Why Do You Need Soccer Cleats?

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Soccer cleats aren’t technically required by the rules, but you almost always need soccer cleats to play soccer. Here’s why.

What Soccer Cleats Do

Soccer cleats have two main jobs. The bottom of the shoes gives a better grip on the ground. The top of the shoes helps to control the ball.

Soccer players are always on the move. Soccer involves a lot of starting and stopping and quick changes of direction.

Grass fields are often wet whether it’s because you’re playing early in the morning, it just rained, or the field maintenance staff water the fields down before games. Even when the grass is dry, smooth grass is often slippery when you’re running trying to suddenly change directions on a dime.

Many turf fields are also quite slippery. Newer fields are made to feel just like grass. They may need even more watering to keep them cool on a hot day. Old fields often have rubber pellets that pile up on the surface and can be as slippery as ice if your shoes aren’t digging in.

So on most soccer fields, if you want to stay on your feet, soccer cleats are a must.

But soccer shoes are also needed to kick the ball properly. The tops of soccer shoes are designed to carefully mold to your feet. They’re made of leather or synthetic materials designed to help grip the ball better and add kicking power.

Most other types of shoes have extra material and breathing room on top of the shoes. This adds an extra layer between you and the ball. It makes it difficult to strike the ball cleanly and takes power out of the kick.

Even skilled soccer players are at a disadvantage when trying to play a pickup game in running shoes instead of soccer cleats.

Do soccer rules require soccer cleats?

Soccer rules don’t require soccer cleats or shoes specifically designed for soccer. The rules only require shoes, and the referee has to determine that they’re safe.

Obviously, shoes specifically made for soccer are usually safe for soccer, but some leagues have specific rules.

Some parks actually prohibit cleats because they think they’ll wear out the grass or turf faster. So you might be limited to indoor soccer shoes, running shoes, or turf shoes.

Many youth soccer leagues don’t allow metal soccer cleats or screw-in soccer cleats. In years past, the cleats on these shoes tended to get sharp over time and create a risk for other players. Most modern shoes don’t have this problem, but some leagues still have the rules on the books.

Baseball cleats, football cleats, and cleats for other sports are usually a no-go for soccer. The design of those cleats isn’t safe.

One problem is that they usually have a toe cleat. In a soccer game, players frequently step on each other, and the toe cleat creates an extra risk of injury. It creates a higher pressure point and also makes it harder for the two players’ shoes to slide apart.

The really narrow baseball and football cleats are also a problem. Soccer cleats are typically curved and usually wider to spread out the pressure of getting stepped on or kicked. Baseball and football cleats aren’t designed for players to kick at each other, so they only focus on giving the maximum grip on the ground.

Simply put, getting stepped on or tackled with football or baseball cleats hurts a lot more than soccer cleats.

Do four and five-year-olds really need soccer cleats?

It’s not the end of the world if you try out soccer in running shoes or tennis shoes. Playing soccer at young ages is more about developing basic motor skills and learning the very basics of soccer.

However, not having soccer shoes can make it harder to kick and control the ball. This might discourage young players, while having soccer shoes can give them extra confidence.

If you’re trying to stick to a budget, you might want to get indoor soccer shoes. These shoes can double up as casual shoes just like tennis shoes. And you’ll have better shoes for soccer practice.

Where should you get soccer cleats?

When you buy soccer cleats, it’s really important to either shop in person or order online where you get free shipping and returns. Finding the right fit isn’t always easy.

Soccer shoes often run a half size down from normal shoes. However, sizing can vary since different models of cleats are made to feel tighter or looser or narrower or wider.

While size variations are normal in all shoes, they’re bigger in soccer. Older players usually develop specific preferences, so each shoe is made to a certain fit. It’s not like casual shoes where the shoe is designed to fit as many people as possible.

Once you find soccer cleats, they should fit snugly but comfortably. If they’re close, try up or down a size. If they’re not close, try a different model or brand.

It’s also usually not a good idea to try to grow into soccer cleats. A looser soccer shoe can create problems kicking the ball and running. There’s even a risk of ankle injuries.

You also don’t usually want to plan on breaking soccer cleats in too much, especially for younger players who are still growing. While many soccer cleats stretch out a little, that won’t make up a size difference if a shoe is uncomfortably tight.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try out different cleats. Every soccer shoe is different, and it can take a while to find the one that’s just right for you.

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