Football is among the most popular sports across the globe. What’s more, it requires minimal investment in playing equipment, especially for amateurs. Apart from the ball itself, cleats are the most important piece of equipment as they greatly impact your performance during a game. Football cleats offer extra stability, more traction, and comfort, all with a lightweight feel. There are several brands, fits, prices, and even materials available in the market, which makes shopping for the perfect cleats quite a challenge. Choosing the right pair of cleats will depend on different things, including who they are for, what position they are playing, cut of the shoe, style of the outsole, not to mention, the high-performance elements that come with each pair. This seems like a lot to take in at once, so, let’s break it down to help you make an informed purchase.
Football cleats come in different cuts and styles to accommodate the varying needs of players. Your choice will depend on your personal preferences, the kind of support and movement you want in the field, as well as the position you play. Football cleats come in three different cut styles: low-cut, mid-cut, and high-cut.
Low-cut cleats are very lightweight and are designed for speed. The low-cut allows for maximum maneuverability, allowing better agility, navigation, speed, and cutting. This makes them ideal for players in positions that are required to cover the field quickly such as wide receivers, defensive backs, and tight ends. On the downside, players have less ankle protection.
Mid-cut cleats rise to the ankle, offering extra stability and support in the field without compromising on movement and speed. They are the most popular cleats among players as they provide the best of both worlds. They are ideal for players who need to move faster but still need to stay protected in heavy traffic. Mid-cut cleats are designed for the ‘skill player’ like the defensive backs, quarterbacks, tight end, running backs, linebacker, cornerbacks, and wide receivers.
High-cut cleats are designed for the ultimate stability and durability. They extend up the ankle, which provides extra support and reduces the risk of ankle injuries. However, the added bulk can often hinder fast movements, making them ideal for players fighting in the trenches like linemen, centers, and guards. They can also benefit players who’ve had their ankles twisted or rolled.
Football cleats are made out of varying materials depending on the brand, style and model. Different materials offer different benefits in terms of support and comfort levels in varied conditions, therefore, choose cleats that fit your specific environment. Always go for materials that are lightweight, yet strong enough to prevent foot injury. Some of the commonly found materials in cleats include:
Leather is loved by many because it’s breathable and generally more flexible, which keeps your feet more comfortable. Generally, leather shoes are often durable but are quite expensive.
Polyurethane (PU) has the elasticity of rubber, which allows flexibility. The material is also durable enough to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is lightweight and water-resistant, making it capable of withstanding extreme temperatures. It’s also strong enough to resist wear & tear, dents, and high impact.
Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) is a flexible and durable material. It can withstand extreme cold and heat, is water-resistant, and doesn’t crack easily from stress or age.
Football cleats’ outsoles are designed to provide traction on either turf or grass playing fields. Therefore, when shopping, keep in mind the types of fields on which you most commonly play. Most cleats come in two outsole designs, namely:
Molded cleats: These are spikes that are permanently attached to the outsole. They are generally preferred by players because they are lightweight, come ready-to-wear, and tend to be cheaper. These spikes can further be divided into rubber molded spikes and hard molded spikes. Rubber molded spikes are generally softer and more comfortable, making them ideal for younger or more casual players. Hard molded spikes are made with a harder plastic outsole, providing more traction.
Detachable stud cleats: These cleats use interchangeable spikes that can be removed and replaced to fit different field conditions. They are longer, more powerful, and provide extra grip and traction on different fields, especially in long grass. Players can also choose spikes’ size and configuration based on weather conditions. These types of cleats are ideal for pro players. The only downside is that they are a more expensive option.
Once you find the perfect football cleats, there are several accessories to consider, ensuring you get the best performance as well as protect your investment. You need extra shoe laces in case the current ones rip during a game, plus, using a broken lace poses a tripping hazard. If you use detachable spikes, ensure you have replacements in a variety of sizes in case one breaks off or there’s a change in weather conditions. And, don’t forget a cleat wrench to help remove and replace spikes. Using shoe protection accessories like conditioners and oils helps protect your cleats from harsh conditions, making them last longer. Playing football involves a lot of sweating, which is a great workout; however, this leaves your cleats with a bad smell. Sneaker deodorizers can help get the stink out of shoes. It’s important to have these accessories at hand so you are prepared to play at all times.
The most important part of shopping for football cleats is getting the right fit. Too tight or too loose cleats will slow down your performance, not to mention, pose an injury risk. Cleat sizes typically run the same as regular shoe sizes. However, fits will vary depending on the brand and manufacture, so, don’t assume that your cleat size is similar to your other shoes. The best way to ensure the perfect fit is to physically try on a few pairs before buying. But, if you are buying online, you can use a boot-sizing app to get the best fit. Still, you can try out different brands of your friends’ or teammates’ cleats to get the right specifications.
Information taken from this spikes guide by Lift Your Game