The True Worth Of Great Soccer Cleats
The game can be played on the grass, a muddy field, an indoor court, artificial turf, or even in the middle of an asphalt parking lot. Its players are dependent on speed, agility and controlled contact with the ball. Because of this, soccer footwear has quite the job cut out for it.
Much like other field-based sports, there are endless varieties of cleats to complement different field positions, types of playing surfaces, and the individual shapes of a players' feet. Finding the right soccer shoe enhances:
• Heel shock absorption
• Ankle stability
• Arch support
• Safe ball contact
• Balance on the field or court
All of these safety factors ramp up all the details that make a player successful. There's no question that soccer cleats and shoes are the most essential piece of gear you will purchase. In this guide, we'll provide a rundown of how soccer cleats keep players moving quickly and safely, as well as what to look for in your ideal cleat.
Why are high-quality soccer shoes important?
There is far more to a soccer shoe than meets the eye. After centuries of trial and error, every inch of your soccer cleat will play a role on the field. This is why you'll find such a long list of materials and technologies listed on every brand's new line of soccer shoes. Let's break down how a great soccer shoe supports its player.
Both indoor and outdoor soccer shoes have distinct outsoles for enhancing traction and stability on your chosen field. Indoor soccer cleats feature textured, flat rubber to keep you low to the ground, while outdoor cleats vary the size, direction, and placement of studs depending on your field and position. Both types of shoes absorb the impact of the ground for comfort and joint support.
The inner workings of a soccer shoe aim to keep the foot supported and set in place without rigidity. A soccer player relies on their foot staying in place to avoid blisters or twisting an ankle. Structured insoles support your arches, take the impact off the heel and sole, and some even hold the ankle in place with additional material.
A high-quality upper includes material that helps your foot breathe, remain flexible, but avoid unwanted movements or slipping. Some cleats include textured material toward the toe of the foot for enhanced ball control. Lace and tongue placement also vary depending on the player's preferences.
In short, it's not just about buying any old soccer cleat that fits. Every element of a good soccer cleat plays a part in performance and safety on the field.
What's the difference between indoor vs. outdoor soccer shoes?
Soccer cleats vs. shoes typically refer to footwear designed for different play surfaces, such as whether you play indoors or outdoors.
Indoor soccer shoes
Indoor soccer shoes look much more like regular street shoes — and can be worn as such, unlike cleats. They may be referred to as futsal shoes, or come with the acronyms IN or IC. The rubber outsole of an indoor soccer shoe is flatter and thinner, allowing closer contact and traction against courts and an asphalt ground. The shoe's insoles and uppers still support the foot and allow necessary breathability, but often leave off the high ankle profile of an outdoor cleat.
Outdoor soccer cleats
Outdoor soccer cleats are far more complex. They are often broken down into five categories:
• Soft Ground Cleats (SG)
• Firm Ground Cleats (FG)
• Hard Ground Cleats (HG)
• Artificial Turf Cleats (AG)
• Hard court (AKA “indoor” or “futsal” shoes)
Outdoor cleats have a more streamlined outsole plate designed to support the needs of your position on the field, as well as your unique foot shape. Cleats also always include studs that dig into the ground for maximum traction, typically interspersed throughout the sole and heel of the shoe. The upper will feature more intricate details than indoor shoes, many of which help with the overall fit and stability of your foot and ankle.
What are today's top soccer brands?
Three main competitors take the stage in soccer cleat construction: Nike, adidas and Puma. Each of these brands has its own story woven into the history of soccer. Puma and adidas even started as the same company before the two founding brothers decided to part ways.
As is the case with all athletic brands, the more you get to know your style of play, the more you'll know what to look for when picking out your shoe. All three brands offer high quality and durability, but the soccer industry consistently notes how each company's cleats stand out for the crowd.
Even at first glance, it's clear that Nike focuses on performance in their soccer shoes. The company is known for its extensive technology, specifically for outdoor cleats. For example, its Aerotrak plate provides even support and traction at the base of the shoe. A lightweight upper includes varying textures and modern synthetic materials that enhance durability and breathability.
Adidas has one of the most recognizable indoor soccer shoes with its flat rubber outsole and black k-leather upper. Adidas is also known for its simple, lightweight quality, utilizing signature technology to keep players moving quickly with proper all-around support in the heel, ankle and sole.
Though Puma is smaller than its other two competitors, its unique technology and look have kept it a top player in the game. The brand has also modernized the classic indoor soccer shoe with additional technology specifically for turf and outdoor court rubber studs. It is also known for its thin upper material for players that prefer closer contact with the ball.
How to choose soccer shoes for kids?
All three of the top brands listed above offer kid-friendly versions of many of their lines. Choosing a high-quality soccer cleat doesn't have to break the bank, but it's crucial to take the time to find the absolute best fit and structure for their early years on the field. Here are a few tips for finding the right soccer cleat for your child:
Talk to their coach
Be sure to ask which type of indoor or outdoor cleat is right for their season. Firm ground (FG) and indoor cleats (IN) are the most common for general play.
Focus on fit
A soccer shoe should fit the foot like a glove while still allowing comfortable flexibility. Since young feet grow quickly, be sure to choose a brand that offers material made to mold to fluctuating sizes.
Choose for position
Different positions on the field benefit from different shoe technology. Higher ankle profiles, speed-focused studs, or balanced outsole plates, can impact your child's experience on the field.
Think long-term comfort
Encourage your child to move around in their new shoes. The material should be breathable and stable — both of which will help them steer clear of blisters or chafing. Avoid shoes that cause too much pressure on one spot of the foot.
Great soccer cleats are the launching point for a successful player. Finding the shoe that matches your unique playing style will fluctuate from person to person. The focus, however, should always remain on durability, balanced stability, and ways to stay competitive on the field with all of today's top technology.
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