How Soccer Cleats Should Fit: A Guide


As a soccer player, you need to be comfortable in your cleats during a game. You do not want any form of irritation obstructing your focus on the game. Knowing how your cleats should fit will help you when purchasing them and also prevent discomfort and potential injury during games.

The fit of a soccer cleat should be snug but comfortable. The right size soccer cleats should leave about a ¼ gap ( about the width of a baby’s finger) between your big toe and the end of the cleat. Be sure it covers your entire foot without touching your toes. The cleats should feel as natural as possible. 

Your feet are one of your most essential resources on the field. They must be in cleats that will ensure maximum performance and comfort.

Let me show you how to identify the perfect fit and what to look for when choosing cleats.

Post title over image of soccer cleats

How Should Soccer Cleats Fit?

Your ability to kick the ball and move around the field effectively is influenced by the fit of your cleats. This will affect your general performance.

The first thing to be aware of is that your soccer cleats don’t have to fit as your regular shoes would.

Often, they will feel different and may not even be the same size. 

Personally, I always wear cleats that are at least half a size smaller than other footwear I use.

Wearing the right size of cleats enhances your general soccer performance and ability to handle the ball when playing.

Your cleats need to be snug on your feet.

soccer cleat laces

The purpose of having a snug fit is to prevent excess space around your foot. Excess space can negatively influence the way you run and kick the ball.

You want your feet to feel as though they are touching the ball. Too much space around your feet creates a barrier between your feet and the ball.

Most soccer professionals use a method to ensure they buy cleats that are at least a number less than their regular shoe size.

The best thing you can do is develop your own strategy to ensure your cleats fit well by trying a variety of sizes.

I advise getting your cleats from a store that permits you to size them and helps ensure they fit well. 

You can make your fitting process more successful by wearing a pair of socks to get a better feel of how well your cleats fit.

You’re at risk of leaving with cleats that are too tight if you test them at the store without the same type of socks you will be wearing on a game day – but then it’s too late.

When testing at the store, start with your known regular shoe size and downgrade the size from there.

It is vital you wear and lace the complete pair all the way up in order to prevent wrong assumptions.

Use your thumb to press down all sides of the cleats, including your toe area, to get a feel for the space around your feet.

If the store permits, walk, run, kick and even perform a brief kick using a soccer ball. 

This will help you judge and determine how comfortable you’ll be playing with them on the field. Ensure that your toes reach the forefront of the cleats without causing pain or pressure or touching the front of the cleat.

I also recommend avoiding the cheapest soccer cleats in the store.

The lower quality of materials and production will only negatively affect your performance on the field. The reality is that more expensive cleats are more often than not worth the extra cost.

How Can I Tell if My Cleats Are Too Snug?

Your cleats are too tight if they have no space at all in between your foot and the toe end of the cleat, and the cleats are too big if your whole thumb can fit between your toes and the end of your cleats.

The proper fit to look for should give you about a ¼” gap ( the size of a baby’s finger).

A cleat that has your toes pressing hard against it is too tight and definitely not the correct size.

Soccer cleats and ball

Often, players make the mistake of reusing tight cleats that no longer fit- don’t fall into that trap.

At some point, we’ve all purchased a pair of cleats that are the wrong size and soon realize they’re either too small or too long.

Some players still go ahead and wear them, hoping the pair will somehow fit once they’ve played in them a few times.

(I am definitely guilty of doing this in the past!)

Don’t do this! If you know the cleats are too snug, change them for a larger pair.

A tight cleat will also press your ankle hard against the heel, restricting free movement without friction. But, again, this means you’ve picked the wrong size for your games and risk having blisters once the cleats suppress any part of your feet.

However, if you feel your cleats are tight but not too snug, then there is an option for loosening them up a little.

To loosen your tight cleats, immerse them in hot water for about 10-15 minutes while wearing them. This helps to stretch the stitches and allows for extra space. 

Check out my guide – 8 Steps to Breaking in Your Soccer Cleats Fast – for more tips on how to make sure your cleats are as comfortable as possible.

Advice for Choosing the Right Soccer Cleats Size

Getting the best fitting soccer cleats relies on you choosing the correct size.

That may sound obvious, but there are a few specific factors to consider when choosing soccer cleats.

For more detailed advice on choosing cleats, check out my guide – How to Choose the Perfect Cleats: 4 Simple Steps.

But this image below will give you some helpful pointers.

4 steps to choose right soccer cleats infographic
Steps to choosing the perfect soccer cleats

Let me also share some more details them with you here.

1. Select the Appropriate Fit

As we’ve already talked about, your cleats should be more snug than your regular shoes, due to the frequent motion and swift footwork demanded in soccer games.

Cleats aren’t supposed to be so tight that they restrict air circulation or too free that they can slip off your feet during sports.

The conventional rule is to purchase cleats half-a-number lesser than your everyday shoe size.

2. The Soccer Field Ground Type

Another factor to consider when purchasing your cleats is the type of surface texture and ground you’ll be playing on.

There are five different types of soccer cleats and each of them is designed for a player to wear them on a specific type of surface.

If your soccer game is indoors, choose cleats with a flat rubber sole. It will provide you with the right traction on the ground surface.

If the game is artful turf or outdoor soccer, pick cleats with studs on the base of the sole. This will help you lunge into the turf for appropriate balance, stamina, and traction.

You can even use metal studs if you like.

3. Remember Your Playing Position

The position you play for the team is an effective guide in buying the most suitable cleats for you.

Defenders need cleats that offer firm support at the forefront of their cleats, but midfielders will need extra padding in their cleats.

You should ensure that your cleat is able to endure the degree of impact contact, strain and friction your position will demand.

4. Take Note of the Upper Section of the Cleats

The shoe part that laces up and grants you a confident fit, is called the upper.

Be mindful of the material used to assemble the upper, to ensure it can resist different weather situations and high impact positions.

Some cleats are built with unique materials to keep the soccer ball “cleaving” to your feet, for swift foot motions and better control.


Now you know what to look out for when choosing your next soccer cleats to avoid discomfort.

For more info on how to care for your cleats check out one of my soccer cleat guides below.

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. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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