The world's best finishers — the likes of American Alex Morgan and Englishman Harry Kane — have something in common: Each knows that for every perfect, thrilling set ball goal, there are dozens of toe taps, heel flicks and hits off the outside of the foot. The value on the score sheet is the same, and the most proficient scorers come equipped with a nose for a goal and a litany of skills for converting their opportunities.
"My finishing is a balance between power and placement," says USWNT star Alex Morgan. "It depends where I am in the box, but I'd say my focus is usually 60/40 accuracy versus power.”
That style of finishing is why the design of the PhantomVNM features a series of textured zones to facilitate a powerful strike, but with an understanding that all of the power in the world won’t score without the accuracy to keep the shot on goal. This emphasis is most evident in the instep’s Precision Pwr strike zone.
We teamed up with our research lab to utilize a robotic leg to test strikes from a variety of angles with urethane injected ‘blades’ across the instep,” notes Jeongwoo Lee, Senior Design Director for Nike Football Footwear. “This enabled us to go deep statistically on the impact that the various blade iterations had on accuracy, elevation, power and spin. The lab data helped us land on the exact specifications of Precision Pwr strike zone built for finishers.”
The 13 ridges of the Precision Pwr strike zone are set at specific angles and ascending heights to help keep the ball down if it is mishit and to provide bite on the ball. Much like its counterpart in the Phantom family, PhantomVNM increases the strike zone area by covering the laces, giving PhantomVNM a 30-percent larger strike zone than Hypervenom3. But, PhantomVNM does build off the Hyper-Reactive plate made famous on the Hypervenom3. The plate, which takes inspiration from Nike Free, is flexible in the forefoot for toeing off the ground with torque for sharp cuts. This iteration of the HyperReactive plate also strays from traditional plates by exposing its faceted structure. This aesthetic also carries over to the premium faceted Swoosh.
The PhantomVNM launches January 19 on nike.com. A small-sided version, featuring Zoom Air cushioning, will also be available.