The beautiful game is not always played in beautiful conditions. Mud is a common opponent for all players; it clogs their cleats, weighs down their boots and can cause players to lose footing altogether.
“Mud has always presented unfortunate but seemingly accepted problems. Players are accustomed to clanking their boots together as they exit the pitch or rubbing them over harsh brushes to remove mud. Worse, they play slower and cautiously as mud makes their feet heavy and compromises their traction,” says Max Blau, VP of Nike Football Footwear. “Nike Football is focused on playing fast in all conditions, so we are committed to solving this problem for athletes.”
Nike Anti-Clog Traction prevents mud from clogging the sole plate of Nike’s football boots. The technology was developed over the course of two years with insights from Nike’s design, materials and research teams. Dr. Jeremy Walker was one of several PhDs working on this project, with backgrounds in materials science engineering and chemistry. “There is a reason why this problem persisted for so many generations of players,” says Walker. “It is extremely difficult to solve. But, that’s the kind of challenge we thrive on.”
Nike Anti-Clog Traction sole plates include an adaptive polymer that becomes compliant when exposed to water. Walker and his team initially pursued a variety of mechanical and water-repellent solutions, but concluded none were viable for the lifetime of the boots. Their next approach seemed counterintuitive, but ultimately proved effective. “We stopped thinking about repelling water and started thinking about using it to our advantage to create a lubricious layer, without sacrificing traction,” continues Walker. “Understanding the molecular structure of mud was key to developing a hydrophilic solution, which helps keep mud from clogging the plate.”
“We’ve tested Nike Anti-Clog Traction on players around the world,” confirms Blau. “They leave the pitch preparing to habitually clean the mud out of their studs only to discover there’s almost no mud there. They can’t believe this is even possible, but it is. As we continue to advance this space, we see opportunities not just for football but for all sports that deal with muddy conditions.”
Nike Anti-Clog Traction will initially be available in limited quantities via the Nike Football App on April 19. These special versions of the current Tiempo, Magista and Hypervenom models carry the Nike Anti-Clog Traction hexagon mark on the heel.