Keep creating shoes which empower athletes at critical moments
In charge of racket sports shoes
How top athletes choose their shoes varies
“Characteristics of table tennis are not only how fast players hit a ball but also how short the time is until a ball comes back”, Toshiki Nakatani, who is in charge of planning and developing table tennis shoes, says.He also says that in table tennis, unless you finish each action quickly, you gradually find yourself unable to keep pace with a ball.
“Lightness and flexibility to support speed and quick footwork are required for shoes for table tennis, but stability and strength are also needed when jumping to a ball or hitting a ball powerfully.Table tennis shoes are required to support athletes’ flexibility, lightness, stability and rigidity depending on their needs.
Many top players wear shoes which are sold for general consumers, and only a few players wear shoes which are custom made for their feet shape.
“In case of players wearing shoes for general sale, they just change inner considering shape of their feet to enhance fitting feeling, so other than that, they wear shoes as the way commercially available shoes are worn”
According to Nakatani, how top players choose their shoes varies a lot.
“Some players prioritize the sense when they actually put shoes on in choosing shoes.In that case, I let them try many shoes first and have them choose the ones with a best fit.In others cases I ask players’ ideal play style and propose shoes with a concept which can help them achieve the style, and then they choose ones among them”
Ms. Miu Hirano, who is a Mizuno’s brand ambassador, is the one choosing shoes considering her sense well.
“Ms. Hirano has a style to wear shoes which match her sense, but she doesn’t wear a certain model for a long time. She is a type of player who treasures her momentary sense such as the fitting feeling at one moment and the color of shoes”
Mizuno created the trend of colorful shoes
Also, many technologies developed for other sports are mounted on Mizuno’s shoes for table tennis.
“Mizuno Wave is a technology born for running shoes whose features are cushion and reducing fluctuations in a horizontal direction, but it is mounted on shoes for table tennis as well since the announcement of the technology.Mizuno Wave might have been able to demonstrate its maximum potential for table tennis since it requires intense actions 360 degrees in any direction.Booty Structure, which was developed to enhance fitting feeling, is also mounted on shoes for table tennis. In addition, Last (shoe tree) which brings unique barefoot feeling was born out of our pursuit of fitting feeling to the utmost limit, and we haven’t changed it for more than 10 years”
Not a few top players are attracted to the functions mounted on Mizuno’s shoes.Ms. Mima Ito is one of them.
On the shoes Ms. Ito is using, a closure system is mounted which can adjust tightness by millimeters simply by turning a dial.She has been using the shoes with this function as she likes the convenience of being able to easily tighten and loosen even during a match”
The basics of table tennis have not changed but balls and rules have changed as well as shoes following the changes over time, Nakatani says.
“Shoes for table tennis had been made with the emphasis on lightness and flexibility to deal with increase in speed, but recently needs for stability and cushion are getting stronger among some of the top players to handle power”
Coloring of shoes which decorates players’ feet is drastically changing too.
“There used to be only models whose dominant color was white, but colorful shoes have increased since the London Olympics in 2012.It’s no exaggeration to say that Mizuno is the one which created this trend of colorful shoes.Now we put effort also into design as we introduce shoes of limited-time color every 6 months”
Nakatani is aiming to create shoes which can lead players to win at the critical time that will determine victory or defeat.
“My goal is to make shoes by which players can reach a few millimeters further and catch a ball 1/100 second faster when they jump on a ball at a critical moment. I will keep trying to create shoes that help players win”