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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Adidas Formally Unveils New High Tech Uniforms

I mentioned in a recent post that adidas designed state of the art uniforms for the 2009 All-Star Game. Today at the adidas Court in NBA Jam Session, the NBA and adidas formally announced an expansion of their partnership agreement, signifying that adidas is now the official compression undergarment provider for all 30 NBA teams. The outer portion of the uniforms is 30% lighter than the old uniforms, thus providing greater comfort and freedom of movement. The undergarments are comprised of a TECHFIT Padded or PowerWeb compression layer; the former helps to prevent injury with the strategic placement of foam padding that cushions players against injuries such as hip pointers, knees to the thigh or elbows to the midsection, while the latter uses compression technology to increase performance and boost energy. The performance increases are created by Thermoplastic Polyurethane powerbands that compress the athlete's muscle fibers, allowing for more efficient movements that improve acceleration and endurance while also reducing fatigue.

Lawrence Norman, the vice president for adidas Global Basketball, gave the opening remarks at the ceremony where the new uniform technologies were unveiled. "For adidas, innovation is in our DNA," Norman said. "We were always innovators, for athletes like Jesse Owens and Muhammad Ali and in basketball for legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and future stars that you saw yesterday like Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley and two of the greatest big men in the history of basketball, Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan. You will see a lot of innovations this weekend but for adidas Basketball all we care about is how can we help these great players be one step faster and jump one step higher."

Mark Verstegen, the founder of Athletes' Performance and Core Performance, did an on court demonstration of the features of the base uniform layers, with All-Star Dwight Howard modeling the TECHFIT PowerWeb and All-Star Tim Duncan modeling the TECHFIT Padded. Research by the University of Calgary-Human Performance Lab suggests that the TECHFIT PowerWeb can help an athlete to increase his sprint velocity by up to 1.1%, boost his power production by up to 5.3% (by improving core stability) and add up to 4% to an athlete's vertical leap. According to adidas, the TECHFIT Padded provides for greater flexibility than similar products while also offering 30% more impact resistance. Duncan said that he switched to adidas TECHFIT Padded after suffering lingering injuries and bruises to his legs and hips; he explained that the adidas TECHFIT Padded is custom fitted and offers better protection than the previous forms of padding that he had worn. Duncan worked with adidas to determine the shape and placement of the padding to maximize its effectiveness.

After Verstegen, Duncan and Howard finished displaying the new uniform technology, the two All-Stars were available to answer questions from the media. I asked Duncan to describe in more detail the biggest difference between the new adidas compression base layer and the previous base layer that he had worn. He replied, "I think they are more based for the NBA player. Before, I did wear some protective stuff but they were smaller and the pads weren't in the right places. They (adidas) have done a lot of research in where we want the pads and how we want our bodies covered. They fit a lot better."

Duncan has made it clear on many occasions--including during yesterday's media availability--that he loves playing the game but "could do without" all of the media obligations that go along with being an All-Star. In a sense, that adds even more weight to his endorsement of the adidas products because, as Duncan said, "It's easy to speak out for this because it is something that I actually use and wear."

I asked Howard how the adidas TECHFIT PowerWeb differs from other compression apparel that he has worn. Howard said, "I haven't really worn anything but regular biker shorts. The PowerWeb keeps all of your muscles tight and it lasts longer that biker shorts. Biker shorts are just like regular underwear."

As you might expect, the gregarious and outgoing Howard was more effusive than Duncan; while Duncan described in earnest and serious tones why he uses adidas TECHFIT Padded, Howard spoke fancifully of the "Kryptonite protection" contained in the TECHFIT PowerWeb chest padding (a close reading of the promotional material distributed by adidas made no mention of "Kryptonite protection")--but in their own ways, both players expressed the belief that these new base uniform layers will boost their performance levels while also helping them to avoid injuries.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:44 PM

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