You hear it all the time; older players and coaches complaining about the lack of black boots on the pitch nowadays. Why are soccer brands not releasing tradition soccer shoes anymore? Lets be honest, they have a point. Over the past few years and with the growth in sales, bright and flashy boot colorways have become the norm. But, what is the reason for that, and is it likely to change at any point soon?
The short answer to that is that up and coming players want to stand out. Wearing bright, flashy boots gives them the opportunity to match their expressive nature and allows them to stand out from the crowd on pitch. But the trend started somewhere else; on the walls of soccer stores.
Things began to change when stores started to notice it was the more recognizable boots that sold in larger quantities, originally that was anything a little more technically sophisticated that won players over. But then color began to take center stage, simply because brighter colors are more visually prominent on a darker colored boot wall. In reality, color sells! It also allowed brands to change colorways multiple times on their latest release, increasing its life span. The emergence of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram (shameless plugs) also allowed brands to quickly spread their name by providing wild new designs for fans to share.
Soccer footwear sales in the U.S. between April 2014 and March 2015 increased 14% over the previous year to $139 million – LA Times.
Wild colorful designs have become such a norm that when brands take to black style boots, it becomes a novelty. Take for example the Nike Academy Pack from a while back. On release, they sold out withing minutes and fans are still trying to find ways to get their hands on a pair.
Those arguing for colorful boots, I’m going to help some of you out here, and not because I like some of the overly-vibrant releases that hit market these days, but more because I see reasons why they can improve player performance.
First, confidence plays a huge role in how you approach and play games. Having boots that suit your style and allow you to express your best self is a vital component to your mental approach on a game. This has nothing to do with the boot colorway improving your performance, instead it is about your mental state. If wearing a vibrant pair of shoes takes you to another level, then serious consideration should be taken on what colors you want to wear.
The second, which has some relation to performance, is how highly visual colors allow you to connect with the ball. This is something I’ve had positive personal experience with in games. On occasion, I’ve had black shorts, socks and boots on at the same time. Looking down, it becomes tough to distinguish different areas, especially where your foot and boots connect. As a result, you spend more time looking down trying to focus on different areas of your foot. If you are wearing a brighter colorway, it creates definition and it is a lot easier to glance down quickly, easily differentiating where you need to touch or strike the ball.
Ultimately, the game is evolving and as a result brands are moving quickly with the times, using exuberant colors and designs as a way to capture a share of the $5billion worldwide market. As much as I love a good blackout boot, I’ve never been quick to judge players that see wild, imaginative footwear as an extension of their expressive nature on the pitch. But there are other players who have a completely different viewpoint! My advice, if you are going to wear something flashy, make sure you live up to expectations……or else you might find yourself on the receiving end of some “friendly” two-footed challenges!
What are you thoughts on the wild imaginative releases we see now-a-days? Would you prefer to see the return of simple, black boots….and if so why?