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Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better (karma: 4)
By blochpointesalltmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1689, member since Sun Oct 14, 2007
On Sun Jan 17, 2010 02:06 AM
Edited by blochpointesallt (186871) on 2010-01-17 02:07:13
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2010-01-17 12:27:49
Edited by oz_helen (35388) on 2010-01-17 16:02:05 Fixed your markup code.

There are many reasons why you will never see a professional or even advanced level student tap dancer in a split sole shoe. The following are just a few:

1.) Split sole shoes offer poor sound quality.
What tap dancer wants to wear a shoe that no one can hear? Split sole shoes offer poor sound quality because of their construction. Full sole shoes provide better clarity and tonality, creating an all around better and louder sound. Look at the catalog of any professional shoemaker: you aren't going to find split soles there.

2.) Split sole shoes create technical deficiencies.
A common argument in defense of split sole tap shoes is that they make toe stands easier. While it may be easier to perform a "toe stand" in split sole shoes, it is almost guarunteed simply by virtue of the fact that you are wearing split sole tap shoes that you are doing toe stands incorrectly. Even if tap toe stands were intended to be executed in the same way as ballet pointe work, solit sole shoes still would not be adequate in terms of support. Furthermore, split sole shoes make it very easy to point one's toes while dancing. However, there are very very few tap steps that require pointed toes for proper execution.

3.) Split sole shoes do not properly support the foot, encouraging improperuse of the ankle and causing injury
Think about this: would you rather wear a street shoe with a thick, supportive sole that protected your feet from the hard ground, supported your arches, and held your ankle in correct alignment, or a shoe with a flimsy sole that allowed you to pronate and made your feet sore by the end of the day? The same principle applies to tap shoes. When participating in such a high impact activity, it is crucial to protect and support our bodies as best as we possibly can. Split sole shoes simply do not provide this. Also, split sole shoes generally encourage the tightening of the ankle when tap dancing, instead of keeping the ankle held relitavely loose and can cause injury. I mentioned above the ease of foot pointing available in split sole shoes: imagine the margin for serious injury when attempting to execute a wing or pickup with a pointed foot.

These are the major reasons why split sole tap shoes should be avoided at all costs. Unless high heels or character shoes are required, your best bet in a tap shoe is almost always a full sole lace up Oxford. If you don't need or want professional grade shoes (think Salvios, "old" K360's, Miller and Bens, a custom built pair, etc.) the Bloch Respect is a good moderately priced shoe to try.

More information on split sole v. full sole tap shoes can be found at:
www.dance.net . . .
www.dance.net . . .
www.dance.net . . .

28 Replies to Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better

re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By Taphead25Premium member Comments: 403, member since Fri Jul 05, 2002
On Sat Jan 30, 2010 08:38 AM
I've agree with what you've said about split sole tap shoes; but I once had a pair of soft-soled, high-end Capezio oxfords that were a delight to tap in. The soles were chrome-tanned split leather, fleshy side out, like a bowling shoe. They were a bit short; but that and the flexy soles gave me incredible control of the toe taps. I could control which part of the tap hit the floor; and I could modulate the sound to my liking. There was no siginificant resonance from the sole...only the tap metal. Sadly, these shoes weren't very supportive; and they wore out within a year or so. But the sound was incredible!
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By GetRhythmmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4773, member since Mon Jun 20, 2005
On Wed Feb 03, 2010 02:58 PM
Edited by snot85 (133910) on 2010-02-03 15:02:38
I have to disagree. I've been tapping for 20 years now. I had full sole for probably the first 12 of those years. When I switched studios in high school, the teacher at the new studio I started taking from used a lot of toe stands and other toe work in her choreography. It is nearly impossible to do any toe work in full sole shoes. They don't have any kind of "give" or "bend." I've been happy with my split sole shoes since I switched about 8 years ago.

Edited this to say....didn't realize until I started reading other posts that I am definitely the minority on this issue. I can't believe so many of you prefer the full sole. I've been in heaven since I switched and would NEVER switch back. So don't all gang up on me, alright? I just have a different opinion.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By cheerspirit Comments: 3843, member since Thu Apr 29, 2004
On Wed Feb 03, 2010 07:08 PM
DIE SNOT DIE!!!! YOU CANNOT HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION!!! ;)

I agree with the OP. I don't see the point of split soles. We don't allow anyone but advanced dancers have them, and none of them want them.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By martyCTT Comments: 176, member since Sun Jan 04, 2009
On Wed Feb 03, 2010 08:31 PM
Sorry snot, it's not a matter of having another opinion-
it is a health issue
it is a quality of sound issue
not to mention there are several experienced teachers and professional tap dancers on here backing up these claims.

What do you and others mean by "toe work" when you talk about split soles?
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By GetRhythmmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4773, member since Mon Jun 20, 2005
On Thu Feb 04, 2010 07:47 AM
Edited by snot85 (133910) on 2010-02-04 07:50:53
Marty — I've been tapping for 20 years, and teaching for about 6 or 7 years. All of the advanced dancers at my studio (including my SO who's owned the studio for 40 years) use split sole tap shoes. I've never had health issues from them and my taps always sound as crisp and clear as they did when I wore full sole. And by "toe work," I'm referring to standing on your toe (like a pointe shoe).

Both feet — www.youtube.com . . .
Turning toe stand (:47) — www.youtube.com . . . (technique isn't great, but you get the idea)
Another one (:46 and at the end) — www.youtube.com . . .
Kane Ricca from the show Got To Dance taps on his toes a lot (solo starts at 2:30) — www.youtube.com . . .

I'm not saying all tappers who do toe work need split sole, but I do, and everyone else at my studio does.

Edit: Full toe tap (like from the 1930s) is not something I do, but I would imagine if I did, I'd definitely prefer the split over the full.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better (karma: 1)
By martyCTT Comments: 176, member since Sun Jan 04, 2009
On Thu Feb 04, 2010 08:40 AM
Health issues arising from improper support of the door and arch could eventually result in collapsed arches, Plantar fasciitis and a number of other foot health issues.

Split sole shoes encourage improper articulation of the foot and ankle and contribute to the development of technique.

When it comes to "toe work" as you are referring, doing that sort of thing without a supportive sole and box on the shoe is a pretty dumb way to go. Do you walk around on the tips of your toes in split sole jazz shoes? No, so why would you do it in split sole jazz shoes with taps on them? I'm not trying to call you dumb, but when you are teaching I truly believe one of the most important things is the health and well being of your students.

Don't eve get me started on sound quality compared to a full sole shoe... Tonality differences, not to mention the rhythmic intonation and control you gain from full sole shoes.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By GetRhythmmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4773, member since Mon Jun 20, 2005
On Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:19 AM
To each his own, Marty.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By PowerPointe Comments: 537, member since Fri Nov 21, 2008
On Mon Mar 01, 2010 09:29 PM
Wow, that's interesting. I wear split-sole taps and I can do toe stands very well in them--in fact, I can't do toe stands at all in full sole taps. But then, when I'm wearing pointe shoes I either have to wear half shanks (the shank literally ends in the middle of my foot) or bend and squash the upper half of the shank a lot, making my shoes the ballet equivialent of split-sole taps. Everyone's feet are different, and maybe some people's feet (like mine and snot85's) need different support than the standard full-sole tap shoe.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By majeremember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5889, member since Sat Sep 29, 2007
On Tue Mar 23, 2010 06:31 PM
PowerPointe wrote:

Wow, that's interesting. I wear split-sole taps and I can do toe stands very well in them--in fact, I can't do toe stands at all in full sole taps. But then, when I'm wearing pointe shoes I either have to wear half shanks (the shank literally ends in the middle of my foot) or bend and squash the upper half of the shank a lot, making my shoes the ballet equivialent of split-sole taps. Everyone's feet are different, and maybe some people's feet (like mine and snot85's) need different support than the standard full-sole tap shoe.


I can do toe stands in both split and full soles. I can also do toe stands in tennis shoes, TOMS, Vans and converse. But should I?

In tap it's okay to have bent knees in a toe stand. Ex- pick-up to a toe stand. No way in hell could I pick-up to straight knees.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By Cadbury_Eatermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7575, member since Sat Jan 04, 2003
On Mon Apr 05, 2010 02:34 AM
I always wore full sole tap shoes and has no problem doing toe stands (or any move actually)

But each to thier own...
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By dancefeat Comments: 16, member since Wed Jul 07, 2010
On Wed Jul 07, 2010 09:03 AM
You are totally correct. I'm a dance teacher of nearly 15 years now and tapped all my life before that. My brother is also a highly respected sports physio who worked with dancers. Everything you have said is correct. I've seen first hand what split sole tap shoes can do. I never allowed my kids to wear them ever since my brother told me about the number of kids coming in with fallen arches in their feet. He blames the split sole tap shoes as in most cases all these kids had just made the change into these shoes. And yes any good tapper can tell there is a major tone difference between split sole and full sole. To anyone thinking about making the change just to have "nicer" toe stands, DON"T TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT. When the toe stand was shown publicly it was down with bent knees. In fact you see Michael Jackson do his toe stands, thats how they originally looked. That is a proper toe stand. But these days everyone wants something to wow. Even if it comes at a sacrifice to their feet. Good luck to all those in 20 years time when their feet start to fall apart, if they haven't already.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By BellaDeMonia Comments: 22, member since Fri Jul 09, 2010
On Sat Jul 17, 2010 02:01 AM
I've had both, and much prefer full sole but that is based on the fact I a) hate lace up shoes b)like having heels to my shoes. I love my Blochs with 2-3 inch heel and buckle. I have refused to buy a new pair for 7 years (yes 7) and worn an old pair to death but when I get a new pair I WILL buy a pair of cuban heeled buckled Bloch shoes. I was only ever really allowed those for my first tap syllabus exams anyway.

And I can do toe stands in my heeled shoes just fine. I have my own way of breaking in a new pair that makes them a bit more flexible anyway.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By dance202 Comments: 25, member since Tue Nov 23, 2004
On Wed Aug 04, 2010 08:54 PM
Edited by dance202 (114084) on 2010-08-04 20:58:29 Missed a couple of words at the end and spaced it out for easier reading.
I have used both full sole and split sole tap shoes and I must admitt that I like the sound quality of the full sole taps much better but to defend the split sole I think wearing split soles also help when teaching anyone that bending your knees is also important... If your tap shoes are naturally loud then you will find it very frustrating when you are trying to explain to the children that they need to be loud they will get the false sense that they are already loud and they do not need to listen to you. I am not saying that using split sole taps do not come with health issues when does anything we do in life not come with health issues and a dancers life is always full of pains and strains due to all the different movements we do everyday.

This is just my opinion and I to changed dance studio's when I was in highschool and changed to splitsoles after trying to do alot of toe work with full soles. I have also heard judges comment on video judge that it is alot harder to execute toe stands with full sole tap shoes for the younger/beginner dancers.

Thanks,
dance202
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By tappergurl Comments: 123, member since Tue Feb 01, 2005
On Sun Sep 26, 2010 07:38 PM
Hmmmm... I read this thread with interest. I personally have a difficult time getting kids off of their heels when they tap due to all of the stiff hard shoes that they are wearing. Yes, toe stands are difficult with full sole shoes, but so are flaps for younger children. Flat footed tap work is my nemesis! Also I believe the OP stated that it was difficult to point the toes in full sole shoes, but why would you need to? There's nothing worse than seeing kids go down the floor doing brush hop steps with their feet flopping all over the place because they have no control over their arches with full soles. As well, the tap syllabus that I teach from incorporates a lot of jazz technique including jumps and turns that require full control over the feet.

If none of these things are an issue for you when you teach tap, that's fine, but they are for me and so I will continue to recommend softer shoes that allow my students better control over their movement. Yes, this is my opinion, but it is coming from my experience.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By Tappercise Comments: 289, member since Sun Jul 08, 2007
On Sun Dec 26, 2010 03:28 PM
When I told someone that I didn’t like split-sole shoes, she sent me this link. Are any of the tap dancers in this clip wearing split-sole shoes? The one tapper is wearing shoes what seem to have a lot more flexion in the soles than the tap shoes that I usually wear, which have rigid soles and a steel shank.

www.youtube.com . . .
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By lexie66 Comments: 7, member since Mon Jan 17, 2011
On Mon Jan 17, 2011 02:32 PM
I disagree 10 years ago when I ha split toe tap shoes I was tought toe stands and my tap teacher had full sole tap shoes. She told me that it makes it easier if you have split toe tap shoes but if you change to full it will be harder. Just saying if your really serious about tap you will do better with full sole tap shoes.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By lexie66 Comments: 7, member since Mon Jan 17, 2011
On Mon Jan 17, 2011 03:21 PM
Split-sole tap shoes actually ruin your feet. They have no arch support. If you fall its possible you can hurt your feet.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By tapdog Comments: 8, member since Wed Jan 19, 2011
On Wed Jan 19, 2011 02:53 PM
I like full sole, the first ones i had (splits) made wings really difficult for me. ive been doing tap for three years now, and my secong pair ore full sole, i would never go back to splits
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By kirsty_c3Premium member Comments: 59, member since Sat Dec 05, 2009
On Sat Jan 22, 2011 04:29 PM
i always danced in full sole when younger and then when i saw the capezio split sole and tried them i felt not only were they more flexible but i also had no problems controlling my taps or missing beats
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By lexie66 Comments: 7, member since Mon Jan 17, 2011
On Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:02 PM
My friend had splits and she fell and sprant her ankle while tapping. I had full sole I fell just like her but I didn't get hurt.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By redfoxforever Comments: 1, member since Wed Nov 16, 2011
On Wed Nov 16, 2011 06:50 AM
I've been a stepdancer for 15 years (stepdance is like tap except we hop a LOT more and our technique is a bit different) and we do a lot of toe stands/pointe, and I've been using the split soles and so have my students. (we stay on our toes the entire dance) and have had no problems. You'd be hard pressed to find a dancer beyond the age of 10 who doesn't use the splits at the competition.

No matter what shoe you wear, you're going to get injuries. Fact of life and dancing. Dancing is hard physical labour. Everyone should just wear the shoes they feel best in and have as much fun as they can.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better
By StormyJ Comments: 1, member since Sun Jan 01, 2012
On Sun Jan 01, 2012 05:39 PM
I agree with the posting above mine. If you are an athlete, and dancers are athletes, by virtue of the amount of time you spend training and performing, you are more likely to sustain some sort of physical injury from activity than the average couch potato, no matter what kind of shoes you wear. I have had severe plantar faciatis from wearing cross trainers and aerobic dance shoes that were full soled. I also have a slightly greater tendency to underpronate in them and cause ingrown toenails and knee pain. I have found that my personal tendency toward injury teaching aerobic dance and step is far less with split soles than it was with full soles. However, I do not use split soles for tap dancing, weight lifting, hiking, speed walking, or running. As far as advice from athletic trainers goes ... I don't think there is any cookie cutter approach to an answer. For example, one well respected trainer I know says that no woman should ever lift more than a five pound weight. Other trainers I know who also hold PHD's have said that research supports the fact that a woman of my size and experience should easily be able to do bent over rows with a 40 lb weight ... which I do, unless I'm coming back into a program after more than a two week lay off. If I was half my size, the weight I'd choose to lift would be lower. If I was twice my size, it would be higher. However, I would always make a strong effort to be aware of the subtle day to day changes in my body and my mind, and make an equally strong effort to honor them. Full soled shoes with strong arch support certainly have their places in dance and other forms of athletics, but we absolutely cannot ignore the fact that the foot is a viable body part than needs care and training just as any other body part does, and it should not be treated like a disabled handicapped stepchild.
re: Full vs. Split Sole Tap Shoes -- Why Full Soles Are Always Better (karma: 2)
By Tapdanzer Comments: 437, member since Mon Aug 25, 2003
On Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:24 PM
Toe work may be "easier" in split soles but toe stands should not be executed on straight knees. EVER! The reason it's easier for people to do a toe stand in a split sole is because people have straight knees and do toe work as they would on pointe shoes, with straight pulled up knees. The foundation of all tap technique is relaxation of the hip, knees and ankles. How can they be relaxed when they're locked? Not a big deal if you're doing a tip down, or quick turn but what if you want to shuffle while you're up there? Where's the relaxation needed for a clean shuffle? With enough plie, toe work is very easy in full sole and a lot easier because your weight is better supported.

The toe stand debate seems to be the only really big debate on why split sole are better. When it comes to sound quality, there is no question that full soles are better (built up- best). You don't see professional dancers dancing in split sole for a reason.

One poster mentioned that they like split sole for younger dancers as they struggle being on the balls of their feet. I can understand that point of view however I put ALL my students (ages 6 and up) into the full solo Capezio CG100. I expect my students to do their work on the balls of their feet and they have no issues with it. The first few weeks, when the shoes are stiff, are a bit tricky but once they're broken in it's fine. I've found that many teachers don't stress the use of plie when dancers are on the balls of their feet. There seems to be a lot of stress on plie when executing heavier steps or steps with heels but when it comes to more "lifted steps", so many students go up onto a releve and pull up in their legs. If they use their plie while doing those steps (running flaps, etc), the shoes will not pose a problem and it will promote better overall technique, tonality and sound quality from a younger age.

It's all about the plie! Just my opinion!
Full Sole Tap Shoes Are Louder
By tapdanceninja Comments: 3, member since Sun May 17, 2015
On Sat May 30, 2015 05:30 PM
Back when I was a tap dance soloist in New Orleans' Square at Disneyland in Anaheim, I used to take Capezio K360s and build them up with extra-thick soles. One simple reason: VOLUME. Obviously the phrase "always better" is an overstatement, but if you're tap dancing next to a live band on some portable tap board, then thick, full soles definitely make it easier to be heard.

This, of course, also depends upon one's tap dance technique and how one likes his/her taps to sound. :)

In my younger days, back when I was more into flashy steps and big movements that earned applause than developing sophisticated rhythms, split-soled shoes sometimes made some toe-stand work easier... but now I'm in my early 30s and couldn't be less interested in doing wings on my toes.
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