With its GEL Speed Solution franchise being one of the premiere lightweight performance offerings, it would seem that Asics wouldn’t need to expand its presence in the category. But not only is their new GEL-Court FF a worthy addition to the field, it may give all others a run for the title of best in class.
The latest technology in the shoe—also featured in the company’s running lines—is FlyteFoam: Reinforced organic fibers designed to withstand pounding and reshape more efficiently than typical EVA to provide optimal lightweight cushioning in the midsole of the shoe. In fact, it’s the lightest midsole Asics has ever produced. There’s also GEL cushioning in the heel and forefoot to provide additional protection against court impact. Where GEL might be more plush, FlyteFoam feels airier and bouncier, promoting more energy return into each stride. True to the makeup and attributes of FF, I didn’t sink into the shoe or feel quite as low to the ground as in a Speed Solution model. Nonetheless, the cushioning and comfort of the Court FF are first-rate and the shoe just oozes quickness.
The seamless mesh upper is soft, breathable and flexes easily. There’s no need to spend time breaking these shoes in. The cut is a bit long and the width is medium to slightly narrow. Because the upper is so pliable, it shouldn’t be a problem for most, but players with wider feet might find it too restrictive. The Court FF is a unisex shoe—women will want to order 1.5 sizes smaller than their typical shoe—which may explain the design.
Besides Flytefoam the other outstanding feature of the shoe is the tongue-less, bootie (dubbed Mono-Sock), arguably the most secure of its kind that I’ve ever tested. It hugs the foot like a parent who hasn’t seen its child in a month. I wouldn’t recommend playing without the laces tied, but you could probably do so.
Because the foot is so locked-in, there’s virtually no slippage inside the shoe. It also gives the sensation of the shoe being an extension of the foot, making it play even lighter than its weight. Yet there’s enough give and padding (especially around the collar) that it never feels too restrictive. The downside is it’s legitimately difficult to slide on. This might be the first athletic shoe that requires a shoe horn; at least until Asics adds a pull tab to the heel.
Because of its minimalist design, the Court FF is not overflowing with support features. The midfoot Trusstic System does a respectable job of providing stability to prevent twisting on hard lateral movements. However, those accustomed to the sturdiness of a GEL Resolution or Adidas Barricade might feel a little naked in the shoe. I had no issues with the upper, but players that are typically tough on theirs might find this one not tough enough for the long haul, especially given the high price tag ($170). The outsole provided a nice level of grip and slip for hard-court play, although I wouldn’t mind seeing a version with a deeper tread for clay.
Bottom line, they’re certainly pricey and a little tricky to get on, but otherwise the GEL-Court FF is an absolute must-try for lightweight fans. They’re fast-feeling, responsive and truly fit like a glove, without sacrificing performance or comfort. There's no question it will be a shoe I consistently wear in competition this year. To quote one of our other testers: “I think the “FF” in Court FF stands for freaking fantastic.” Indeed, Asics has hit another winner.