Have you ever wondered how football is the only sport played globally on various surfaces and varied conditions and is played by amateurs as well as professionals? The majority of sports including running, gymnastics, tennis, baseball, golf, hockey, soccer, football, etc. require special shoes for balance and control as some of them not unlike football, are also played or performed on different surfaces and varying climatic condition.
Cleats Are Not Only for Football Players.
Known as soccer in America and football by the rest of the world, it is a sport that requires twenty-two players running around the designated field kicking a round ball wearing special shoes called football cleats. Cleats are also worn by players of other sports like baseball, American football, rugby, golf, and lacrosse.
So, what makes football/soccer cleats different? Well, they come in a lot of varieties and the cleats or spikes on the shoe sole vary depending on the terrain. They also come in different materials with cleats designed especially for player’s position and playing technique. Read further to learn how to choose the right football cleats.
What’s Your Playing Surface?
If you have been part of a football team, then you already know how essential it is to buy cleats according to the playing surface. This is the most logical thing to consider when browsing for your football shoes. If you have never owned football shoes before or if your current cleats are not giving you the right support, then you probably don’t know that the cleats on the football shoes also vary in design depending on the playing surface.
Firm Ground (FG)
As the name suggests, firm ground shoes are designed for the firm or hard natural surfaces which also include dry grass playing ground. Depending on the climatic conditions, firm ground cleats like Nike Mercurial Superfly 7 Elite FG Terra are designed to be worn during summer and spring. But if you live in a region with a drier climate, you can probably wear it throughout the year.
Firm Ground cleats are not to be worn on soft ground as they are specifically designed extremely light to give control and support to the player on a natural firm ground playing surface. The studs or cleats on the shoes are usually made of rubber plastic available in various shapes.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to lose your balance, do NOT wear your FG shoes on artificial grass.
Soft Ground (SG)
Soft ground cleats are designed to have a better grip because the ground may be wet or muddy which requires more support and balance especially when you need to be agile and change directions abruptly. Hence, SG shoes usually have approximately 6 to 8 metal studs that are longer compared to the FG shoes for better grip and deeper ground penetration.
Not unlike FG, SG shoes are also popular among professional players worldwide for their excellent stud configuration that provides better grip, control, support, and balance a player needs while playing on a soft and muddy pitch.
Artificial Grass (AG)
Not as popular as the previous playing surfaces, many football games are played on artificial grass laid outside. Even though the ground will be firm, FG cleats cannot be used on artificial grass as it can make the player lose their balance which may even lead to a serious injury. Unlike SG cleats, studs of AG shoes are shorter and hollow for shock absorption, even distribution and to lessen the pressure on knees and joints.
Hard Ground/Turf (HG/TF)
Designed for indoor playing surfaces which are hard including indoor turfs and indoor artificial grass pitches, Astro-turf shoes usually come with rubber studs that are smaller in size to give the balance a player requires on artificial turf. Playing on artificial surfaces leads to extra pressure on knees and ankles and hence TF cleats like AG cleats are sturdier with good cushioning for shock absorption and comfort.
What Are You Looking for?
Often, you look at a pair of beautifully designed shoes and make an ill-informed decision to buy them without checking if they properly fit you or not. Fit is of utmost importance especially when you are focusing on your performance. Every player is different – while some are extremely light on their feet and agile, others have powerful controlled movements. Which one are you?
If you have got powerful moves, you need to bend your feet comfortably while playing for swift movements. Hence, cleats that are sturdy and have good cushioning will work well for you as they will provide you the support and control you need. Do not go for lightweight cleats if you are a power player.
If you are a cheetah on the court, you need cleats that won’t restrain your agility. With the right shoes, you can even enhance your speed. Go for lightweight cleats that are designed for speed. Check if the shoes will provide you the traction you will need. Not all lightweight cleats are made for speed.
Comfort is all about personal preference. But the majority of players will prefer cleats that give them the comfort they need on the court without worrying about feet callouses and bruises hindering their skills. But if you are a goalie, you will definitely need well-cushioned cleats as you need to stand in-between making quick movements to stop and kick the ball accurately. If you play on hard ground or artificial turf, it is wise to get well-cushioned cleats to take in some pressure off your ankles and knees.