You’ve probably heard the lines before: “the shoes don’t make the player, the player makes the shoe.” But while it’s true that a special shoe won’t make up for skills that aren’t there yet, if you’re serious about soccer, you still need to consider the cleats you’re buying.
Soccer is played on different types of fields--soft muddy field, firm ground, artificial turfs--so most soccer cleats are designed with specific surfaces in mind. Knowing which type of soccer cleats fit your needs can help you perform at your best and even prevent injury.
If you’re a new player who finds this subject confusing, or an experienced one who’s wondering if you should buy new cleats for the new field you’re playing on, this article is for you.
Soft Muddy Field
If your team plays on a field that’s muddy and soft, you don’t want to be that one player who’s slipping all over the place. For this type of field, you need something with longer studs to give you more traction. Soccer cleats made for soft fields are often made with aluminum-tipped or removable studs.
A good trick to remember when shopping for soft ground cleats is to look for those with “SG” on the name, which stands for “Soft Ground.” If you do purchase this type of shoe, just be sure to use them only on soft fields. Otherwise, you might wear out their specialized moulded metal studs.
Our Top Pick: ADIDAS MEN'S ACE 17.2 FIRM GROUND CLEATS
Firm Natural Grass Field
There’s no better playing field than an even outdoor pitch with firm soil with freshly-cut grass. Since this field type is considered the classic, most soccer cleats are designed for it. Firm Ground or FG soccer cleats have rubber studs that are either conical or bladed in shape, or some combination of both.
These cleats are designed to provide traction specifically on firm ground. But they are versatile enough to be used on most playing surfaces. In fact, if you’ve purchased a pair of cleats before, you might have bought a pair of FG’s without realizing it.
Our Top Pick: ADIDAS MEN'S COPA 18.2 FG SOCCER CLEAT
Dry Hard Ground or Artificial Grass
As soccer continues to increase in popularity, more and more fields are being built with artificial turf. Artificial fields are much easier to maintain, and some players even prefer it because there are no uneven patches that can cause injury.
Shoes specifically designed for artificial turf and hard ground have much shorter studs. It also has a lot more studs to help distribute your weight and give you better support on hard ground.
There’s an opinion going around that FG cleats are good enough for artificial turf. This is true in cases where you play frequently on natural grass and then on artificial hard ground once in a while.
But based on our experience, the shorter studs of AG cleats really makes a noticeable difference in durability, comfort and traction. If you expect to play a lot of games on artificial turf, we recommend you get at least an FG/AG hybrid that’s suitable enough for both types of field.
Our Top Pick: ADIDAS MEN'S PREDATOR 18.2 FG SOCCER CLEAT
If you happen to play soccer on an indoor gym, you’ll need a pair with a flat rubber sole that can really grip on a polished floor. Indoor soccer cleats look very much like other sneakers, but it tends to be more lightweight. This is because the ball moves much faster on indoor surfaces, so you need to wear something that will not dampen your foot’s reaction time. Each company designs their own outsole, so it’s best to try and see which one works for you.
Our Top Pick: ADIDAS MEN'S PREDATOR TANGO 18.3 INDOOR CLEATS
Yes, you read that right, if you plan on playing professionally, or at least intend to compete, you need a separate pair of shoes for training. Why? Because you don’t want to wear down your only pair of cleats and wreck them right before the tournament.
Training shoes are designed to withstand the wear and tear of regular, intensive soccer training. You will notice that they have a thicker rubber outsole, paired with excellent cushioning systems. These shoes aim to minimize the risk of injury and provide enough comfort so you can endure long practice hours.
Our Top Pick: ADIDAS MEN'S PREDATOR TANGO 18.1 TRAINER