One of the benefits of working as a member of the sneaker media is the occasional privilege of checking out and maybe even trying out kicks before they release. In the case of athletic shoes, companies might even take the time to invite you to their headquarters along with other members of the media to try out these said shoes. And in some cases, they might even make you participate in drills and exercises in middle of their campus in front of people of play these sports for a living.
As somebody who has very little experience in soccer (last time I played was in high school P.E.), you can only imagine how well that went.
The pitch, pardon the term, behind the Nike CTR360 Maestri III is that it was designed for somebody who would define themselves as a maestro on the field. In order to become a maestro, you have to be able to control the soccer ball with utmost precision and style not unlike what you would see during the famous Nike Freestyle commercials of a few years back. To do that, the Maestri III uses a Kanga-Lite II synthetic material for its upper, which was also called the “3D control pad.” This works for people way more talented than I am to essentially be able to manipulate the ball in a way that allows you avoid defenders while keeping it in a safe position. The symmetrical lacing system allowed for the control pad to be even more prominently placed on the cleats.
During our tests with the Maestri III, it did not feel like the ball was sticking to the cleats like the name implies, but it what it does do is rub up against the cleats softly and allows me to position my feet in a way that it feels like I’m in total control when I take a shot at the goal. One of the drills asked us to kick the ball off several walls and whenever the ball came back to my feet, the padding made it feel like I was able aim my shot a lot better than I would have with any other shoe.
After we went through a particular drill, the instructors would ask us to grab a spray bottle and douse our feet in water for a few seconds. The idea was that even though our feet were wet, we would not feel the difference. To my surprise, that actually turned out to be the case. An evolution of the classic Nike All Conditions Gear concept, Nike All Conditions Control kept my feet dry even though my cleats were soaking wet. The ball felt slightly looser when the Maestri III was wet, but that might have more to do with me being a soccer noob more than anything else.
Once we completed all of our drills, it was time take the field for some brief seven-minute matches. As you might imagine when you get a bunch of journalists on the field, it was far from the “beautiful game” that people like to call soccer, but I felt extremely comfortable in the cleats. While I might not have any clue as to how to play defense (or offense) in soccer, I was able to make a play for the ball when necessary with sharp cuts without feeling bogged down when I use a training shoe.
While I cannot speak for any other pair of soccer cleats in the market, the Nike CTR360 Maestri III is an excellent pair of shoes regardless of sport. The ease in which somebody can slide into the shoe and the comfort you feel while running the field makes it great for just training with or without a soccer ball.
For a look at Day 1 of the Nike Soccer Immersion event, click here.
The following review is based on a pair of the Nike CTR360 Maestri III given to us by Nike to test out on the Nike campus in Portland. The firm ground version of the cleats is available now for pre-order for $200.00 at Nike’s online store and will ship on August 2nd.
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