Published on August 3rd, 2020 📆 | 1898 Views ⚑0
Nike Debuts FlyEase Technology In Soccer Cleat, Carson Pickett Explains The Benefits
NWSL star Carson Pickett still remembers the pressure of learning to tie a shoe as a kid with one arm. While she experienced joy in figuring out how to make it work, there was frustration aplenty in the process. And even with success, there’s never a quick way to make it happen when on the field in the middle of a soccer game.
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“When I opened the box, immediately I felt a sense of relief, relief because I didn’t see laces that had to be tied, relief that I didn’t see a heel that was impossible to get on and a sock that was really hard for someone with one arm to get on,” Pickett says. “I saw my younger self and it almost brought me to tears, it is awesome to see something that would have helped me when I was younger. I think a lot of kids will definitely see relief then they see the shoe.”
Nike, which has been rolling out new FlyEase technologies that now span basketball to football to other sports, including a new Metcon6 FlyEase announced last week and the new soccer cleat, not only removed the laces, but created a drop-down heel, Pickett’s second-favorite part of the new design.
“There is no problem getting in it,” she says. “I can’t wear the sock Nike boot because it is hard to get on, but a boot like this helps me get my foot in there super quick and then secure my heel.” She also appreciates that the heel design allows for movement to ensure a personalized fit.
Sarah Reinersten, a member of the Nike FlyEase innovation team, says there were plenty of challenges in creating a soccer cleat with adaptable entry, but one of the things they had to think about was crafting a product that could still function well in the variety of environmental elements soccer players face, whether rain or mud. To protect the drop-down heel, the Phantom GT Academy uses a Velcro strap that wraps the heel and Reinersten says they went for a higher grade of hook and loop compared to an indoor model to ensure it could “take some of the elements out and keep the grip.”
The drop-in heel isn’t new for the FlyEase line, using a similar concept as the Nike Air Zoom Universe in basketball, but the use of elastic chords instead of magnetics provides differentiation and additional flexibility to the wearer. It also makes it lighter for the pitch.
Pickett appreciates that the lack of lacing can help with technique when on the field. “I am a free-kick artist,” she says. Taking multiple set pieces for her teams in Orlando and Australia, she says there have been times she wanted to hit a bending ball and saw shoelaces in the way. “It is going to be amazing for kids to learn and get their art down perfect,” she says. “I have trained in this boot and I love it.”
Having the ability to provide feedback on this first iteration was something special for Pickett. “It is amazing that Nike is asking how they can make something better and asking me, a 26-year-old,” she says. “That is really awesome for Nike and me.”
Expanding into soccer — Picket plays mainly in either the Tiempo or Phantom models — shows that Nike wants to make accessibility a priority for kids across the world. “To have this boot as an option for young players show how much they care,” she says. “It matters what boot you are in. They have done an awesome job to include soccer.”
As someone who also coaches young kids, Pickett knows the constant need to tie shoelaces of 5-year-olds who “cannot seem to keep their shoes tied.” She also remembers times when at a young age she was knocked down on her left side and unable to catch herself, “vivid memories” that wouldn’t be different from a player falling hard because they tripped over untied laces. “You remember that for a long time,” she says. “A boot like this is going to help. You can strap it on super quick and be ready in two seconds. I think that is going to help a lot of youth players.”
Pickett commended Nike for removing the bulk from the strap, reducing it to the point she says the vast majority of players won’t notice id during play. She also says there were so many small elements she noticed as she started really looking at the cleat closer but loved the pink on white aesthetic in a design that doesn’t stand out and scream about differences. “It looks like you have shoelaces,” she says, “without having to go through the trouble.”
Nike launches FlyEase technology for soccer in the Academy level cleat, which releases in September, a lower price point, another aspect that makes it accessible, but expect to see the FlyEase collection grow in soccer. The mainline Phantom GT makes its debut Aug. 3. Pickett hopes getting the Phantom GT Academy onto the foot of a variety of players will help both players enjoy the game and Nike expand the FlyEase opportunities in soccer.
“All the troubles I talk about are actually personal troubles,” she says. “All the struggles that happen at the youth age happen at the pro level but are heightened. I’m pushing them to get something on the elite level and hopefully that will happen sometime soon.” First, though, Nike started with accessibility for the soccer-playing masses.