17 June 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister Loves: NikeCourt Flare – clever footwear!

July 7, 2015
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Serena Williams isn’t invincible. Hard to believe I know, but just like everyone else, Serena suffers from injuries and niggles, some can be fixed through physio and rehabilitation and others through innovative thinking. Recently, her sponsor Nike has developed an interesting shoe that helps solves a recurring ankle issue. 

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“At the time, I was having issues rolling my ankle,” Williams says. “So I wanted to create a shoe that would give me a lot of stability and make me a better player.”

Armed with this insight, the Nike design team, led by veteran Aaron Cooper, went to work. Cooper’s first task was to convince Williams that, contrary to common perception, stability could derive from less structure, not more.

“Serena was looking for a shoe with more stability that was bigger and more built up,” Cooper says.

“What she actually needed was the complete opposite; something that was less built up and with a lower profile. She needed something that would really work with her as a second skin.”

“The very first seed of the idea actually came from working with a Kung Fu master,” Cooper says. “An insight we gained from him was this idea of unencumbered mobility. The thought is that a product should be an extension of your body.”

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Key to the design is the shoe’s neoprene ankle cuff, the cuff helps deliver awareness of the body’s movement in space, which provides Williams with a feeling of stability and, thus, increased confidence. This helps her attack each shot and make each cut with uncompromised surefootedness.

“Mentally, when you have something around your ankle, you don’t think about it turning as much,” Williams says. “It feels like you have more balance.”

In addition to providing stability, Cooper and the team focused on designing for flexibility. The shoe’s neoprene cuff connects to an internal bootie, providing a second skin-like fit and promoting natural foot motion. A drop-in midsole—meaning it’s not bonded to the overall silhouette—augments this sensation and delivers cushioning directly underfoot.

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Making the shoe lightweight was another key consideration. The NikeCourt Flare’s minimal upper construction utilizes layers of composite material that work together to deliver breathability, strength and durability. In addition, the outsole design uses durability mapping – by studying how tennis players move, the design team added reinforcement only where necessary helping contribute to a lighter, more flexible shoe.

It certainly works for Serena!

Want to find out more?
Cost: £130
Buy: Nike.com

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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