Longevity is a myth — all things must die. The same holds true for soccer cleats. No matter how emotionally attached, we are to them, with all the beatings they receive, age and time soon catch up with them.
Soccer players can sometimes be superstitious and find it hard to let go of their cleats because they consider it their lucky charm. This is not surprising, as even professional soccer players have one form of ritual or superstitious practice before starting a game.
It is much harder now for professional soccer players to hold on to cleats for longer playing periods. This is because they have a ready supply of footwear from top brands.
However, for much younger players, it’s common to see some of them use the same pair of cleats for quite a long time. Budget or personal preference aside, it’s good to replace cleats at the right time to avoid compromising on your playing performance.
But, how can you tell the right time to change your soccer cleats? Read on to find out.
How to know when you need new soccer cleats?
Some soccer players like to hold on to old cleats longer than others. For this reason, there’s no exact predetermined lifespan for soccer cleats. Factors that will determine the lifespan of a cleat include:
- Frequency and intensity of use
- Construction material
- Type of pitch surface
- Level of maintenance
If you pay proper attention to your soccer cleats in regards to maintenance, it’s easy to observe the signs and signals of an aging cleat. There are quite a number of things to look out for on the cleats after playing a game.
Some may be an obvious find while others require a detailed examination. Whatever the case, it’s best to know when to replace soccer cleats so they don’t leave you with embarrassing moments on the pitch.
To help with this, these are some signals to look out for on your soccer cleats before and after a game.
Is that an Adidas or a Nike?
Several footwear brands manufacture cleats for use by soccer players. While the quality and price may differentiate top brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma from the others, every brand usually leaves its logo or identification mark.
One of the signs of a heavily beat-up cleat is the disappearance of the brand’s logo. The logo isn’t made to clean off easily. So, when it does, it means the surface of the cleat has seen lots of playing days.
This also factors in the general appearance of the cleat. To be unable to distinguish the footwear brand immediately would mean the cleat has a general worn-out look.
Design materials like leather are also easily vulnerable to cracks. This results from a combination of varying weather conditions, improper maintenance, and aging.
Since most of the brands have their logos on the side of the cleats, for someone to be unable to identify the brand you’re wearing, the integrity of the construction material is probably compromised.
A weakened cleat material makes the feet susceptible to injuries. The protection feature it was designed to deliver is more or less defeated. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll start nursing avoidable injuries.
Is that your toes sticking out?
First of all, that’s all shades of creepy! When the governing bodies of soccer made footwear part of the compulsory pieces of equipment, it was done to ensure the protection of the feet.
One of the parts of the feet that is injury prone is the toes. Toe injuries are one of the most common injuries in soccer. This is because players can mistakenly kick the ball with the big toe and cause a fracture or fall awkwardly on their feet, with the toes taking most of the impact.
Having any part of your cleat exposing your feet puts it in great danger. Unless, of course, you’re like Mats Hummels, who deliberately cut holes on the front part of his cleats in one of the famous Der Klassiker clashes between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
He had a toe injury before the match. He explained he needed to cut the hole to avoid his toes from moving about and further escalate the seriousness of the injury.
Simply put, holes have no place on the body of soccer cleats unless you deliberately cut them in.
Your romance with duct tapes
Don’t get it wrong; there’s absolutely nothing romantic about duct tapes. Athletic tapes definitely have their place in soccer, but to regularly depend on these tapes to hold the cleats together is just wrong.
When parts of your cleats begin to fall apart or fall off, you probably need to start shopping for a replacement. Yes, tapes can be used as a temporary fix to hold the upper part of cleats to its soles, but that’s exactly just it — temporary.
There’s no guarantee the tapes won’t come off as you begin to run around the pitch and sweat on your feet. Consequently, such distractions can result in the reduction of your overall performance.
If you need to use duct tapes to hold your cleat in place while playing on the field, there’s no better signal needed for you to get a replacement.
If you use laced cleats, you would need to tie them up before starting every game (or sometimes within the game if they come loose). More often than not, you look down on the cleat as you lace them out for a better fit.
Does the hole look frail and torn? Over time, with all that tugging and pulling of the laces, the eyelet grows weaker. With time, some eyelets tear out and cannot hold the lace in place.
Since laces keep the cleats firm on your feet, improper lacing can leave you with an uncomfortable feeling. Your feet will most likely move around unnecessarily in the cleat and may even cause injuries or affect your performance.
If you observe the laces no longer give you a perfect fit and you have to resort to the use of tapes, you’re in desperate need of new cleats.
Increased discomfort on the feet
Soccer cleats are designed to offer protection to the feet while also allowing for easy movements and ball manipulations. When either of these features is threatened, the purpose of the cleat is defeated.
One of the major causes of a growing discomfort when wearing soccer cleats is that the foot size has overgrown the cleat size. In today’s soccer where younger players are preferred, there’s a higher chance that players can outgrow their known cleat sizes.
This causes the heels and toes to be cramped up together, causing great discomfort and injuries to the player’s feet. For soccer players, cleat discomfort is counterproductive to their playing performance at every level of the sport.
If your once favorite cleat suddenly begins to cause you great discomfort, it’s best to get a new cleat, as things will most certainly get worse.
Frequency of repairs
Figuratively speaking, if there’s anything like a footwear hospital, how often have your soccer cleats been admitted? The truth is, if you use a particular pair of cleats, in a matter of months, it’ll probably need one form of repair or the other.
However, if you have to make routine repairs on the cleats before and after every game, you may need to start considering getting new cleats. Most importantly, it would help if you buy two pairs to take the pressure off one and increase both their lifespan.
There are good DIY repair tutorials on making quick fixes on your soccer cleats. Most have been proven to work and so come highly recommended. We covered some of them here.
Nevertheless, if you spend more time on these tutorials or the actual DIY cleat repairs, chances are you need new soccer cleats.
What’s that awful smell?
At the end of every game, especially if you had playing time, the inside of your cleat is filled with accumulated sweat, heat, and wet-sock smell. Don’t worry; yours is not an isolated case, as it happens to the best of soccer professionals.
The smell should disappear with proper cleaning and maintenance and the cleat ready for the next game. However, depending on the cleat material, there’s a continuous build-up of residual smells over time.
Although synthetic material can also have such smells, leather material is a major culprit in this aspect. As the leather ages, its ability to dry off properly reduces. Due to the sweat and heat the cleat accumulates after every game, the cleat soon begins to stink badly.
A smelly cleat is usually a sign of bacteria or mold build-up. This opens up pathways for infection if you have injuries or blisters on the feet.
Unless you intend to choke your opponent to dispossess them of the ball during gameplay, there’s no benefit of running around with smelly cleats.
Understandably, you may have a sentimental attachment to that cleat, but it’s time to let it go. Instead, invest in a new cleat, so you don’t have to worry about every nose that comes close to you on the pitch.
Damaged or missing cleat studs
One of the striking features of soccer cleats is the stud. Made from plastic material, these function to improve the cleat’s grip on the pitch.
The number of studs depends on the type of pitch surface it’ll be used. One of the characteristics of an aging cleat is that the studs become damaged or fall out.
There are several temporary fixes to replace them, but such occurrence is a good way to know the cleat needs replacements. Studs are not a feature to gamble with as they help improve the balance and stability of the player.
You will not be achieving much success on the field of play if you continuously watch out for your cleat’s pitch grip. Even players with new cleats sometimes fall on the pitch, imagine how much more prone to falling you will be when using cleats with compromised studs.
The extent of injuries that can be gotten from slippage and fall when playing soccer ranges from mild to catastrophic. In the end, none of it is worth the risk.
Finding the perfect fit soccer cleats can do wonders for a player’s performance on the pitch. While many may argue that it’s the player’s talent and not the cleats, not many players can give their utmost best with a bad cleat.
This is why it becomes necessary to know when to let go of an aging cleat and start looking to invest in a new one. Several factors will determine how, sooner or later, this inevitable action will take place.
If you are quite observant, you can use certain signals to point you in the right direction. Soccer cleats function best when all parts can deliver on their design.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
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!