Can You Wear Soccer Cleats for Football?

Because soccer cleats and football cleats are somewhat similar, many people wonder if they can play football in soccer cleats. Especially if you have a pair of soccer cleats already but don’t have any football cleats, after all, how much of a difference can there be between cleats? Well, here’s the answer.

You can wear soccer cleats for football. Referees allow players to wear soccer cleats during a football game, as soccer cleats abide by football’s rules and regulations. However, a referee won’t allow players to wear football cleats to play soccer.

The beauty of cleats is that they provide stability to the foot as the athlete runs through rain and on soft ground.

However, there are significant differences between football and soccer cleats, just like there are differences between baseball and soccer cleats.

In this article, I’ll be taking a closer look at this.

We’ll look at questions such as: 

  • What is the difference between soccer and football cleats? 
  • The rules that allow soccer cleats to be worn, 
  • And are soccer cleats actually good for football?

Let’s get started!

post title over image of soccer cleats

Do Football Rules Allow Soccer Cleats?

To fully answer the question of whether you CAN wear soccer cleats in football, we need to know what the rules of football say regarding footwear.

The best way to do this is to look at the official rules – the rules of the National Football League, also known as the NFL.

If you’re playing football, you should definitely stick to what’s regulation.

Here’s what the NFL rules say regarding soccer cleats.

“Article 3: Item 7. Shoes. Shoes must be of standard football design, including “sneaker” type shoes such as basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, etc..”

Article 3:Item 5. Improper Cleats. Shoe cleats made of aluminum or other material that may chip, fracture, or develop a cutting edge. Conical cleats with concave sides or points which measure less than ⅜-inch in diameter at the tips, or cleats with oblong ends which measure less than ¼ by ¾-inch at the end tips are also prohibited. Nylon cleats with flat steel tips are permitted.”

Reading these, you will see the answer to your question.

The rules of football allow for a player to wear soccer cleats. The rules do this by not restricting a player to wearing one type of cleat over another. As long as the cleats comply with the rules, a player can wear them.

Soccer cleats comply with these rules and therefore are OK for a football player to wear.

There have actually been instances where wide receivers wore soccer cleats exclusively. The game isn’t restricting a player to wearing a specific type of cleat, only wearing cleats that comply with the rules. 

If you turn up to a football game wearing soccer cleats, the official will usually allow you to play. They have no reason not to.

But just because you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should. 

You may actually find that you are more comfortable if you’re wearing football cleats. And you may prefer it as they’re designed for football.

Are Soccer Cleats Good for Football?

It’s safe to say that sports shoes have advanced with time. 

Take the shoes used in soccer a hundred years ago when the game was first invented, for example.

Old style soccer and football cleats

These cleats were heavy, leather boots that would quickly soak up water on a wet day and weigh a player down. And on top of that, the studs on the bottom of the cleats were often excessively long and dangerous!

The same goes for football.

A shoe worn by a football player a hundred years ago can’t even be compared to the shoes that players wear today. 

As both sports have advanced over time, so have their shoes.

The cleats used in both football and soccer have become significantly better with age. And each sport has developed shoes that are specific to their sport.

For example, in football, players choose their cleats based on their position on the field, and manufacturers can produce cleats that they specifically tailor to a player’s position on the field. 

Whether soccer cleats are good or bad for football ultimately depends on the position you will be playing in.

The Football Positions That Soccer Cleats Are Good For

If you’re playing as a kicker, then soccer cleats are perfect.

football kicker wearing soccer cleats

Because soccer involves regularly using your feet to kick the ball, soccer cleats are designed to aid a player’s ability to kick the ball. This provides a kicker with an advantage over wearing football cleats.

However, if you’re a linesman of any kind, you should always wear football boots. The reason for this is that specifically designed football cleats provide protection for your toes, assuring that nobody breaks your foot.

Even though most soccer boots have more narrow cleats, some sources still recommend wearing them if you’re a quarterback.

Ultimately this will come done to personal preference.

Nevertheless, you may find that you are better with football cleats rather than soccer cleats for this position. These cleats will allow for more traction and greater stability as you plant your feet or cut to change direction.

If you’re a wide receiver or a corner, then it could go either way. A pair of soccer boots with soccer cleats won’t really hurt, but equally, football cleats would do just fine.

So, soccer cleats aren’t bad for a football player to wear, but they’re not really applicable to all positions. 

They won’t offer enough traction if you’re a quarterback, and they won’t provide enough protection if you’re a linebacker.

On the other hand, if you’re a kicker, then you may find that the design of a soccer cleat is perfect as it would be if you’re playing flag football (Find out why, here).

To help you choose the best soccer cleats for you, I’ve created a step-by-step guide to simplify the process. Check it out here – How to Choose the Perfect Soccer Cleats (In 4 Simple Steps)

The Difference Between Soccer and Football Cleats

To help you understand a little more about why soccer cleats can work well for some positions in football, let me explain a bit more about the differences between the two.

There are three differences between soccer cleats and football cleats:

  • Football cleats have a toe stud, also known as a spike 
  • Soccer cleats are predominantly low-cut
  • Football cleats are heavier than soccer cleats
Soccer CleatsFootball Cleats
Sport-specific studsTraditional stud layoutIncludes toe spike
Cut of the cleatMostly low-cutMostly high-cut
Weight of the cleatLightweightHeavy
Differences between soccer and football cleats

Football Cleats Have a Toe Spike

When you compare soccer cleats and football cleats side by side, the first thing you will notice is the extra stud on the football cleat’s toe.

Also known as the “toe spike,” this stud is there to provide the player with greater traction between their foot and the ground. This is especially useful when the players are crouched down and facing each other at the beginning of a scrimmage. When trying to push a player away from you, you often grip with your toes.

The toe spike is entirely unnecessary in soccer and is actually considered to be dangerous.

If you see a soccer referee checking a player’s cleats before they play, it’s because they are checking to see if the player’s cleats are safe for the game. 

The presence of a toe spike would mean the cleats are not safe for a game of soccer.

Soccer Cleats Are Mostly Low-Cut Cleats

Another difference is that almost all soccer players wear a low-cut style of cleats because they all need to be very agile and quick on the turn. 

The low-cut nature of soccer cleats allows the player more movement and flexibility around their ankles.

Although football cleats, in comparison, have three styles – High-tops, mid-cut, and low-cut, the majority of football cleats worn tend to be high-top.

The reason for this is that football cleats are designed to provide grip and stability for a player. The extra support around the ankle gives the player a stronger foundation where they place their feet.

Soccer Cleats Are Lighter Than Football Cleats

The third significant difference between soccer cleats and football cleats is that soccer cleats are lighter than football cleats. 

This is because, unlike football, soccer players spend every minute on the pitch moving. Although they also spend time walking, jumping, and even standing, soccer players spend a considerable chunk of the game running or moving. 

That’s why soccer shoes need to be light.

The heavier the cleats are that a player is wearing, the quicker their legs will get tired and the slower they will get.

Although not all players have to be fast, the faster a soccer player can be, the more effective they will usually be.

Football is different.

A heavier cleat offers a player greater stability as their foot is more firmly planted in the ground. This can be a significant advantage to a football player.

For my top tips on how to look after your cleats, check out my article – How to care for your soccer cleats: Tips to make them last or How to Clean (And Dry) Your Cleats: Without Damaging Them.


Put simply, football is a sport of speed and strength, and football cleats are designed to reflect this. However, there are specific positions in football where wearing soccer cleats can be an advantage. 

The officials in a football game will allow a player to wear soccer cleats. But the player needs to assess if wearing soccer cleats is an advantage or disadvantage to them based on the position they intend to play.

I find comparing soccer to football really interesting and have written a few articles about it. If you want to check out any of them, click on one of the links below.

And check out my recommended soccer gear page if you want to find out what I believe are the best cleats on the market.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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