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Selecting soccer cleats

April 21, 2006 06:38 PM EST | Soccer | Email to Friend

Selecting the proper soccer cleats could be very challenging but it does not have to become a nightmare. With the adequate knowledge you can easily choose the right soccer shoes for yourself or your child, if that’s the case.

What kind of soccer cleats should you buy?
There are so many choices. And all this marketing nonsense out there. Exactly. There is no simple answer to this question. Selecting the proper soccer cleats could be very challenging but it does not have to become a nightmare. With the adequate knowledge you can easily choose the right soccer shoes for yourself or your child, if that’s the case.

So, let’s see what you should look for while buying soccer cleats. Besides the price, you want to make sure they are comfortable. But how would you know if they give you enough comfort, before you play in them at least few times?

You won’t. But you can increase your chances of buying comfortable soccer cleats by considering the following factors:
1.Manufacturer
2.True Leather or Synthetic
3.Studs Type
4.Size

Let's talk about these factors a little bit more.

Manufacturer
Adidas and Nike are the 2 most popular. For a good reason. They are probably the best on the market.

While Adidas has manufactured soccer shoes “forever”, Nike has made great strides over the last few years. Both companies make equally good quality soccer shoes.

I personally never played in Nike's shoes, so I can’t tell you about this brand from my experience. My sons played soccer using both brands. After trying them for a while, the younger son sticks to Nike while Pat (older) uses Adidas shoes only. They both are very happy with their selections.

Do you know why?

Their feet are build differently. Pat has a much wider foot than his brother. Adidas makes its cleats bigger in width than Nike.

Basically if you have:
Wide foot - look for a pair of Adidas Soccer Cleats.
Skinny foot - look for a pair of Nike Soccer Cleats.

It wouldn’t be fair not to mention 2 other brands, almost as good as the above two:
Diadora and Puma.
Other brands like: Umbro, Kelme, Mitre, Lotto - only if you really can’t afford the brands mentioned above or if you just simply like these brands.

True Leather or Synthetic
Upper portion of every soccer shoe is made out of either true leather or synthetic material.

What is better?

True leather…in my opinion. And I recommend it to everybody who is serious about playing soccer.

True leather gives you an uncompromising feel of the ball. It molds to your feet producing great comfort. It also lasts longer than synthetic materials. And it is healthier for your feet.

Synthetic materials don’t let the feet “breathe” building up of sweat, potential blisters and feet problem in the near future.

But…(of course there is a “but”) - True leather cleats cost more.

There are few different types of leather used to manufacture soccer cleats.

The least expensive is full grain. Sometimes full grain leather soccer shoes could cost only slightly more than “artificial”. Spending $10-20 more on much better shoes would be really worth it.
The best leather out on the market is K-Leather (Kangaroo). Though more expensive but it is softer, lighter and still durable. If your feet are not growing like the speed of sound and your budget is not too tight, definitely consider buying soccer cleats made from K-Leather.

There is another “but” or an exception to my “non-synthetic soccer shoes” rule: soccer cleats made of high quality synthetic material.
These soccer shoes are manufactured with special microfiber technology that upgrades synthetic material, usually a PU (polyurethane). It makes the PU very soft, and strong, giving it similar feel to a natural material. Top Super-Microfiber material can be just as expensive as some leather!

Nowadays almost all-leading sport’s footwear manufacturers use microfiber materials. For example, Nike makes their top quality cleats from super lightweight synthetic material called KNG-100 (Air Zoom Total 90) and Nike-Skin (Mercurial Vapor). Even Adidas, for the first time, used microfiber for its newest creation Adidas Predator Absolute (there is a Kangaroo leather model as well).

So, my “non-synthetic cleats rule” applies only to a regular (cheap) synthetic material like PU or PVC (polyvinylchloride).

Studs Type
1. Molded Studs
There are practically two different molded soccer cleats on the market:
a) the traditional - contains a sole that has round studs (usually between ten to fifteen).
b) the X-Grip (or bladed shape) - slimmer than round studs, strategically placed in different angles to offer a player a better footing.

Soccer shoes with molded round studs (traditional) are more universal. What I mean is that, this type of soccer cleats are good for hard and firm surfaces as well as for soft grounds. However, they are not really reliable for extreme circumstances like: very hard and dry fields (turf shoes will be the ultimate choice here) or very soft and wet surface (screw-ins).

The X-Grip design is manufactured for specific field conditions. In this case, with different length and angles of studs, we have to choose between soccer cleats made specifically for either hard (HG), firm (FG) or soft (SG) ground. Your choice then should be based on the type of fields you play soccer on the most.

If you play on all kinds of surfaces, I would recommend-traditional round studs.

But if you really want to stick to new style, then buy X-Grip for firm pitch (FG).

Of course, the best scenario would be to have two pairs of soccer cleats for different field conditions. But who can afford it? Not to many of us.

2. Replaceable (screw-ins) Studs
This type of cleats is very optional. Most young soccer players do not need them. With the poor quality of most youth fields, screw-ins just wouldn’t get enough use to warrant purchase.
Unless, you play a lot on great, soft fields and have extra cash (screw-ins can not be the only soccer cleats you have). Also some leagues do not allow this type of equipment.

Size
It is very important that the soccer cleats you buy must fit perfectly. This means as snug as possible, tight to the foot (sorry parents, you can’t have growing room in soccer cleats). Close-fitting shoes facilitate the best touch (the feel for the ball).
Soccer shoes I usually get, for my older son (16 years old) and myself, are ½ size smaller. This is, because leather expands after a while and then molds to the foot. For my 10 year old, since synthetic does not stretch and cleats in junior size are not that expensive, I buy his exact shoe size.

Adrian Gumowski has been involved in soccer for thirty years. As a former player and now as a parent of two youth soccer players Adrian shares his knowledge on Youth Soccer Equipment and other soccer related topics at my-youth-soccer-guide.com.

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