If you think the only way to improve ball control is with endless drills, think again and check your footwear. The adidas Predator Lethal Zones, the newest addition to the brand's iconic soccer boot series, promises to increase precision and accuracy with every touch you make on the pitch.
Five Lethal Zones
The Predator has five "lethal" zones: First Touch, Dribble, Sweet Spot, Drive and Pass. All zones are made of rubber and memory foam, and a 3-D print is strategically placed on the shoe's upper for improved ball control, handling and feel.
First Touch features recessed ribs for cushioning, which slows the ball down on contact and facilitates control. Dribble uses sets of spaced-out rubber ribs to optimize grip—especially useful for high-speed dribbling and quick ball contact. Sweet Spot has raised ribs that enable greater speed and spin, so you can send powerful shots to the net. Following the natural shape of the instep, the ribs for Drive are raised with a thicker 3-D shape to create a rebound effect so each pass travels farther. Pass features a sticky 3-D print that extends contact time between the ball and the foot.
"[We] changed the game with the introduction of Predator nearly 20 years ago ... Now the Predator Lethal Zones is setting a new standard for the ultimate in ball control cleats," says Antonio Zea, director of soccer for adidas America. "The game has evolved and players today can influence a match with a single touch on the ball. The five lethal zones on the new Predator allow players to accurately place the ball, whether they are passing, dribbling or shooting on goal."
Supporting the zones is a newly-engineered upper called HybridTouch. It combines the benefits of leather and synthetic materials to provide lightweight stability, reduced water uptake and a comfortable feel in all weather conditions. Predator LZ also integrates SprintFrame technology for lightweight support; and an improved Traxion 2.0 stud shape better absorbs force for quicker ground penetration, leading to faster cuts and on-field acceleration.
Designers spent two years working with elite players like Robin van Persie of Arsenal, Xavi of Barcelona, Samir Nasri of Manchester City, Nani of Manchester United, Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid and David Beckham of the LA Galaxy. The athletes pinpointed areas where previous cleats failed and worked with the adidas team to ensure the best Predator possible.
"In Major League Soccer, every touch on the ball matters, and matches can be decided by a pass too short or a shot too long," says New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper. "The Predator Lethal Zones provides ultimate ball control on the field and gives me the confidence I need when it counts."
Another exciting feature of the Predator: it's the first adidas shoe compatible with miCoach, allowing players to measure, view and share their stats online. The technology includes an advanced accelerometer, which captures 360-degree movement to measure performance metrics during practice or gameplay.
Testing the Predator Lethal Zone
The boot made its official U.S. launch this past weekend during the LA Galaxy/New York Red Bulls game, and STACK was on hand to give it a test drive. We're no Xavi or Cooper, but we definitely noticed improvements in our ball handling when adidas led us through a series of zone-specific drills. We particularly enjoyed the overall comfort and lightweight feel of the shoe. At 7.9 ounces, the Predator Lethal Zones is the lightest soccer cleat to date.
The shoe comes in Bright Blue/Navy/White/Infrared and is available for purchase ($220) starting June 1, on adidas.com and other soccer specialty stores.
Check back later this week for exclusive previews of the cleat in action, feedback on the women's Predator LZ and more.
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