The model was in production that long with good reason. Asics' flagship experimental shoe was a massive hit. It combined a solid, stable platform, with a ground-breaking, one-piece enclosure that made players feel locked in and reactive. Nowadays, we see plenty of similar designs from the likes of Nike, Adidas, and New Balance, but Asics has decided to innovate.
After an extensive playtest, let's take a closer look at the brand-new Asics Court FF 3.
How does it fit?
The overall cut of the Court FF 3 is nearly identical to what it was on the previous version. It has the most space in the toe-box compared to Asics' other regular width options. It is fairly medium in volume throughout the rest of the shoe. The Court FF relies on compression to provide its lockdown, which makes it feel snug, but not tight. These compression materials are stretchy and can form to most foot types.
The cut in the heel is also quite snug, without being uncomfortable; more on why later.
Comfort is King
Step in comfort can make or break a shoe. Of course, it largley depends on fit, but the Court FF 3 has made massive strides compared to its predecessor. As soon as I slipped my foot into the new model, I felt a much more cozy enclosure from the once-piece booty construction. On the previous version, the neoprene material pushed down quite harshly on the top of my foot and squeezed me into the shoe. The new one-piece tongue is much less restrictive while also feeling more snug. The material is just better at adapting to the foot.
The upper is also softer and more adaptive than it was on the Court FF 2. It flexes with the foot rather than creasing to its own shape, which makes it so that there are no awkward pressure points when standing straight or during natural tennis movement.
If I'm to nitpick one area of discomfort, it would have to be from the stiffness right in front of my heel, around the opening where you slide into the shoe. The upper heel section on the lateral and medial sides comes up quite high, protrudes inward, and is stiff compared to most shoes. While this provides a great locked-in sensation, it also gave me a bit of bone pain after an hour, especially on the medial side during my return stance when my foot was tilted inward. After a while, the materials softened up, and the pain went away, but it is worth noting that this area required a bit of break-in.
The heel cup has very effective padding and doesn't feel as raw as on the previous version. There are squishy memory foam inserts that should form to most heel shapes and made mine feel snug without any uncomfortable rubbing.
More comfort AND better lockdown?
Softness and comfort are great as long as they don't come at the expense of support. As you should expect from a Court FF, there is incredible lockdown and support compared to the competition. Your heel and mid-foot are cupped by plenty of structured material on both the lateral and medial sides. It feels like your foot is sitting in a cocoon rather than standing on top of a platform, especially in the rear portion of the shoe.
I'd also like to point out that the discomfort I mentioned earlier comes from Asics' successful attempt at providing industry-leading lockdown. I've rarely seen a company design the stiffness of their rubber and TPU inserts to go all the way up the shoe. While it could do with a bit of refining, my foot wasn't going anywhere.
One of my absolute favorite tennis shoe innovations also happens to be one of the simplest: the lacing system. Nike, in particular, is an expert at designing lacing systems that synch the foot into the shoe without applying additional awkward pressure; think old Vapor Pro, X and the Court Zoom NXT. Asics have taken some notes, and the lacing system on the Court FF 3 is fantastic. Whole sections of the upper are pulled when a lace loop is tightened, which helps personalize fit and lockdown. This is a no-brainer to me, and I'll keep mentioning it until it's industry standard.
Stability and movement at its core
While Asics markets the Court FF as an innovative hybrid between the Gel-Resolution and the Solution Speed, it doesn't sacrifice any stability to achieve that. The outsole is wide and rigid and can handle hard lateral cuts without feeling clunky.
The Court FF 3 also moves quicker than you might expect from a shoe that weighs 444 grams in a size 10.0 US. That certainly isn't light, but the one-to-one sensation you get from the incredible lockdown, and the airy and springy ride from the outsole make the shoe extremely responsive. The GEL™ inserts Asics have added to the forefoot may not give much added bounce, but they do provide a sensation of lightness and responsiveness that has been improved since the previous version.
Asics have also added TWISTRUSS™ reinforcement technology to the outsole to make transitions and changes of direction more efficient. Whether it's TWISTRUSS™ tech or just an effective use of plastic, it certainly does its job and adds to the reactive nature of the shoe. Proper stability is at its best when a shoe's upper and outsole move in unison, and they certainly do here.
From a grip perspective, the shoe won't give out if you're not a slider, but they have one of the best soles I've tried when initiating and exiting a slide. They respond very well to proper sliding technique.
The Court FF 3 might not disappear on your feet like the lightest shoes out there. Still, they're arguably better at moving efficiently around the court thanks to their fantastic combination of a responsive upper on a reactive outsole.
This has to be one of the most durable shoes out there. It features Asics' bulletproof PGUARD™ technology in the heel and toe box, as well as robust rubber throughout the upper. The outsole's AHARPLUS™ tech is also remarkably durable. Some people had the Court FF 2 during all four years of its lifespan; that could also be the case with the Court FF 3.
Who is it for?
I would only stay away from the Court FF 3 if you love the feel of those quasi-running shoe lightweight options like the Solution Speed or Jet Tere. Because the outsole is so stable, they won't give that same sensation of being constantly on your toes, but besides that niche, these shoes are a great option for almost anyone. I will say, they perform best on the modern player who loves to move aggressively all over the court, as they really do excel when put through the wringer.
The fact that the Court FF 2 stayed relevant for so long proves that it was a very good shoe. That's why Asics decided to keep things simple in improving it but not drastically overhauling the new design. They've kept the core elements of what made the old version so popular but made the shoe more comfortable, responsive, and natural. If you'd like to snag a pair, check them out online or come try them in-store.