This is a re-post from wired.com: http://www.wired.com/playbook/2011/01/adidas-lightest-football-cleat/
Adidas Unveils Lightest Football Cleat Ever
If speed kills in football, then Adidas would seem to have the perfect shoe for maximizing it.
When Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller and Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry took to the gridiron on Sunday, they weren’t wearing their usual adiZero Scorch footwear, which weigh a still-featherweight 8.6 ounces each. Instead, they were officially unveiling the 6.9-ounce 5 Star, which Adidas says is the lightest football cleat ever made.
According to Jeff McGillis, one of the 5 Star’s designers, decreasing weight was the main goal for the 5 Star, which will retail for $100 when it’s released in April.
“Every time we have conversations with players and we ask them what they’re looking for, ‘lightweight shoes’ is the first thing that comes out of their mouth,” McGillis told Wired.com.
Many of those players are derived from focus groups, which are usually held at 7-on-7 high school tournaments at various college campuses every summer, including the Texas State 7-on-7 Championship held at Texas A&M University.
McGillis emphasized it was Adidas’ duty to follow up the requests for lightweight cleats while ensuring that stability wasn’t compromised.
So Adidas developed a new material which reduces the weight of the plate, the center of a shoe’s structural integrity, by 50 percent against the typical thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, material. Then designers added a single-layer synthetic material called Sprintskin, which makes up the shoe’s upper material. It took over two years to develop Sprintskin, and it was used in conjunction with TPU materials to give the upper part of the shoe added stability for quick lateral movements.
Finally, the 5 Star’s outsole — in this case, the shoe’s spikes — has a new stud shape called Traxion. McGillis said designers dropped a circular design of the studs in favor of a triangular one. That’s helped Adidas maximize acceleration in the cleat while reducing the possibility of a cleat getting stuck in the grass or turf.
“We can increase the linear traction, but also reduce the rotational traction, which is ideal,” McGillis said. Linear traction refers to the amount of push-off an athlete can generate from a cleat. Rotational traction measures how much a cleat resists turning when the body turns. Obviously, shoe companies aim for as high a linear traction as they can get, while minimizing rotational traction as much as possible.
In this case, the 5 Star has the highest linear traction and lowest rotational traction of all of Adidas’ cleats, according to McGillis. “We’ve made the lightest cleat but also the fastest cleat in the game,” McGillis claims.
Adidas tested the 5 Star extensively at spring practices of the colleges with which it has licensing agreements, including Michigan, Tennessee and UCLA. That’s where the designers could see the cleat provided the benefits of a lightweight while still stabilizing the athletes’ feet.
The low-top cleats have molded spikes, but the company plans on making ones with detachable spikes available at some point beyond the 2011 football season. McGillis said Adidas is still conducting a series of tests to determine how much time 5 Star–equipped football players save on linear and lateral movements. What’s clear so far is the new cleat technology can cross over to cleats and shoes in other sports, such as baseball.
Spiller and Berry won’t be the only football players sporting the new cleats during this first week of January. The nation’s top high school football players will sport 5 Stars at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices and game throughout the week in San Antonio, Texas.
And if the 5 Star lives up to Adidas’ claims, the high school players there will already look fast enough for the next level.