If you’re anything like me, you will have found it confusing to understand the differences between all the types of soccer cleats available. To help you out, I’ve put together this guide compiling all the information I’ve discovered about each type of soccer cleat.
There are five types of soccer cleats:
- Hard Ground Soccer Cleats – Designed for completely dry ground
- All Ground Soccer Cleats – Designed to be used on multiple different surfaces
- Firm Ground Soccer Cleats – Designed for grass surfaces that are “firm” underfoot
- Soft Ground Soccer Cleats – Designed for ground that is soft or muddy
- Artificial Ground Soccer Cleats – Designed to be used on synthetic turf
Although these are the five main types of cleats, you may come across a few variations of these.
We’ll look at these variations as we go through the list.
First, let’s start by looking at why there are different types of cleats, and then I’ll explain what the differences are and when you should choose a specific type.
The Reason for the Different Types of Soccer Cleats
Different types of soccer cleats are available to provide the best footwear option for the kind of playing surface a game is played on.
For example, soccer cleats designed for hard ground will have much shorter studs than a soccer cleat designed for soft ground.
The reason for this is that when you’re playing on soft ground, you need longer studs to stick further into the ground and give you more traction on a more slippery surface.
The type of cleats you should wear will depend on what surface you are playing on.
If you choose the wrong cleats for the wrong surface, you will struggle to play effectively and face a higher risk of injury.
The ground on which you play soccer is the most significant factor when choosing what soccer cleats to wear.
I admit that it took me a long time to realize this.
I used to wear the same cleats on many different surfaces before understanding that my choice of cleats was holding me back.
Now I choose the right cleats for the game and the playing surface in front of me.
Ideally, you want a few sets of soccer cleats available for each game.
The size, shape, and type of cleats you wear must suit the field of play.
For example, rainy weather before you play can lead to a muddy, soft field, and dry, sunny weather can lead to a game on hard, dusty ground.
Wearing the correct type of cleats for the playing surface should provide comfort and facilitate the proper interaction between foot and surface.
Looking after your cleats well is key to making them last. Check out my article – How to Care For Your Soccer Cleats: Tips to Make Them Last – to discover my top tricks and tips to keep your cleats in top condition.
#1 – Hard Ground Soccer Cleats
Hard ground cleats are designed for use on ground that is completely dry and hard.
Hard ground soccer cleats consist of 12 short circular studs evenly distributed across the bottom of a soccer shoe. The short stud profile of hard ground cleats offers the wearer an effective amount of traction without causing the player’s foot to feel uncomfortable.
When faced with a playing field that hasn’t seen any moisture in a long time, you want to consider wearing a pair of hard ground cleats.
This most often occurs in the height of summer when it’s not rained for weeks, or on a dusty dirt ground that rarely soaks up any water.
As the name suggests, hard-ground cleats are adapted for use on a hard, dry-grass field or a field with synthetic grass that has little to no give in the surface.
The studs on these cleats are often positioned in three sections.
- A group of four studs near the toes,
- a group of four studs between the ball of the foot and arches,
- and a group of four studs beneath the heel.
The aim is to evenly distribute a player’s weight throughout the base of the shoe as hard ground can be uncomfortable on a player’s feet and knees.
Also, be aware that although hard ground cleats sound similar to firm ground cleats, they are different, as you will discover in a moment when we loot at firm ground cleats.
#2 – All Ground Soccer Cleats
All ground soccer cleats are specifically designed to be used on multiple different surfaces. Also known as multi-ground soccer cleats, these shoes are effective on all types of soccer fields, from firm ground to artificial ground.
Due to the diversity of soccer fields around the world, multiple high-profile soccer shoe brands created a blend of firm ground and artificial ground cleats into one shoe.
These cleats allow players to use the same shoes on both natural and artificial turf without having to own two sets of soccer cleats.
These soccer cleats provide a combination of bladed and conical studs that suit both artificial and firm ground play.
All-ground shoes have more studs than most other cleat types.
They consist of low-profile, shortened studs that offer adequate grip and balanced weight distribution in both firm ground and artificial ground settings.
If you are considering purchasing this type of cleats, be aware that all-ground cleats do not offer metal studs and have a shortened stud profile.
The shortened stud profile is unsuitable for wet conditions that call for deeper penetration into soft ground.
Although all ground cleats are great if you only have one pair of cleats, remember, they are good on most surfaces but not really great on any one specific surface.
When you’ve just purchased some new cleats you want to wear them as soon as possible. To help with this, I wrote – 8 Steps To Break In Soccer Cleats Fast. This article will have you feeling comfortable in your new cleats in no time.
#3 – Firm Ground Soccer Cleats
When you first hear about firm ground cleats, you may assume they are the same as hard ground cleats.
Although they can be used interchangeably up to a point, the reality is that they are designed for slightly different conditions.
Hard ground cleats are for use on ground that is completely dry. Surfaces such as really dry grass or dirt surfaces are perfect for these.
However, firm-ground soccer cleats are best for grass surfaces that are dry and “firm” underfoot but still have a bit of moisture or softness in the ground.
Firm Ground cleats, or FGs, are among the most popular and versatile soccer shoes.
Also known as molded soccer cleats, FGs offer non-removable studs that provide both traction and stability on most common playing surfaces.
They feature ten to fifteen conical or bladed studs that suit grass fields and harder surfaces such as dirt or frozen ground.
FG cleats may also be a mixture of the two stud types for enhanced versatility.
The two stud types have specific advantages:
- Bladed studs facilitate lateral movements and are thinner and pointed. This offers an enhanced grip that is better than the rounded stud versions.
- Conical studs provide less penetration into the playing surface, which offers a quick release and facilitates pivoting on the field.
Most FG cleats combine both types of studs, with four-bladed studs under the heel and rounded studs under the front of the foot for easier pivoting.
However, they provide less penetration than the metal stud varieties suited to softer surfaces. This often suits beginner players due to their versatility of being effective on most commonly played fields.
If you will regularly be playing on firm ground, and you plan on only owning one pair of natural ground cleats, you should choose firm ground soccer cleats.
Just be aware that although you may see players use FG cleats on artificial ground, this is risky as they may cause injury and are prone to deterioration in this setting.
#4 – Soft Ground Soccer Cleats
Soft Ground cleats, or SGs, are best used on soft or muddy surfaces. This type of cleat provides a high level of traction and features longer metal studs that players can unscrew from the shoe.
The studs taper toward the bottom and, compared to firm ground studs, are fewer and longer.
Soft Ground cleats provide deeper penetration into the playing surface and enable turning and pivoting on wet surfaces.
If you are playing on soft ground regularly, you should choose soft ground soccer cleats.
Usually, soft ground cleats will only have six studs, four in the front and two under the heel. The design focuses the downward force onto fewer points than firm ground cleats, giving the player better traction on the ground.
Soccer cleats in mud
Soft ground cleats are unsuitable 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 usually 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 during the Fall or Spring months where the ground may be softer.
They are also ideal for players looking to change their studs according to the playing and weather conditions.
#5 – Artificial Ground Soccer Cleats
You may have noticed that artificial fields are becoming more common.
With this increasing popularity, artificial ground cleats (or AGs) have become more readily available.
As the name suggests, artificial ground cleats are ideally suited to a synthetic surface.
Because an artificial surface is relatively hard, AGs offer a larger number of shorter studs across the soleplate. This reduces the pressure on joints and knees on the harder artificial ground.
There are two main stud patterns on these cleats. One is for artificial grass (with rubber studs), and the other is shorter and used on an Astroturf style surface.
- 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.
If you are playing on an artificial surface, you should choose artificial ground soccer cleats.
Artificial ground cleats are typically more durable than other cleats and cope well with the more unforgiving nature of the harder artificial ground.
Although you can use AGs on soft and hard surfaces, I recommend avoiding 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 on artificial and soft/hard ground, have a pair of shoes suited for each surface.
For more helpful info on soccer cleats, check out one of my previous articles: