Buying Soccer Cleats

The proper soccer cleats afford much needed traction on the playing field. Here is some advice for selecting the right cleats for your playing style.

Except for children just getting started in the game, soccer players wear cleats when playing. Without soccer cleats even the best player will have difficulty maintaining traction on the field. Soccer cleats come in various styles and prices, and offer different features. Factors to consider in selecting the proper cleats are the player's ability, the playing surface and budget.

When going to purchase cleats, the player should bring a pair of soccer socks and the player's shin pads. Some styles of shin pads have detachable ankle supports. These ankle supports cover the ankle and also go under the foot. The bulk added by the shin guards and the soccer socks will affect the fit of the soccer shoe. Cleats that are selected while wearing typical athletic socks may not fit properly when shin guards and soccer socks are worn.

The first step in selecting cleats is to determine the appropriate size. Most soccer shoes are labeled with both American and European sizes. The American sizes assigned soccer cleats are consistent with traditional American shoe sizes. The fit of soccer shoes is different from that of street shoes as they are often designed with a more narrow upper than most shoes. This design allows the player to have better control of the ball. Although the top of the shoe may feel a little snugger than usual, it is important the shoe not hurt. As when shopping for any type of shoe it is best to shop in the afternoon when feet are often swollen from normal activity. Don't go shopping when feet are already sore from that morning's soccer game.

In determining fit, consideration should be given to whether the shoes are made of leather or a synthetic material. Leather is typically used in higher end shoes designed for the experienced player, whereas most cleats designed for beginning players are made of synthetic material. Leather soccer shoes tend to mold to the foot with wear, and thus can be a bit snug when purchased.

In choosing between leather cleats and shoes made out of synthetic materials factors other than cost should be considered. Synthetic material is easier to clean and requires less care than leather. However, leather shoes that are properly cared for normally last longer than synthetic. Leather soccer cleats are not recommended for repeated use on wet fields as the leather shoes absorb more water than synthetics. Although synthetic shoes are normally waterproofed when purchased, leather shoes are not, so applying a waterproofing solution to leather soccer cleats is advisable if frequent exposure to moisture is anticipated.

The basic pair of soccer shoes has molded cleats. These cleats are made of hard plastic or rubber. The cleats are formed on the bottom of the shoe itself and are not removable. Molded cleats can be used on any type of surface, and in any weather conditions. This type of cleat is appropriate for beginner and intermediate players.

In contrast to molded cleats, detachable cleats can be removed. The bottom of the shoe features studs that can be screwed on or off. This allows for easy replacement of the cleats. Different styles of shoes can accommodate between six and twelve studs. Soccer shoes with detachable cleats often have studs of differing lengths. The studs are typically made of hard plastic or plastic with metal tips. Studs of different lengths or materials can be screwed onto the shoe depending upon field and weather conditions. Detachable cleats are suited to fields with soft grass or in wet conditions. This type of cleat is recommended for advanced players. Youth soccer leagues often do not allow their players to use shoes with detachable cleats, insisting instead upon molded cleats. Not surprisingly, shoes with detachable cleats cost more on average than soccer shoes with molded cleats.

Turf shoes are good for practicing on hard outdoor fields or artificial surfaces. These shoes do not have studs. Instead, the bottom of the shoe has raised patterns that aid traction. This type of shoe is typically not used in competitive games.

As indoor soccer fields are becoming increasingly common so are indoor soccer shoes. These shoes resemble sneakers more than traditional soccer cleats. The fat rubber bottom of the shoe aids traction while preventing damage to indoor surfaces.

Players who play soccer both outside and indoors may need to have two pairs of cleats, one designed for each surface. Whichever type of cleat the player chooses, proper care is necessary to extend the life of the shoes. After an outdoor game, soccer cleats should be brushed down to remove excess dirt. A damp sponge can be used to remove chemicals that may have been used to treat the turf. Chemicals that are allowed to remain on the shoe may cause it to degrade. Newspaper can be crumpled up and placed in the shoes to absorb excess moisture.

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