Up to this day, some people still refer to soccer as football in America although it is not as popular here as it is in most parts of the world. Inasmuch as these two sports are very distinct, soccer cleats and football cleats share some similarities.
Good cleats are essential parts of both sports, especially when playing on turf, dirt, or grass-covered fields. Playing soccer or football without wearing cleats or wearing the wrong pair would often cause lots of difficulties or even injuries.
The point that some sportspeople frequently fail to grasp is that even though two or more sports cleats might often look strikingly similar, they will still have unique features that cater to the sport they were primarily designed for.
When discussing cleats, some common questions among sports enthusiasts include, are soccer and football cleats the same? Do all team sports use the same kind of cleats?
In soccer, only the right pair of cleats are accepted. Therefore, even though soccer cleats can be freely used in playing other sports like football, baseball, and lacrosse, you cannot use cleats made for these other sports to play soccer.
To get adequate traction, balance, and comfort while playing a sport, it is advised to go for specific gears mainly designed for that particular sport. By doing so, you will perform better for your team and even cut the chances of getting injured while playing.
In this article, we will critically analyze soccer and football cleats to understand their similarities and differences. In the end, you will see why you can or cannot use one for the other.
- Are soccer and football cleats the same?
- Characteristics of football cleats
- Characteristics of soccer cleats
Are soccer and football cleats the same?
To adequately answer this question, let’s first understand clearly what soccer and football are. Let’s put an end to the confusion for those that still use the names interchangeably.
In America, the word ‘football’ is solely talking about American football while ‘soccer’ refers to association football. Football remains one of the most-watched and played sports in the whole of America.
Soccer and football cleats might look similar but they have many distinct modifications to adequately suit their style of play. So, the simple answer is NO. Soccer and football cleats are not the same.
There are remarkably sophisticated elements of science behind the design and manufacturing of both football and soccer cleats. Below are the characteristics of soccer and football cleats highlighting some of their similarities and differences.
Characteristics of football cleats
In comparison to soccer, here are some of the characteristics of football cleats. The two key areas where football cleats differ from soccer cleats are the stud arrangement and weight.
Football cleats have a stud close to the tip of the toe and the heel to give better traction to the players. Soccer cleats don’t have these because they may cause serious injuries to the opponent during accidental stamping or kicking.
Also, football cleats are usually heavier than soccer cleats of the same cut. Below are other features you will find in a football cleat.
Football cleats are broader
When you closely look at football cleats, you will discover that they are broader in shape than soccer cleats. Football cleats are designed like this because most players, especially the defensive backs and wide receivers need to have lateral motion and speed.
Also, due to the large size of football players, they always tend to have broad feet compared to skinny soccer players who can wear slim boots with slimmer feet. By the way, do you want to know why soccer players are so skinny? We have the answer here.
Football cleats have three different designs
Just like soccer cleats, football cleats come in three different designs namely the low-cut, mid-cut, and the high-cut. This is one of the few similarities you will find among the two.
Low-cut designed cleats allow an athlete’s ankle to move more freely while playing. They are usually the lightest of all the three different types of cleats—and that is easy to understand.
Football cleats range from high-cut cleats mostly designed for some less-mobile quarterbacks and linemen, mid-cut cleats which are suitable for some quarterbacks, running backs, and linebackers, and finally, the low-cut cleats specially designed for players occupying positions that require speed.
The higher a football cleat’s ankle, the heavier it will be. Also, the more ankle support and padding it will provide. The extra weight usually comes from the more materials needed to make the ankle taller.
- High-cut cleats
High-cut boots are among the three different upper cleat designs for ankle support. They offer maximum ankle support to football players mostly, against twisting and rolling of their ankles.
Although they usually restrict easy maneuverability and speed, they aid in lateral movement. Cleats are considered high-cut when their ankle-length is 3/4” to 5/8” above the ankle. Also, they are usually designed for linebackers and linemen.
- Mid-cut cleats
Mid-cut soccer boots are designed to provide ankle support for varying on-field football players. They also serve other purposes based on the player’s position on the field.
They offer reasonable ankle support without necessarily restricting speed and maneuverability. Skill-positioned football players who are fond of using mid-cut boots include defensive backs, receivers, quarterbacks, and running backs.
- Low-cut cleats
These cleats serve different purposes for different football players based on their positions on the field. Low-cut cleats are designed to offer little or no ankle support, but they aid players in making sharp turns, reaching high speeds, and liberating the ankle from any restrictions.
In football, returners mostly use these cleats because they boost their swiftness and agility.
Football cleats have a toe stud
Toe studs or spikes are mostly common in football cleats but are absent in soccer cleats. In fact, match officials will not allow you to step into the soccer field if you are wearing a cleat with toe studs.
The presence of toe studs in football boots is one of the major differences between football cleats and soccer cleats.
A toe stud is a spike located near the big toe and its major purpose is to add extra traction to the feet of a football player when pushing forward or blocking a tackle. This is what makes it a very important part of football players’ cleats.
Soccer cleats don’t come with toe spikes because they could obstruct players from handling balls properly.
- Detachable studs
Some football cleats are designed with detachable studs, they are among the two major outsole designs in football cleats. They are longer and more powerful than molded studs.
Using a wrench, you can easily detach the studs and replace them with other types of studs following your preference and the field’s condition. These soccer cleats are durable and also very expensive.
- Molded studs
Molded football cleat studs feature a single mold of thick plastic spikes with enough traction to grip into either Astroturf or grass. Although these studs can’t be swapped like the detachable studs, they are versatile.
They are suitable for casual or younger football players and they are also less expensive. The drawback of molded studs is that they aren’t as powerful as other outsole designs.
Football cleats are heavier than soccer cleats
When compared to soccer cleats, you will discover that football cleats are thicker, bulkier, heavier, and most times offer more protection than soccer cleats due to their high ankle.
Football cleats are designed to be heavier because football usually involves players attacking each other at close range which often involves lots of feet-stomping. The heavier material of football cleats comes in handy by taking away some of the impact force.
Cleats used in football are adequately designed to protect the feet and ankle of football players (especially linemen) from injuries. These cleats are often longer than soccer cleats and their padding is usually thicker.
Characteristics of soccer cleats
Unlike football which is majorly physical, soccer is mostly considered a skill-based sport which is why soccer cleats are designed the way they are. See some of the unique features of soccer cleats below.
Soccer cleats have a natural toe feel
Soccer cleats usually don’t have any form of toe reinforcement which allows the player to feel the ball better—just like they will naturally feel with their toes. However, to enjoy this feeling, you have to make sure that you are wearing cleats that fit snugly.
These cleats ensure that players get consistent touch responses while passing, striking, or lobbying for balls on the soccer pitch. This near-natural feeling makes it easy for the soccer player to determine the right amount of force to apply to the ball for long or short passes.
Soccer cleats are lightweight
Unlike football cleats, soccer cleats are usually lightweight and offer players the advantage of running faster with better agility. Lightweight boots are often known to endure more strain, dispense heat, and are more durable under most circumstances.
The quest for lighter soccer cleats is pushing manufacturers into making groundbreaking innovations like the use of kangaroo leather for making cleats which is more durable and lighter than calf-skin.
Heavier cleats will wear the player down which is why the use of lightweight cleats in soccer is a big deal.
Soccer cleats don’t have midsoles
Soccer cleats for obvious reasons are designed without midsoles even though they are very common in football boots. The absence of midsoles on soccer cleats is partly the reason for their lighter weight.
Football cleats can handle the presence of midsoles because the game is played more with the hands than legs. For soccer where the game is majorly played with the legs, the absence of midsoles helps the players to maintain a ground center of gravity and improve their balance.
Soccer cleats may or may not have studs
As you already know, there are so many soccer variations and their rules usually have slight differences in some areas. For example, beach soccer doesn’t allow the use of cleats at all—players must play the game barefooted.
While indoor soccer like futsal allows the use of cleats, the rule is that the cleats should not have studs. So, the cleats designed for futsal must have a flat outsole.
For cases like in association football where the cleats must have studs, the arrangement of the studs is a big deal. Most importantly, cleats made for soccer should never have studs at the toe.
Their studs are usually arranged on the sides. Below are some of the different soccer cleats based on the nature of their studs.
- Long studded cleats
These types of cleats are mostly suitable for wet or very grassy soccer pitches. Their screw-on studs of not more than 21 mm in length, usually consist of a blend of plastic and metal. These studs can be detached and replaced with studs of your choice.
- Astroturf soccer cleats
Astroturf surfaces have their special kind of cleats which contain shorter studs that encourage the soccer boot to have a suitable grip on the turf.
- Molded stud cleats
Molded stud cleats are mostly suitable for artificial turf and firm ground. They usually contain a high number of round molded studs on their outsoles.
- Bladed soccer cleats
This set of cleats is mostly suitable for artificial turfs, especially when they are damped. Their studs are usually edgy in shape to limit the trapping of mud that will eventually slow the player down.
Key differences exist between soccer and football cleats. They are designed to satisfy the physical requirements of each sport.
To be able to know the right kind of cleat that will be suitable for you, you must consider numerous factors aside from mere appearances.
Factors like the position you play, the type of surface you play on, your weight, your height, and your foot size all play a great role in selecting the right pairs of cleats for both soccer and football players.
We believe that by fully understanding the common differences between soccer and football cleats, you can now easily choose the right one for your game.
While it is possible to play football with soccer cleats, always make sure that your choice doesn’t put you, your teammates, or any of the opponent players in harm’s way. Also, the right choice should be the one that enhances your performance on the pitch.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!