Soccer cleats, special shoes designed for the sport, are often tough to purchase due to the many different factors that contribute to how you wear them. Juggling different types, sizes, and brands is often very difficult and discourages a lot of people from dabbling in special cleats, instead opting for bland shoes that will only last a few months.
But fear not, this guide will tell you all you need to know about cleats and how to fit them to suit your soccer needs properly. Without further ado…
How To Fit Your Cleats
When it comes to soccer cleats, disregard any shoe knowledge you may be holding onto. For starters, your shoe size won’t come into play too much.
When wearing cleats, you want a much tighter fit than usual, to keep close control of the ball. It won’t be comfortable at first, and you may experience some foot cramps. However, once you get used to the compressed feeling, it’ll be well worth it. I suggest tying the laces very loosely or just tucking them into your shoe to prevent any dangerous encounters on the field.
Laceless cleats are also becoming very popular in the market. My suggestion, as someone who has used both laced and laceless shoes, is to stick to the traditional laces. While it may not be as convenient, the fitting advantages that come with laces vastly outweigh the benefits of going with entirely laceless shoes that are not as accommodating.
So when trying on cleats, just stick to what feels most comfortable but is still a tight fit, something that feels light, yet compressed. If ordering online, try one size smaller than your regular shoe size, as that is what a lot of professionals suggest.
Materials used in Cleats
There are many different types of materials used to compose the parts of soccer cleats that, depending on your style, can make vast differences in your play.
Here’s a rundown of the most popular materials:
Kangaroo Leather: The most expensive type, Kangaroo Leather, offers a great advantage to the player through both a very soft and controlled touch, as well as keeping the shoe durable for long periods of time. However, due to animal cruelty rights and what goes on to obtain this material, kangaroo leather usually isn’t fully utilized in cleats, more specifically, only in the toe box.
Calfskin Leather: Calfskin leather is a more durable version of Kangaroo Leather. While it isn’t thin, it offers more longevity for the cleats. While it is a bit harder to get used to, it is an excellent material to use when broken into.
Knit: Knit cleats, a more recent type that has exploded into the market, is a sock-like material that offers the player almost complete control over the ball, at the cost of decreased durability and cover for the foot. Due to its thin nature, knit cleats can get worn out easily and quickly. But recently, companies have been using unique covers that help to keep knit cleats in place, so this would most definitely be my recommendation when purchasing!
Synthetic: Lastly, we have synthetic cleats. These are made of anything that is not the top 3, or a mixture of them. These are the most common and most cheap cleats, as they are made of plastic variants and such. And while they’re not the most durable, they offer pretty good control over the ball and are overall pretty well-rounded. I’d recommend these cleats to anyone looking for a more affordable shoe.
Types of Cleats
So now that we’ve gone over the types of materials used in soccer cleats, it’s time to look over the multiple types of cleats and their uses.
When choosing your type of cleats, you should opt for what you see yourself using most commonly. Choosing the wrong type and fit can lead to lousy playing as well as preventable injuries! Here are the different kinds of cleats and how you can use them:
Firm Ground: The most common type of cleats you can find, these are known as the traditional type of shoe. These cleats are made with rubber studs in a specific pattern and are used on natural soccer fields, which most players play on.
Soft Ground: These cleats are used in muddy and rainy conditions when more traction is necessary. These usually come in the form of firm ground cleats with customizable studs. For soft ground, you want to use long, metal studs that are capable of piercing into the ground’s surface. These are often overlooked, but trust me, you’ll be thinking of them when you take a mouthful of dirt.
Turf Cleats: These cleats are made for thin turf fields that are utilized in competition, especially in the high school/college level. So a good pair of turf shoes are vital to have, or you’ll find yourself slipping all over the field. These are manufactured with short spikes at the bottom that are there to keep traction on the often slippery artificial grass. Some cleats allow you to switch plates between firm ground and turf, and they are usually cheaper than having both types of shoes.
Indoor shoes: Contrary to popular belief, these are NOT the same as firm ground cleats. These shoes closely resemble sneakers and are used for indoor play on courts, as well as futsal. These shoes are good to have because they can also be worn out as regular everyday shoes, because of their flat soles.
So now that you learned how to choose your cleats correctly let’s go over some tips for utilizing them to the best of your ability.
- Make sure you go with what makes you most comfortable. As someone who has years of experience when it comes to soccer, make sure that you choose whatever you feel most comfortable with, even if it refutes professional advice.
- Don’t go after style. While I completely understand the pull of a beautiful pair of elegant shoes, the most stylish cleats often don’t offer as much functionality as others and are priced based on looks. I’d recommend a $200 maximum budget when it comes to cleats, beyond that could potentially be a waste.
- Remember that cleats won’t make you a better player. While yes, some grip and tight shoes will enhance your control, your success won’t magically occur because of a new pair of cleats. That only comes with practice and persistence.
And You Score!!!
Now that you’re here, remember to use this guide when you want to purchase a new pair of cleats. Always know that there are many choices out there, and it can be easy to get confused, but just stick to the basics and don’t fall for things that promise instant success. By making sure you get cleats that best suit your play style, you’ll be sure to dominate the pitch in no time!