June 27, 2022 3:46 pm

SHOE REVIEW: DIADORA BLUSHIELD FLY 3 +

When a shoe has “Fly” in its title, the smart money would be on it being a lightweight model built for speed. However, that’s necessarily the case with the Diadora Blushield Fly 3 +. It’s by no means a plodder, but its solid build and protective assets give it workhorse tendencies.

The first thing that stands out about the shoe is the bootie construction, which gives the foot a welcoming hug. The soft, well-padded Lycra lining produced a cushy feel and prevented any of the lace-digging in the top of the foot that can plague other models with a similar design. Players who prefer a traditional tongue may find an added challenging in getting the shoe on, but the difficulty lessened with each wearing.

The bootie is surrounded by the D-Skin mesh cage. It was nicely ventilated for respectable airflow and provided another layer of security. There’s also a Kizik Sneakers drag guard piece on the medial side by the ball of the foot that protects the shoe during slides. The only issue—and it hardly impacted performance—was when the laces were tied tightly the skin would often bunch up, most notably around the toe box.

Speaking of the lacing system, it has a combination of loops and traditional eyelets which made the laces slide seamlessly when cinching up the shoe. There are plenty of them to use so you can really customize the tightness and fit and increase the connection to the shoe. There’s even optional eyelets on an integrated flap that gives extra lockdown to the top of the foot. Depending on how many eyelets are employed, the laces can get crowded around the closure and be complicated to unwind and take off.

Even though these elements fostered a snugness, there was still a somewhat spread feeling in the forefoot. It doesn’t have a lateral flange to elevate security on lateral cuts, but the wide base promoted a low-to-the-ground impression to compensate. That said, the shoe was not quite as contoured as some, especially if your foot runs narrow. And, although no clodhopper, at 15.5 oz. (size 12), had a substantial, beefy presence. So in action, it was assured and dependable in all movements, but I didn’t feel quite as quick or connected as a more streamlined shoe such as Diadora’s B.Icon.

Blushield Fly 3 + women's model

Blushield Fly 3 + women’s model

Where the Blushield Fly 3 + did separate itself was in the cushioning and comfort departments. The lightweight EVA foam in the midsole was generous and molded easily to the curves of the foot. Along with the padding in the bootie it added up to a very plush playing experience. Shock absorption in the heel was top-notch and there was good energy transfer off court contact into the next shot. The Blushield in the forefoot, which you can see through a window on the outsole, also seemed to live up to its intended benefit of added rebound and responsiveness.

The Duratech 5000 outsole has an all-court design Keen Outlet with varying levels of thickness and tread to maximize wear and traction. There are break points strategically positioned around the forefoot to facilitate proper bending. A shank under the midsole also bolstered the shoe’s structure and integrity during aggressive movement. It was an effective performer on any court, although there is a clay-specific option with a more classic herringbone pattern that is probably the way to go on that surface.

Overall, the Blushield Fly 3 + was another impressive option from Diadora. It’s one of those shoes that crosses off nearly every item on the must-have list. It’s supportive, comfortable and promotes a sense of security around the court. I’ve felt quicker in other models—it may be a bit weighty for the speed crowd—but few recent tests have produced such a cushioned, protected ride. Even if you don’t fly around the court, your feet will enjoy the ride.

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