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Soccer players love tight shoes!

I’m in the habit of asking customers what sport they played growing up. It’s not the question that you would expect to hear during a fitting for running shoes. If I hear “soccer” or “ice hockey” or “football,” I usually predict that the person is wearing shoes too small. 

People who came of age playing those sports got used to tight-fitting shoes. So much so, that their definition of normal is a shoe that’s too small. When I give them shoes that have the recommended extra room—about 1/2 inch of space between the longest toe and the front of the shoe—I warn them that they won’t feel that the shoe is the right size, they’re going to feel like it’s too big. 

The right size shoe usually makes them feel like their feet are swimming in an ocean. I encourage them to give the right size a try, and that if they do, within a couple of weeks, they’ll never look back at the small shoe.
They normally buy the right size. But sometimes, they can’t make the jump—especially if they’ve been wearing shoes 2 sizes too small. In those cases, I try to meet them in the middle between the right size and the wrong size. Each time they return for another shoe purchase, I move them into a bigger shoe. It’s the sneaker-fitter’s version of playing the long game!

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Phil Clark