Prof. Tom Kaminski (left) with UD quarterback Trent Hurley, who is wearing the Brawler shoe, and undergraduate researcher Lynn Skrzat.

Bracing for stability

Study assesses athletic performance in novel cleated shoe


4:08 p.m., Sept. 27, 2012--As an athletic trainer, Prof. Tom Kaminski has seen miles of sports tape during his career, including its use as a wrap over athletic shoes to provide additional ankle support.  So when Under Armour developed a new football cleat called the Brawler that mimics so-called “spat taping,” Kaminski welcomed the opportunity to direct a research study to evaluate its effectiveness on University of Delaware athletes.

He explains that a variety of ankle protection devices are available to athletes to prevent ankle sprains, and the Brawler represents an effort to incorporate ankle brace technology into cleated shoes. However, little research has been done to assess the effectiveness of these cleats on athletic performance.

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The UD study was aimed at comparing the new Under Armour cleat with the company’s traditional “Fierce” cleat in a population of student athletes from the football, lacrosse and rugby teams. The 100 participants were tested on seven measures of athletic performance, including various balance, agility and speed drills, with four tests carried out on the field and three in the biomechanics lab.

“The tests were pretty high-tech,” said lacrosse player Domenic Sebastiani.  “We performed the same movements we would if we were playing a high-level competitive sport, and we had the opportunity to do it using a new product. I learned a lot about what goes into testing a shoe from participating in the study.”

According to Kaminski, UD football coach K.C. Keeler himself tried the Brawler on. “He’s a big fan of spat taping, and he was very supportive of our testing the football players,” Kaminski says.  “Also, our student athletes really enjoyed being part of the testing process.”

“This is a good partnership for us,” he adds.  “It gives us good exposure, and some of the data we’ve collected for Under Armour is being used in our ongoing ankle research.  Our test facilities and equipment played a role in UD being selected for the study, and our hope is that the partnership will continue to blossom even as this particular project is concluded.” 

About the Research Team

Thomas Kaminski is professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology and director of UD’s Athletic Training Education Program. Consultants on the project included Andrew Reisman, M.D., and athletic trainers John Smith and Dan Watson. 

Article by Diane Kukich

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