Your Nikes are best for speed, that pair of adidas fit like a glove, and your Pumas give you flexibility. If you’re a soccer player, you’ve likely worn a lot of cleats throughout your career, but have you ever considered what goes into the construction of each studded shoe?
Professional soccer players have helped in the development of cleats for years now and are very involved in the creation process. According to adidas, the MESSI15 cleat was built around Leo Messi’s unique style of play, and the Argentinian himself was involved in the design.
adidas introduced several new product innovations specifically for Messi. The new messiTOUCH material of the upper has a leather-like, three-dimensional surface for lethal grip on the ball as well as foot-fitting comfort. The new messiFRAME provides a locked-in fit, added stability, and maximum traction. On the outsole, the messiPRINT offers new, round forefoot studs, which combine with the messiGAMBETRAX to provide a spike configuration that offers explosive movement for a dynamic player like “La Pulga.”
adidas is not the only company utilizing design input from star athletes.
Puma works with some of European football’s biggest names, including Sergio Agüero, Cesc Fàbregas, Olivier Giroud, Radamel Falcao and Marco Reus on the men’s side of things, and for women, Marta Vieira da Silva and Nadine Kessler. And their football family is “forever growing,” according to Pascal van Essen, head of product line management teamsport footwear.
“Product development is always done through working with players so we can say player feedback has influenced all innovations,” says van Essen. “We are always looking to sign players to work with for a long term so we can follow players during their career, understand their needs, and when they give feedback to us on future products, it naturally takes some time until the final product launches and a player can wear it on the pitch.”
So exactly how involved are the players? Very, according to Puma: “We have several testing phases in which the players are being introduced to new technologies, and they help us optimize the design and functionality,” explains van Essen. “Their feedback is key to us, and we work closely with them to make the best possible products.”
Plus, collaboration creates the opportunity for individual players to put personalized touches on the footwear they help create.
“In the past, we have had Fàbregas, Agüero, Reus, and Balotelli help us create their very own special edition of their boot, which had unique graphic designs that told very individual stories,” says van Essen.
The feedback from these top football players inspires the innovation that offers you that extra edge in your specific position so it makes sense if you slip into the same pair as your favorite player.
“We often had the feedback from players like Sergio Agüero that super lightweight boots are help him accelerate on pitch and reach top speeds quicker,” says van Essen. “This is why we came up with the evoSPEED SL, which features an extra thin textile upper that enabled us to reduce the weight of the boot drastically.”
Companies like adidas and Puma hope that taking input from some of the best players in the world will aid them in developing footwear that will help athletes at every level perform at their best.