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Built From The Ground Upby: Jim Douville
Assistant Coach, Newman Catholic High School, Wausau (WI)
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A Guide to the Game’s Top Cleats
As much as I would like to say this in jest, I am sure there are plenty of your players that still haven’t equipped themselves with new gear for the upcoming season. You will see the ones at practice, the players that are routinely using athletic tape to hold together that pair of cleats they have been using for a year or two, but are just too stubborn or forgetful to replace. That is why I would like to run down the best of what the top footwear brands in the game have to offer your athletes.
The second major improvement is the Zoom Air unit embedded in the footbed. Zoom Air is Nike’s second most popular method of cushioning, next to Max Air. This excellent form of cushioning has gotten great reviews in just about any piece of footwear it has been associated with and should provide your men with lightweight cushioning to keep them comfortable during the pounding of practice or the intensity of games.
The tongue of the Carbon Fly uses elastic on both sides to give a secure fit for any skill player that laces them up. From the players I have spoken to about this cleat, they have told me nothing but good things from a comfort and fit standpoint.
The Blur is UA’s lightest cleat to date. With the Blur Low MC weighing in at a very light 9.7 oz., the shoe throws itself in the mix with the fastest cleats out there. One thing you will notice is that the Blur uses a one-piece synthetic upper with a stylish graphic to create the look. This creates a comfortable fit that Under Armour hopes will make the cleat a literal extension of the player’s foot. Asymmetrical lacing and a wrap around tongue help to secure the foot and create comfort.
The outsole on the Blur comes in one style, a molded bottom. These molded bottoms are not the cleats of old. They offer tremendous traction on a variety of surfaces and are used to create the lightest cleats in the game. The TPU plate on the blur offers ArmourLaunch technology. This innovation puts fiberglass at the center of the outsole’s chassis, wrapping onto the upper to provide stability and support.
The result is a speed cleat that you will see a lot of on weekend afternoons and can become a favorite of some of your faster skill players.
It starts with U-Form technology. This is going to sound crazy, but believe me it’s true. U-Form technology allows the athlete to custom fit the cleat to their foot by taking it and placing it in an oven (200 degrees for three minutes) and then putting them on and lacing them tight (allow up to eight minutes for proper form). The result is a perfect custom-formed cleat. The magic is that the U-Form fit process can be duplicated any number of times for better fit and feel. This technology was first introduced by Reebok for hockey skates, where it has been earning rave reviews from Reebok’s professional athletes. Now the concept has jumped to the gridiron where it has been getting similar feedback from test athletes.
I spoke with Reebok spokesperson Chad Wittman, who told me that Chad Ochocinco was approached to wear the U-form last season as a test athlete. “He was very concerned about wearing a mid as a wide receiver. He told us that he never would go there, but after a fitting and a few patterns, he liked the cleat so much that he asked to wear it for his playoff game.”
Expect to see not only Ochocinco, but Eli Manning and Vince Young in the U-Form this season.
This cleat also comes equipped with a non-slip liner that keeps an athlete’s foot in the cleat. I would best describe it as a material that has smooth feel as you slide into the shoe, but a rough one if you attempt to pull out of the cleat. This lockdown creates oneness with the cleat and, hopefully, will improve performance.
The adiZero Scorch also offers a SuperFly Pebax molded outsole. The truly unique thing about this part of the cleat is the cleat pattern itself. adidas has designed the adiZero with an extra row of studs on the lateral side of the outsole, unlike any I have seen, to allow for better cutting and change of direction moves. This was clearly designed for skill players and you will see it being put to the test by Reggie Bush this fall.
That is the rundown of the top performance cleats in the game. Most of the footwear on this list is designed for speed-based skill players, but there are tons of great selections for every player on the field.
Whether you make team orders or have your athletes purchase cleats on their own, consider that they can be a huge factor in your team’s performance and with the technologies and designs today, there is virtually a cleat made specifically for every position on the field. I suggest players tailor the type of cleat they purchase to their game and their position.
Jim Douville, a copywriter for Eastbay/Footlocker.com, has been an assistant football coach at Newman Catholic High School in Wausau, Wisconsin, for five years. He was also an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for one year.
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