Nike Football Cleats: Will You Lace Up Like Odell, Russ, or Khalil?

Nike Football Cleats

There are plenty of football cleats out there, but the Nike Vapor, Alpha, and Force lines are truly special.

Want proof? Just check out their game-changing generative design process. Before each cleat reaches your foot, Nike takes actual athlete data from their Sport Research Lab and implements it into the cleat plate. So before Nike introduced the new Alpha Menace cleats, they brought in Russell Wilson to wear-test them and give his own feedback. All of this led to a cleat optimized specifically with the flex points and support that agile players like the Seattle QB need.

We sat down with Kyle Strek and Erin Cochrane, two designers on the Nike Football Footwear Team, to dive into the details and find out what else makes each cleat so unique.


Nike Vapor Football Cleats

The Focus: Speed

The Inspiration: Odell Beckham Jr.

The Technology:

Kyle Strek (K.S.): With the Vapor, everything revolves around being lightweight and getting a second-skin fit. We want these cleats to feel like they are a part of your body. The Vapor Untouchable 2 specifically has a Flyweave upper, and that’s huge because the material doesn’t stretch at all. It’s so tightly woven, if you look closely, there are probably 10,000 ends of thread inside each upper. It’s similar to the seatbelt of a car — it keeps you so locked in and is completely non-stretch.

The carbon fiber plate gives you a lot of forefoot snappiness. Whether it’s a receiver jumping off the line or a defensive back getting in those first few backpedal steps, these speed players are really focused on that area of the foot. This plate gives them that energy return and explosion.

The Style:

K.S.: Here, it was all about showing off the fastest guys on the field, the guys with the most athleticism. Odell fits that idea perfectly. His ability to run full speed forward and switch directions in a split second, how he can jump over people — we’ve all seen the incredible stuff he’s able to do on the field.
Erin Cochrane (E.C.): The designs definitely embody each unique player. For the Vapor, those fast chevron shapes coming from the toe and moving back represent how fast and athletic Odell is when he’s moving down the field.


Nike Alpha Football Cleats

The Focus: Agility

The Inspiration: Russell Wilson

The Technology:

K.S.: For the Alpha, it’s all about that agility. And when we talk about agility, we’re talking about locking your foot down. We do that by focusing on the midfoot area. Flywire around the laces and a Phylon midsole help keep you close to the plate and comfortable. Just like the Vapor, you’ll get some of that second-skin feel because these players are focused on speed too — it’s just a different kind of speed. These cleats are built for making those really quick cuts and creating a lot of disruption on the football field.

The Style:

E.C.: The sharp, almost teeth-like, accents on the Alpha Menace really speak to the quickness of Russell’s game. He’s redefining what a quarterback can do. When a lot of QBs would go to the ground during certain plays, he’s taking a different look at it: running backwards, putting guys on skates. With him, a play is never really over. So the look speaks to that sharpness in his game.


Nike Force Football Cleats

The Focus: Power

The Inspiration: Khalil Mack

The Technology:

E.C.: These are the biggest, toughest players on the field and we really wanted to communicate that. Those oversized cables on the upper speak to the attitude these guys play with. The Flywire actually splays out across your midfoot — they really grab your foot when someone takes a lateral cut, locking you into place. From the inside view, that same Flywire pulls from the arch to help the cleat morph to the shape of your foot better than traditional cleats. We took those learnings from wrestling boots and soccer cleats and adapted it for big lineman.

You’ll also notice that the bottom of the plate is curved. We focused on widening the cleats out so that it fits a lineman’s foot better. We actually put Lunar foam in the midsole with a Zoom bag in the forefoot, so they’re created sort of like a Kobe basketball shoe. These guys are on their toes a lot and that Zoom bag allows them to get that needed comfort and energy return.

The Style:

E.C.: It was our design intent from the beginning to make the Force a cool-looking cleat because linemen traditionally don’t get a lot of love. A lot of the style just came out of the unique insights these players gave us. They consider themselves not just power guys, but speed guys too. That’s why Khalil is the perfect face for it. The Force gives linemen that added stability they need while still making them feel light and fast. And that’s reflected in the look.

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