The Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf is a fairly unassuming shoe (despite a very long name). It’s not exactly a huge line and it doesn’t have a big name attached to it (Zoom Trout review coming soon). To start this summer off, I tested the Zoom Trout, the Nike Dunk Low What the Super Mario (the .5 was unexpectedly incredible in the grass. The 6 loses that magic traction and also is way too warm to use in the sun), and the Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf.
I didn’t expect the latter to be not only my favorite grass shoe of the group but also possibly my favorite overall. Keep reading to find out what makes the Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf such a great grass shoe.
Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf
- Rundown: The Nike Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf is a turf shoe meant for baseball that also works great for grass volleyball.
- Lockdown and Stability
Traction is always the most important feature in a sport performance sneaker. In the grass, it’s so important that other features are really afterthoughts. Grass gives some cushioning by itself, and on uneven ground, most shoes are pretty unstable no matter what. The best thing your shoe can do is provide traction.
The Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf has soft rubber cleats that give traction in multiple directions. This is an advantage over trail runners, which are primarily meant to grip when moving straight forward. These cleats are soft, loose rubber, so they’re safe and legal (regular cleats are frowned upon because they can hurt other players’ feet and if they grip too well you are risking serious knee injuries). I have tried these on grass that was dry, wet, long, short, thick, sparse, and even mostly dust/dirt. They aren’t perfect, but they are the most surefooted I have felt in grass shoes.
I will add that there is an exception to this: thick mud. I’ll expand on this in the cons section.
Lockdown and Stability
The Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf is not the most high-tech or flashy sneaker, but it’s well-designed. Sometimes the fundamentals are all you need. One of the most important roles of sports footwear is providing confidence in movement. Traction is the first piece of this, but then comes lockdown and stability. You can think of it from the ground up. The outsole should grip the ground without sliding (traction), it should stay relatively flat on the ground (stability), and your foot should stay in place in the shoe (lockdown). If all three of these things happen, you can focus on the sport instead of your footing.
In the Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf, your foot sits a little low into the midsole, which helps it stay in place inside the shoe. There’s not really an outrigger on the shoe, and there’s no added lateral containment, but it’s definitely as stable as any shoe can be on grass. The laces are very basic, but they work great. The Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf has simple, effective stability and lockdown. They’re not as fun or exciting as something with air jordan 38 playoffs or a carbon plate, but they’re good enough that you forget you’re wearing them and feel confident moving around.
The cushion in the midsole is nothing special. It’s Nike Dunk, a relatively stiff foam, and since you sit low in it, there isn’t much under your foot at all. In the grass, this usually doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s generally better for stability if there isn’t too much cushioning since grass can be soft if it’s rained recently. But on dry grass, or mostly dead grass and dirt courts, you can really start to feel the landings adding up. Just think about what the grass you usually play on looks like, and decide based on that.
The traction on these shoes is among the best I have tested in the grass. Trail runners might have a slight advantage, but they have other issues (they’re not designed for direction changes and jumping). These performed excellently in almost all conditions. The exception is mud.
I tested these in a particularly rainy tournament (shout out to the Pottstown Rumble), and they held traction well at first. As the ground became muddy, though, the soft rubber cleats were completely caked in mud, deep into the seams that the rubber comes out of. This happens with other shoes and even trail runner lugs, but not as fast and as severely as with the rubber “cleats”. I tried to keep scraping the mud out, but I ended up switching to other shoes I had with me.
Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf Summary
The Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 4 Turf is not a flashy sneaker (I do wish it came in brighter colorways). It does what it needs to do though, and for that reason, it’s an excellent choice for grass volleyball.
I feel like every shoe I’ve tested in the grass has had a trade-off of some sort. For indoors, most shoes are good and some are great. For grass, most shoes are kinda bad and some are good. This is an example of a good shoe. Its only trade-off comes in either extremely dry weather or extremely muddy weather. In those extremes, you’re probably going to have issues anyways. For that reason, these are my current pick for the best grass volleyball shoe.