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Winning at soccer starts with your feet! What’s on your feet? Whether you need soccer shoes or soccer cleats for men’s, women’s or youth divisions, or whether you are a beginner or an enthusiastic travel player, there are factors to consider when buying soccer shoes or cleats. Particularly, what kind of traction and control do you gain, and which are the types of fields on which you’ll play? This brief guide provides you with answers to these questions. After all, success on the field will come from examining the best soccer player’s greatest weapon: his feet.
Know Your League Regulations
Leagues require you to wear the proper soccer shoes or cleats during practice and play. You can check with your coach or local league association for details. Also, take your coach’s suggestions for the right shoes for your practice field, and inquire if any league regulations are in process to change. Before spending a bundle on your soccer shoes, check your league regulations regarding shoes and the key one’s are summarized here:
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association: “Shoes shall be worn by all participants in a game. Shoes with soles containing aluminum, leather, rubber, nylon or plastic cleats, studs or bars, whether molded as part of the sole or detachable, are allowed as long as the referee does not consider them dangerous. The NCAA allows metal soccer cleats in addition to soft or hard rubber cleats.”
- High School Soccer: Each state, local section and league creates some unique rules. A rule that is generally accepted and enforced by them is set by the National Federation of State High School Association. It reads: “The bottom edge of the cleat may not be higher than two inches above the ankle.”
- Boys’ and Girls’ Youth Soccer: The standard regulations for Youth Soccer confirm that screw-in cleats and cleats from other sports may not be used. In addition, metal cleats are not allowed for safety reasons.
Shoe Construction and Materials
With soccer’s worldwide popularity and the game’s strong competition, research and development for better soccer shoes is always on-going. The result are shoes that are a perfect combination of improved features and new technologies. Their main materials of construction are:
- Rubber or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane, a very elastic plastic) produces superior traction which is especially good for grassy playing fields. This is the most common material in soccer shoes due to its ability to prevent slipping.
- Leather provides breath-ability, strength and durability for soccer shoes. Soft leather provides a comfortable feel when dribbling or shooting the ball. Comfort and fit increase with each use. Leather is extremely flexible and it wicks away more water and moisture than synthetic shoes.
- Synthetic blends are great for all levels of soccer, and shoes made of them are easy to clean and dry out. These types of shoes generally include a water treatment to help the cleat last longer under poor playing conditions, including wet grassy fields.
Youth Soccer Shoes
Young soccer players need footwear that provides ventilation, durability and the feeling of stability and protection. Youngsters should choose molded cleats for safety reasons since the bottom of the shoe is rubber, not metal. So, check out the soles for the regulation rubber cleats that provide traction and stability.
Although an adolescent or teenager is still growing, buy a shoe that fits. A shoe that is too big can cause blisters and sprained ankles. A snug fit is the right fit, and when the shoe is outgrown in size, buy the next size so you don’t affect the growth of the feet. To get the right size in the first place, try on the soccer shoes with soccer socks and shin guards to guarantee a proper fit. The shoes should be snug at the top as this will allow for better control of the ball when passing, dribbling and shooting. As the shoes get worn in, the uppers will stretch and become more comfortable. Keep in mind that leather stretches and then molds to the foot so this is a good choice for growing feet and stability.
Men’s and Women’s Soccer Shoes
Men’s soccer has produced many stars known for their speed and power. Even before the popular film, Bend It Like Beckham, the women’s game, too, is equally represented by soccer stars known for their agility. In order to achieve the skillful edge necessary for the success of our soccer heroes, both men and women players need soccer cleats that maximize mobility while providing full foot protection. Generally, soccer cleats are usually narrower than other types of athletic shoes and this supports greater control of the ball. To guarantee that you get that winning support when buying a new pair, lace the shoes up tightly and walk around to make sure that the inner seams don’t irritate the foot but give that tight fit. Since having the proper footwear will be men’s or women’s players best ally on the field, new technological advances give us the ability to provide soccer cleats that have superior traction and control without sacrificing speed or flexibility.
The world of soccer shoes has evolved and whether you play indoor, outdoor, or on artificial turf, there are soccer shoes that are right for your feet with a fit crucial to your performance. Here is a brief guide to the types of soccer shoes targeted to the various surfaces the game is played upon:
Firm Ground/Molded Soccer Cleats
These shoes are perfect for beginning to advanced soccer players since they are versatile for most field types and various conditions. They are designed for all surfaces and allow you to keep your footing while making quick turns so you can possess the ball with ease. It is formed on the bottom to help provide traction and control. The cleats come in different patterns, but the cleats themselves are always made of non-detachable hard plastic or rubber. They work well on a traditional grass field and turf. The non-removable molded studs are in either a circular or blade shape and these shoes have between 10 to 14 of these individual cleats in locations critical for pivoting and traction. The cleats are harder polyurethane in the tip for durability. Softer cleats are at the sole and stud base for less pressure on the foot.
Soft Ground/Removable Soccer Cleats
The intermediate to advanced soccer player can play in these on soft surfaces. In fact, they are better for players with more experience who can tailor the removable cleats to their playing field and weather conditions. The removable studs allow players to adjust their length depending on how muddy the field is and how slippery the conditions are. The studs on the bottom can be screwed on and off and replaced easily, and players can choose between metal or plastic studs. The studs are designed so that they are widely spaced to prevent mud from clumping. Most models have four studs under the ball of the foot and two to four studs under the heel.
Indoor Soccer Shoes
Flat-surfaced outsole shoes provide greater grip and traction, and the control and foot traction for lateral cuts and pivots. Speed, traction, and ball control are important for the indoor game. These shoes have light construction and this enables a good feel for both the turf and the ball itself when passing or shooting. The indoor game involves a lot of quick cutting from side-to-side, and lighter shoes are critical for these movements. The shoes are durable, with real leather or synthetic leather uppers and strong stitching designed to withstand regular ball contact and other impacts.
Hard Ground Cleats
The hard ground cleats perform best on a hard, dry-grass field or synthetic grass. They provide players with superior traction and are most useful in dry conditions when fields may not be watered adequately. They feature molded round plastic studs that are much shorter and they have more studs than firm ground cleats. Studs on these cleats rest on the top of the playing surface to provide traction without digging into the ground. The hard ground cleats most often have a dozen shorter circular studs with a group of four near the toes, four between the ball of the foot and arches, and four in the heels.
Artificial Turf Shoes
For artificial turf, non-stud shoes have specialized rubber soles geared toward either playing indoor soccer or playing on artificial turf. The shoes contain various raised patterns on the bottom in place of studs. These are generally good training shoes that can be a back-up game pair for hard-surface conditions.
To sum up, your soccer shoes and soccer cleats are an extension of you on the playing field, so find a style and colors that reflects your personality. Some cleats have a new stud shape which allows increased stability and improved lateral movements. For this sport of concentration, precision, team work and speed, your soccer shoes or cleats will give you the skillful edge necessary for success, and such new technologies and materials will maximize your mobility and provide outstanding foot protection. Now it’s onto the field to break in new cleats and to break old records!
(c) 2012 Elizabeth McMillian
write by nelson