefoot of the shoe ran a bit hot due to the heavy use of synthetic leather in that area, but I never really had any issue with my feet overheating during play. The mesh in the midfoot area helps with the breathability. Ventilation wasn't necessarily a strength of this shoe, but by no means was it a weakness."
Granville had no issues at all with breathability. He offered, "The Sprint Pro, while appearing to lack in ventilation at first glance, actually had excellent ventilation."
Ventilation was the area where Jason was most critical of the Sprint Pro. He said, "Even though I didn't find them to be overly hot, this was probably the worst feature of the Sprint Pro. Because I playtested them during the winter months I didn't find my feet overheating, but I don't know if I could say the same thing if the weather were warmer."
Arch Support - Score: 3.3
Opinions of the slightly lower than average arch support differed among the playtesters. It worked perfectly for Jason's flatter feet. He said, "Nice and low, just the way I like it! No break-in needed, and the more I wore it the more it molded to my feet."
Even though he has a slightly higher arch, the Sprint Pro also worked for Chris, especially as he progressively broke in the shoe. He explained, "At first the arch support was too low for me. I have a higher arch, and initially I could not feel the arch at all. However, this shoe has a very solid shank so my feet felt very well protected when sprinting around. As the shoes broke in the insoles molded to the shape of my feet and then everything felt dialed in. I never felt my arches were stressed, and I was very impressed by the support offered through the midfoot of this shoe."
Andy had definite issues with the low arch of the shoe. He said, "This is where I've had issues with Head shoes in the past, and it was an issue with the Sprint Pro. There's a little more support through the arch compared with the Speed Pro III, but I still felt like there wasn't enough. At times my arch would ache because I didn't feel enough support underneath it. I don't even have that high of an arch, but I like just a little pressure under it from the shoe for a little bit of support, and I didn't have that with this shoe."
Granville is tough to please when it comes to arch support, so he took matters into his own hands. He said, "I replaced the insoles immediately. Need I say more?"
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 4.4
The shoes impressed across the board in the support and stability department. It kept our playtesters feeling locked in and confident in their movements around the tennis court. The low-profile design and stiffer upper materials had Andy flying around the court at top speed, but he did have one small criticism, saying, "This shoe rides low to the ground, which makes me feel stable when darting around the tennis court. The outsole is nice and wide underneath the forefoot as well, which helped make me feel a bit more secure. In addition, the upper and midsole lock in the forefoot and midfoot nicely so that it's not sliding around when making an aggressive lateral cut. My only issue with support and stability came in the ankle area, where I felt the shoe didn't provide enough security. The ankle collar fit a bit loose, so I never got that locked in feeling."
Chris was also very impressed, and was moving with the utmost confidence. He said, "These shoes offer a very supportive and stable ride. The forefoot fit was a tad wide, but I was able to remedy that by wearing two pairs of socks. After that the uppers held my feet very well. The Sprint Pros held my feet and felt very supportive when I was making aggressive lateral cuts. The chassis of the shoe was also enough to prevent the shoe from twisting too much. The shank did a good job of supporting my arches when I was sprinting forward. Obviously, I was very impressed and scored the shoes very highly in this area."
The Sprint Pro checked all the right boxes for Jason. He said, "These are the most supportive Head shoes I've ever worn. The firm upper provided great lateral stability, and I was confident with every stop and change of direction. There wasn't much sliding within the shoe either, which I notice most when trying to track down a drop shot."
It only took a simple adjustment for Granville to find his nirvana. He explained, "My upgraded insoles brought an already good fit to near perfection. The fit can be felt all around my feet (say that three times fast). The shoes provide good stability and stop/start traction, with very little slippage when pivoting. It's a simple pleasure when I don't have to take into account my feet moving around in the toe box."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.6
Outsole durability was neither exceptionally good nor bad for the Sprint Pro, especially given its lightweight design. Granville's pair showed a pretty normal amount of wear after the test. He said, "I played five matches in the shoe and began to see some wear at the toe and heel -- nothing out of the ordinary, though. The durability of this shoe seems in line with shoes at a much higher price point."
Chris compared the Sprint Pro to a similar shoe. He offered, "I would say the durability was pretty average. I tend to be pretty hard on outsoles, and this one was no exception. Within a few hours I was seeing some wear in the typical areas. I would compare the level of durability to that of the adidas CC adizero Feather II, and I would consider that an appropriate level of durability considering the speed-oriented nature of both shoes. On the plus side, traction remained solid, and I expect to be able to play well in them up until the very end."
Jason hoped for a little more life out of his pair, especially given how much he enjoyed playing in them. He explained, "They started to show wear and tear sooner than expected. After about 15 hours I could see tread loss on the medial forefoot of both shoes. No other places showed significant balding."
Andy really put these shoes to the test, and he was actually pretty impressed with how well they held up, given their design. He said, "For a lightweight, speed-oriented shoe, the Sprint Pro held up pretty well. I put around 30-40 hours of wear on them, and they are just now showing signs of significant wear. This is better than some of the other lightweight shoes on the market, like the Nike Vapor 9 Tour or Asics Gel Solution Speed. I'm starting to wear out the area under my big toe, which is a pretty standard area for me to wear down a shoe."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.0
Our resident toe draggers couldn't do enough to completely wear through the toe area of the Sprint Pro, although Chris certainly tried his hardest. He was only able to create a cosmetic disturbance on his pair. He explained, "The upper of the shoe around the toe area is well protected. I found this shoe to hold up very well to my own particular brand and style of toe-dragging. I scuffed the uppers in many areas, and the shoes held up well. The only area where I saw lots of wear was on the lateral side of the toe of my left shoe. I was scuffing the soft midsole material against the court while dragging my back foot on a slice backhand. The court was winning that particular durability battle, and my left shoe has lost the red stripe through the midsole and some additional midsole material near the toe."
Granville found ample protection in the toe area as well. He offered, "As a recovered toe dragger, I can say these shoes do as well as most when it comes toe durability. While there is no extra material at the toe, the overall outsole construction should be fine for all but the most extreme toe draggers."
Traction - Score: 4.2
Most of the playtest team noticed a bit more give from the outsole than usual, which worked well for some and took others a bit of time to get used to. The tread pattern allowed Andy to be extra aggressive with his movement. He said, "The outsole was a little bit slicker than some of the other shoes I've been wearing. However, I like to slide around on the court so I enjoyed the amount of give and grab the shoe gave me. There may have been a couple of instances where I slipped and 'spun my wheels out' when trying to accelerate quickly, but for the most part I liked that the fast outsole allowed for a bit more sliding than usual."
Jason, on the other hand, needed a little bit of time to get used to the "modern-style" tread pattern of the shoe, although he never felt it took away from the overall performance. He said, "Unlike Andy, I don't really intend on sliding 99 percent of the time, so I wasn't used to the give when I first played in these. With the sliding zones on the outsole, I found myself sliding more often than usual. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just something I had to get used to. The good news is that I didn't notice any slippage when I was accelerating, which is usually a sign of subpar traction."
Chris really liked the balance of "stick and slip," saying, "The level of traction was solid. I liked the level of grip and give the shoes exhibited. I was able to plant aggressively and let the shoe slide a little, and that took pressure off my ankles. When it came time to push off for the next sprint I found enough grab to make a quick first step. The only time I slipped in the shoes was when I was pulled wide onto the dusty outer part of the court, and I'd expect any shoe to lose traction there. Again, I scored the shoes very highly because I was very impressed with the level of traction."
Granville also had no issues with the traction. He offered, "Traction is very good, and it was apparent as soon as I hit the court. There was no slippage, especially right out of the box. The material seems to strike the right blend of hard rubber for durability and soft rubber for excellent traction."
Weight - Score: 4.2
Given its low-to-the-ground, speed-oriented design, it's no surprise our playtesters felt light and fast in the Sprint Pro. "Right on the edge of what I would call a light shoe," said Granville. "Once on my feet the weight was never an issue."
Jason agreed, saying, "I don't know the exact weight of these shoes, but what I do know is that they felt lighter than average, and I felt like I could move quickly with them on. The low-to-the-ground ride definitely helped."
Chris felt the weight was spot on, and in all the right places. He explained, "I thought these shoes had a nice balance to them. Most of the weight felt like it was under my heels and arches. The toe part of the shoe felt very light, so I felt light and fast when up on my toes. There was ample stiffness to make the shoe supportive, but not enough to make it feel clunky, and there weren't excessive layers to add weight. The shoes transitioned well from heel to toe, and I liked how the outsoles interacted with the court. I never felt like I was tripping over my own feet or being slowed in any way while wearing these shoes."
The lightweight design and feel were standout features, according to Andy. He shared, "This is one of the strengths of the Sprint Pro. It feels very light and fast, and I never felt like it inhibited my movements. It's low-to-the-ground feel also makes it feel lighter than it actually is, and it offers nice court feel and responsiveness under your feet. I always felt connected and in control of my movement."
Overall - Score: 4.2
Chris - "I liked the looks, the low-to-the-ground cushioning, support, stability, traction and the overall fit and feel."
Granville - "Some subtle features like the double lacing slit on the tongue, which kept the tongue centered over my foot."
Jason - "The fit, stability and support. Let's just say the overall performance!"
Andy - "I enjoyed the fast, low-to-the-ground feel, as well as the amount of stability the shoe offered. This enabled me to move around the court quickly, and with confidence."
Chris - "None yet. Durability may be somewhat of a concern, but it is still too early to really tell."
Granville - "Nothing comes to mind. In my opinion, this is Head's best shoe to date."
Jason - "Not much, but to be picky, ventilation and durability could be improved."
Andy - "I would have liked more support through the arch, a touch more ventilation through the forefoot and a better fit around the ankle."
Comparing this shoe to other shoes they've worn our testers said:
Chris - "This was by far the best Head shoe I have ever worn. It felt very dialed in. The fit and feel were top notch, and this shoe finally puts Head in the upper tier when it comes to on-court performance. The wider fit in the forefoot reminded me of the adizero Feather II, and the traction and wear characteristics also seem to be similar. The KSiwss BigShot also comes to mind when I think about the solid ride and slightly wider forefoot."
Granville - "If this were a blind test, I could have been convinced that this was a Nike shoe."
Jason - "It fits like the Head Speed Pro III, but with much better performance."
Andy - "It's a little heavier, but the Sprint Pro feels a lot like the adidas adizero Feather II. They both feel very low to the ground with a wider fit through the forefoot, which enhances the stability. They also have a similar outsole and a very similar feel when it comes to traction. The fit of the Sprint Pro is similar to the Head Speed Pro III and the Fila Sentinel."
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Granville - Narrow width / Low arch
Jason - Wide width / Low arch
Andy - Medium width / Low arch
Review date: January 2014. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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