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Nike Releases Its Most Complete Data-Informed Cleat to Date

At 6 feet 2 inches, star outfielder Mike Trout is 235 pounds of strength and power. He needs to get out of the batter’s box quickly and propel around the bases without losing a second of speed or control. He also needs firm footing and the ability to cut in any direction to catch a deep ball. And, of course, he needs to be comfortable when he’s standing between all these moments.

To enable play at his elite level of performance, Nike designers and engineers have been continually gathering personalized data based on his foot and body movements to refine his signature cleat. The game-changer in this latest iteration came in the form of a new plate structure that is directly mapped to Trout’s performance data for stability, flexibility and explosiveness.  This innovation enables Trout to generate the power and speed to play his game.

The genesis of this dates to 2013, when Nike designers and engineers first used computational design and 3D printing in the Nike Vapor Laser Talon for that year’s football combine. “The athletes did exceptionally well, which proved that these new plates worked,” says Roger Chen, Sr Director, NXT Digital Innovation – Advanced Design.

The team took knowledge gleaned from working on football cleats to inform track and field spikes for the 2016 Rio games. The athlete insights from Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce led to the design of the revolutionary track spike.  “With the extensive research from the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL), we’re able to take athlete data into our computational design process to dictate stiffness and other performance structures at a level of precision we couldn’t do before,” says Chen.  The result is an even more refined, more science-driven product. 

Explicitly, this is the first Trout cleat to move from a solid plate to a lighter, more comfortable and highly personalized one. “Though very different from baseball, what we learned from each of the other sports directly influenced how we built Trout’s latest cleat,” says Chen. “Specifically, the new cellular language that we created for the track and field plates had the benefits of additional stiffness, but were also lightweight and could be tuned for desired performance.”

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The computationally designed plate is derived directly from Trout’s data to provide stability and explosiveness while also dispersing stud pressure.

The team also did finite element analysis (FEA) testing, which is typically a traction test that involves simulating the cleat's performance. “We look at the forces driven by him, and then we try to simulate that digitally so that we can tune the traction and the actual performance of the plates,” explains Chen.

Through computational design, our designers’ knowledge around baseball player movements and Mike Trout’s captured data together were directly used to generate and tune the design of this cleat. “Using Trout’s foot scans, movements and pressure maps allows us to go in and precisely tune the stiffness, flexibility and structures for performance,” explains Chen. For example, the hexagonal structures were compressed in areas requiring stiffness and were relaxed in areas requiring flexibility.  Hexagonal Zoom Air units were placed strategically to distribute pressure as well as provide comfort.

Beyond the data-informed outsole, the rest of the cleat is designed with Trout’s performance preferences in mind. A 5/8-height waterfall collar features foam that wraps over top of collar for extra cushioning around the while the gusseted tongue helps block dirt. The skin overlay at the toe adds durability and the foam wing at the midsole provides stability.

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A lateral midsole wing and integrated TPU heel piece keeps Trout on the platform while rounding the bases at top speed, breaking on the ball on defense and in the batter’s box.

The Nike Zoom Trout 4’s launch colorway, Mahi Mahi, extends a legacy of fish-inspired Trout cleats, each playing off the athlete’s name, personality and love for angling. The theme also connects to the location of this year’s midseason classic, Miami.

The Nike Zoom Trout 4 will be available June 30 on nike.com and at select retailers.

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