In any sport, the equipment you play with can impact on your performance just as much as your ability to play. Tennis players need the correct racquet in their hand to hit those winners over the net and golfers rely heavily on having the best set of clubs in their bag for those under par scores.
For soccer players, wearing the best soccer cleats on your feet can be the difference between being the player of the match or substituted at half-time; scoring the winning goal or hitting your shot high over the bar. The choices of soccer cleats available today are greater than ever before and choosing the correct pair needs careful consideration.
What You Need to Consider When Buying Soccer Cleats
Choosing a pair of soccer cleats, or boots requires more than just checking to see if they fit, albeit it goes without saying that they should. Soccer cleats are manufactured using several different types of materials with variations in weight, durability and feel for the ball. The cleats or studs which provide the grip vary greatly and choosing the right one for the surface you are playing on could mean the difference between staying fit or getting injured. Even the position you play should influence your choice. and of course, there’s always your budget to consider too.
So let’s kick-off by taking a look a closer look at what you need to think of when choosing a winning pair of soccer cleats.
Why Uppers Material Can Influence Ball Control
Long gone are days when all soccer boots were made from thick, black leather that today wouldn’t look out of place on a pair of mining boots. Modern soccer cleats are still made out of leather, but they are softer and more comfortable whilst still retaining their durability.
Synthetic uppers are a commonly used material for soccer cleats with the advantage that they are lighter and thinner than leather soccer boots. They also tend to be more comfortable and durable than leather. One downside of synthetic cleats is some cheaper versions do not offer the same ‘feel of the ball’ that leather uppers offer players.
There is a newer trend for uppers made from synthetic leather which tries to replicate the feel of leather but using synthetic materials. Some of the larger brands have introduced their own versions of this type of upper and they continue to develop them.
Mesh is a material similar to that used in running shoes with the intention of giving an extra lightweight feel. They’re ideal for dry weather but when it is raining mesh uppers can allow in moisture, meaning wet socks and adding weight which slows down running speeds.
Ensuring Grip for the Surface You Play On
When playing soccer, the grip you have underneath is vital, not only for your ability while playing but also for your safety. Countless injuries are caused when players slip just as they are about to kick the ball or tackle an opponent. If you want to avoid strained hamstrings and pulled calf muscles, then choosing the soccer cleats or studs that will keep your feet firmly planted on the pitch surface is essential.
The determining factor for the cleats or studs you choose should be the playing surfaces you normally play on. Artificial surfaces require shorter, hollow studs and there will be more studs than is needed for playing on grass. Grass pitches will tend to be either firm or soft depending on how well they have been maintained and if the weather has been wet or dry.
To help choose the correct cleat or stud most soccer boots are marked according to the surface they’re designed for:
- FG – Firm Ground: Grass surfaces with little or no rain
- SG – Soft Ground: Grass surfaces which get frequent rain and studs can penetrate the surface
- AG – Artificial Ground: A new configuration specifically for artificial and newer turf surfaces
- HG – Hard Ground: Less common today but used on worn or very dry surfaces
- AT – Turf: Used mainly on artificial surfaces
- IN – Indoor: For use on indoor soccer courts
How Does the Position You Play Influence Your Choice
Often overlooked is the fact that the position you play for your soccer team has a bearing on the properties the soccer cleats you wear on your feet should have. For example, grip and traction are more important for defenders and goalkeepers, whilst having lightweight boots are more suited to wingers and forwards. Here are some suggestions for different positions.
Goalkeepers: Often need to run from a standing start to clear pass backs so great traction is essential
Defenders: Should look for boots with a thicker upper that offer maximum protection when tackling
Midfielders: These guys do the most running so a perfect fit and comfort is essential
Forwards: Lightweight boots allow them to strike the ball cleanly with good grip so they can accelerate rapidly
What Difference Your Budget Should Make
Every purchase you make is influenced by your budget and how much you are willing to spend. Your passion for playing soccer might mean that you are happy to pay top dollar, but bear in mind there’s more to choosing soccer cleats that just the price.
Price differences mean there’s obviously going to be big differences in the quality of the materials used. When you consider that one important role of soccer boots is to protect your feet, it is not wise to compromise this by choosing cleats made from cheap and inferior materials.
The wisest move is to choose a pair that meets as many of the criteria above in terms of comfort, surface grip, protection, weight, and your position then align that with the budget you have.
Recommended Soccer Cleats for Men
If you are looking for soccer cleats built for speed on hard surfaces, then Nike’s Mercurial Superfly V could be the pair you are looking for. These cleats incorporate Nike’s ultralight, ‘3D Speed Plate’ which is naturally contoured to your foot. This can allow you to sprint powerfully away from your opponents as they try vainly to match your speed.
A specially designed stud pattern created using computer technology means the grip you have on the soccer field will be sure at all times and give you the confidence that you won’t slip at those vital moments.
Contoured speed ribs on the lightweight synthetic upper maximize your control of the ball for enhanced passing and shooting accuracy. Nike’s ‘All Conditions Control’ technology means ball control is assured in both and wet and dry conditions.
Comfort is maximized by the perforated sock liner which provides improved cushioning to reduce stud pressure. The snug-fit inner sock grips your foot to allow maximum traction when making sharp turns.
Nike’s Mercurial Superfly V cleats tie up with integrated laces and flywire cables which improve both the secureness of fit and minimize variations on the kicking surface for truer passing and shooting.
Argentinian soccer legend Lionel Messi is arguably the best player to ever kick a soccer, so if he puts his name on a pair of soccer cleats then they are definitely worth checking out. The pair in question is the Adidas Men’s Messi 16.1 Firm Ground Soccer Cleats which Messi himself helped to develop.
Feeling comfortable from the first whistle to the last is a must for any player and these cleats seek to ensure that with their ‘AGILITYKNIT’ upper. This molds perfectly to your foot and in conjunction with the snug-fit mono-tongue provides the comfort that you should be looking for.
Messi is known for exceptional ball control and whilst Adidas don’t claim these soccer cleats will get you to his skill level, the boots textured outer surface should at least maximize your passing and shooting accuracy.
These cleats are designed mainly for use on firm ground such as dry, natural grass and the 7 + 4 stud alignment should provide traction when turning quickly or sprinting from a standing start.
The synthetic outer material known as Sprintframe is extremely lightweight adding to the ability of these cleats to enhance your running speed and agility.
As a soccer player, you know the ability to control the ball in both good and bad weather conditions makes you an asset to your team. With Nike’s Hypervenom Phantom II Firm Ground Cleats this issue is addressed with ‘ALL CONDITION CONTROL’ technology for assisting ball control in all weathers. The textured upper also increases touch to give you that split second of extra time to control and pass the ball before your opponent has a chance to tackle you
Agility is another major asset for playing winning soccer but this relies on having the maximum traction available to make the turns and twists necessary to get past opposing players. These cleats have a split plate and nylon chassis to enhance traction and with durable TPU tipped studs your grip on the pitch is assured.
To help you feel lighter as you sprint past opponents flywire cables are used to reduce the weight of the cleats whilst the ‘DYNAMIC FIT’ collar ensures your feet are supported throughout the game.
Comfort hasn’t been forgotten with molded sock liners cushioning your feet as well as reducing pressure from the studs. This provides a glove-like fit so you can concentrate on winning the game rather than aching feet.
The upper is made from ultra-soft premium kangaroo leather which should provide you with the touch needed to control the ball which only leather can provide. In addition, there is no stitching around the impact area so when you are passing and shooting your accuracy should be truer.
The leather is supple but also durable at the same time and you can expect leather soccer cleats to provide added protection from tackles and impact injuries.
Inner cushioning is provided by the ‘evoknIT’ sock that provides maximum comfort and a GripTex insole heel eliminates any slippage you may experience inside the shoe. One unique feature is the shape of the ankle collar which sits just below the ankle bone, therefore, players with thicker ankles should find these soccer cleats more comfortable than standard designs
The spine of these soccer cleats offers stability so your ability to twist or turn with the ball is not compromised. The rounded studs are evenly spread therefore quick changes of direction or stopping quickly can be done with confidence.
To ensure a perfect fit the boots utilize a special integrated tongue which is designed not to move whilst you are playing. This should provide a consistent and more comfortable fit throughout the game, allowing you to concentrate on playing well rather than adjusting your footwear.
The molded sock liner fits perfectly to your natural foot shape and provides support for your arches. The inner cage also offers Impact protection for when your opponent decides they want to kick you rather than the ball.
With rectangular cleats in the heel and conical cleats in the front, these boots are ideal for playing on firm surfaces but may also be suitable on slightly softer grounds that aren’t sodden. Traction, when pushing off and rotating, should be there when you need it most and the flexible plate moves as your foot does to provide even greater comfort and stability whenever you are running.
Your touch on the ball, whether passing or receiving the ball will be enhanced thanks to the kangaroo leather uppers. The upper leather has been vacuum pressed which means the amount of water ingress whilst playing in wet conditions is reduced. This ‘Hypershield’ technology keeps your shoes soft and light to help maintain your speed and agility as opposed to being slowed down by water laden footwear.
All the soccer cleats we’ve looked at could give any soccer player an advantage but as with any soccer competition, there can be only one winner and our champions are the Nike Tiempo Legend VI Firm Ground Cleats.
Playing soccer relies heavily on ball control and the ability to accurately pass to your teammates so buying soccer cleats that can give the best possible chances of doing both is essential. Nike Tiempo Legend VI Firm Ground Cleats offer enhanced ball touch and control by using traditional soft leather uppers whilst also utilizing the latest in modern technology to provide the very best in comfort and stability.
The design of the flexible plate and stud configuration give maximum traction so players can be confident their footing is secure whilst playing. The ‘Hypershield’ technology used in these cleats to reduce moisture ingress is another great enhancement which none of the others could offer.
By utilizing the best of traditional and modern Nike have definitely created a winning combination which most soccer players should be able to take onto the soccer field and improve their own chances of victory.