USA Football
Football Cleats

Sometimes, picking out the right footwear for a particular sport can be tricky. Here are five things to remember when purchasing your next pair of football cleats.

1) How Are Football Cleats Different From Other Cleats?

  • Cleats are athletic shoes that have spikes or studs attached to the sole. They help your feet get a good grip on the playing surface. Cleats made for different sports emphasize support in different areas based on the playing style of the sport.
  • "Football cleats give you more support in the midsole than soccer or baseball cleats," This helps with lateral movement and with things like taking hits or making tackles."
  • With a sturdier feel than a soccer cleat, football cleats keep your feet and ankles from turning. This allows for quick movements and helps keep your feet under you when tackling, blocking or taking hits.

2) Types of Cleats: By Position

  • There are three main styles of cleats: high-tops, mid-cuts and low-cuts. Different position players tend to favor different styles.
  • High-tops extend above your ankle to provide extra support. Many linemen wear high-tops because the extra ankle support helps them with their lateral movement and keeps their feet steady when they are taking on the weight of a block.
  • Mid-cuts offer more support than low-cut models, but allow more ability to maneuver than high-top cleats. Mid-cuts are the most common cleats, and are especially popular with "skill positions," like quarterbacks and running backs. It is the right choice for a youth player looking for a good all-around shoe.
  • Low-cuts are lightweight cleats that sacrifice support for a lighter feel. They are favored by wide receivers and defensive backs, positions that benefit from being able to run fast without the feet being weighted down.
  • Check Your League Rules
  • Most youth football leagues have rules regulating what cleats can be worn. For instance, Pop Warner football prohibits the use of metal cleats (only molded or detachable rubber cleats are allowed) and limits the length of cleats to a 1/2 inch or less in length. Make sure you know what your league allows before you buy your cleats.

3) Studs/Spikes

  • There are two main types of studs or spikes that can go on the sole of your cleat. Most are designed for a specific purpose, like playing on grass or turf, or a combination of both. The type of field you will usually be playing on may influence what type of cleat you choose.
  • Molded cleats are permanently attached to the shoe's bottom. They are usually made of rubber and are generally less expensive than detachable (removable) cleats. Many youth football leagues require players to wear molded cleats, an all-around cleat suitable for most grass fields.
  • Detachable cleats use studs that can be removed and replaced, allowing you to change the studs based on the field conditions. Detachable cleats often require a wrench for removing and adding the studs, which can be made out of rubber, hard plastic or metal. On a hard, dry field you might add shorter cleats. On a wet field, you might add longer cleats. Detachable cleats require more maintenance, and it takes experience to know which type of studs you should wear on different playing surfaces. For that reason, they are usually recommended for older, more experienced players.

4) Care and Maintenance

  • Cleats, like other shoes, need to be broken in. Cleats feel better the more they are worn. The more you break it in, the better it will feel.
  • Keep an eye on the condition of your spikes. "With both molded and detachable cleats, make sure to check them frequently to see how much they are wearing down and if they are wearing in an even way. If any spike is wobbly or worn down, you need a replacement." Do not practice or play on wobbly or worn-down spikes.
  • With proper care, your cleats can last a long time. Avoid walking on concrete or asphalt to keep your cleats from grinding down or eating away at the plastic coating on some screw-in cleats. Remember to buy an extra set of laces when you buy your cleats and have them with you at games and practices. If your cleats are made of leather, use mink oil or another waterproofing product to help protect the cleats from rain and snow. Use a specialized cleat cleaner or a brush to remove mud and dirt from your cleats