There are several different soccer cleat manufacturers that are producing some solid choices right now. It’s not just the big names, like Adidas or Nike, that are putting these cleats together either. Smaller brands are also creating a big impact when it comes to certain boot types, such as the best soccer cleats for wide feet or youth soccer cleats.
For my first week of practices during my Freshmen year of college soccer, I was waiting for my soccer cleats to arrive. I’d ordered a custom pair that were supposed to be delivered two weeks earlier, but had gotten lost in the mail. With just $800 in the bank and student loans piling up, I decided to wear my sneakers for practice instead.
So I run up to the ball. There’s an open net in front of me. I plant my foot to rifle off a shot… and wind up staring at the clouds in the sky instead of a goal being scored. That’s right – my plant foot slipped, so I went horizontal and landed on my back.
The team laughed. My coach had verifiable steam coming out of his ears. I went out that night and bought the cheapest pair of soccer cleats I could find.
Maybe you don’t need customized cleats, but you do want to have a solid pair of soccer boots that will take you through this season and all of its practices. You want to show off your personal style, but still have the comfort, support, and traction that only the best soccer cleats can provide.
You’ll find those cleats are available for a surprisingly affordable price right now.
Let’s Talk About the Anatomy of a Soccer Cleat
“Our incomes are like our shoes. If too small, they gall and pinch us. If too large, they cause us to stumble and trip.” – John Locke
Substitute “soccer cleats” for “shoes” in Locke’s observation and you’ll accurately describe most of the complaints that you’ll hear about the modern soccer cleat. When you know what your foot needs, then you will have an easier time trying to find the correct style and shape of cleat for your practice and play.
Soccer cleats often use certain terms or expressions that may cause confusion from time to time. Let’s get started by making sure we’re all on the same page. Here are some of the descriptions and terms being used.
- This is the back portion of the soccer cleat, which offers support for the heel.
- This is the cushioning that exists inside the shoe. Some cleats have a removable insole.
- This is additional cushioning that is built into the soccer cleat.
- This is the bottom of the shoe.
- This is the cleat portion of the shoe. They are typically blades or cones on the best soccer cleats today, made from plastic or rubber. Metal-tipped studs are also available, but are typically banned from most leagues.
- This is any part of the soccer cleat that is above the midsole or insole.
- This is the very front portion of the soccer cleat. Some players refer to it as the “Strike Zone.” It’s the place on the cleat where most players are going to make contact with the ball.
Out of all these definitions, the most important parts of the cleat are the outsole and the vamp. Soccer is a high-impact game that requires changes in movement and speed on a regular basis. Without a strong outsole, the cleat will not be able to withstand the pressures placed upon it over the course of a season through practice and play.
A good vamp is also necessary because that portion of the cleat will see the greatest amount of wear and tear after the outsole. Look for added stitching or specific features that are included with the shoe to encourage better ball control, shot accuracy, or power in passing or shooting.
What Type of Soccer Cleat Do I Need?
The best soccer cleats are often dependent on the type of field you’re on and the type of player you happen to be.
The studs on the outsole are typically bladed, conical, or flattened. Each has its own advantages to consider.
- Bladed Cleats. Studs that are bladed will create less pressure on the foot over the course of practice or play. This typically results in the player receiving more traction, which translates into greater speed.
- Conical Cleats. This type of soccer cleat is good for the times when a player needs more points of contact with the ground. It provides extra stability to the foot, which is essential on fields that may be somewhat soft.
- Flattened Cleats. This soccer shoes is typically reserved for indoor soccer, very hard natural surfaces, or artificial turf.
As a player, your primary challenge isn’t to select the right type of cleat for the field conditions that you experience. It is having the awareness that you may need to change your cleats as the field conditions change over the course of a match.
If a pitch has been recently watered before practice or play, then the ground is going to be softer. You may wish to use the conical cleats to maintain foot stability. After a half of play or an hour of practice, the field may begin to dry out. If no one adds more water to the pitch, then you’d want to switch over to bladed cleats for a better experience.
Since it isn’t always practical to carry more than one pair of cleats with you, especially from a youth soccer approach, the best soccer cleats might have interchangeable cleats on the outsole so you can adapt the shoes to the changing conditions that you are encountering.
What Do the Initials by the Soccer Cleats Actually Mean?
When you start shopping for the best soccer cleats, you’ll find that most of them have certain abbreviations as part of the product title, name, or listing. These abbreviations are an indication of the type of ground that the cleat is best suited to.
Most soccer cleats that have initials in their name for the field conditions are not going to offer the player interchangeable studs.
Here are the different abbreviations that you’ll find in the industry today and what it means for the player.
- FG or Firm Ground. This is your standard soccer cleat. It’s meant to be worn on a standard pitch. The cleats are designed to provide the right amount of traction for the average outdoor soccer field. They may be conical or bladed.
- AG or Artificial Ground. This is also becoming a standard soccer cleat. It is designed for the challenges that artificial turf provides to a player. It is generally intended for outdoor artificial surfaces, but certain indoor artificial surfaces may be appropriate as well.
- FG/AG Hybrid. These are the only cleats that can be used on both natural and artificial surfaces. If your soccer cleats do not have both abbreviations as part of their description or title, then they will not function appropriately on the surface not listed.
- SG or Soft Ground. This boot has a longer cleat so that players receive the traction that they need for a pitch that is wet, slick, or muddy. These cleats often have metal tips, so check for league approval before wearing them. For the best possible investment with this type of cleat, look for exchangeable/removable studs so you can adapt the boot to whatever conditions you may face.
- PSG or Pro Soft Ground. An emerging cleat category combines a combination of fixed studs and detachable cleats so that you can find the right level of traction in all conditions.
- HG or Hard Ground. This soccer cleat is intended for older artificial turf pitches and outdoor surfaces that haven’t seen water in who-knows-when. They have more studs than firm ground cleats and each stud is shorter, giving the player extra support when traction might be difficult to find.
- IN or Indoor. These shoes are intended for futsal and indoor court play where there isn’t an artificial turf installed. They are the closest soccer cleat that you’ll find to a sneaker in the industry today.
How to Find the Right Size for Your Soccer Cleat
Soccer cleats typically need to have a snug fit in order for a player to take advantage of all the benefits the boot can provide. Certain types of shoes, especially kangaroo leather upper cleats, needs a very snug fit at first because they will stretch out over a few wears.
You want the soccer cleat to fit as close as possible to the end of your foot, but without actually touching the end of your toes. This will give the player more control over their performance when they get a touch on the ball. A gap of up to one-half inch between the shoe and the toe is recommended, but you’ll get better results if you can find a cleat with a one-quarter inch gap instead.
For women, sizing is typically smaller than a regular shoe size. With some brands, the sizing difference may be as much as a 1.5 sizes if you are choosing a men’s cleat. If you wear a size 7 in a woman’s shoe, then the best soccer cleat for you would be a size 5.5.
It should also be noted that most junior or youth cleats are sized in the adult sizing numbers. If you see a size 4 cleat, then this is a men’s size 4. If you need toddler sizes for your cleats, then you will need to make sure the manufacturer has specifically stated that the size is available. Without this indication, the size is virtually guaranteed to be a men’s size.
And there is a big difference between a toddler size 12 and a men’s size 12 soccer cleat.
Why Durability Must Be a Deciding Factor for Soccer Cleats
If you are playing soccer, then you are a dynamic player who needs to read the game quickly. This is the only way you can consistently be in the correct position on the pitch. You must predict what you will do with the ball and how other players will react to your movements.
The problem that many families have today, especially for youth soccer players, is that a premium cleat is not usually a durable cleat. For an aggressive player, some advanced models might not even make it through a complete season. This is because the premium cleats are designed for performance, not durability.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should settle for a pair of cheap soccer cleats because your budget is tight. You should invest into the best soccer cleats that you can afford right now.
It means that a greater emphasis of care needs to be given to the cleats. Each boot should have all debris and dirt removed from the outsole. Wipe off the upper. Allow the cleats to properly dry between use. If you leave a damp boot in a damp equipment bag, it will break down more quickly.
Pricing Points for the Best Soccer Cleats
You’re going to get what you pay for when you’re purchasing a soccer cleat. Entry-level cleats can be found for about $30, but they provide a minimal amount of support and traction. At minimum, most players will want to spend at least $50-$75 on their new soccer cleats so it can be shaped appropriately to their feet.
Premium soccer cleats are in the $100-$200 range. Until you actually play with a premium boot, it’s difficult to understand the difference between them and the entry-level cleat. Premium boots are lighter, stronger, and give the player more overall ball control. If you take your game seriously, make the investment.
Customized boots are also available from some manufacturers. This would be my personal recommendation, but pricing will vary on what you need to have in the cleat.
Our Reviews of the Best Soccer Cleats
BEST YOUTH SOCCER CLEATS:
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Cleat Type||Price|
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Cleat Type||Price|
|adidas Conquisto J Soccer Cleat|| 4.5 ||Firm Ground|| $$ |
|Diadora Capitano MD Junior Soccer Shoe|| 4.3 ||FG/AG|| $$ |
|adidas Kids X 16.3 Soccer Cleat|| 4.5 ||Firm Ground|| $$$ |
|Vizari Striker Soccer Shoe|| 4.4 ||Firm Ground|| $ |
|adidas Ace 16.3 Primemesh J Soccer Cleat|| 4.6 ||FG/AG|| $$$ |
|Nike Junior Bravata Soccer Cleat|| 4.2 ||Firm Ground|| $$ |
|adidas Kids X 16.4 Soccer Cleats||4.5||Firm Ground|| $$ |
|Under Armour ClutchFit Force 2.0 Soccer Cleats|| 4.2 ||Hard Ground|| $$ |
|Vizari Infinity Soccer Cleat|| 4.3 ||Firm Ground|| $ |
|Nike Kids Junior Magista Opus II Soccer Cleat|| 4.6 ||Firm Ground|| $$$$$+ |
These youth soccer cleats are approved for use on all firm ground pitches made of natural materials. They are also approved for use with third-generation and fourth-generation artificial grass surfaces. You will notice an accelerated amount of wear on these cleats if they are worn on artificial surfaces. This is especially true for youth players on second-generation turf or older systems that are still in place. The front part of the cleats tends to see the highest amount of wear in those conditions, with the possibility of wearing them out completely within a few months.
Here’s why you gain an advantage when these are the cleats that are being worn by your youth soccer player. The outsole on this soccer cleat is stitched to the upper instead of being glued so there is an extra level of durability. To add further stability, the cleats are also riveted to the upper so there is even less of a risk of shoe separation. The upper itself is made from a low-maintenance synthetic leather, while the outsole is made from rubber. This means a quick wipe down of the cleats is about all this is needed in most instances to provide a proper level of maintenance and care.
We really liked the cleat design of this particular series by Adidas. Although there aren’t any bladed cleats with the design, kids will receive the same balance and traction as adults with the classic firm ground configuration. This is particularly important along the heel and toe, allowing the wearer to have the right grip for planting or tackling when worn on a natural grass pitch that is relatively dry. Sizes are available for children playing U12 soccer down to U4 soccer. The sizing is true with these soccer cleats as well, though you may wish to add a half-size depending on the type of soccer socks that your child wears.
We found that the amount of wear and tear that these boots can take is rather impressive. Although they are designed to last for about a season, depending on the growth patterns of your kids and their position they play, you might find an extra season of wear is possible with these Diadora cleats. Made from polyurethane and supported by a rubber sole, these cleats are able to withstand a variety of pitch conditions with relative ease. They resist water fairly well, yet won’t promote excessive sweating along the foot, even if thicker soccer socks are being worn that day.
From our observations with kids in this particular cleat, the primary advantage that you’ll receive comes from the aggressive cleating that comes with this design. Many kids’ cleats tend to be designed so they can be used as turf shoes in additional to their role of providing support on firm ground. That isn’t the case with these cleats. They are nice and lightweight, offer a non-skid insole that is cushioned, and a wide impact zone on the upper for excellent ball control.
ADULT SOCCER CLEATS:
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Cleat Type||Price|
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Cleat Type||Price|
|Nike Men's Mercurial Veloce III Soccer Cleat|| 4.3 ||Firm Ground|| $$$$$ |
|adidas ACE 16.1 Prime Knit Cleats|| 4.8 ||Firm Ground|| $$$ |
|Nike Premier Soccer Cleat|| 4.2 ||Hybrid|| $$ |
|Puma Evotouch 2 Soccer Cleats|| 4.4 ||Firm Ground|| $ |
|Nike Mercurial Vapor XI Soccer Cleat|| 4.6 ||Firm Ground|| $$$$$ |
|adidas Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe|| 4.4 ||Firm Ground|| $$ |
|adidas Gloro 16.1 Soccer Shoe|| 4.4 ||Firm Ground|| $$ |
|adidas X 16.3 Soccer Shoe|| 4.4 ||Firm Ground|| $$$$ |
|Puma Evospeed 1.2 Mixed Soccer Cleat|| 4.0 ||Soft Ground|| $$ |
|adidas World Cup Soccer Cleat|| 4.2 ||Soft Ground|| $$$ |
Most soccer cleats that are designated as FG tend to struggle on surfaces that are a little wet or soft. These boots from Nike are more of an all-conditions boot, giving you more value out of your cleats. Instead of needing to bring 3-4 pairs of cleats to adjust to changing pitch conditions, the Vapor Platinums can handle virtually any surface condition that a natural pitch provides. We also appreciated the tongue-free construction of the boot, allowing it to wrap around the foot so that it feels snug without feeling tight. There isn’t any pinching along the side of the foot when wearing these boots.
The main thing you want to see in a solid pair of soccer cleats is stability. Not only should your foot be nice and snug within the confines of the cleat, but your footing should also be stable. The Evotouch 2 has additional conical studs on the outsole of the cleat to provide you with stability right on the balls of your feet where you need it. When you approach a shot when wearing these cleats, you’ll feel the stability of your plant foot from the ankle to the hip. This allows you to create the right amount of torque in your hips to rifle off a shot toward the top corner instead of getting underneath the ball like so many players tend to do these days.
Most shoes are only partially leather. These Nike boots are almost 100% leather all around. This allows you to have softness and control no matter where you happen to impact the ball. There is a particularly noticeable difference with a backheel when wearing these boots. The added comfort shouldn’t be discounted. Although not every player finds a Nike shoe to be comfortable, this particular cleat design gets pretty close to a one-size-fits-all user experience. You’ll also find that there is a slimmer, slightly narrower shape to the overall cleat which lends itself to better overall ball control.
This particular soccer cleat by Adidas is an excellent option to consider for players that are strikers or consistently attacking with the ball. The dimpled surface of the shoe allows for greater traction to be obtained when striking the ball, encouraging more spin to occur with every pass, cross, or shot. This allows even beginners an opportunity to begin to bend the ball in specific ways with an accurate impact.
Striking the ball with these boots is a predictable experience. The ball reacts to the boot when struck instead of gripping to it, giving players ball movements that are accurate and with more consistency than entry-level cleats can often provide. The cleat placement on the outsole is traditional in design, allowing for lateral movements with relative stability and ease. On firm ground that is a bit damp, you might find a certain slickness to your foot placement, but otherwise this is an excellent all-around boot to consider wearing at any level of play.
The best soccer cleats for youth players and adults will give your game the right amount of support every time you get out onto the pitch. Whether it’s for practice or play, make sure you grab the best cleats that meet your needs today.