Nike Builds ‘Rocket Ship’ Tennis Sneaker

Nike is the leading footwear brand in a number of sports categories, but it hasn’t shied away from ramping up its efforts in performance footwear for all of the sports the company caters to latetly. Its latest sneaker innovation is set to shake up the tennis world.

The NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly, a court-ready shoe influenced by football, soccer and track-and-field footwear, arrives March 9 – just in time for the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament. It will be available in two colorways: white with volt and black, and an all-black silhouette.

NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly
The black colorway of the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

“If you were to ask someone what a tennis shoe looks like, they would say that it’s usually made out of leather and pretty wide and boxy on the toe,” said Michael Hui, Nike senior designer of tennis footwear, in a statement. “[The NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly] really shatters a lot of those myths.”

NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly
A breakdown of how the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly is constructed.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

The shoe, referred to as a “rocket ship for your feet” by the brand, has been in the works for three years after taking input from some of athletes in the sport, according to Nike. Through dialogue with some of the athletes in the sport, the brand discovered that they often trained by running in track spikes to improve their speed on the court.

Through the dialogue, Nike created a lightweight and low-to-the-ground shoe that boasts a sole inspired by track-and-field spikes, which gives the player the ability for a quick change of direction. The influences from other aforementioned sports are seen in the shoe’s Pebax propulsion plate, hexagonal Zoom Air units and Flyknit ankle cuffs. The shoe also boasts asymmetrical construction – most noticeable with its lacing system – which allows players to cut diagonally across the court.

NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly
A view from atop the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

“The asymmetry of the shoe comes from this idea of being able to quickly move and push off,” Hui said of the lacing and pods on the forefoot and heel. “Tennis is played on the edges of the shoes; you’re moving so quickly that you barely have time to really stand flat. The shoe is designed to provide maximum contact when you’re on the corners.”

NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly
The soles of the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

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