Every budding athlete looking to get into a sport knows this: one of the first steps of commitment is finally buying your own gear. This can come in the form of equipment or, occasionally, apparel, but very often for any athletic endeavor, finally getting your feet wet requires a sports-specific pair of shoes—and in football, this footwear is better known as “boots” or “cleats.”
Football boots are aptly named so thanks to a very distinct feature: on the soles are small protruding studs, which are also called, you guessed it, cleats. Because the sport requires a great deal of running on grassy, muddy pitches that roughly a hundred meters from one end to another, these cleats help give football athletes traction by enabling them to slightly plant their feet into the ground. This way, more time is spent on playing and having a great time, and less on slipping, sliding, and sustaining injuries, which are definitely not so fun.
Not all football games, though, are played on the same terrain. Although a lush, greens-and-soil football field is still ideal, games are sometimes held on “turf,” a pitch filled of artificial grass and rubber infill. For this reason, football cleats come in three main forms:
Firm Ground shoes have more cleats around the edges of the footwear, with some spread out in the middle for good foot support. This type is most common, and works well with most kinds of fields.
When playing on slick surfaces, or fields with less grass and more mud, soil and debris could easily get stuck on cleats, causing the shoe to become heavier with each step. For this reason, Soft Ground shoes have the least amount of cleats, with only a few in the middle for foot support.
Hard Ground shoes have the most number of cleats, which are also shorter, to give the athlete the best foot support for playing on turf and other artificial playing surfaces.
Footballers play different positions, so naturally, you’ll need cleats to match your role on the field. That’s why, before you commit to a cleat, it’s important you know not just where, but how or what you’re playing as well.
Although able to provide less flexibility than others, high-cut cleats extend up over the ankle to give support, perfect for defense players.
Mid-cut cleats provide just the right amount of stability and maneuverability needed by midfielders.
Low-cut cleats are the most lightweight of the three, exposing the ankle to provide the best range of motion needed for quick cuts on the field. This is perfect for goalkeepers and attackers who rely on speed and precision.
Now that you’ve learned just about everything you’ll need to know to buy your first pair of cleats, the final thing left to consider is price. Most people say that it’s not the price of the cleats that matters, but the skill of the player. In a way, yes, that’s true. Others also believe that the pricier the cleats, the better the quality. In some ways, that’s true, too. There may not be any singular answer as to which price range is okay for a pair of cleats, but there is a question you can ask yourself: does the shoe fit? And when finally shopping for your first pair, ask yourself if it fits the kind of field you see yourself playing on, your position and skill level as a footballer, the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate, the commitment you have to the sport, and lastly, your budget.
After you have answered all these and are ready to play your first match with your very own pair, brace yourself for the next step as an athlete looking to get into a new sport—falling head over heels in love with the game.