What Is the Difference Between Soccer and Football Cleats?

At SoccerPro.com, we field all sorts of questions about our cleats. Athletes are always looking for tips on what kind of boots might work best for their position, advice on how their cleats should fit, and information on the differences between brands.

On a more general level, some people wonder what exactly makes a soccer cleat a soccer cleat. Are all cleats the same? What is the difference between soccer and football cleats?

Our experts break down the differences between these two designs and help define the attributes that make Soccer Cleat so unique.

Soccer Cleats are Lightweight

For starters, all soccer cleats are relatively lightweight. It’s generally understood that lighter shoes will offer better agility, better speed, and may help reduce fatigue. This is really important in a soccer match when players are jogging or running for over 45 minutes at a time.

For football, some players like receivers and defensive backs might want the most lightweight and agile cleats available, but other positions might prefer a heavier shoe with more support.

Football Cleats have a Toe Stud

One of the most important differences between football and soccer cleats is that football cleats often have a toe spike. A spike near the big toe adds extra traction for when you’re blocking or pushing forward against a tackler, which is why it’s valuable to a football player. In soccer, a spike near the front toe could interfere with ball handling. Given the nature of the sport, it’s better to leave the toe spike off.

Soccer Cleats Feature a Natural Toe Feel

Unless you’re a punter or a kicker, toe feel and striking area response doesn’t really matter to a football player. Companies who manufacture soccer cleats put a good deal of effort into engineering toes and striking areas that feel natural and responsive. In addition to traction and a comfortable fit, it’s imperative that you get a consistent touch response when you lob a pass, fire a shot, or dribble the ball. For this reason, you are going to want to choose soccer cleats that fit snugly. With football cleats, it doesn’t really matter as much, and if you’re in between sizes, it’s probably fine to select a larger cleat if it’s more comfortable.

Football Cleats Come in High-Top and Mid-Rise Designs

Since soccer players value a lightweight feel and maximum agility, all soccer cleats are low cut. This allows the athlete’s ankle to move more freely. Football cleats come in three different designs: low cut cleats that are similar to tennis shoes or standard soccer cleats, mid-rise designs, and high-tops that are similar in shape to basketball shoes. The higher ankle means the cleat is heavier, but also provides more padding and ankle support.

Now you know what makes soccer boots so unique, it’s time to choose the right pair for you. Shop a large selection of soccer cleats from today’s top brands at SoccerPro.com.

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.

By Ramond

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