Soccer shoes, better known as cleats, are special footwear tailored explicitly for playing soccer. These shoes distinguish themselves by providing unmatched control of the ball and superior grip on the field that takes your soccer game to the next level.
Cleats come in various shapes and sizes. Most importantly, they are categorized by their surface type. Soccer shoes should sit comfortably on your feet and allow you to have the utmost command over the ball. If you’re starting in your school’s league or are looking to score a pair of new cleats that best fit your playstyle, this guide will be useful to you.
Types of Cleats
Some players prefer playing indoors on a gym court, while others love the feel of natural grass. We’re all built differently with contrasting preferences. Depending on the type of field you play on, you will have to choose the appropriate cleat. This will define how your shoe reacts to that particular surface and benefit your game.
There are six different types of fields most players will compete on, and there are specific cleats designed for all of them. Knowing your field better will allow you to be tactful and help you choose the right cleats for you.
Firm Ground Cleats
FG Cleats have either plastic or rubber studs that you cannot remove. Because of the nature of grass, the studs are shaped in a bladed style, so you don’t cut through the grass more than you need to. Conical studs, or a mixture of both, are also quite common in this type of cleat. Most FG cleats coming out nowadays are designed to work great on artificial grass as well, making it quite versatile for newcomers to the game.
You need studs that will tear through that cushiony grass with dexterity. The surfaces can get dirty because of the dampness when mud emerges, so the cleats come with metal studs. These are screw-in (detachable) and even replaceable, so you can take these off if you want slightly less traction on the ground. Some pairs even come with specialized metal tips you can add for added grip.
Artificial Ground (Grass)
Studs are evenly placed throughout the soleplate to distribute pressure and prevent any stress on your foot. The studs are round in shape and made from rubber, just like the soleplate itself. They’re also shorter in length as compared to Firm Ground cleats. Because AG is perfectly cultivated, the studs do not penetrate the grass and provide excellent traction on the surface.
The relevance for these types of cleats has died significantly as more and more companies focus on creating a better hybrid/multi ground cleat that works both on artificial turf and Firm Ground, with studs suitable for either instance.
Turf (Artificial Turf)
These have even shorter studs than AG, and the quantity increases substantially as well. The studs are distributed very evenly, creating an easy and comfortable fit for the player. The inner sole is made out of rubber instead of hard plastic; it often includes a midsole for maximum comfort and cushioning. The studs are rounded just like AG cleats but are placed more closely for better weight distribution.
Hard Ground/Indoor Turf
The cleats consist of a flat rubber sole with almost no studs and the smallest studs otherwise, enough to grip the court. They have a low-key design and are closest to everyday fashion sneakers you can wear outside of play.
Lastly, we make our way over to the Frankenstein of cleats. This isn’t meant for a particular surface type but instead designed to fit more than one type of field. Perfect for players just starting or those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on multiple pairs of cleats.
MG cleats provide excellent traction and comfort on both Firm Ground and Artificial Ground while offering different variations in style and specifications that best suit your needs.
Now you know all about the surfaces you can enjoy soccer on and the cleats to go along. But what if you need a recommendation? Worry not, as we have hand-picked select options from each category to make your life easier.
- Firm Ground: Nike Phantom GT Pro Dynamic Fit FG
- Soft Ground: Adidas World Cup Cleats
- Artificial Ground: PUMA Ultra 1.1 FG/AG
- Turf: Adidas Mundial Team Shoes
- Hybrid: Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 Academy MG
These are some of the best cleats you can buy to elevate your soccer game to the next level. Each pair represents quality, comfort, traction, and style that is sure to leave your rivals stunned. Just make sure you play your best instead of depending entirely on the shoes.
The Extra Constituents
There are a couple of other essential elements that allude to choosing the right cleats.
- The material used in making the shoe is significant. While most cleats are made from a type of leather, many newer shoes opt for knit, which is a sock-like fabric that’s highly flexible and very comfortable to wear. Synthetic boots are also making their way into the scene; these shoes are made to fit, meaning they won’t break in over time and provide maximum agility on the field.
- Consider what type of player you are. Not every cleat is right for you. Just because you play on Firm Ground doesn’t mean every FG boot will suffice. The cleat depends on your position in the game. Whether you’re a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward, every position prioritizes different attributes.
- For goalkeepers, you’d want shoes that provide ease in rapid movements while still having the power to sustain a long free-kick. In contrast, a striker’s cleat would need to be sharp and lightweight so it can allow them to accelerate at greater speeds without being slowed down. As a midfielder, you will look for shoes that can provide them with the most control. Discriminate yourself and figure out what cleat will suit you best.
- The feel of the shoe makes a big difference for many players. Some may prefer comfort over speed, while others might have a vice-versa preference. Whatever gives you the competitive edge and makes you perform better is the right fit for you. Again, this is a personal discovery that you’ll have to make yourself.
Buying a new pair of soccer shoes can seem like an enormous task, considering the sheer variety available these days. Especially for a newbie in the field, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the options thrown at you.
You don’t need to make an impulse decision or buy the most expensive cleats you can find at your local Foot Locker, thinking they’re the best. Doing a bit of research can go a long way in not only giving you peace of mind but perhaps saving you some money.
For tips on how to pick the best soccer shoes for your feet, you can read our Guide to Selecting Soccer Shoes.