Why Do Football Players Wear Soccer Cleats? Complete List of Reasons Why

Cleats are a fundamental part of every soccer player’s getup. The grip that this footwear offers is indispensable to performance on the fields, helping players maneuver their way through the pitch. However, why do some football players wear the same cleats as soccer players?

Football players sometimes opt to wear soccer cleats because they are lighter and allow them to move at faster speeds. Their design also facilitates more flexible ankle movement. However, football cleats come with a frontal stud, which makes them different from soccer cleats.

In the rest of the article, we’ll dive deeper into the similarities and differences between soccer and football cleats and answer your burning questions about them.

Why Do Football Players Wear Soccer Cleats?

Football Players Wearing Cleats
Football Players Wearing Cleats

Football cleats and soccer cleats serve the same primary function: to provide traction for players moving at different speeds on a grassy playing surface. However, these two are not identical, as each sport comes with different requirements.

Regardless, some football players have been known to gear up in soccer cleats every now and then. The reason for this is the footwear’s form.

Football players may choose to wear soccer cleats as they consider them to be interchangeable with football cleats. Soccer cleats are also generally lighter, allowing players to run faster. Their low-cut design also allows them more flexibility for ankle movement. 

The extra material that makes up the mid-rise or high-cut form of football cleats is responsible for tipping the scales. This design also provides better ankle support but restricts movement. This is why football players sometimes opt to make a purchase from the other side of the sports shoe store.

Football’s governing bodies have no problem with this practice as soccer cleats pose no risk of injury to the players. They also generally satisfy their need for traction to move safely across the field in a game.

Is It OK To Wear Soccer Cleats for Football?

Soccer Cleats
Soccer Cleats

It is OK to wear soccer cleats in a football game. No rules and regulations prohibit football players from taking to the field with soccer cleats, and players can choose to wear either type of footwear.

It is not an uncommon sight either, with football players from the youth, amateur, semi-pro, and professional leagues sometimes opting to don a pair of soccer cleats instead of football cleats.

Soccer cleats offer the degree of traction required for a football player to perform on the field, plus their lightweight and low-cut form are preferable for some. 

Players that thrive with more flexibility and faster movement will often lace up in soccer cleats, as they are free to do so.

However, the same cannot be said in a reversed scenario. Soccer players are prohibited from wearing football cleats for soccer matches, with players’ safety being the reason behind this ruling.

But given the nature of soccer, a player’s cleats often tend to get up close and personal with an opponent’s feet and legs, resulting in painful knocks. An extra toe stud could cause an even more serious injury. 

For this reason, you may see some football players on the field wearing what are unmistakably soccer cleats, but you’ll never see soccer players plying their trade in football cleats.

Do Any NFL Players Wear Soccer Cleats?

Different Cleats
Different Cleats

A handful of professional football players in the NFL have attracted attention for their choice of footwear. These players have made headlines among the communities of soccer fans who religiously follow all the news on soccer gear and lifestyle. 

Some of the past NFL players who wore soccer cleats include Anquan Boldin, Darrell Revis, Brandon Marshall, Ryan Succop, Steven Hauschka, Matt Prater, Adam Vinatieri, and Garrett Hartley.

These football players sported different brands and silos of soccer cleats during their football games, and eagle-eyed mutual fans of both sports caught on to this. Their decision to wear soccer cleats shocked NFL fans, who were left wondering what footwear these athletes wore to their games.

Here’s a breakdown of each of the aforementioned football players, along with their soccer cleats of choice.

Football PlayerFootball TeamSoccer Cleats Model
Anquan BoldinSan Francisco 49ersNike Mercurial Superfly IV – Stealth Pack
Darrell RevisNew York JetsNike Tiempo
Brandon MarshallChicago BearsNike Hypervenom
Ryan SuccopKansas City ChiefsAdidas Copa Mundial
Steven HauschkaSeattle SeahawksMercurial Vapor VI
Matt PraterDenver BroncosNike CTR360 Trequartista
Adam VinatieriIndianapolis ColtsUnder Armour Hydrastrike II Pro
Garrett HartleyNew Orleans SaintsUnder Armour Hydrastrike II Pro
NFL Football Players and Soccer Cleats they Wear

Are Soccer Cleats and Football Cleats the Same?

soccer cleats
Soccer Cleats

To the untrained eye, football cleats and soccer cleats look identical, and one could be readily forgiven for not perceiving much difference. They have several similarities, foremost of which is the trademark outsole lined with studs that feature on both sets of cleats.

Soccer cleats and football cleats are not the same types of footwear, despite their apparent similarities. The main differences are that soccer cleats do not have toe studs, allow for better ankle movement, and are lighter than football cleats.

These differences in their respective designs set them apart from each other, and these differences in form translate to certain variations in function. Below are more details on the differences between soccer and football cleats.

Soccer Cleats Do Not Have Toe Studs

This ’s a matter of grave importance in the sport. Soccer cleats do not have studs on the part of the outsole underneath the big toe. 

A player wearing cleats with studs fixed on this particular area could cause serious injury to an opponent, and there are rules against using such footwear in a soccer game.

Since it is a safety hazard and offers no advantage to soccer players anyway, manufacturers design soccer cleats without a toe stud and leave them for their football cleat lines where they can be of actual use. 

Soccer Cleats Allow Better Ankle Movement

Ankle Movement With Cleats
Ankle Movement With Cleats

If you look closely, perhaps the most noticeable difference you’ll find between soccer cleats and football cleats is their cut. All soccer cleats are low-cut. Don’t let those collared trends from 2014 confuse you. 

In the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup, Nike unveiled a design in which a lightweight, sock-like material extended from the shoe’s collar. It resembled mid-rise to high-top shoes. 

This was intended to create a snug fit and lessen the distinction between shoe and foot. Nike called this innovation the Dynamic Fit Collar, but it wasn’t popular with their athletes. 

Long story short, all soccer cleats are truly and now visually low-cut designs that allow the players to freely move their ankles and increase their agility. 

Football cleats are much more restrictive as their collars extend into true mid-rise and high-top cuts for better ankle support. 

While these designs are practical and protect against ankle strain and injury, some football players get around the payoff of limited ankle movement by using soccer cleats instead.

Soccer Cleats Are Lighter Than Football Cleats

At an average of 6 oz (170 g), soccer cleats are generally lighter than the 10 oz (284.5 g) average of football cleats. It’s no surprise when you take their respective designs into consideration.

Soccer cleats are low-cut shoes, whereas football cleats come in mid-rise and high-top cuts, which means more shoe material is used.

Additionally, football cleats have an extra toe stud that soccer cleats don’t. This one little feature may seem inconsequential, but when all is said and done, it makes a difference on the weighing scale. 

Do Punters Wear Soccer Cleats?

Some punters prefer to use soccer cleats when playing football because they are better for kicking or “punting.” Soccer cleats don’t have frontal stud football cleats, making them better for kicking. 

A punter’s objective is to punt the football downfield as far as possible on the fourth down. So, it would make sense for them to wear shoes best suited for kicking a ball as far as possible.

Do Wide Receivers Wear Soccer Cleats?

Wide receivers typically wear soccer cleats as the lighter shoes help them run faster. This is crucial for a wide receiver as they are tasked with outmaneuvering the other team in order to get to the end zone.

These athletes are notable for their catching and passing skills and their speed. In a nutshell, their role is to catch and run. So, this position requires them to be fleet of foot, and that’s where soccer cleats come in handy.

As we’ve already seen, soccer cleats are lighter and allow better ankle movement, which translates to higher speeds for their wearers. Certain football players–such as wide receivers–require more speed and will find soccer footwear more advantageous to their performance.

Do Cornerbacks Wear Soccer Cleats?

Soccer Cleats
Soccer Cleats

Cornerbacks often wear soccer cleats as they can help them run faster. This extra speed allows them to more effectively cover receivers, and the counter opponent plays like sweeps and reverses.

The cornerbacks are the defensive lineup players positioned across the opponent’s offensive wide receivers. A football game can feature speed battles between players of both positions, and soccer cleats can give cornerbacks an edge.

Final Thoughts

Soccer cleats have come light years from their humble beginnings in biomechanics and aesthetics. Their evolution into a lightweight shoe has granted them a measure of versatility that has seen them feature in different sports, including the grand stage of the NFL. So, don’t be surprised next time you see a football player wearing soccer cleats on the field. 


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