The world of soccer is always evolving. Players are refining their skills, new drills are popping up, and more people are getting involved with the game. As a result, soccer cleats have had to evolve as well. It’s not enough to just put on any old shoe anymore; you need the right shoes for your game.
Choosing the right soccer shoes for your needs is a difficult task as there are many factors to consider. Whether you’re looking for an affordable option or a more expensive one, here are six tips on how to choose soccer cleats that will fit you the best.
Why do soccer players need to wear special shoes?
It is definitely more comfortable to play in cleats than in sneakers. The shape of a cleat is specially made to feel the ball (receive it, move it, and especially hit it).
Soccer players need to wear special shoes, so they can control the ball more easily. One of the most important aspects of soccer is controlling the ball. Soccer players need to be able to control the ball, and they can do that by wearing soccer cleats.
The next reason why soccer players need to wear special shoes is that they are more likely to slip on the grass surface. The small studs on the soles provide extra grip, which is especially important when the player needs to change direction suddenly. A soccer shoe should have enough grip, so it doesn’t become slippery when wet.
Soccer shoes have come a long way since their introduction and usage during the early days of the game. Nowadays, there are specialized shoes for all different kinds of soccer players: forwards, midfielders or defenders. If you’re looking for the best soccer cleats, read on to find out what to look for in these specially designed shoes.
As with every other shoe, choosing the best soccer cleat requires you to look at more than just one thing. It’s the same with every footwear, you need to make sure that your feet fit well into the shoe. One important aspect is comfort, and it’s no different when it comes to these shoes. So here are the top six things that you should consider before buying these shoes:
1. Choose upper material of soccer cleats
The durability, wearing quality, and comfort of soccer cleats depend on the material used for the top of the shoe.
- Synthetic leather is commonly used for cheap cleats models. Although they are inferior to genuine leather boots in many ways, the demand for them is quite wide, especially among young soccer players. Synthetic leather is very durable, long-lasting, resistant to deformation, and does not get wet.
- Polyurethane is a practical and lightweight synthetic polymer. It is a hard-wearing, frost-resistant, and relatively cheap material. Polyurethane cleats do not soak, but, like all synthetic shoes, they “do not breathe” because they do not let air in.
- Flyknit. This comfortable and practical material (developed by Nike) is used for the production of cleats and sneakers. It consists of polyester. The structure resembles a hand-knitted fabric. Flyknit is put on the upper part of the shoe. In the areas where the pressure is heavy, the material density is higher, where the pressure is low and where it is important to ventilate the foot, there is a looser material density.
Flyknit is a lightweight material, it does not chafe, provides good air exchange and flexibility of the foot, fixes the foot securely. The feeling of running on the field in cleats with flyknit tops is like wearing comfortable socks. Usually in the construction of cleat flyknit combines with polyurethane layer moisture-proof layer Nikeskin and carbon sole.
- Natural leather. Any leather shoes are better than synthetic ones and, of course, more expensive. Boots, the top of which is made of kangaroo leather (marking k-leather) — flexible and lightweight. This is a choice for professional soccer players. A low-cost analog closely related in quality and characteristics is calfskin (marking full-grain leather). Any natural leather is breathable so that the feet do not sweat in the shoes. Thanks to good elasticity, the leather shoes quickly adjust to the shape of your foot (that’s why natural leather is often used to make soccer cleats for wide feet), providing the player with comfort and the ability to control the ball. Of course, natural leather wears faster than synthetic and soaks, so playing in leather cleats on a wet field is not comfortable.
The above classification is very tentative because:
! Soccer cleats manufacturers often use combined or mixed materials, which have improved characteristics due to modern production technologies.
! Water resistance of a cleat depends not only on the material, it mostly depends on the quality and tightness of seams, especially in that place where the top meets the outsole.
! With the right and timely care of your soccer shoes (cleaning your soccer cleats with special agents, waxing, proper regular drying), both synthetic and leather shoes can last a very long time.
2. Choose soles of soccer cleats
The choice of soles depends on the type of surface to be played on. Shoes with spikes are chosen by players to play on natural or soft artificial turf, and without studs — to play in the halls on a hard flat floor.
3. Choose insoles of soccer cleats
Even in the highest-quality cleats, the insole may not be very comfortable, as it does not take into account the individual physiological characteristics of the player’s foot. It might be worth considering custom insoles tailored to the shape of your foot.
4. Consider a kind of surface you’ll be playing on
Choosing the right soccer shoes largely depends on what type of field you’re playing on. Different surfaces need different types of cleats. Wearing the wrong ones can result in a lot of ankle injuries and bad mobility.
- Hard Ground (HG). Hard ground cleats are recommended, then you need a shoe that performs well on rock-hard surfaces or a patchy field with spots of hard dirt. A low-profile shoe equipped with conical studs. Rather than digging into the ground, these shoes sit on top of the field.
- Soft Ground (SG). Cleats for playing on natural lawns with the soft ground (wet grass lawn and soft ground surface). The sole has molded or removable studs for good grip on the field surface. Usually, soft ground cleats typically have 4 studs in the front and 2 placed under the heel. These are especially liked by defenders and goalkeepers. Goalkeepers play in these boots because they need very good grip on any surface, and they make a lot of jumping and sideways movements.
- Firm Ground (FG). Cleats for playing on natural turf (dense, slightly damp, hard ground rarely turning to mud). They typically feature ten to fifteen conical or bladed studs, which provide grip and comfort by distributing the weight over the entire foot area. The FG cleats are designed for high speeds and are considered versatile by professionals.
- Artificial Grass (AG). Cleats for playing on the artificial surface. The sole has many conical studs of different lengths, which provides perfect grip on the field. This design also reduces the pressure on joints and knees in the harder artificial surfaces. While AGs are good for both hard and soft surfaces, be careful you don’t use soft ground or hard ground cleats on artificial surfaces.
- Indoor. These soccer shoes designed for hard and glossy indoor soccer courts. They usually don’t have studs and look like traditional sneakers, but include high-performance rubber soles to ensure better traction on hard surfaces. There are two types of soccer shoes when it comes to indoor soccer: futsal soccer shoe and indoor turf shoes. One clear difference between indoor turf shoes and futsal soccer shoes is that the turf shoes have rubber spikes on the soles, so they are better adapted for turf surface. Futsal shoes have a flat rubber sole instead.
There are a lot of different types of soccer pitches on varying surfaces and due to this, top brands make shoes with both firm ground and artificial ground outsoles. The hybrid cleats have certain names, the most popular are: F×G, MG, FG/AG. These models have more studs than the other cleat types and is best suited for children. Due to the large number of cleats, the pressure is evenly distributed over the foot. They can also be used by adults, as these cleats are well suited for playing on hard fields.
5. Consider your playing style
Some soccer players are playing with a focus on speed, while others prefer control and sharp passes. You know your playing style better than anyone, so don’t forget to incorporate it into your decision-making process.
Cleats for speed
Designed for speed, cleats are usually lightweight and have a thin top for increased responsiveness. They also have an aggressive stud pattern for fast acceleration. These speed style cleats are very popular on the market due to their visual appeal and their elegant profile.
You will see them regularly used by the iconic forwards of the professional soccer league.
Speed-conscious players prefer these aggressive blade-shaped studs on the outsole to accelerate and emphasize game traction. Blade studded cleats are suitable for strikers and forwards who want better response at high speeds.
Cleats for finishing
Focusing on agility, soccer cleats are the perfect combination of control and aggressive pulling of the sprint. It has a clean batting function with a firm grip and a comfortable feel when playing by passing the ball.
Finishing cleats stud patterns are generally a combination of conical studs and bladed studs with improved traction and turning and pivoting characteristics. Finishing cleats are relatively lightweight and feature a flexible top and a balanced stud pattern. They generally provide a clean striking zone for shooting and passing, but it’s believed that they do not always provide the best protection for the player’s foot.
Cleats for control
Control-focused cleats are suitable for players who want to maintain contact with the ball in-game. The control cleats provide a comfortable and calm atmosphere while improving the grip on the playing surface. These soccer boots are usually suitable for midfielders, with more padding for added protection. These cleats tend to be wider to make the player’s foot feel more natural and comfortable. The studs pattern depends on the style of this shoe, but control cleats usually have a combination of bladed and rounded studs for agility and traction.
6. Consider your playing position
To compete at the highest level, it’s important to find soccer cleats that are tailored for your position. For example, midfielders should not be running around wearing cleats for goalkeepers.
Cleats for goalkeepers
Goalkeepers have specialized needs when it comes to their footwear. For example, they may need a firm grip for gripping the ball, which means the shoes should be comfortable too. They will not need to run as much as other players, so don’t worry about shoe weight, that’s not an issue.
Cleats for defenders
Defenders take turns playing both offensive and defensive at different times, which means they can choose from a wider variety of cleats to suit their style. There are speed cleats for accelerating, control cleats for precision and stability, and everything in between.
Cleats for center-backs
There are a lot of different roles a center back has to do throughout the course of a game. In order to help with these, they require a shoe that offers them endurance, protection and control. Soccer center-backs should wear cleats which make it easy to pass the ball from the defense, through the midfield and out to wingers.
Cleats for center midfielders
Center midfielders need a shoe with great traction and ball contact to do their best on the field. The midfielders need a soccer shoe that give them a good contact with the ball. The shoe should provide stability, a clean striking surface, and a comfortable wear. Also, the shoe should suit the midfielder’s creative and controlling nature, without over-emphasizing technique, agility or passing skills.
Cleats for wingers
Wingers are known for their excellent technique and high speed. They need shoes that provide good traction, touch, and cross control for the necessary technical footwork. Typically, a winger suits a lightweight shoe with thin uppers and studs that allow the player to have high acceleration and maneuverability.
Cleats for forwards/strikers
Forwards need a specialized soccer cleat that aids them in their aggressive position on the pitch. They should provide enough grip for tricks and dribbling, as well as clear or striking surface.
Striker cleats help create good contact with the ball and provide optimal traction, so you can take off faster for a heightened sense of speed. For starters, they provide specialized uppers for better control over the ball.
The most obvious feature while looking for a comfortable pair of soccer cleats is the fit. A good pair of shoes should fit snugly on the foot, but neither should they be too tight or loose. While this might sound straightforward, a lot of people tend to go for the tightest pair they can find without paying attention to additional features. This might not be a good idea if you’re on a very tight budget, so keep that in mind. Instead, focus on finding a pair of shoes that are comfortable as possible, but still provide good support and cushioning.
It is better to lace shoes while standing up, as it allows the foot to take on its natural shape. Sitting down leads to less pressure on the foot and the dimensions of the foot are sometimes different.
When trying on cleats, you can try walking around in them, jumping and squatting a little. If you’re going to be playing in the winter or outdoors, it’s better to measure them with an extra pair of socks.
Trying on soccer cleats has its own peculiarities. Shoes with synthetic uppers are tried on according to one rule, cleats made of natural leather according to another.
- Polyurethane. Due to its elasticity, cleats made of this material break-in quickly, so the foot during the fitting should sit tight, but so that there is a small gap between the toe tips and the toe.
- Flyknit cleats can be chosen to accord your size. The material does not stretch, the shoe remains the same when you try it on. Flyknit is flexible enough to fit the foot anatomically.
- Synthetic leather and polymer cleats are better to take with a small reserve — half a size or a size larger. During a match or training, the feet, experiencing high stress, can swell. If you buy size-for-size synthetic leather cleats, your legs will quickly get tired during the game.
- Cleats made of thin and soft kangaroo leather can be bought even a little tight. After a couple of games, the foot will feel like a sock.
- Calfskin cleats are usually bought exactly the right size.
Read our article on how to break in soccer cleats — The Best Ways To Make Your Soccer Cleats More Comfortable
Another thing to consider when choosing soccer shoes fit is the width of the sole. Different soccer cleats come with different widths of soles to help you control the direction of the ball once you have it in the air. It’s important to note, though, that a narrow sole will make you feel more comfortable on the field, but you will be slowed down when you land. Therefore, it’s usually a good idea to buy a wider pair of soccer cleats to be both as comfortable on the field and to keep yourself from running out of room when you take off.
Durability is one of the main things to consider when buying soccer cleats, since they will be used a lot. This is why lightweight and durable materials are usually the best bet. A good pair will last you a long time, depending on the type of playing surface you’re playing on. For instance, on soft ground, Nike and Puma soccer cleats can be quite durable, especially if you don’t use them on hard surfaces. On the other hand, Puma and Adidas specialty sports shoes are more durable on grass.
As soccer has become such a popular sport, many manufacturers have started creating specialized shoes for players. There are soccer cleats are especially designed to work well with wide feet. If you have wide feet, you’ll definitely want to get a pair of specialty soccer cleats to show off your skills.