Soccer cleats, soccer boots, football boots, turf shoes, indoor shoes whatever you prefer to call the soccer shoes you use for the field(s) you play on; picking the correct pair can be difficult, especially when shopping online. The options from brands and budgets to silos and colorways makes it complicated and Soccer365 helps break it down so you can select the perfect pair.
What Brand Are You?
The first question you should ask yourself is what (if any) brand do you want to wear. The top soccer brands are constantly using new technologies to make cleats lighter or provide better control or traction while pouring more and more money into marketing the advances and advantages that latest edition provides.
For some players selecting a cleat starts with asking whether you have any brand allegiance.
Nike and adidas are the top selling soccer cleats followed by Puma at a distant third and Under Armour making an effort to up shake-up the top 3 while the likes of Asics, Diadora, Joma, Lotto, Mizuno, New Balance, Umbro, and others have their own niche and core of loyal followers.
A favorite player whether you are a Cristiano Ronaldo (Nike), Lionel Messi (adidas), or Sergio Aguero (Puma) may be the motivating factor to select a brand.
What is Your Budget?
The second questions is possibly the most important to narrowing your search. What is your budget? Cleats can run anywhere from $20 (usually a sale price) to $200+ for the top of the line cleat. While the colorway for various price points may be the same the technology is not.
For example, the $200 could have a K-leather upper with breathable sockliner, maybe a second insole insert, and most advanced (lightweight and flexible) outsole. Some of these features are replaced with each price drop with the lower price point being a faux leather upper, a non-breathable sockliner, no additional insole insert, and less advanced and heavier outsole.
You get what you pay for when buying cleats and the Soccer365 team recommends players that are no longer growing are well served to save for the top level cleat or the next highest price point. The cleats will be more comfortable usually not cause blisters even when first wearing, last longer if cared for properly, and most important perform better.
For younger players who grow out of their shoes in a season or two, S365 recommends first looking for sale shoes so you can get more bang for your buck. And we have found that smaller sizes tend to be the last to sell out so frequently you can get good deals on the smaller sizes. If this does not work, look for cleats that have the most similarities with the higher price point cleats in the silo. NEVER purchase one size larger than your player wears so they can grow into them.
Now that you have narrowed your search before looking at specific cleats, let’s fine tune to find the perfect cleat.
What Type of Field Do You Play On?
Soccer fields vary from the first-rate soft grass to over-played hard grass fields to newer forms of artificial grass to gym floors. The condition of the soccer field(s) you regularly play on will help determine the type of outsole for your cleat.
Soft Ground (SG)
Well-maintained fields are ideal for Soft Ground (SG) cleats. SG cleats’ studs are designed to cut into the grass for reliable traction so some or all of the studs are designed with this in mind, usually either bladed or a tapered conical stud. The studs can be longer and sometimes are removable to allow players to customize the studs depending on the field conditions. SG cleats usually only come at the higher price points.
Professional players usually wear soft ground cleats. The soft ground cleat designs have recently started to feature a combination of removable metal studs and fixed studs.
Firm Ground (FG)
The most popular type of cleat is designed for Firm Ground (FG) fields. These are so popular because of their versatility. FG cleats play well on soft ground fields as well has firmer/drier fields and even stand up to the test of most artificial grass fields. The studs are molded onto the soleplate and feature conical/bladed/triangular studs or a combination of these shapes.
Hard Ground (HG)/Artificial Turf Shoes
Hard Ground (HG) cleats are for fields with compacted soil/dirt. These fields sometimes have bare spots in the grass or no grass at all. HG cleats have shorter rubber studs evenly distributed on the soleplate. They sometimes feature addition smaller knob studs. They material and placement of the studs increases traction to help the player feel they are in control and not give the feeling of ‘skating/slipping’ on the field.
Artificial turf fields make soccer purists shake their heads but they are a part of the game. These shorter ‘fake’ grass developed in the 1970’s to use at indoor facilities is used both for indoor soccer and on high usage outdoor fields. The shoes have smaller and shorter studs evenly distributed on the soleplate so that they entire outsole can provide stability and traction.
Artificial Grass/Hybrid (AG)
Artificial Grass/Hybrid (AG) cleats are a new design to meet the needs of the more realistic artificial grass fields as well as players regularly playing on a variety of fields. The soleplate features a combination of longer molded studs along with shorter studs. adidas is leading the way with their soleplate of the X and Ace silos.
Small Sided Game Shoes (Indoor Shoes/Futsal Shoes)
Small sided games are changing the look of the game both on the field with the fewer players required and with the design of the shoes geared for them. Small sided games do not rely on a tradition field and can pop up anywhere from the unused neighborhood blacktop or tennis court to indoor basketball courts. The low profile shoes with flat gum rubber outsole are closer in design to basketball low tops than the traditional soccer cleat. The flat outsole is ideal for these hard surfaces and also better suited for the game where the bottom of the shoe is turned to for control. Increasingly, brands are making these shoes have a comfortable leisure or street feel as many players seamlessly transition from a work/school look to their on-court look.
Women’s Soccer Cleats
For years the only option for women soccer players was to use a ‘men’s’ cleat. These are usually wider and require the female player to find the perfect fit since most men’s shoes run big. This is starting to change with more brands making a women’s specific cleat available. This makes sense with the growing number of female players in the U.S. and around the world since the 1990’s. Women’s soccer cleats are designed on a smaller and narrower last (foot mold) to provide a truer fit which improves touch and control on the ball. The options are still relatively limited so when buying a ‘men’s cleat’ females need to order a size and half down.
What Size Cleat should I Wear?
The right size cleat is critical to your game. Maybe even more important than any other factor. The goal is to have a snug fit that keeps your foot from sliding side to side of front to back. The width is pretty standard in relation to the size (except for player’s with wide feet) so getting the right size is important. The ideal size cleat has the end of the player’s toes 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the front of the cleat.
Keep in mind that natural leathers will stretch some during the breaking-in period so a tighter fit is common when first pulling them on.
The Soccer365 team does NOT recommend buying cleats a 1/2 size or full size too large to ‘grow into’ even for younger players. Over sized cleats (even when wearing multiple pairs of socks) allow your foot to move inside the cleat resulting in blisters or injury. We recommend searching for sale cleats for players still growing to make sure you get the right fit.
Soccer Cleat Materials
After selecting the type of outsole your game requires, the next most important factor to consider is the material of the upper. The upper plays a huge role in the comfort, fit, control and price of the cleat you select.
The uppers on soccer cleats come in 2 basic materials – leather and synthetic. They both have benefits so knowing your priorities and what each provide is important.
Leather cleats were the standard as recently as 20 years ago and has been the go-to material for cleats (and all types of shoes for that matter) for hundreds of years. Leather provides the soccer player with a comfortable and snug fit (leather tends to mold to the unique shape of the player’s foot) which translates into great control on the ball. Leather also offers better protection as it tends to be thicker than synthetic cleats.
The drawbacks to leather cleat is that they usually require some time to break-in. During this time the leather molds to your foot and stretches some so for ideal fit players sometimes like to order a ½ size smaller than their normal sizing to allow for some this natural working of the leather. And leather cleats tend to absorb water and can become heavy in wet conditions and require regular care by the player.
The stories of the reserve squad players cleaning the football boots of the senior team at English clubs are legendary. The task of cleaning the first team players’ boots was part hazing and earning your spot in the club but part necessity to keep their boots in top condition.
Kangaroo Leather (K-Leather)
The most common leather used for soccer cleats is Kangaroo leather (sometimes referred to as ‘k-leather). Kangaroo leather is lightweight and soft relative to other natural leathers (calfskin and full-grain) but durable. The highly uniform fibers of k-leather is what makes it possible to be thin yet relatively durable and why it is used by so many soccer cleat brands.
This combination makes it ideal for soccer players with many swearing by the material and wearing nothing but K-leather.
There is a reason the adidas Copa Mundial is the best-selling cleat of all-time as well as one of the best-selling cleats each year.
Calfskin and Full-Grain Leather
Calfskin and full-grain leather cleats are not very common these days but we will touch on them briefly. Customers sometimes have questions after seeing these materials on auction sites or limited edition runs of cleats.
Calfskin leather is known for its durability, ability to retain its shape, and water-resistant qualities. Pittards leather was used for years to make the Puma King although has not been used in recent editions of the classic cleat. Pittards leather is specially treated to help retain softness and make it more water resistant and dry faster.
Full-grain leather is thicker (heavier), more durable, and water resistant but require time to break-in and tend not to be as comfortable or provide as reliable a touch on the ball.
Synthetic uppers have become more and more popular over the last decade. They first were used for faux leather look and feel but increasingly the use of synthetics coincides with brands looking to provide more technological advances (most notably lighter weight) for their cleats.
Synthetic cleats are water resistant, require minimal care, and of course can easily be made in bright and bold colors. The drawbacks with most synthetic cleats are they are less comfortable, tend to not provide as good of control on the ball as leather (although this is becoming less of a factor with more technological advances), and don’t provide as much protection for the player’s feet.
But keep in mind that not all synthetic cleats are created equal. Synthetic uppers range from ultra-thin to somewhat thick and heavy, some are designed with outer coating to help with control while others don’t include this feature and can make the touch on the ball slick, especially in wet conditions, and some synthetics are breathable allowing your foot to stay cool while others are not.
What is Your Playing Style?
The idea of position specific soccer cleats is a relatively new concept and more marketing ploy than hard science. Generally speaking, cleats for the goalkeeper and defenders provide more protection to keep the player’s feet safe in challenges and so tend to be leather for added protection for the foot in challenges.
The midfielders’ cleats are geared to control and creativity in tight spaces and usually have an upper with features to help control and serve the ball while the soleplate has stud configuration to maneuver.
Speed and a lethal touch is the key for attackers so cleats targeted for them are usually lightweight with a clean strike zone to improve power and a stud configuration to maximize acceleration.
All that being said, there are great strikers that wear midfield/defender designed silos and vice versa.
What questions do you have about buying your next pair of soccer cleats?
Shop a great selection of soccer cleats at World Soccer Shop.