How to choose the right soccer shoe for your needs?
You need a pair that fits properly and comfortably, and that is built for your needs. Every foot is different, and every player is different, so there is no perfect cleat for everyone. Below are some of the most important aspects to evaluate when searching for the right cleat for you.
1) The Fit.How should Soccer Cleats Fit? This is a very common question. Soccer cleats should hug your feet and feel like an extension of your body. A nice snug fit is key for proper control and to allow every part of a player’s foot to get in contact with the ball, without any air between the foot and the cleat. But how tight of a fit you want is personal preference. It’s not uncommon for players to wear cleats that are a half size smaller than their casual sneakers. Look for cleats that are no more than ¼” longer than your largest foot, because soccer cleats that are too big can put a player at risk of injury.
2) An Upper Material that Fits your Needs
The best regarded upper material for soccer cleats is kangaroo leather, it has been for many decades. However, the best material for you highly depends on your needs. Here are the best materials for different categories:
- Comfort: Kangaroo Leather & Knit mold to the foot better and thus provide higher comfort.
- Ball Touch: Kangaroo Leather & Knit are thinner materials and thus provide better ball touch.
- Weight: Synthetic & Knit are lighter than leather. If you want a leather cleat, but weight is important to you, kangaroo leather is lighter than calf leather.
- Durability: Kangaroo Leather & Synthetic. For leather cleats, some have a water resistant coating to increase durability, but note that leather is not waterproof like plastic (synthetic).
- Protection: Leather (both Kangaroo and Calf) & Synthetic are all strong materials that provide good protection. We do not recommend knit cleats for protection.
- Price: Synthetic & Knit are usually more affordable than leather cleats.
The right upper material for you depends on what you deem most important for your needs as a player.
3) A Lacing System that Allows for Custom Adjustability
The goal of the lacing system is to provide a secure lockdown. Lockdown can be achieved through a lacing system that allows custom adjustability, and this is best achieved with a Deep Lacing System. In this type of lacing system, the laces start as close as possible to your toes, whereas a standard lacing system has laces that cover only about half of your foot. The deep lacing system allows for maximum adjustability and control of tightness on your entire foot. This possibility to customize how tight you want the cleat on different parts of your foot results in a custom fit and a very comfortable boot with proper lockdown. The deep lacing system is beneficial to players with all foot types, and it is crucial for those with wide feet.
4) An Insole that Provides the Right Amount of Cushioning
Comfort is a critical component of a soccer cleat. If the player is not comfortable, then performance will be affected. Insoles provide much needed comfort in a performance shoe. You should look for an insole that provides just enough cushioning to not feel stud pressure. Too much cushioning can make for an unstable fit, which is quite dangerous. A good balance is important when it comes to insoles: not too thin, not too thick.
5) The Right Amount of Padding for you
In regards to padding, there is a big tradeoff between comfort and ball touch. Having a lot of padding can be very comfortable, but can affect ball touch, and vice versa, having little padding can be good for ball touch, but can affect comfort level. So the key here is to have the right amount of lightweight padding, in the right places, to ensure a comfortable fit, and good ball touch. The right balance can be very personal, so you will only be able to tell your personal preference by trying the cleats on.
6) Having a Midsole for Durability, Protection, and Comfort
Performance boots should be built to last, and should always protect the player. Nowadays, many shoes compromise durability and protection in order to reduce boot weight. The best boots for durability are those that have a midsole between the upper and the outsole, as this provides a better build top to bottom. Lightweight boots do not have midsoles, therefore, they tend to be more fragile. This fragility also negatively affects foot protection. Another benefit of midsoles is that they reduce stud pressure, permitting a more comfortable fit.
The disadvantage of midsoles is that they add weight to the shoe. This is relevant for players that need a very lightweight shoe, who will likely use synthetic / plastic or knit cleats. However, for most players, the weight added by a midsole is marginal, and the advantages offered by it are worth it.
7) An Outsole that Flexes in the Forefoot and Matches your Needs
When it comes to the outsole, there are a couple of things to keep in mind, including the surface that you will be playing on, the stud shape, and the sole flexibility.
The type of surface you’ll be playing on will determine whether you need a turf, AG, FG, or a SG soleplate.
Regarding stud shape, there are three main categories: Conical, Bladed, and Hybrid. The Conical and Bladed are most traditional. Conical studs offer great rotation, while Bladed studs offer great traction. Hybrid studs can get complicated, as nowadays brands tend to get very creative with their stud shapes; we’ve seen half-conical, arrow-shaped, and then some. Most of the Hybrid studs are designed for look, not performance. One of the best Hybrid studs are the ‘Bladed Conical’, which are a combination of the Conical and Bladed studs, offering a great combo of rotation and traction.
To understand how to evaluate outsole flexibility, imagine that the cleat is divided in three sections. The front part (where the toes are) is the forefoot.The back of the cleat is the heel area. The area between the forefoot and the heel area is the midfoot. A cleat should never be flexible in the midfoot or heel area, so you should not be able to bend the cleat in a “V” or “U” shape; this type of flexibility is very dangerous for playing soccer, and may result in injury due to the lack of foot support and balance. What you want in a soccer cleat, for safety reasons, is flexibility in the forefoot and stability in the midfoot and heel area.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST.
Always buy from a site that offers free returns.
There are many variables when it comes to selecting the right soccer cleat, and it is crucial to be able to try the cleats on and see how they feel on your feet. Paying for return shipping should not be a factor in your decision, so always purchase from a site that offers free return shipping to ensure that you only keep cleats that feel very comfortable. Do keep in mind that most sites will only offer return shipping for unworn shoes.
Read more about leather cleats here.