Foot Care: Base of Operations
They may not be the glamorous part of tennis, but socks and orthotics can make or break a player’s game.
By Kent Oswald
When it comes to gear to help your game, it’s not just about the racquet or the shoes. While they may not be glamorous, socks play a role in player comfort, which will affect a player’s game.
Performance socks go beyond the basics of minimizing moisture around the foot and reducing blister-causing movement within the shoe. They dissipate pressure from foot and shoe contact points, as well as absorb shock and minimize stress on the legs and upper body from quick, heavy movements. Their enhanced ability to wick away moisture also creates a healthier environment.
An improved physical environment is also the reason more players should consider orthotic inserts. While manufacturers improve shoe technology, support and cushioning almost every season, the inserts provide an extra level of customization that can quickly more than pay for themselves through improved endurance and reduced muscle and ligament discomfort.
These product categories may not provide much glitz in a store, but they offer strong customer relationship opportunities. Socks can be sold as an “impulse” purchase right before a customer is rung up, or as a high markup, but relatively low cost, part of a cross-category store promotion. Orthotics sales, on the other hand, are a way for a specialty retailer to carve out a special service niche as well as make customers feel well-looked-out-for, from head to toe.
For fall Adidas introduces the Men’s Climacool X II and Climalite II. Both are low-cut and sold in two-packs ($12), in white, black, blue and gray and are built with acrylic, polyester, spandex and latex. The Climacool features a cushioned heel and toe, while the Climalite has a textured arch compression for support and meshed upper to improve ventilation.adidas.com • 971-234-2300
The Athlete Crew socks ($18) Asics introduces this fall offer a retro look and are constructed using a variety of yarns with robust wicking properties that are complemented by channels created to quickly move moisture from around the foot. Traction pads structured with anti-friction yarns are found at the sole and heel for extra comfort. The line will see additional bright color updates in the spring. The Rally Crew ($16) line, offering sun protection, soft sole, lace pad, and Achilles cushioning, also receives new color options.
asicsamerica.com • 800-678-9435
The Elite Tennis Crew ($9) and No Show (6-pack for $18) socks from Nike are created in conjunction with the company’s footwear designers in order to incorporate a holistic perspective into the functionality. The Elites have arch compression; textured, anti-slip knit soles for traction; an anatomically left/right fit; and reinforced heels and toes; and lightweight ankle support. The No Shows utilize combed cotton blends, arch support and mesh weaves for enhanced comfort and superior wicking.
nike.com • 800-344-6453
The North Carolina sock-only manufacturer will introduce its Experia Nantucket Collection ($14.99) to the brand’s offerings in October. In hues suggestive of New England summers, the padded (on ball of foot and heel) socks are manufactured to offer lightweight foot protection, strong wicking capabilities, and include an Achilles tendon pad as a buffer to rubbing and chafing. During the holiday season the company will promote a “buy 3, get 1 free” in-store promotion.
thorlo.com • 888-846-7567
The recently introduced Carbon Insole ($54.95) provides low-profile support and cushion. It takes advantage of a carbon fiber blend under the heel for stability, durable foam and ventilation perforations underfoot that embrace the foot, reduce the weight and improve heat reduction while also stabilizing the foot within the shoe.
superfeet.com • 800-634-6618
The L400 ($59.95) is introduced to the line for players looking to support medium or high arches. They are constructed of polyester fibers, feature superior wicking and a friction-free, stay-cool surface. The rearfoot has cupping to cushion and stabilize, while the forefoot is neutral. They are designed specifically to support rapid weight redistribution and absorb shock.
aetrex.com • 800-526-2739
The Court Insole ($19.95) is engineered to reduce foot and ankle fatigue, specifically from play on hard courts. The high-rebound foam dissipates shock and the heel and mid-foot “shockdome” cradles the foot and resists lateral torque. A full-foot control bar aligns the front and back of the foot, and the insole will mold itself to fit any arch structure.
shockdoctor.com • 800-233-6956
See all articles by Kent Oswald
About the Author
Kent Oswald is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.
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