What is the Difference Between Football Cleats and Soccer Cleats?
When it comes to playing outdoor sports that take place on a grass covered field, dirt, or turf, proper cleats are an essential part of the game. We’ve all seen that one person that doesn’t have a pair of cleats while playing flag football or a pickup game of soccer, he’s usually slipping and sliding all over the field – and not in a fun way.
The problem that people run into when it comes to cleats is that there are different types of cleats for different sports, and that can become confusing.
What type of cleats should I wear for a certain sport? Can I wear the same cleats that I wore for baseball, on the soccer field? Those types of questions come up a lot when talking about cleats and sport footwear when people are still trying to figure out what sports they want to play, or they are getting back into a sport later in life and don’t necessarily want to buy new cleats if they already have them.
Unfortunately, not all cleats are allowed in all sports either. For example, if you wanted to you could wear soccer cleats to play most other sports like baseball, football, or lacrosse. You may not get as good of traction out of them when compared to cleats made specifically for those sports, but you’re not going to get penalized or be forced to change your shoes during a game.
However, when it comes to soccer, you are not allowed to wear football, baseball, or lacrosse cleats during a game. Now, I’m sure you can get away with it when your kids are very young and playing in a park district league, but soccer cleats do not have the toe cleat that the football, baseball, and lacrosse cleats have, and that toe cleat can be dangerous during a soccer game. In addition to that, soccer cleats tend to have shorter cleats and are lighter than the other sports. Which makes sense, considering soccer has more consistent running than football and baseball.
Let’s take a quick look at what makes football cleats and soccer cleats different, and why it’s important to wear the right footwear for the sport you’re participating in.
Football Cleats vs. Soccer Cleats
While both football and soccer are played on similar fields, either of grass or turf, the sports are obviously completely different in the way that players interact with each other.
Football is a full-contact sport, while soccer has some incidental contact, but is generally considered a non-contact sport. And even though it may not seem like this would have any effect on the type of cleats you can wear, it does.
Football cleats are designed for maximum push off from the ground. This means the cleats on the bottom of the shoe are longer than other cleats, and they also have a toe cleat to help dig in the front of the shoe when pushing off from the line of scrimmage.
Soccer cleats generally don’t have this toe cleat as you’re not bending down and pushing off with your toes while playing the game, so it’s not necessary.
Soccer cleats are usually always lighter than football cleats, and that’s for a few reasons. One, soccer cleats only come in low-cut styles, where as football cleats can be purchased in low-cut, mid, or high-cut depending on how much ankle support you need or how much agility in your feet you want. Having the option for different range of motion in your ankle is great when it comes to playing different positions. A lineman, for example, doesn’t need to be super quick on his feet, so a high-top style is going to provide more ankle protection and support. While a wide receiver or a running back needs to be able to be super quick and agile off the line, so a mid or low-top shoe will allow for that flexibility.
The other reason why soccer cleats tend to be lighter, aside from the fact that more constant running is done, is that the material is designed that way. Soccer cleats are lighter and airier so they can breath better, while football cleats are tougher and can withstand more force, which makes sense considering football is a full-contact sport.
Finally, soccer cleats usually do not have a midsole, while football cleats always do. This is for added stability when playing football and the lack of a midsole allows for more maneuverability when playing soccer.
So the next time that someone tells you that you can use your football cleats when playing soccer, or vice-versa, keep in mind that while physically you could do that, you could be at a disadvantage compared to other players that have the right cleat for the right sport.
This obviously isn’t going to make a huge difference if your child is young and just starting out with park district soccer or football, but as they get older and get more serious about the sports they love, you’ll want to make sure they are properly equipped. And not just for agility or speed, but for safety sake as well.