Head Speed Pro III Men's Shoe Review
- Some struggled with Arch Support
- Too Flexible for some
The third iteration of Head's speed-oriented shoe proved to be comfortable right out of the box. All of our playtesters noticed a comfortable ride as soon as they put it on. Taking it to the courts, the low profile design had our team feeling light and fast on their feet. All of the mesh in the uppers provided plenty of breathability for our testers, even on some hotter days. The softer upper did leave our playtesters looking for more support and stability on aggressive cuts, as our team found the shoe became a bit too supple and pliable as the test wore on. In addition, the low arch support fit our flat-footed player well, but did not provide enough support for the rest of the team. All in all, this shoe is an attractive choice for players seeking a shoe that's light, fast and low to the ground.
Comfort - Score: 3.9
For the most part our playtest team enjoyed the cushioning and comfort of the Speed Pro III right out of the box. "Comfort was one of the strong points of this shoe," Spencer exclaimed. "From the first wear, I noticed the hugging, yet comfortable fit. I liked the lacing system, as it allowed me to snug up the shoe to the contours of my feet. There was never any pinching or poking, and certainly no break-in."
Jason liked the fit of the soft upper materials, as he explained, "I found this to be quite a comfortable shoe. The comfort was immediate without any break in needed. I liked how the supple uppers kept them from pinching."
Chris found the fit comfortable except for one slight issue. He said, "For the most part, I found these to be very comfortable shoes. They required practically no break in and the uppers felt soft and comfy for the duration of the test. I also really liked the level of cushioning. The cushioning was thick and comfortable, but I never felt too distanced from the court and it never felt like my ankle was going to roll over. My one knock was that the shoes did not hold my feet well enough, which led to some uncomfortable toe-jamming into the tip of the shoes on quick stops."
Andy said, "The shoe felt ready to go right out of the box, with no break-in required. The upper material was also fairly soft and provided some nice cushioning. However, I had an immediate issue with the fit that made them somewhat uncomfortable to me. Once I threw in an after market insole the fit and comfort improved, but I never totally got over the fit issue. I'll explain more in the arch support section."
Ventilation - Score: 4.2
The mesh that wraps around the upper of the shoe provided more than enough breathability for our playtesters. This was one of Jason's favorite elements of the shoe. "I loved how well ventilated the shoe was. There was plenty of mesh in the uppers for thorough breathability."
Chris never had any overheating problems, as he explained, "The ventilation was good in these shoes. My feet never ran hot, even when having a long hit on the warmer days during the test. The ventilation was working all around the shoe and I didn't find any parts of the shoe that left my feet feeling hot and bothered."
"A heavy dose of mesh in the upper provides plenty of ventilation for my feet," Andy said, "This is one of the strengths of the shoe, along with it's great low profile design. The shoe did seem to retain some moisture after play, but I never felt like my feet were getting hot during play."
Sharing a similar opinion was Spencer, who said, "There is plenty of mesh in the upper, and it allows excellent ventilation throughout the shoe. I never experienced any extra heat or moisture in the shoe."
Arch Support - Score: 2.4
Our team had some issues when it came to the arch support of the Speed Pro III. The low arch support did not fit Chris' high arched foot too well, as he explained, "The arch support was not good for me. The fit through the arch was very low and the chassis of the shoe was not rigid enough in that area. There was too much flex through the midfoot of the shoe, and I would have liked a more solid platform when pushing off aggressively."
Lack of support in the arch also attributed to a fit issue and some discomfort for Andy. He said, "The arch support was the main contributor to my issue with the fit. I felt like there was no support where I needed it most and too much pressure on other areas. There was virtually zero arch support for me, so I found my arches aching a bit once I took to the courts. An after market insole helped, but the arch pain never totally went away for me."
Spencer was feeling the shoe where he didn't need it and didn't have the support where he needed it most. He explained, "There was a problem with the arch support, as there wasn't any. I felt the shoe underfoot in both the heel and forefoot, but it felt like there wasn't anything to connect the two."
On the contrary, the low arch fit Jason and his flatter feet just fine. He said, "If Chris hates it, it must mean I love it. And I do! No issues here, as it was nice and low."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 2.9
The soft upper affected the support and stability for most of our playtesters. Spencer was left desiring a bit more support for his aggressive moves on court. He said, "While I enjoyed the comfort and feel of the soft cushioning, the stability was a tad shaky. There wasn't a ton of torsional rigidity so I wasn't 100% comfortable making hard changes of direction laterally. I tend to prefer a more rigid chassis."
Chris would have traded a bit of comfort for more stability, as he said, "This third version of the Speed Pro is very soft and comfortable. Sadly, the improved comfort came at the expense of support and stability. The shoes did not feel rigid enough for me, nor did they hold my feet well enough. I was experiencing too much flex from the shoe when making aggressive lateral cuts. When I came to a quick stop my toes were jamming into the ends of the shoe. I tried wearing two-pairs of socks to get a more secure fit, but it did not improve the issue."
Jason also had some issues with his foot moving around inside the shoe. He said, "I thought the stability of the shoe was pretty good. When I planted my feet the shoe didn't give too much so I felt secure that I wouldn't roll my ankles. The hard plastic shank helped with that. My biggest issue with this shoe is the support. When I changed direction my feet would slide around inside the shoes. It didn't matter how much I cinched up my laces, they would still move. It was even worse when I was moving forward and tried to stop."
On the other hand, Andy was feeling pretty good moving around in these shoes. He said, "For as lightweight and low-profile as the shoe is, it provides plenty of support and stability for making aggressive cuts. The TPU cage that wraps around the upper did a good job keeping my foot in place when I was cutting and changing directions. The shoe also places a bit of pressure on the outside of your foot, which gives you even more support for lateral cuts."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.7
The durability of the Speed Pro III was good, but not exceptional. "Given it's low-profile, speed-oriented design, I wasn't expecting much in terms of durability, so I wasn't too surprised when I started to see some wear under my big toe after about 10-12 hours of play," Andy said. "The durability is fairly average for similar shoes; a little better than a Nike Vapor 9 Tour but not as durable as an adidas adiZero CC Feather II."
Jason got through his testing period with typical wear. He said, "Durability was about average for me. I noticed balding after about 20 hours, but that is normal wear time for me. The first area to show wear was the medial forefoot of both shoes."
Spencer had a similar opinion, saying, "I had the usual wear under the big toe on the medial side of both shoes, but nothing out of the ordinary. I felt the sole had a nice balance of durability and tack."
The shoe held up to Chris' demands during the test, as he said, "These shoes lasted well for the duration of the test. I did not wear them as frequently as others due to the support issues I had, but I put around 12 hours of competitive tennis on them. The outsoles held up well, and I'd put them up against other decently durable offerings."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.4
Chris, our lone toe dragger on the test, found that the shoe held up well in the toe area. He said, "The unique looking upper of these shoes also proved to be very durable. I liked the level of protection offered at both the tip of the shoe and on the medial side. The shoes were well protected from both the dragging I do on a lateral lunge as well as when bending low for a volley. I tend to drag my toes a lot, and these shoes impressed me with how they held up."
Traction - Score: 4.3
Traction proved to be another strength of the Speed Pro III, allowing our testers to move around the court without fear of spinning their wheels. "I found the level of traction to be great!" Chris exclaimed. "These shoes offered just the right amount of grip and give. I was able to make aggressive starts on sprints and not have to worry about slipping. When coming to a stop or changing direction, the shoes gripped well yet allowed enough movement across the surface of the court for comfort. I never had to worry about rolling an ankle due to too much grip or having the shoes get hung up on the court surface."
Andy felt good about the traction as well, saying, "The traction was good! I never really had to think or worry about it, so that constitutes a shoe that grabs the court well and does not slip. I never had any concerns about making an aggressive cut and the shoe slipping and sliding on me."
Spencer enjoyed the court feel of these shoes as well, as he said, "I was very happy with the amount of traction the Speed Pro III offered. Again, I was thrilled with the balance of traction and durability in this outsole."
Jason was happy as well with the traction, for the most part. He explained, "Even when I wore these shoes on a very dirty TW court they provided solid traction. I liked moving side to side in these shoes, but I did experience a few instances of slipping when trying to go for a drop shot. Not too bad though, and overall, I thought they did a good job."
Weight - Score: 4.2
Most of our playtesters enjoyed the lighter, faster feel of the Speed Pro III. Andy liked the design and how they made him feel on court. He said, "I really liked the weight of this shoe, and how light and fast you feel in them on court. Whatever weight there is in the shoe, it stays hidden pretty well. This is definitely the strength of the shoe. If you're into the lightweight speed-oriented shoe, then this one is right up your alley."
Spencer felt the shoe allowed him to unleash all of his court speed, saying, "This shoe offers a speedy, lightweight feel, and I didn't have any problems moving about the court as fast as my body allows."
Jason had a similar opinion. He said, "I really enjoyed the lightweight, fast feel of these shoes. They had a bit of that low-to-the-ground feel that I love."
The weight and feel of the shoe was fairly average for Chris, as he explained, "The weight of the shoes felt pretty much middle of the road for me. They were neither too heavy, nor extremely light feeling. Overall, the shoes felt pretty solid when it came to the comfortable fit, traction and durability. I think a bit more rigidity to the chassis would have this shoe more dialed in to what I like, and I think that could come at the expense of more weight without hurting the overall performance."
Overall - Score: 3.1
Chris - "I liked the cushioning, traction and durability. The ventilation was also pretty solid."
Spencer - "The cushioning and comfort."
Jason - "The low arch, excellent ventilation and step in comfort."
Andy - "I enjoyed the lightweight, fast feel on court coupled with the stability."
Chris - "I had issues with toe jamming and would have liked them to be stiffer in the arch area."
Spencer - "The stability was a bit lacking, and there was no arch support."
Jason - "It doesn't provide nearly enough support for aggressive movement."
Andy - "I had some fit issues, especially in the arch area of the shoe. I also would've liked a little more plush cushioning."
Comparing this shoe to other shoes they've worn our testers said:
Chris - "These felt lighter and faster than previous versions of the Speed Pros, but didn't quite have the support and stability I'd found in the others."
Spencer - "As much as I like lightweight shoes, they must have a trusting amount of stability. I will always choose a heavier shoe if it means more stability."
Jason - "Similar fit and feel to the New Balance MC 996."
Andy - "The Speed Pro III is similar to the Wilson Rush Pro because they both feel low to the ground and have a lining inside the shoe that holds your foot nice and snug. However, the fit wasn't as ideal for me as it was in the Rush Pro. It was also similar to the New Balance MC 996, but once again, not quite as comfortable."
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Spencer - Medium width / Medium arch
Jason - Wide width / Low arch
Andy - Medium width / Low arch
Review date: May 2013. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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