How to Choose the Perfect Soccer Cleats (in 4 Simple Steps)


Post title over image of soccer cleats

Soccer cleats are imperative for your comfort on the soccer field. Without good cleats, you risk your footwear holding you back and possibly suffering from frequent injuries. Finding the right soccer cleats to accommodate your playing needs can have a considerable effect on your game. This article will show you the few crucial factors you need to consider to ensure you choose the best soccer cleats for you.

To choose soccer cleats, first find out what type of field you’ll be playing on; artificial turf, firm ground, or soft grass. Next, look at cleats based on your playstyle. Then narrow down your search by choosing cleats for your position. Lastly, select cleats that are smaller than your shoe size.

Throughout this article, I will break down the four-step process you should follow in choosing your soccer cleats.

We’ll look at

  • Choosing cleats based on the field’s surface, 
  • Choosing cleats based on your playing style, 
  • Choosing cleats based on typical position,
  • And choosing cleats based on your shoe size.

By the end of this process, you’ll know exactly what soccer cleats are best for you!

How to choose soccer cleats infographic
How to choose soccer cleats infographic

Consider the Soccer Field Surface You’ll Be Playing on 

The first step in choosing soccer cleats is to figure out what kind of surface you’ll be playing on.

The type of cleats you decide to wear will react differently depending on if you’re playing on artificial turf, soft grass, and anything in between.

The ground on which you play soccer is of significant importance when choosing the correct soccer cleats. If you choose the wrong cleats on a grass field, you could risk dozens of ankle injuries, not to mention a lack of mobility.

I have to admit that it took me a long time to understand this.

I used the same cleats on multiple different surfaces for years before realizing that my choice of cleats was holding me back. Now I make sure I choose the right cleats for the game in front of me.

Well-fitting soccer shoes with the appropriate studs for the playing surface should provide comfort and facilitate the proper interaction between foot and surface. 

Soccer players wear cleats because they offer the traction needed to stop, start, and turn effectively. They also aid in passing and shooting actions.

Underscoring the vital role cleats play in a player’s performance, reports have shown that the type of sole and stud configuration of a cleat can lead to a 250% change in the degree of traction offered.

You should also keep in mind how the weather can affect the ground you will play on. Rainy weather can lead to mud, which softens the field, and dry, sunny weather can lead to hard, dusty ground.

It’s a good idea to have a few sets of soccer cleats available for worst-case scenarios.

When considering the soccer field surface, your selection of soccer shoes will rest on the type and number of studs you need.

Studs on the bottom of cleats ensure grip, traction, and stability; however, too much grip may lead to ankle trauma and knee joint injuries. In fact, the most common source of soccer injuries occurs during rapid direction changes where rotational forces affect the joints. 

Therefore, the size, shape, and type of your chosen cleats must suit the field of play.

Below, I’ve broken down several types of soccer cleats based on the most common field surfaces you will encounter.

Firm Ground Cleats

Firm Ground cleats, or FGs, are the most popular and versatile soccer shoes. They typically feature ten to fifteen conical or bladed studs that suit grass fields and harder surfaces such as dirt or frozen ground. FG studs can also be a mixture of the two stud types for enhanced versatility.

If you will regularly be playing on firm ground, you should choose firm ground soccer cleats.

Also known as molded soccer boots, fully molded FGs offer non-removable studs that provide both traction and stability on common playing surfaces. 

The two stud types have specific advantages:

  • Bladed studs facilitate lateral movements and are thinner and pointed, enhancing their grip better than the rounded stud versions. 
  • Conical studs provide a quick release and facilitate pivoting due to less penetration into the playing surface.

Most FG cleats combine both studs, with four-bladed studs under the heel and rounded studs under the front of the foot for easier pivoting. They provide less penetration than the metal stud varieties suited to softer surfaces and suit beginner players due to their versatility to the most commonly played pitches.

Although players often use FG cleats on artificial ground, they may cause injury and are prone to deterioration on artificial surfaces. 

However, if you plan to own only one pair of natural ground cleats, you should opt for the mix of conical and bladed studs on your cleats.

Soft Ground Cleats 

Soft Ground cleats, or SGs, provide traction on soft or muddy surfaces and feature longer, metal studs that players can unscrew from the shoe. The studs taper toward the bottom and are fewer and longer compared to firm ground studs. SGs provide deeper penetration into the playing surface and enable turning and pivoting on wet surfaces.

If you will be playing on soft ground regularly, you should choose soft ground soccer cleats.

Usually, SG cleats will only have six studs, four in the front and two placed under the heel. The design focuses the downward force onto fewer points than FGs, giving the player enhanced traction on the ground.

Soccer cleats in mud
Soccer cleats in mud

Soft ground cleats are not suited for hard or compact surfaces because the ground force is transferred back into the feet in concentrated areas. I can tell you from experience that this can be painful and uncomfortable.

These cleats also come with plastic rather than metal studs because many leagues do not allow players to use metal studs. To find out more about whether the league you play in allows metal studs, check out my article – Metal Cleats in Soccer: Allowed or Not?

Soft ground cleats are perfect for players who seek to change their studs according to the playing and weather conditions. 

Artificial Turf/Artificial Grass Cleats

With the increasing popularity of artificial turf soccer fields, artificial ground cleats (AGs) have become commonplace.

Artificial ground cleats (AGs) ideally suit an artificial surface. There are two main stud patterns designed for either artificial grass (with rubber studs) or the shorter Astroturf style surface. AGs offer a larger number of shorter studs across the soleplate to reduce the pressure on joints and knees in the harder artificial surfaces. 

If you will be playing on an artificial surface, you should choose artificial ground soccer cleats.

Typically AGs are more durable, so they cope with the more unforgiving nature of the harder artificial ground. 

The two types of artificial cleats are suited for the following:

  • Artificial turf cleats offer numerous smaller studs with rubber studs on the outer sole for durability on artificial surfaces. Artificial turf may build up heat during play and may abrade plastic studs, so the rubber studs extend the soccer boot’s life.
  • Artificial grass cleats are shorter than firm ground cleats. They are hollow to cope with rubber pellets and prevent the foot from becoming stuck on the surface. The shorter rubber studs work in tandem with the rubber studs to offer an enhanced artificial turf grip. 

Although you may use AGs on both soft and hard surfaces, one should be cautious about using soft ground or hard ground cleats on artificial surfaces. 

The studs’ increased penetration can cause injuries during play due to the artificial ground’s unique texture. Ideally, if you play both on artificial and soft/hard ground, you should have a pair of shoes suited for each surface. 

Flexible Ground/Multi-Ground, or All Ground Cleats

Due to the variety of soccer pitches, several high-profile soccer shoe brands have created a blend of firm ground and artificial ground outsoles in one shoe. 

These hybrid cleats allow players to use the same cleats on both natural and artificial turf without buying two sets of shoes.

The hybrid cleats have a series of names, the most popular being:

  • Adidas FxG
  • Nike MG
  • Or Puma FG/AG
Soccer cleats and ball

Often, these soccer cleats provide a combination of conical and bladed studs to suit both artificial and firm ground play.

Multi-ground shoes offer more studs than the other cleat types. They provide low profile, shortened studs for grip, and balanced weight distribution in FG and AG terrain. 

If you choose these cleats, be aware that multi-ground cleats do not offer metal studs and have a shortened stud profile. Because of this, they are not suitable for wet conditions that call for SGs’ deeper penetration into soft surfaces. 

Indoor Soccer Shoes

Another type of surface you may encounter is an indoor soccer field.

Indoor soccer shoes come in two varieties:

  • the futsal soccer shoe
  • and indoor turf shoes suited to indoor play. 

These soccer shoes do not have studs and look similar to traditional sneakers but provide high-performance rubber soles to promote better traction on hard surfaces.

Indoor turf soccer shoes offer advantages on artificial turf or grass in indoor sports facilities. 

Turf shoes suit the carpet-style surfaces and are flat on the outsole, much like the futsal-style shoes. 

The main difference between indoor soccer shoes and futsal shoes is that the turf shoe boasts numerous small rubber spikes for enhanced grip. Futsal soccer shoes, on the other hand, have flat rubber soles. 

Futsal shoes are low-profile soccer shoes with flat rubber soles and are suited to asphalt or gym floors. These shoes suit 5v5, 6v6, or any futsal-style soccer games. 

Once you have your new cleats, you need to make sure you look after them well. To help you with this, check out my article – How to Clean (And Dry) Your Cleats: Without Damaging Them.

Consider Your Playing Style on the Field

Having established the type of surface you will be playing on, you need to take your playing style into account when choosing soccer cleats.

Some soccer players are meant for speed, while others prefer control and incisive passing. You know your playstyle better than anyone else, so don’t forget to factor it into your decision-making process.

Let’s examine three types of soccer cleats that suit each playing style.

Soccer cleats
Soccer Cleats

Choosing Cleats for Speed

Cleats designed for speed are typically lightweight with a thin upper to offer better responsiveness. They also have an aggressive stud pattern for rapid acceleration. These speed-style cleats are highly popular on the market for their visual appeal and sleek profile. 

You often see them used by iconic forwards in the professional soccer leagues. 

Players who focus on speed will favor these aggressive blade-style studs on the soleplates for rapid acceleration and emphasized traction in play. Blade studded cleats are suited to forwards and strikers who seek enhanced response at high speeds of play. 

A great example of this speed style cleat is the top-tier Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 Elite as seen here on Amazon.

The Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 is a firm ground boot with an aggressive Aerowtrac zone on the forefoot with bladed studs and a stiffer chassis to boost traction. The insole also boasts NikeGrip technology for maximum interior grip. 

If your soccer playing style focuses on speed, then you should choose these cleats.

If you’re concerned about the price of soccer cleats, I recommend you have a look at my article – 11 Reasons Expensive Soccer Cleats are Worth It. It will put your mind to rest about the quality of the product you are receiving.

Choosing Cleats for Finishing

Agility-focused soccer cleats are a perfect combination of control elements and a speed cleat’s aggressive traction. They have clean striking features with a firm grip and a comfortable feel when passing and shooting the ball in play. 

The stud pattern on finishing cleats is generally a blend of bladed and conical studs with enhanced traction and pivoting and turning features.

Finishing cleats are relatively lightweight with a flexible upper and a well-balanced stud pattern. They typically provide clean striking zones for shooting and passing, but I have found that they do not always offer the best protection for a player’s feet.

An example of a top-tier agility boot is the PUMA Evopower Vigor 4 Graphic FG Soccer Shoe as seen here on Amazon.

The Evopower offers a soft and comfortable insole with a foam strip along the shoe’s side for cushioning. The outsole features lightweight rubber with both conical and blended studs for optimum agility and speed. 

If your soccer playing style focuses on finishing and agility, then you should choose these cleats.

Choosing Cleats for Control 

Control-focussed cleats will suit players who like to keep close contact with the ball in play. 

Control cleats offer a comfortable and cushioned feel while still providing enhanced grip on the playing surface. These styles of soccer shoes are typically suited to playmaking midfielders with the increased padding for protection.

These style cleats tend to run wider for a more natural and comfortable feel on the player’s foot. The stud patterns may vary in this shoe style, but typically control cleats have conical studs or a combination of rounded and bladed studs for agility and traction. 

An excellent example of a control cleat is the Adidas Ace 16.1 Primeknit as seen here on Amazon.

Adidas offers a soccer cleat made for speed and agility and Designed the ACE 16.1 for enhanced control at high speeds. These firm ground cleats also have zero wear-in time and suit firm ground.

If your soccer playing style focuses on a high level of control, you should choose these cleats.

Choose the Best Cleats for Your Position

Along with understanding your playing style, it’s crucial to find cleats that work for your position on the field. You don’t want to run around in goalkeeper cleats if you’re a winger, for example.

Soccer cleats laid on grass
Variety of Soccer Cleats

Find your position in the list below, then determine which soccer cleats are the best choice for you.

Choosing Soccer Cleats for Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers have specialized footwear needs in the game of soccer. Their soccer cleats must offer a firm grip and comfort while also helping the players make long goal kicks. As goalies do not run as much as the other players, the shoe weight is not as important when deciding on your cleats. 

A fine example of a soccer shoe suited to the goalkeeper position is the Nike Tiempo Legend 8 as seen here on Amazon.

This top-of-the-range soccer shoe offers plush lining for comfort and foot molding soft calfskin uppers with diamond texture for ball control. The chevron-modified conical studs offer enhanced multidirectional traction of n firm surfaces and enhanced stability in play. 

If you are a goalie, I would seriously consider these cleats.

Locating Cleats for Fullbacks

Defenders play both offensive and defensive at different times during a game, so they can choose from a wider variety of cleats to fit their preferred style. Players can choose whether they need the acceleration of speed boots or a control boot’s maneuverability, depending on their mode of play.

If you are a defender, I would recommend trying out both styles of cleats and seeing which ones are more comfortable for you.

One of my top soccer cleat choices for fullbacks is the Adidas Predator 19.2 as seen here on Amazon.

The Predator offers grippy technology with the Controlskin upper that keeps the ball snug on your foot. The outsole provides high-performance layers that provide enhanced stability and blade-style studs for improved traction and acceleration. This is all designed to stabilize a player’s movement.

Finding Cleats for Center-Backs

Center-backs need a shoe that is comfortable and offers control and protection during play. They also need to provide a clean sheet for their team while aiding a player in initiating attacks. The cleats suited to center-backs need to also facilitate precise passes through the midfield and out to the wingers.

An excellent example of a soccer shoe for the center-back position is the Adidas Copa Mundial as seen here on Amazon.

tackle in soccer
Soccer Player making a tackle

This is an iconic boot in the soccer world, and you have probably come across them. The Mundial offers a rich leather upper for feel and fit with a dual-density outsole and form-enhancing conical studs for superb grip and control on firm surfaces. 

If you’re a center back, I recommend you consider these cleats.

Choosing Cleats for Center Midfielders

Center midfielder players should choose a soccer cleat with great control and ball contact during play. 

The midfielders need a shoe that offers enhanced ball contact while providing stability, a clean striking surface, and comfortable wear. Soccer cleats need to suit this position’s creative and controlling nature and aid in technique, agility, and passing during play. 

A great example of a midfielder shoe is the Adidas Performance World Cup as seen here on Amazon.

One of Adidas’ top-tier soccer cleat offerings, it has durable kangaroo leather uppers for superior form-fitting. The insole is also very comfortable, and the metal screw-in studs allow you to choose the length of cleats for changing conditions and surfaces.

If you’re a midfielder, then I recommend you check out these cleats.

Selecting Soccer Cleats for Wingers

Wingers make use of both excellent technique and a high pace of speed. They require footwear that gives good traction and light ball touch for pinpoint crosses and technical footwork. Typically a winger would suit a more lightweight shoe with thinner uppers and studs that allow for high acceleration and maneuverability. 

A superb example of a soccer cleat suited to this dynamic position is the Puma Future 5.1 as seen here on Amazon.

Puma has created the ultimate shoe for speed with durable traction for quick acceleration and offers textured grip in crucial strike zones. The combination of conical and blade studs provides a combination of grip and heightened maneuverability. 

If you’re a winger, I recommend you consider these cleats.

Picking Soccer Cleats for Forwards/Strikers

Forwards need a specialized soccer cleat that aids them in their offensive position in play. The cleats need to provide a clear, striking surface as well enhanced stability for tricks and dribbling. 

Soccer Striker
Soccer Striker

They also need to aid tight ball contact and offer aggressive traction for heightened acceleration and speed. Striker cleats typically provide specialized uppers, textured for enhanced ball control. 

A fine example of a soccer cleat suited to the high-intensity position of a forward is the Adidas Predator 19.1 as seen here on Amazon.

The Adidas predator’s 3D molded heel offers both a secure fit and cushioning for comfort.

At the same time, the ultra-lightweight speed frame provides perforation for increased acceleration. The shoe boasts arrowhead forefoot studs combined with round heel studs for enhanced stops and starts. 

As someone who has often played as a forward, I can’t recommend these cleats highly enough.

Find the Right Shoe Size

Now you’ve narrowed your search with the three previously mentioned steps, it’s time to choose the right cleat size. 

Wearing loose soccer cleats is bad for three reasons:

  1. Loose shoes slow you down, which is detrimental to your team.
  2. You won’t be able to kick the ball properly since the cleat’s tip will wobble.
  3. There’s a chance you could lose a shoe or risk an ankle injury when wearing loose cleats.

It’s recommended that you wear a cleat about ½ size less than what you usually wear. 

For example, if you’re used to a size 9 men’s shoe, switch to an 8.5.

If you usually wear a women’s size 7 shoe, try a soccer cleat size 6.5.

Conclusion

When it comes to soccer, the shoes you choose to wear can make or break your game.

Choosing the correct soccer cleat for the playing surface and your strengths and playing position will ensure you put your best foot forward. 

Matching your soccer cleats to the playing surface will not only greatly enhance your performance but also protect you from injury. 

Don’t be intimidated by the sheer volume of different cleats that are available out there. Go through these steps, figure out what cleats are best for you, and then purchase some that fit those recommendations.

And once you’ve purchased the best pair you need to know how to look after them. Check out my article – How to care for your soccer cleats: Tips on how to make them last – for more info about that!

If you want more info on soccer cleats, have a look at one of my previous articles:

Sources:

Ben

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. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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