It should be no secret to get a proper fit in a sports shoe. Without a proper fit, participation in athletics, usually beneficial to one’s health, can become a health nightmare. Not everyone who enrolls their kids in sports has the Olympics in mind. Most parents just want their children to get involved in an activity they love and in which they excel. Not only does it build up a child’s stamina and overall health, but it also builds self-esteem. Until poor fit causes the child to stumble, that is. If the child’s coach is one of those overbearing types, s/he might just tell the kid to suck it up. Several overuse injuries later, the child – probably now a teen – has a chronic injury that may last for a lifetime. Not exactly what the parents – nor the child – bargained for. Foot Locker has begun to change that scenario. Its CEO, Ken Hicks, has focused on its shoes. Proof that he’s serious about fit is his chart, outlining Foot Locker’s tips and secrets to good fit – each categorized by sport. Here’s their tips for a good fit:
Basketball — allow a little room. Because a player’s foot has to expand as s/he pushes off the ground to make a game-winning shot, allow about ¼ to ½ inch room between the player’s toe and the toe of the shoe. Slipping heels are a no-no, though, because they can cause the foot to twist.
Baseball and softball — toe room when standing. As a player prepares to pitch, hit, or field a ball, s/he is usually in a standing position. There should be plenty of room for the toes to move, yet the shoe should fit snugly since these shoes have firm heel counters.
American football — snug fit a must. Like in baseball and softball, American football players need plenty of firm protection around their heels. The fit should allow the player’s toes to move, but fit snugly, since foot support for the quick, zigzag movement is a must to prevent twisted ankles.
Tennis — a little toe room, please. Tennis, like basketball, requires that players leap up to make winning plays. About ¼ to ½ inch toe room allows the foot to expand as the player jumps up. Allow some free play at the heel without slippage.
Cross-training — allow some toe room for plyometrics. Many sports require participants to do some cross training to improve their reflexes, strength, endurance and jumping ability. Toe room is a must when athletes need to do plyometrics to improve their vertical leap.
Running — no heel slip. Runners need explosive power without putting too much stress on their joints. For that, they need a little extra toe room and room for the heel to move without slippage, which can cause the foot to twist, putting extra strain on the athlete’s joints.
Track and field — a snug fit protects. Shoes for serious track and field athletes should fit like a glove. Since the heels of these athlete’s shoes are firm, providing ample support for all of the athletes’ repetitive movements, a snug fit is a must.
Soccer — shoes should fit like a glove. Because soccer players are mostly upright, yet have to perform zigzag movements as they move the ball around with their feet, they need shoes that fit like a glove. The heel area is not well-padded and firm, so to avoid blisters, a snug fit around the heel is another must.
Cheerleading and off-ice training for figure skating – allow toe room for expansion. These sports have two things in common – a need to jump and land after twisting movements. To allow room for the foot to expand during leaps, athletes need to allow ¼ to ½ inch toe room, while exercising caution that the heel doesn’t slip, causing twisted ankles and wrenched knees.
Wrestling — snug foot supports a necessity. Because wrestling involves a lot of twisting movements with powerful forces and counterforces, a snug fit is a necessity. Heels in wrestling shoes should hug the heel, since there are little padding and a firm counter.