There’s nothing more exciting than getting a new pair of cleats, and if you’re like me, you probably want to take them straight to the field. However, like all shoes, you’ll need to break your soccer cleats in before they’re comfortable enough to wear.
Here’s how to break in soccer cleats:
- Start with the right size cleats.
- Wear a pair of soccer socks.
- Use some old or custom insoles.
- Use petroleum jelly to reduce friction.
- Start with the laces loosely tied.
- Wear your cleats for three consecutive days.
- Try the frozen water trick for tight cleats.
- Patiently wait a few days.
So, let’s discuss the proper way to break in brand new soccer cleats.
I’ll share some pro tips with you along the way to help you care for your cleats and help you avoid blisters long-term.
Here’s how to easily break your cleats in and hit the field in no time.
1. Start with the Correct Size Cleats
If you get the wrong size of soccer cleats, you’ll have difficulty breaking them in, and they may never become comfortable enough to wear.
Always check the sizing twice before dropping the money on a new pair, or get some that you can return.
Putting on your cleats before you purchase them is always the best way to ensure that you’ll be comfortable in your shoes while you’re on the field.
When trying them on, be sure to wear the soccer socks that you usually wear with your cleats since the thickness of your socks could add width or an extra half-size to your foot.
If you want to hunt for bargains online, you may want to consider going to an athletic store to try on the cleats before you purchase them.
While you’re at the store, you can ask a salesperson to size your feet and help you find the right fit.
Be sure to try on many different pairs of cleats, then once you find the most comfortable option, write down the shoe size, the width, and the model.
Then, you can go home and get discount prices online, or you can purchase them in-store.
Regardless, getting cleats that fit your feet comfortably will make all the difference in the break-in process.
Have a look at my guide on How to Choose the Perfect Soccer Cleats (in 4 Simple Steps) for more information on this topic.
2. Wear a Pair of Soccer Socks
You should also wear a pair of soccer socks when you break in your soccer cleats, and if you want the most comfort, go with a couple of grip socks.
Soccer socks are thicker and taller than most other types, and they can keep your feet protected from discomfort and chafing.
In addition, if you break in your cleats with thinner socks, you might experience some tightness when you wear your cleats with soccer socks.
Still, the ultimate socks for breaking in and wearing cleats are grippy socks with sticky bottoms.
These socks will practically glue your cleats to the bottom of your foot, keeping your cleat from sliding around and rubbing your feet the wrong way.
Grip socks will also help you run and kick without having to fight against your shoes, so I cannot recommend them highly enough.
I always go with these TruSox Cushioned Over Knee Socks (available on Amazon.com). These socks are favorites among professionals and amateurs alike, and unlike many gripping socks, they last many years.
TruSox socks also have cushioned bottoms with grip pads on the inside and outside of the sole, tacking your foot into place, no matter how well your cleats fit.
These socks take the cake, and I think that every soccer player should have a pair.
Find out How to Clean (And Dry) Your Cleats: Without Damaging Them in my recent article explaining the process.
3. Use Some Old or Custom Insoles
Insoles give the bottom of your shoes an impression of your foot, allowing cleats to mold themselves to your foot’s unique shape.
When it boils down to it, molding your new insoles is the primary goal of breaking in new shoes. Using an insole that already fits your foot will cut down on break-in time and get you on the field in almost no time at all.
On average it takes three days to break in soccer cleats. The speed of this process depends on the material the cleat is made of, how much time a player is prepared to spend breaking them in, and if a player is following a recommended technique for breaking them in.
If you have old cleats that you’ve already broken in, try removing the insoles from your new cleats and put the older ones in your new shoes. Then, after about a week, switch the insoles again.
That way, you can mold your new cleat’s shape to your foot’s form, then break in the new insole, cutting down the process into a couple of short steps.
You may also want to consider using custom orthopedic insoles that fit your feet perfectly.
These insoles can be used in all of your cleats, allowing you to switch between shoes quickly with no discomfort.
However, custom insoles can be pretty pricey.
If you’re not a professional, you might want to go with a standard athletic insole like these Easyfeet Flame Boots Athletic Insoles (available on Amazon.com).
I use one pair of these insoles in all of my soccer cleats, which always cuts down break-in times and makes switching between my game-day and practice shoes easy.
Also, there’s nothing like a reliable fit, and these always make my feet feel like they’re at home.
4. Use Petroleum Jelly to Reduce Friction
When you wear stiff, rigid shoes, the materials will rub against your feet, causing blisters.
However, if you create a slippery barrier between your feet and your shoes, you can prevent blisters and chafe altogether.
One trick that many pro players use when breaking in new cleats in a pinch is rubbing the inside of their cleats with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, like Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly (available on Amazon.com).
Vaseline is slick enough to prevent the intense dry rubbing that causes blisters, and it’ll also soften polymers and leather, which are the materials usually used to make cleats.
If you don’t have any vaseline on hand, you can also swipe some deodorant on the inside of your new cleats to make them slicker and softer.
As a bonus, the deodorant will also keep your cleats smelling fresher, which is ideal if you are looking to remove the smell from your cleats!
If you’re prone to blisters, you can also use moleskin patches on the heels and toes of your shoes to reduce friction.
These First Aid Only Moleskin Blister Prevention (available on Amazon.com) are incredibly soft, which keeps the stiff materials in your cleats from rubbing against your feet.
5. Start with the Laces Loosely Tied
Lacing up your cleats differently depending on how you wear them can make the break-in process more manageable. It’ll ultimately make your cleats much more comfortable.
When you first put on your soccer cleats, keep the lacing loose.
That way, the areas of your shoes that fit tightly will loosen up before you make your whole cleat fit tightly.
Once your shoes are comfortable when loosely tied, gradually tighten them over a few days.
Slowly pulling them tighter will mold them to the shape of your feet without weakening the glue in your shoes. By doing so, you can also avoid uncomfortable chafing or blisters.
On the day you take your cleats onto the field for drills or practice, lace your cleats through the runner’s loop near your ankle.
This loop locks your laces’ tension, preventing your shoes from becoming looser over time.
After the first few days of breaking in your cleats, you’ll want to change up your lacing system to avoid discomfort altogether.
Using a lacing that locks tension in place can help since you can make certain sections of your cleats tighter or looser.
Using a tension-locking system will also keep your laces from evening out as you play, which can ensure that you always get the most form-fitting shape.
For a guide on how to keep tension in your cleat’s laces, check out this short YouTube tutorial from soccer cleat critic, Soccer Reviews For You:
6. Wear Your Cleats for Three Consecutive Days
Like all shoes, you can’t expect your soccer cleats to fit comfortably straight away without molding them to your foot through wear.
However, you should never wear brand new cleats to a game since you probably won’t have time to change out your cleats during the game if you start to experience discomfort.
Wearing your cleats as much as possible right after you get them is the best practice for breaking them in, especially if you’re in a hurry to get ready for a match.
Still, starting small is crucial if you want to keep your feet blister-free.
As soon as you get your cleats, put on your favorite soccer socks and loosely lace up your cleats.
Wear them for several hours, and try to do some mundane tasks, such as tending to your lawn, keeping them on while house cleaning, or taking them for a walk.
Wear your cleats for at least three hours a day for three days, and be sure to take them for a run at least once to ensure that they have become flexible enough to not rub at your toes and ankles.
It’s essential to note that you should never walk on concrete or asphalt while wearing cleats since the rubber spikes on the bottom could wear down, crumble, or bend on rough, hard surfaces.
And if you’re using metal cleats this can damage the ground you’re walking on.
So, when you break in your cleats, stick to grass and smooth flooring. This is especially important with more expensive soccer cleats.
7. Try the Frozen Water Trick for Tight Cleats
If your cleats feel tight with your socks on, or if the toe is too pointy for your feet, try the frozen water trick.
This trick is similar to the famous hot water trick, but the frozen water is far less damaging to your cleats.
If you haven’t heard of it, the hot water trick is supposedly a way to break in your shoes within a matter of hours, and it does work.
However, to make it work, you have to pour warm water on your cleats, then wear them for several hours while they’re wet.
This warm water will reduce the longevity and durability of your cleats since heat and moisture can damage the glues, polyester, rubber, and plastics in soccer boots.
In addition, wearing your cleats while wet increases the risk of getting blisters, so I’ll never recommend using this trick.
Frozen water, however, won’t damage your boots, and you don’t have to wear them wet, so I’d surely choose this method over hot water.
This trick works because of science.
When water freezes, it expands. So, filling your shoe with water, then freezing it will create an ice shoe-horn that slowly stretches the upper from the inside.
To use the frozen water trick:
- Place a gallon-size freezer bag inside your soccer cleat with the zip-top sticking out of the ankle hole.
- Fill the freezer bag with cool water so that your shoe is filled up to the ankle.
- Zip the freezer bag and twist the top.
- Stick your cleat in the freezer overnight.
- Remove the cleat from the freezer in around 12 hours.
- Let the freezer bag melt.
- Remove the melted freezer bag from your shoe.
- Wear your shoes for at least 20 minutes after removing the water bag to help them retain the stretch they just got.
8. Patiently wait a few days.
It may be challenging to be patient, especially if you got your new cleats the day before a match, but taking your time is crucial if you want to avoid discomfort.
You can break in your shoes within a day, but you’ll probably end up giving yourself blisters in the process, and many quick fixes to breaking in cleats will break or weaken them.
So, patience is critical when conditioning new cleats.
You should always plan to take a few days of light wear to break in your soccer shoes, and if you wear them during practice, bring your old cleats along just in case you feel some discomfort.
Breaking in soccer cleats may take a few days, but when done right, you won’t get any blisters or rashes in the process.
In addition, reducing friction, optimizing your insoles, and testing new ways of tying your laces can ensure that your new shoes don’t rub you the wrong way. When it comes to comfort, socks are all important.
If you take your time and slowly condition your shoes over a few days, you’ll be out on the field in no time--and you’ll be more comfortable than ever.
For more helpful tips about soccer cleats, check out one of my recent articles:
- Why Soccer Cleats Are GREAT for Flag Football
- Best Soccer Cleats for Toddlers
- Why Soccer Cleats Can Be PERFECT for Lacrosse
- Can You Wear Soccer Cleats for Football?
- Real Simple: How To Stretch Shoes So They’ll Fit Better Than Ever.
- Top Cleats: Transform Your Soccer Cleats- 5 Ways to Increase Comfort.
- Reddit: Breaking in Cleats?
- Tread Labs: Can Insoles For Soccer Cleats Help You Avoid Injury?
- Adidas: How To Lace Soccer Cleats.
- Master Soccer Mind: 13 Tips to Avoid Blisters from Soccer Cleats.