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Nike's Future Series Rethinks Sneaker Innovation for Young Athletes

Typically, kids’ shoes look like tinier versions of adult shoes. In many ways they are, though they’re tailored to be lighter, more flexible and easier to put on. After three years of research and development around how to better deliver the unique technology growing athletes need, Nike looked to design kid’s-specific performance shoes from the ground up. 

Doing so required understanding the biomechanics of a young athlete. So, movement specialists worked with kids in the Nike Sport Research Lab to learn more about their movements and preferences. Here’s what they discovered:

  • Because they are lower to the ground, a kid’s angle and movement is more extreme than an adult’s.
  • Kids don’t yet have the foot strength to be mid- or forefoot strikers, so when they run, they are predominantly heel strikers.
  • Unlike adults, kids grow in their footwear. And this growth isn’t just physical; it’s neurological too. Consider this: When in motion, a kid’s body feels the ground, sends a signal up to their mind — which is still learning how to respond to that sensationand their mind then sends that signal back down to their feet.
  • Kids can develop a lifetime’s worth of foot strength at a young age, so being in a shoe that enables them to do this can make them better athletes now and in the future.
  • Kids told the researchers and designers that they like to feel lightweight in a shoe.

Thus, the critical design focus was set on creating shoes that allowed a young athlete to move and grow with these key considerations in mind. In general, designers focused on achieving that through the following:

  • Broadening the foot form in the forefoot to give kids a little more space for their movements and to grow.
  • Using less glue, meshes that were as light as possible and taking away anything that wasn’t truly necessary so they could feel light and nimble.
  • Keeping them comfortable but also protected. (The designers were inspired by a puppy paw, which has a softer surface to provide cushioning that’s surrounded by firmer skin for traction and stability.)

From there, the Future Series — a new running shoe and a basketball shoe — was born.

THE NIKE FUTURE SPEED

THE NIKE FUTURE FLIGHT

This is just the beginning of the Future Series; Nike will look to continue to develop product specifically for the needs of young athletes and from the ground up. The Nike Future Speed and Nike Future Flight shoes will be available July 1 on nike.com. 

Read More: Young Athletes Design