Set to be a direct replacement for Speedform, the Under Armour Spotlight is a fresh new silo intended to provide players with a much more dynamic type performance. Rather than the tricky contoured design that distinguished its predecessor, Spotlight takes on a cleaner, rounded forefoot shape. They also comes with an All Eyes on Speed tagline that should leave you with no doubt as to the type of player they are geared towards.
We were one of the first to have a prototype pair in advance of their actual retail release, and have put them through their paces to ensure you have the full scope on what they have to offer performance wise. Here is how they played out.
Check the release colorways now available at soccer.com.
From a personal perspective, I was disappointed to see Speedform replaced – but I wasn’t surprised. The articulated toe box design really didn’t mimic the natural shape of your toes, so heading in a more traditional direction might prove beneficial to the brand as it looks to attract new wearers. If the key fundamentals are unaffected by the design changes, then this could be a real winner!
Breaking In and Comfort
As far as comfort goes, UA has put a stamp on the market with consistency in their releases. Everything about their designs is geared towards ensuring players can wear their boots with utmost confidence. These are no different, although their is something slightly off about the fit through the midfoot, read more about that below. But assuming for a second that they fit your foot shape, the one thing you can expect is pure comfort right throughout.
And everything follows the winning formula found on Speedform. There is no insole in these shoes, so the inner lining is built in and can’t be removed. That is obviously important to factor in if you use an insert. But man, the construction inside the boot is just pure perfection.
From a memory foam style sole lining with mesh to an extra layer of padding around the heel, your feet just feel at home from the very first wear. Because there is no insole, the complete fit feels very natural and connected. The upper material, which we will talk about more below, also has a very moldable feel that plays a role in how comfortable your foot is. This is particularly important through the heel, where a seamless molded heel counter is topped off with the soft synthetic material. It reduces any chance of players getting a blister in these boots – yes, I can say with confidence that the style of these boots will ensure your heel is kept in check without opportunities to rub or cause discomfort. If you regularly encounter heel issues with boots, you absolutely need to check these out!
Performance On the Ball
Clean and secure; these are the best words I can use to describe the feel of the UA Spotlight upper. UA employ a soft synthetic that is one of the most naturally pliable available on the market right now. It does take a few wears to really mold down, but when it does you get one of the cleanest touches of any boot currently on the market. We’ve tested synthetics that feel like the surface of an over inflated balloon, and others that bend like a plastic that has been melted down one too many times. You can obviously tell that Spotlight does not feature a real leather, but the surface has that lightly gripped, gently folding between your fingers texture that just feels right on a boot. I was initially upset that UA had replaced that odd articulated box toe design for something that seems identical to other mainstay speed boots (Vapor and evoSPEED being prime examples) but these are different in a good way. Realistically, dumbing down the design could prove a smart move.
If you are a winger looking for a boot that provides natural touch and allows you to dribble at pace, this is a solid option. I found that they offer quality feel at times when you want to focus more on acceleration, allowing you to keep your head up that extra half second without fear the ball will disappear. The angle of the boot is also very streamlined, as it cuts sharply down across your toes – I love this! It creates a sleek appearance and ensures there is no unnecessary space to reduce the amount of touch you feel.
In terms of striking shots, you don’t get any type of power element; this is a straight up speed focused release. It is not something I had direct issue with while playing, but there is nothing that reduces impact as you connect with the ball on shots, other than the thin upper material in play. It is a very middle of the pack release in that respect.
Side Cage System
It is not something the UA has highlighted or talked about through the boots release, but there is that obvious raised panel that sits on the lateral side of the boot. Without having to think about it too much, you can tell what its role is. A section runs through the lacing system, while it also branches directly under the midfoot and another portion to the heel. This provides some extra strength to the upper construction and is sure to add durability value. Is it something that directly affects performance? No. I can’t say I noticed anything unusual about its positioning or inclusion on the boot. But again, it is an element that provides benefits beneath the surface.
I gotta say, one element of Under Armour boots that has impressed me since the beginning, right back to the Hydrastrike, is the durability provided. I’ve never had a pair bust out and they have always help up impressively right through testing. The same is true with these, as the upper and soleplate but hold a solid mold together and the materials are all in check. When you factor in the comfort provided by the seamless anatomical interior structure, they make a pretty ideal long term option for players that need something that just works. This is especially true for players seeking out a new speed focused option.
Soleplate and Stud Config
In terms of traction, you get 6 misshaped studs towards the forefoot of the lightweight Pebax outsole that increase in height as you move from toe to midfoot. This provides a little extra torque through tight situations and more grip as you plant your foot on the ground. In play, there is nothing unique that stands out from a performance perspective and no areas of discomfort to note. They simply work effectively and ensure you are able to concentrate on your game. I appreciate that!
Through testing, I wore these on both AG and FG surfaces with positive results. They are naturally intended for FG, so that is where they will perform at their highest level. But I also found that on AG, they did a very sufficient job of holding traction without getting stuck in the surface. I’d add them to the list of options suited for both.
How do they Fit?
In terms of general fit, they are true to size. If you have worn recent UA releases like Speedform or Clutchfit, they are very similar lengthwise. For testing, I wore my normal size 9US and right through the forefoot the fit was ideal. Where they are slightly different is in width through the midfoot. The soleplate offers identical shape to Speedform, but I found the upper material sits tighter on the sides, particularly on the lateral side of the boot. It caused some light cramping along the soles of my feet after the first 90 minute game. Since, it hasn’t been a factor but there is potentially an adjustment phase while wearing them. And players that need a wider midfoot should probably look at other boot options!
Spotlight or Speedform?
If you were to offer me the choice between Speedform and Spotlight, I’d be very torn. They both have attributes that directly attract me to them. Speedform was a both that not a lot of people got, and that articulated box did prove unnecessary over time. But I just flat out loved them, especially the wide coverage they offered on the ball. Spotlight is much more streamlined and again they just have that YES factor about them. Where they do lack a little is in the visual design department, something I’m sure we will see UA work on resolving with future releases! Just because I’ve been impressed with them through several iterations, I’ve got to say Speedform. But I’ve got high hopes for Spotlight.
My only concerns lies though the midfoot fit, where I feel some players will find it a little tougher to adjust to the fit. As I read over the, I’m wondering if the side cage cage system plays a role in the slightly tighter fit? It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why they have a more constricted fit that Speedform, but there is a slight difference.
Again, find the release colorways (seen below) available at soccer.com.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: An extremely sleek, lightweight boot that takes UA in a very different direction when it comes to speed. Upper is very pliable, traction is very competitive with other market options.
Category: Lightweight Speed.
Would I Buy Them: I’d like to see a lot more players branching out and taking a risk on these boots. They are not your typical Nike/adidas release but they deserve to be taken seriously!
Player Position: Anyone with an attacking mindset. I place them more in the winger category than any other position on the pitch.