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Breaking Down the adidas CrazyQuick with Global Innovation Head Al Van Noy

John Wall may have provided an athlete’s perspective on the all-new CrazyQuick basketball shoe, but to get the complete story on the creation of latest performance technology Sneaker Report turned to Global Innovation Head of the adidas Innovation Team, Al Van Noy. Learn about the initial idea that inspired the CrazyQuick, what tests determined the unique design, and what some pro athletes had to say about this innovative shoe.

Interview by Gurvinder Singh Gandu (@gurvinderSG)

What inspired the concept behind the CrazyQuick technology?
It started with the comments we kept hearing back from basketball athletes, which is  “my game is this, my game is about my quickness, but sometimes I just don’t feel like my shoes make me quicker. How can I be quicker?”

This was such a common reaction that we sat down and started conceptualizing, as an innovation team, in and around the notion of how to make the athlete quicker. When I say sit down as a team, I mean it, around the table you’ve got designers, engineers, and biomechanics experts contributing. We asked the science side, “From a biomechanics standpoint, what can we do to a product to make an athlete quicker?” And one of the things that came out of that question was the realization that the less time a basketball player spends with their foot on the ground, the quicker they can be. So if they’re making a move like a lateral cut, if their foot lands and flattens out and then rolls over, that takes a lot of time, which reduces their ability to move quicker. If you can keep the joints aligned in a way that they don’t do that, they can translate that into better traction and quicker movement. That was the insight we needed to take this idea to a different place.

We broke the bottom up so the foot can adapt to the surface, keeping the joints aligned to benefit efficient movement. We began with regular shoes and just started cutting them up, making big cuts to make them super flexible.

“The reaction we got from the CrazyQuick was more unique and different from any other comments we’ve received from any basketball product;  we knew this was huge.”

Did you use a specific model for this transformative process?
Yeah, we took a successful existing basketball shoe to make the cuts, gave it to testers and said, “Do some drills. Start moving around. Now what do you think?” Immediately people said they could move better in the newly cut shoes than the previous shoes. We then brought this insight back to our innovation group and asked ourselves how to further elevate or evolve the shoe.

We then moved away from the cuts to an independent pod structure and put it back on players, the immediate reaction was so significant we brought more elite athletes in to see what their impression was and what they could do in the shoe. They said similar things or added unique anecdotes about what it did, some said it allowed them to flow better, or how it changed their plays, or how they didn’t need to break in the shoe at all. The reaction we got from the CrazyQuick was more unique and different from any other comments we’ve received from any basketball product; we knew this was huge. Once you have that you know you’re on a good path, so from there we analyze the information given and continue to elevate the idea to really maximize what’s working.

Was this meant to be a complete redesign of the today’s traditional basketball shoe?
We started by looking at the entire foot and how the separate components work together. It is truly a holistic idea. It’s not just one thing that makes this shoe unique, although it is easy to point to the bottom of the shoe. When you put the shoe on, you’ll see what I mean by holistic.

This is the first adidas basketball shoe with a Techfit upper, why Techfit and why now?
One of the things we didn’t highlight about the upper is that sensors allow us to test the strain and load bearing that happens to the shoe while in play. Because of this, we knew we needed an upper that stretched and worked along with the bottom segment of the shoe and Techfit was the perfect fit for this.

What gives the upper its structural integrity?
The little dots restrict the amount of stretch on the CrazyQuick upper. So the red you see is stretch and the silver overlay is to counteract the stretch. The strain studies shows how the foot loads into the shoe and how restricted movement is needed in certain areas. The restrictive overlay is basically a TPU injection that restricts or allows movement where needed, definitely a benefit that only Techfit can deliver.

We’ve heard rumors of the adidas Boost technology making its way into basketball shoes. Is that something that’s in the plans for the near future?
Boost will play in basketball and you’ll see a combination of the CrazyQuick in the mix. You’ll probably see something around ’14.

Stay tuned for the latest on all adidas technology as the CrazyQuick collection will continue grow into basketball, football, running and training footwear categories.

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