Best Soccer Cleats

The Ultimate Guide to Soccer Cleats

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in U.S., with between 13 and 24 million people playing at some level, making it the third most popular sport in the country. This puts the U.S. population of soccer players second only to China. Soccer is continuing to grow in popularity, and more children are playing than ever before. Twice as many kids play soccer than football and soccer has about a million more American children playing than baseball. These children are continuing to play soccer longer into adolescence and adulthood than most people continue football. Whether you’re a dedicated player just starting out in your first league or you’re a veteran of the game, the one thing that will always be a crucial element of your performance and a key to your comfort is great soccer footwear!

Not only can the perfect pair of cleats improve your speed and agility on the football field, Podiatry Today explains that good footwear is essential in avoiding or minimizing injuries commonly associated with soccer, including ankle sprain and plantar fasciitis. Jenny Sanders, DPM, reports that more injuries occur in soccer than in volleyball, rugby, judo, or boxing. Most of the injuries involve the lower foot and ankle when running, cutting, or from player-to-player contact. The greatest tool in preventing these injuries is understanding what makes a good soccer cleat and ensuring that you enter the field with the best footing.

Consider The Foundation For Your Footing

The two main factors you should consider when you’re determining which cleats are right for you are ground type and contact demand. The types of surfaces you primarily play and train on, along with how much touch you anticipate in your game. Contact-heavy players will need shoes with extra protection.

soccer Cleats and ball

There are also several main cleat types designed with the surface of the field in mind: firm ground / molded, soft ground / replaceable, hard ground / multi-ground, turf, artificial turf, and indoor.

Firm Ground / Molded

Firm Ground, or molded, cleats are considered the most versatile footwear for natural surfaces. They are designed with short, circular molded and bladed studs strategically placed on the bottom sole of the shoe to maximize grip. The shoe designers have also ensured that the studs aren’t too long, providing you with the ideal level of traction, while still allowing for agility.

Soft Ground / Replaceable

Soft ground cleats are designed for maximum performance on soft or wet natural field surfaces, including pitches that are muddy or for play following a rainstorm. They are so named because their construction features replaceable studs that are longer and more able to grip a soggy field. They also have fewer studs than firm ground shoes, but the studs of soft ground shoes are placed to maximize traction across the surface area. It is important not to wear these cleats on firm ground because the impact of your movement against the surface will cause the studs to break and may also cause injuries.

Many experienced players and sports medicine professionals recommend having a pair of firm ground cleats, as they can be used on both firm and soft ground to some degree, but also ideally have a secondary pair of soft ground cleats for your best performance on soggy or wet turf.

Hard Ground / Multi-ground

Hard ground shoes are designed for wear on artificial turf or hard, natural ground such as solid fields or sun-baked ground. These are also important secondary shoes if you live or play in an area that experiences extreme winter freezes as they have adequate traction for those surfaces as well. These shoes feature many short studs spread evenly over the bottom of the outsole.

Turf

The primary distinguishing feature of turf cleats is the durability of the rubber sole. These shoes are designed with small, rubber studs or patterns intended to maximize traction and grip on hard, natural fields or artificial turf. Many players select these shoes to their training cleats or use them as a secondary pair.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf cleats fall into the most recently-added category of soccer cleats as they are specifically designed to maximize player performance on newer artificial fields. In most respects, they are similar to Artificial turf cleats, but their stud pattern is more openly distributed to increase traction on the artificial fields as they feature longer artificial grass.

Indoor

Indoor soccer shoes are generally constructed with a gum rubber flat sole. Indoor gym soccer shoesThey are designed for soccer played in a gym or inside facility and are also appropriate for casual wear as they have the look of a sneaker. These shoes don’t have studs for traction, which is less of a concern on gym or concrete floors.

Some Facts About Studs

There are three different stud types, each with advantages depending on the make-up of the ground or pitch. Round studs are usually made of rubber or plastic, generally replaceable, and are designed for function on grass in normal or slightly wet weather. Hard ground studs are shorter and best used for traction on a hard surface to prevent sliding when grass or turf isn’t available to facilitate grip. Lastly, bladed studs provide good grip and balance when performing agility maneuvers and when rapidly changing direction.

Let’s see what you’re made of!

Once you have determined what type of soccer shoe is right for you, the next choice is what shoe material you’ll want to focus on depending on your needs and preferences. Soccer shoes are constructed of leather or synthetic material, with each having advantages. Leather shoes are constructed with natural animal hide while synthetic shoes are made from manufactured material.

Leather

Often preferred because of their ability to increase comfort and performance by conforming to the contours of your foot, leather soccer shoes also offer players protection as leather is a thicker material than synthetic material. Many players prefer leather shoes because the material’s ability to conform to the foot is said to allow them more sensitivity for feeling and controlling the ball when playing and training.

Unfortunately, leather is more absorbent than synthetic material, which means that they will become heavier and more difficult to clean and maintain over time. Another disadvantage mentioned by players is that the shoe’s ability to conform to the foot can become a disadvantage if and when the shoe stretches too much and the snug fit is lost.

There are several forms of leather soccer shoes, including kangaroo leather, calf-skin / full grain, and pittards leather.

Kangaroo Leather

Considered the top-of-the-line leather material, kangaroo leather, or sometimes referred to as k-leather, provides the wearer with unparalleled fit and comfort. The material of the shoe greatly increases the player’s sensitivity to the ball and allows for maximum ball control and navigation. The light material promotes agility and requires little to no break-in time. Many k-leather advocates praise the durability of the shoes and insist that they are the perfect shoe for both play and training. They aren’t waterproof, however, which can make them less desirable for outdoor games.

It should be noted that, like any leather shoe, the fit will be lost if the shoe stretches too much. K-leather shoes are also becoming increasingly hard to find and are more expensive than other kinds of leather shoes.

Calf-skin / Full-grain

Cow skin leather can be either full-grain or half-grain, which is determined by the age of the cow when the shoes were made. Half-grain is synonymous with calf-skin, referring to shoes made when the bovine was in its youth. Calf-skin is generally softer, thinner, and lighter than full-grain leather. Both full-grain and calf-skin shoes are able to withstand the wear and tear of intense soccer.

Cow skin leather doesn’t have as much tensile strength or durability as a k-leather shoe, so more material is required during the manufacturing process. This results in a heavier shoe which may decrease speed, but often offers the player more foot protection.

Cow skin leather cleats take longer to break-in than k-leather shoes, but many players insist that their thicker construction allows for a softer touch on the ball. Cow skin leather shoes are naturally water-resistant, which may make them even more appealing to outdoor players.

Pittards Leather

Pittards leather provides performance-supporting glove and shoe material for many sports. Pittards leather is calf-skin leather that has undergone a patented, one-of-a-kind treatment process. The developers of Pittards sport leathers manufacture footwear known for being lightweight and durable, with an extremely high tensile strength. Their shoes are flexible and durable with increased traction and trip for strenuous sports.

The company is the only manufacturer of authentic Puma shoes. They specialize in various forms of active wear, so most players have no trouble finding products that suit them. Pittards leather shoes are water-resistant and represent the mid-priced shoes, being cheaper than k-leather but more expensive than the average calf-skin pair of shoes.

Synthetic

Synthetic soccer shoes also offer players a choice so that you can select the material that meets your needs – synthetic leather or lightweight synthetic material. Your more traditional synthetics are designed to emulate leather while lightweight synthetics are designed with a thin, breathable material in mind that is similar in function and feel to a minimalist shoe than a leather cleat.

Synthetic shoes, or shoes constructed of man-made material, retain color and design better than leather footwear. They are also usually water-resistant which makes them lighter in less-than-ideal playing conditions. While this water-resistant quality makes them easier to clean and maintain, some players report that they make a slick contact with the ball in the rain, decreasing sensitivity and control. These shoes have a longer break-in time and conform less to the player’s foot. Synthetic shoes often feature more breathability than traditional leather cleats.

Premium synthetic shoes feature all of the advancements of shoe design technology and combine the best aspects of synthetics and leather into one form. The shoes are typically made of water-resistant microfibers and are very lightweight and breathable. They are sometimes combined with leather to form a hybrid shoe that has ideal fit and comfort on any surface. Many entry or mid-level players are advised to opt for synthetic shoes and move towards premium synthetic material if they can afford the higher cost.

Knit and Mesh

Mesh and knit soccer shoes, while much less common than traditional leather or synthetic materials, are being seen more and more on the soccer fields. There is a trend emerging that has seen the use of mesh through the uppers, or every part of the shoe above the insole and midsole. Mesh is widely used in running shoes because of its lightweight, thin, breathable qualities. Unfortunately, mesh does not offer much protection to the foot and it isn’t waterproof.

Knit soccer shoes also provide lightweight breathability to players. Adidas and Nike have both released versions of knit soccer shoes within recent years. These shoes feature a protective layer not included in most mesh shoes that provide some water protection. Like mesh shoes, these do not generally provide as much protection as more traditional soccer shoes and are not recommended for individuals who play in high-contact leagues.

Finding your perfect footwear

After considering the surface where you’ll be playing and determining what studs will maximize your performance, it is also important to remember that the right shoes for you depend on your soccer play style. If you play in a league with high-contact, you may want to consider shoes with additional vamp protection. The vamp, or front portion of the upper – also known as the strike zone, is where contact with the ball is made. Speaking of the front portion of shoes, experts also remind players that soccer cleats tend to be narrow. You should opt for shoes with a wider toe box, or space for your toes to naturally stretch at the front of the shoe, if you have wide feet. Wider toe boxes can also accommodate metatarsal heads. While shoes with shoes with wider toe boxes can sometimes be more expensive, allowing your toes to have room in your cleat to spread naturally will increase your balance and coordination when playing. Veteran players also remind us to consider getting a back-up pair of cleats, both to be prepared for any pitch conditions, but also to rotate the shoes if needed to increase the longevity of the shoe. Some players also recommend selecting shoes that focus on the qualities – grip versus speed versus contact with the ball – that makes the most sense based on your position. Other players, however, advocate sticking to the best all-around soccer shoe so that you’ll be prepared for any position and any situation!

Get in the game!

Once you’ve found your idea soccer cleats and have considered getting a back-up pair for inclement field conditions, you’ll be a step ahead in terms of maximizing your performance and comfort during your soccer game and training experiences!

Best Shoes For…

1. adidas Performance Conquisto Firm-Ground J Soccer Cleat

adidas Performance Conquisto Firm-Ground J Soccer Cleat (Little Kid/Big Kid)

adidas Performance Conquisto Firm-Ground J Soccer Cleat

Pros

  • Great low price (ranges from $5 to $40)
  • Nearly 80% found that the shoe fit as expected
  • Superb grip with a great outsole that grabs onto durable natural surfaces
  • Insole that is die-cut for optimal comfort while playing
  • Blue and pink for boys and girls; unisex

Cons

  • Shoe for toddlers, not an adult shoe
  • Only available in 2 colors

Summary

Start your kids early! Get them playing the wonderful game of soccer early with these shoes. If you were expecting these to be for adults, unfortunately that’s not the case (which is one of very few drawbacks to this lovely shoe). The shoe comes in two colors: blue for boys, pink for girls, and a price that is unmatched: right below $40; incredibly affordable! The shoe has a great fit rating with 80% of the kids finding it fit as expected. The outsole will ensure your kids stay on their feet with its strong TRAXION FG outsole that digs into firm, natural surfaces for more support and traction. The insole is made of die-cut EVA and provides lots of comfort being as lightweight as it is! If you are looking for a junior cleat, this is one that should be near the top of your list.

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2. adidas Performance Messi 15.3 Soccer Cleat

adidas Performance Men's Messi 15.3 Soccer Cleat

adidas Performance Messi 15.3 Soccer Cleat

Pros

  • Bright yellow with orange and also a pair in orange and black
  • Cool, flashy design
  • Mid range price
  • Stud configuration inspired by Messi for the fastest speed possible
  • Inspired by the professional soccer player, Lionel Messi

Cons

  • Only 2 colors to choose from
  • The colors can be slightly flashy for some; not neutral and may not match team uniform

Summary

These shoes are sure to grabs some attention! They come in fiery design that are super bright. Choose from a highlight yellow color or the black and red cleat (unfortunately, only two options to choose from). The price is pretty great – not too low, not too high. And for the quality of the shoe with its GAMETRAX stud configuration on the outsole and the great design inspired by Messi, you’re really getting a lot of bang for your buck with this shoe! You can run as fast as Messi now with this cleat, all at an affordable price.

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3. Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 Academy Fg/Mg Football Boots

Nike  Mercurial Vapor 13 Academy Fg/Mg Football Boots

Nike  Mercurial Vapor 13 Academy Fg/Mg Football Boots

Pros

  • Bright vibrant color; very simple
  • Multiground plates have a Nike Aerow Trac zone in the forefoot for tractione
  • Full control during the game with the excellent and ergonomically designed midsole

Cons

  • Can be expensive; up to $150 depending on the type you buy
  • 27% found it didn’t fit as expected

Summary

Nike has done it again with its  Mercurial Vapor 13 Academy Fg/Mg Football Boots. This cleat is super bright – you will surely be noticed on the field in the vibrant color pallet that the shoe comes in! However, it’s not overbearing or too overwhelming since the design is simple and sophisticated. The traction works in all directions- forward, backward, sideways – as long as you’re running on firm and natural surfaces. The sockliner is contoured to accommodate your feet perfectly, and has the perfect amount of cushioning. Take control over your performance – don’t let your shoe hold you back. With this shoe, you will definitely be able to play to your best abilities. Just be sure to find it in the right size as 27% found that it did not fit as expected.

4. Nike Phantom Vsn 2 Elite Df Fg Mens Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat

Nike Phantom Vsn 2 Elite Df Fg Mens Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat

Nike Phantom Vsn 2 Elite Df Fg Mens Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat

Pros

  • Really unique, patterned design on the side of the cleat
  • Targeted texture across the upper provides precise touch and control on the ball.
  • Ghost Lace system tightens with one pull and stays hidden for a clean striking
  • A fit that is close to the fit and is extremely comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive; price start at $180

Summary

This design is the definition of cool! The patterned design on the side of this Phantom Vsn 2 Elite Df Fg Mens Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat by Nike is very sophisticated and unique. You’re bound to be the only one on your team wearing this shoe; although they will probably want to buy a pair for themselves after they see yours! The Targeted texture across the upper provides precise touch and control on the ball. The ghost lace system tightens with one pull and stays hidden for a clean striking surface and precision on the ball. The Quad-Fit mesh hugs your foot without being constricting for dynamic support cut after cut without ever feeling like you don’t have a solid surface beneath you to support you. While the shoe does run a pricey, starting at $180, it is definitely worth it for a sleek designed cleat that has amazing traction and comfort.

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5. DREAM PAIRS Boys Girls Outdoor Football Shoes Soccer Cleats

DREAM PAIRS Boys Girls Outdoor Football Shoes Soccer Cleats

DREAM PAIRS Boys Girls Outdoor Football Shoes Soccer Cleats

Pros

  • Cheap price; just $27 for most pairs
  • Deigned well, very nice for younger kids
  • Comfortable, padded insole
  • Combination upper that are not only lightweight but durable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Uncomfortable after extended time of usage
  • Run slightly on the small made; made just for toddlers

Summary

Just because you may be on a low budget does not mean you have to sacrifice on quality! This cleat by Dream Pairs is incredibly affordable, running at only $27! This show is made for toddlers, so you can get them playing soccer early. The shoe may find slightly small for you child however, so considering ordering a size up. This shoe is incredibly lightweight so your child will be able to sprint across the field! The rubber molded cleats have rotational traction configuration, so that no matter which direction your child runs, he will always be supported. The upper is incredibly durable, but comfortable at the same time. Treat your kid to these cleats.

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6. adidas Performance Mundial Team Turf Soccer Cleat

adidas Performance Mundial Team Turf Soccer Cleat

adidas Performance Mundial Team Turf Soccer Cleat

Pros

  • Optimal cleats for turf; the spikes aren’t too long
  • Outsole that is superior not matter which direction you run
  • Die cut sole that is ideal for soccer and athletics
  • Lightweight yet supportive insoles

Cons

  • Only available in black and white
  • High price point; up to $225

Summary

If you have some cash to blow on shoes, then you definitely want to consider adidas Performance Mundial Team Turf soccer cleats. The cleat works on both grass and AstroTurf, however, it’s most suitable and has the best grip on turf since the spikes on the out sole are as pointy and are rather short so it doesn’t damage the turf. The TRAXION technology used on the outsole is something you’ll love about the shoe – it gives you optimal grip and control no matter which direction you’re sprinting. The midsole, made of pre-molded EVA, provides cushioning for your foot without weighing it down. The insoles, also, provide a sufficient amount of comfort and cushion without adding too much weight to the shoe. Unfortunately the shoe is only available in black and white, however if it’s quality you’re after, rather than design, you will love this choice of soccer cleats!

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7. PUMA Evospeed 4.4FG Soccer Shoe

PUMA Men's Evospeed 4.4FG Soccer Shoe

PUMA Evospeed 4.4FG Soccer Shoe

Pros

  • Variety of nice, bright cleats; tons of choices for anyone
  • Great for use on firm surfaces that are natural, i.e. grass
  • Lightweight shoes yet durable

Cons

  • Run small; many recommend to order a half size up
  • Toe box is slightly narrow for many
  • Low fit rating with just 51% fishing the shoe to fit correctly

Summary

No matter if you’re a picky shoe selector; there are a tong of different styles and choice in color for this cleat. Puma has made an excellent cleat that is superior on firm surfaces that are natural i.e. grass, and they are also suitable for turf as well. The shoe is incredibly lightweight for maximum speed and control over the shoe, however, it is lightweight without sacrificing on durability, which is awesome. The cleat may run slightly small, as many have reported (and just a warning – it does have a low fit as expected rating, with nearly half saying it didn’t fit as expected) and the toe box may cram your toes together as multiple people have reported it to be narrow. But not to worry – if you do order a size up, you’ll likely be fine, and can play soccer in style!

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8. adidas Unisex-Child Copa 19.4 Firm Ground Soccer Shoe

adidas Unisex-Child Copa 19.4 Firm Ground Soccer Shoe

adidas Unisex-Child Copa 19.4 Firm Ground Soccer Shoe

Pros

  • Classic and stylish design
  • Multiple colors available
  • Great control on the ground no matter if you’re playing on the grass, artificial turf or hard ground
  • Breathable upper mesh lining that allows sweat and moisture to release
  • Excellent Fit rating, with 78% finding they fit as expected

Cons

  • Fit slightly wide

Summary

The design on this shoe is impeccable. Adidas consistently delivers high quality cleats that are fairly reasonably priced. This cleat, the adidas Unisex-Child Copa 19.4 Firm Ground Soccer Shoe, is super trendy in design but is also incredible for use during your soccer match. The outsole is nice and hard; however not too hard to the point where it makes moving awkward. In fact, it’s nice and flexible in order to allow you to control the ball better and really dig into the hard ground – be in natural grass or artificial turf. The mesh lining will definitely keep your feet cool as you’re working up a sweat running up and down the field scoring goals! The fit has been found to be outstanding, with 78% finding the fit to be as expected (albeit, it is slightly wide as many have noted on reviews for this shoe).

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