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Mike Trout hangs his arms in front of him, forearms as wide as an L.A. freeway, and leads off on first base. He reads the pitcher’s windup in the #nike Sport Research Lab before he turns and accelerates with three powerful strides as sensors beneath his feet track the force he delivers to the ground. He moves with grace and power, and looks effortlessly natural in linking the two.
Trout, an 8-year veteran of the Anaheim Angels, might be the best athlete in #baseball. The center-fielder is built like a linebacker, runs like a sprinter, and has the footwork of a dancer. He might even be one of the best athletes in all of sport — a staggering proposition, considering that many outside of the ballpark aren’t 100% familiar with him. To the casual sports fan, a star in professional basketball or football is easily recognizable compared to a household name in #baseball, even for a star like Trout.
Calling Trout a star in his sport might be an understatement. The truth is that Trout’s on pace to have one of the greatest individual seasons in league history. He’s unprecedentedly consistent in multiple facets of the game, what #baseball scouts tout as a “five-tool player,” or an elite performer in five areas: hitting for power, hitting for average, game speed, defense, and arm strength. It’s a compliment reserved for the game’s best, and for only a select few.
This was Nike’s challenge for Trout's latest signature cleat, the #nike #forcezoomtrout5: How do you create footwear that enables every conceivable strength of a five-tool player, without compensating in any area?
Nike invited Trout to visit the #nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL) to undergo a series of tests related to #baseball movements. A team of researchers strung sensors across Trout’s body and simulated plays that Trout regularly makes in a game. He took powerful hacks while standing on a foot-pressure mat while researchers measured the force transferred between his feet. He repeated crow-hops from the outfield, that one-two step across his body, as he blasted throws to home plate. The ideal way to equip a five-tool player on the field was to observe a five-tool player in the lab, gleaning insights that would influence Trout's footwear.
Why does this commitment to athlete testing matter? The adage that #baseball is progressing into a faster, stronger, and more athletic version of itself is only part of a bigger reality: today’s players are hungrier than ever for quantitative assurance to back up their performance on the field. Trout, as one of the game’s best, has a voracious appetite for the testing, and he’s eager to infuse those results from the lab into his equipment — a trait that will direct the ballplayers of today into the future.
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