Make the Most of Your Cleats
Soccer has survived as one of the sports with the longest tradition. One of the reasons why this sport, above many others, persisted for so long is because it requires almost no equipment. Really, all you need to play soccer is a ball, some friends, a wide open space, and something to use as the goals.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped people and companies from searching for ways to optimize performance. From clothing designed specifically for playing soccer to soccer balls whose creators claim it possesses the perfect amount of durability and ‘bounce’ to it.
One such piece of equipment that has gone through the most innovation and specialization are soccer cleats. At one point, cleats were cleats. As long as the studs on the bottom had enough grip, they worked. These days there are cleats designed for specific foot types, positions, and the type of surface you play on.
Most cleats, generally, are designed for rather narrow feet with the same arch. This elusive “ideal foot” doesn’t fit the scores of us whose feet are wide or flat or even just slightly differently proportioned. Thankfully, there are cleats out there for us outcasts as well.
If you’re flat footed, finding cleats that don’t aggravate your arches takes a bit of searching but the options are definitely out there. Most cleats don’t come devoid of an arch, so finding a pair that is completely flat will leave you stressed and confused. Instead, look for cleats that have a mild/moderate arch and a midsole that is flexible. You’ll want the shoes to mold to your foot to support your feet as they are, so that they don’t leave you hurting after long days of practice.
Most cleats are too narrow for us wide-footed athletes. Sometimes it feels like Nike thinks I can fold in the edges of my feet to fit into their shoes. But before you start wrapping your foot to try to slowly shrink it into those cleats you found at Walmart, check out some of the cleats made with our normal feet in mind. I actually found that, because so many others share this problem, multiple companies now provide cleats specifically for wide feet. Personally, I look through SoccerGap to find the best wide soccer cleats.
If you’re a parent, or you’re new to the sport, a walk through the cleat section of your local shoe store will leave your head reeling. Which style do I need? Which one is the best? Quit stressin’. I’ve got the definitive tips on how to optimize your cleats for the position you play!
- Goalkeeper: Strong grip for leaping after shots
- Defenders: Good grip is also necessary, with good foot protection.
- Midfielders: You’re running all the time, so make sure they’re comfortable!
- Wingers: Keep it light, you don’t want huge studs or protection slowing you down
- Forwards: Also keep it light, but don’t sacrifice as much grip so you can turn on a dime.
Finally, you should consider what surface you’ll usually play on when purchasing your cleats. Every pair of cleats made by a major company is designed for a specific intended surface. Firm Ground cleats are designed for dryer and grassier surfaces. Soft Ground cleats work better in wetter grass, rainier areas, places where you’re more likely to squish, slip, or slide. Artificial Ground and Turf cleats are specifically for the fake turf, or astroturf, that seems to be slowly replacing grass fields everywhere. Hard Ground cleats are for, well, hard ground! Indoor cleats are another type that is fairly self explanatory.
So there you have it! The guide to finding the perfect cleats that work for your foot. Remember, if it’s not comfortable when you try it on, it’s definitely not going to be comfortable after six hours of running. Whether you have a wide foot, a narrow one, or you just don’t feel like your current cleats are getting the job done, there’s a perfect pair of cleats out there for you somewhere. You just have to know what to look for.