Indoor vs. Outdoor Soccer Cleats: Everything You Need to Know

The beautiful game can be played in outdoor and indoor settings. However, there are differences between the gear used for each setting. For example, how do soccer cleats differ for indoor and outdoor games?

The primary difference between indoor soccer and outdoor soccer footwear is that indoor soccer shoes do not have the characteristic cleats that line the soles of outdoor soccer shoes. Because indoor soccer is played on a hard court surface, the required shoes have flat outsoles.

Whether you’re looking to play soccer under beautiful blue skies or you want to bring your game indoors, this article will answer all your questions about indoor and outdoor soccer shoes.

Is There a Difference Between Indoor vs. Outdoor Soccer Cleats?

Outdoor Soccer Cleats
Outdoor Soccer Cleats

Indoor soccer is a small-sided variation of the sport officially called association football, a.k.a. outdoor soccer or simply soccer. (I should note that, outside of the U.S., everyone calls “soccer” football. Presumably, the fact that the U.S. has its own version of football necessitates a different term to avoid confusion within its borders. But that’s another discussion altogether.) 

One of the significant differences between indoor and outdoor soccer is the type of surfaces they’re played on, and there couldn’t be a starker contrast.

In its original style, soccer is played outdoors on a grass pitch, whereas indoor soccer is typically played on hard court surfaces indoors. These courts are usually made of wood, just like a basketball court. 

Due to the considerable dissimilarities between the playing surfaces of both sports, there are also differences between indoor soccer cleats and outdoor soccer cleats that are most noticeable on the soles of the shoes.

The hard courts of indoor soccer necessitate flat, rubberized soles to allow the players to move freely with far less risk of slipping and falling, especially since they’re likely playing on waxed or varnished surfaces. 

On the other hand, outdoor soccer calls for footwear with studs for added traction on a grass pitch.

When it comes to the makeup of the upper part of the shoe, indoor soccer shoes and outdoor soccer shoes have more in common in terms of their form and material. 

Leading companies in the soccer shoe industry, such as Adidas and Nike, manufacture indoor soccer cleat versions of their main outdoor soccer cleat silos that retain much of the form of the upper shoe and even the colors of the “pack” released.

Most importantly, both the footwear for indoor and outdoor soccer are tailored based on biomechanical research that determines which designs are optimal for players to use on their specific playing surfaces.

Can Indoor Soccer Cleats Be Used Outside?

Indoor Soccer Cleat
Indoor Soccer Cleat

Some players treat their soccer cleats with reverence, which means they only bring them out for play on the right surface. Others are more liberal and even wear their pairs out casually if they go with their outfits. (If you’re in the latter group, though, expect certain people to stare at you for both positive and negative reasons.)

You can use indoor soccer cleats outside if you do not mind subjecting yours to some extra wear and tear. To be clear, “outside” refers to those matches on side streets or concrete courts, not outdoor soccer on grass.

Wearing indoor soccer shoes to a Saturday night kickabout on the street will still give you an advantage over those who show up in other types of sneakers. 

Much like on an indoor soccer court’s wooden surface, your indoor soccer cleats will give you better balance and grip on other hard surfaces outside.

Can You Wear Outdoor Soccer Cleats Indoor?

Outdoor Soccer Cleats Example
Outdoor Soccer Cleats Example

Outdoor soccer cleats have distinct studs protruding from their outsoles. These aren’t a fashion statement or even an accessory to intimidate opponents (though you can use them for that purpose if you want and if it works). They serve the practical and vital purpose of giving soccer players added traction, allowing them to move easily on the pitch.

You cannot wear outdoor soccer cleats indoors, even though a pair of them can improve your movement and speed on grass. To say that footwear with studded soles is less than optimal for a hard court surface would be a gross understatement. 

Outdoor soccer cleats on an indoor court are a calamity in the making. The constant impact from the studs can damage hardwood floors, and you likely won’t be able to move as smoothly as you’d like around the court. 

I already feel a bit uneasy when I’m geared up in my outdoor soccer cleats, walking on concrete floors from the tunnel up to the pitch before kickoff, and I can hardly wait until there’s grass beneath my feet. 

I know there are some who share my uneasiness and liken outdoor soccer cleats on concrete to wearing high heels. And I don’t mean the Victoria’s Secret Angels are strutting down the runaway but the awkward preteen trying to take their first few steps in heels.

Can you imagine running on an indoor court with your studded soccer shoes? If you somehow manage to pull it off and even score a goal, your name ought to be written in light. But for the general outdoor soccer cleats-clad population, it’s simply impossible.

Can You Wear Turf Soccer Shoes Indoors?

Turf Soccer Shoe
Turf Soccer Shoe

Indoor soccer and outdoor soccer aren’t the only iterations of the sport. One other small-sided version of the game is played on artificial turf and requires its own specialized footwear. 

Turf soccer shoes have short studs positioned close to one another and cover the surface of the outsoles, unlike the long spikes of outdoor soccer shoes that are sparingly arranged at distances from each other. 

You cannot wear turf soccer shoes indoors. Their short studs are designed for artificial turf that is shorter than the grass on outdoor soccer fields, making them unsuitable for the hardwood of indoor soccer courts.

But while the studs’ length and entire surface distribution make them easier to walk in on hard courts than outdoor soccer cleats, they are still a hazard for indoor soccer play.

Do Indoor Soccer Shoes Make a Difference?

Indoor Soccer Shoes
Indoor Soccer Shoes

Specialized sports footwear is designed to help improve a player’s performance in the game, and a lot of research and science goes into the process. 

Indoor soccer shoes make a difference in the players’ performance. Just as outdoor soccer cleats are designed based on biomechanical data analysis, indoor soccer shoes are tailored to a player’s needs and the game’s demands. 

Like in most other sports, a key function of footwear in soccer is to help the players move with ease. Games would not be as enjoyable if players slipped and fell every few meters. They wouldn’t be very safe either.

Indoor soccer shoes have flat, gum rubber soles that give players better grip and balance on the wooden hard court surfaces they play on, which is vital to the sport.

Among the differences between indoor soccer and outdoor soccer are the size of the area of play and the pace of the game. 

While outdoor soccer games can require time to build up a play, indoor soccer matches are high-paced contests that require speed and constant movement in a smaller space, and their shoes are specialized for this.

The upper shoe is also designed to provide the player with better control of the ball on the first touch and as they strike it. On top of these “performance-enhancing” features, the shoes give the player improved comfort and stability to play their best game.

Can You Use Indoor Soccer Shoes on Concrete?

You can use indoor soccer shoes on concrete. This specialized footwear is designed for hardwood courts; however, some manufacturers market their footwear as suitable for any hard surface.

And that’s not just an empty sales pitch.

Most customers and critics are satisfied with how suitable their indoor soccer shoes are for concrete. But if you want a pair, you can just wear them out onto the streets and play in when the indoor courts are closed; you’ll have to spend a little more on them.

Are Indoor Soccer Cleats Good for Running?

Different Cleats
Different Cleats

Indoor soccer is a sport that entails a lot of sprinting and running. The pace of the game requires fleet-footed players clad in the right footwear. 

Indoor soccer cleats are generally not good for running. Although indoor soccer players need to make quick strides comfortably, their cleats primarily emphasize cushioning, so it is not the best option for long-distance running.

Running shoes come in a myriad of designs. Indoor soccer cleats provide stability and comfort for bursts of speed over short distances, but they don’t have as much of the cushioning required for a comfortable run.

Final Thoughts

Soccer cleats are designed to help the players perform their best. The variations of the sport that cropped up were not overlooked either. Currently, there’s an industry that caters to specialized footwear for both indoor and outdoor soccer. 

The differences in playing surfaces necessitate differences in footwear design. While indoor soccer cleats and outdoor soccer cleats cannot be used interchangeably, gearing up in the right pair for the right sport can help you own the field, court, or streets.


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