words // Brandon Richard
Not overlooking the needs of younger athletes, the LeBron 12 has been engineered to meet the unique demands of the gradeschool, pre-school, toddler and infant age groups while they develop.
"Across the range of LeBron 12 shoes for young athletes we used Nike research to better understand the anatomy of the young athlete's foot and focused on delivering performance not just style," said Michael Saranthakos, Nike's Senior Footwear Designer for Young Athletes. “We're extremely proud of the whole range of LeBron 12 for young athletes. They represent the kind of innovation and passion that is the hallmark of our commitment to inspire and improve all athletes."
Here’s a breakdown of the tech featured in each size group, courtesy of Nike. The teal ’NSRL’ colorway hits retailers globally on October 11, while the ‘Heart of the Lion’ colorway drops on October 30.
The Grade School version of the LeBron 12 has been designed for the young basketball player who demands the best performance footwear available. Born of dedicated research, data capture and wear-testing with this age group, the Grade School LeBron 12 is everything the young athlete needs and nothing more.
Borrowing visual elements from the adult version there are five visible, hexagonally-shaped EVA foam cushioning units in the forefoot of the outsole to provide lightweight responsiveness where it's needed most. For the young athlete, Nike designers replaced the Nike Zoom Air bags with EVA foam to provide responsive cushioning that holds up to the rigors of daily use.
A Nike Zoom Air bag in the heel delivers the great cushioning it is know for since first introduced to basketball footwear in 1995.
The lightweight Megafuse upper provides great stability and a locked-down feel. It has the added benefit of durability to handle general wear from home to school to the playground to the court.
Traction is also an incredibly important feature and both the Grade School and Pre-School versions share a tacky clear rubber outsole with delta nodes to improve grip on a all surfaces.
The Grade School version has a standard tongue but uses a half-bootie construction for easier entry, versus full inner sleeve on the adult shoe. Hyperposite molded wings on the shoe deliver precise support to the ankle, and the shank in the mid-foot was adjusted to be less rigid so the younger athlete’s smaller foot can flex better.
The physiological and physical realities of the Pre-School athlete require a rethink of how Nike innovation is applied to a basketball shoe that truly enables younger athletes as they learn the game.
The most important attribute is uncompromised flexibility. Kids need shoes that promote natural motion and support aggressive changes of direction and hard impacts consistent with learning and playing basketball.
The rigidity of the Hyperposite wing was modified to be more flexible while retaining the aesthetic of the LeBron 12. The phenomenal traction offered by a full rubber outsole is carried over from the larger versions and the Megafuse upper provides the same great support and durability.
The Toddler-sized LeBron 12 continues to use the durable and lightweight Megafuse upper found on the Grade School and Pre-School sizes as well as laces for a locked-down fit.
The new shape of the footbed for the toddler LeBron 12, including a visibly wider forefoot, went through rigorous development to meet the support needs of this age and size range.
The outsole uses a full rubber cup sole instead of foam to enhance flexibility and provide superb traction on all surfaces.
Infant sizes 1C to 4C, also called crib booties, are for the youngest athletes between one month and 18 months old.
The design of the Infant LeBron 12 features materials specifically chosen to provide comfort, breathability and maximum flexibility for those early months that involve learning to crawl and walk.
A hook-and-loop closure gives a great fit and makes sure the shoes stay on, and the booties celebrate the visual elements of the adult LeBron 12.