VKTRY Insoles

If you’ve ever seen a pro athlete gift a pair of shoes to a fan after a game, it’s not unusual to see them remove the insoles before handing them over. It’s not because they’re sentimental or embarrassed by the smell. The reason is they don’t want to lose their custom orthotics or performance insoles. These additions to their shoes can improve the fit, better protect their feet, and take their games to new heights.

VKTRY insoles are designed with that purpose. The insole that comes standard in most athletic shoes is generally just a soft, thin layer of foam. It’s primary purpose is to offer another modest level of cushioning. Created by the former Pedorthist of the US Olympic Bobsled Team, VKTRY insoles are made with an aerospace-grade carbon fiber baseplate that not only helps dissipate shock on landings, but propels the foot forward with each stride. It’s intended to add inches to your vertical, and take seconds off your sprints.

Being so much more resilient than the typical insole, the full-length carbon fiber design essentially stiffens the shoe. So when it flexes, it stores energy at the ball of the foot that ordinarily would be wasted, and then releases it like a spring. Videos of the insoles turning shoes into airborne missiles are all over social media. As the brand boasts on the box delivering the insoles: “Warning! Highly Explosive!”


VKTRY has two athletic insole options. The Gold model ($150) is recommended for serious competitors. Its baseplate flexibility and top covering thickness is customized based on age, gender, body weight and sport (tennis and pickleball are on the list). The Silver model ($99) is less customizable, has a carbon fiber composite baseplate, and is meant for more casual athletes. Depending on frequency of use, the insoles last about 12-18 months and can be rotated through different shoes, although cleated shoes require a special model. So they could conceivably last the lifecycles of at least two pairs of shoes.

If you’re going to try the insole—I tested the Gold—the first consideration should be whether your shoe of choice is an appropriate match. It’s thicker than the standard insole, with a more pronounced arch. So it takes up additional room inside the shoe, making for a snugger fit. When I tried it in a couple of Asics shoes, I got mixed results. In the more streamlined Solution Speed FF 3, it was a tight squeeze. However, the boxier Gel Resolution 9 was a more suitable pairing.

Once in the shoe, it’s recommended you undergo a break-in period to get your feet acclimated to the firm feel of the carbon plate, and the energy return of the insoles. Start slow and gradually add time and intensity over several training sessions. After my first few outings my calves and feet felt like they’d been put through a workout. If you jump right in to a best-of-three setter with them, it could put you on the pain train.

In action, the insoles do give a noticeably different response. Rather than sinking into the shoe at contact, these push back. It was purely anecdotal—I didn’t test any measurables—but it seemed most beneficial launching upwards to hit a serve, or sprinting forward inside the court for a short ball. It could’ve been a placebo effect, but I felt like I was just a bit taller and quicker to the shot. I tried them in my basketball shoes to play hoops, and felt the same sensation. However, they did seem less helpful in side-to-side movement, where lateral forces don’t cause as much bend in the shoe.

The insoles are intended to resist the ground at impact to cushion the blow. Perhaps this equates to less shock being transmitted to the foot, but I would still characterize playing in them as a harder ride. The tighter fit and firmer platform can exact a toll. For short bouts of exercise it’s probably not an issue, but in an endurance sport such as tennis it could be fatiguing.

The other more practical consideration is the spicy price tag. At $40, it’s probably worth a shot. $150 might be harder to swallow. Would a player benefit more from running 150 wind sprints or hitting 150 buckets of serves? Perhaps.

On the plus side, if you are interested in seeing if the insoles can make a difference in your game, they do come with a 90-day money back guarantee. And for the serious competitor, think of VKTRY insoles as added pieces of equipment that can improve performance. Getting to the ball a split-second earlier could mean better ball-striking and more wins.

Just remember to remove them when a fan asks for your shoes.