The adidas Yeezy Boost, the Nike Roshes and the Under Armour Steph Curry’s are well- known kicks.
Millions of dollars go into branding these shoes as must-have accessories, but they are created to give athletes an advantage on and off the field. Designers engineer these shoes for athletes to gain substantial results at the most critical times in competition and to look good while doing so.
Senior guard Tabatha Richardson-Smith of the women’s basketball team is certainly a believer that style and comfort have a big effect on performance.
“If they don’t look good or feel right, I can’t play in them,” the se- nior said. “With Under Armour, I love the Curry’s, so I’m going to go with them. When I put them on, I like for the shoe to fit to my foot, so whatever shoe gives me the abil- ity to move around and be com- fortable, I’ll wear…You’ll always catch me in some fire Curry’s.”
While the balance between flair and security can tilt towards being flashier on the hardwood, in a sport such as cross country, steadiness and protection through the wear and tear of competition is vi- tal to a runner’s performance.
“It must feel right,” junior cross country runner Alex Mallue said. “I like to stick to a routine. Everyone is different and all shoes are a little different, but I like to make sure I have shoes that work for me and will get me ready for my runs.”
There are many different approaches when it comes to how athletes choose their shoes and a variety of thoughts that pass through their minds before a final selection is made. Every athlete is unique in their choosing, even if they play the same sport.
“I train in heavier shoes and it works for me,” Mallue’s teammate, junior Ryan Moumblow, said. “I want and need the extra support the heavier shoes give me… It’s like wearing a weighted vest, and once I wear my race flats, I think it gives me an edge.”
Getting an edge in any sport is pivotal to being successful. Speed by nature is an advantage for those who have it. Just like NASCAR drivers need the right tires to run at a high level, fast runners need the lightest shoes to do the same.
Senior center fielder Derek Jenkins is one the fastest athletes at Seton Hall. He has led the Big East in stolen bases each of the past two seasons and credits finding the right tires for his hot wheels an essential to that speedy success.
“Obviously the lightest cleat is the best for me,” Jenkins said. “We’ve been really getting into the technology of it and how the light- est cleats work really well for me and my game.”
The research into how specifically a cleat or shoe is made is a trend that affects all teams and athletes. Under Armour, Seton Hall Athletics’ official sponsor, has been at the forefront for all cleat and sneaker innovation. The company’s baseball cleats try to combine the best of speed and support for all the athletes that wear them. They are 11.95 ounces coupled with foot-molding foam and material that acts as a “second skin” to help support the ankle and foot.
“It’s all about the comfort for me,” Jenkins, who has swiped 70 bags in his collegiate career, said. “It is tough at first when you have to break it in, but you just have to work through that until you don’t even think about it anymore.”
Spectators from afar will just see the glitz, the glam and the marketing that goes into what ends up on an athlete’s foot. But for the athlete, it is about finding the right balance between appearance and stability that, in turn, leads to opti- mal performance.
Take it from Hall of Fame athlete, Deion Sanders, who was known for his flamboyant style during his playing career.
“If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good,” Sanders has said repeatedly over the years, offering a turn of phrase that still prevails throughout the athletic landscape today.
While exorbitant spending on marketing and the influence of large corporations might convince us, the consumer, to buy things that do not fit the bill, it is clear that modern technology has made a tangible impact in the arena of athletic apparel that goes far beyond any swooshes or neon colors.
In the world we live in, it is clear that carefully constructed footwear has become a shoe-in to make the list of essentials for any top athlete.
Christian Pierre-Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CPLouis_.