When it comes to playing sports, we all have one thing in common. No matter what sport we play, we are all faced with the same challenge – finding the right shoes. Although we might want the prettiest and/or most colorful shoes, sometimes those aren’t the practical choices. Great consideration is taken when buying sports equipment like gloves, racquets, padding and clothing. But the area in which we sometimes skimp is the shoe department.
I recently sat down for a chat with James Harrison, owner of the website, Sole of Athletes, a site that acts as a virtual mall with links to suggested shoes at leading retailers. Sole of Athletes also provided my shoes for the 2014 Gay Games (gold-medal-winning shoes, I might add!).
Bryan Lee: What made you decide to start a website dedicated to athletic shoes, James?
James Harrison: I decided to start the website because of my love of playing tennis. I have a large foot that is devoid of arches. And every time I went to look for new tennis shoes in a brick and mortar store I could never find ones that fit my “special-needs” feet (laughing). Or if I did, they just looked boring. So I decided to start an affiliate store site that would carry shoes that you often don’t see in brick and mortar stores. I also decided to add some discussion on shoes for specific sports as well as carry sale announcements.
BL: Perhaps the most important question is as an athlete, what things should we consider when looking for new shoes to play our sport of choice?
JH: The specific sport should be considered first and foremost. Sure, a certain brand of cross-trainers may feel comfortable for working out at the gym but they may not provide the correct level of cushioning or stability needed for the more dynamic movements of tennis. Second, the surface where you play the sport needs to be considered. The gum rubber sole used on a badminton shoe would provide too much grip on a tennis court and would never hold up on a tennis hard court.
Third, comfort should be considered. Certain manufacturers make models that are narrower or wider than others. Materials may make the shoe feel heavy or light. If you have ever rolled an ankle before and are concerned about a repeat, maybe a mid-height shoe for more ankle protection would add to your comfort level, both physically and mentally. Fourth should be style because we all like to have a little style in what we wear!
BL: Is there really any danger in choosing a shoe that is not quite right for our sport?
JH: The danger in choosing the wrong shoe is having foot pain, something that will definitely take away your enjoyment of playing your sport. Shoes that don’t fit correctly can also create or exasperate other issues, such as blisters or corns, neither one of which makes for very pretty feet. In addition, wearing shoes that are not compatible with the surface on which you are playing your sport can take away your sure-footed ability. You may slip or slide when you are not expecting to or not be able to move as freely as you expected to. It can even cause a painful fall or crash.
Fast footwork is just as vital to hitting that crosscourt backhand in tennis as it is to delivering the knockout punch in boxing. The soul of an athlete drives the sole of an athlete. It is vital for the soles of athletes to be supported by proper athletic shoes and accessories for their sport. Dedicated players deserve athletic shoes designed for their specific sport.
BL: James, thanks for spending time with me educating Compete readers about the importance of choosing the proper shoes for their sports of choice. If you have questions regarding shoes for your specific sport, you may contact James by visiting his website at www.SoleOfAthletes.com.
Bryan Lee is a National Exercise & Sports Association (NESTA) certified personal trainer, life coach and author who has lost over 130 pounds. Please check with your personal physician before using these health and fitness tips.