Football boots, or soccer cleats as we call them on this side of the pond, are specialized footwear designed to get the most out of an athlete’s performance in terms of their movement and speed. Their shape and form are easily recognizable.
Soccer cleats have distinctive nubs protruding from their soles, sometimes referred to as spikes. The technical term for these is “cleats.” Some are fixed onto the shoe, while others are removable. They are made from different materials with their arrangements depending on the brand and model.
A better understanding of soccer cleats’ design and function can guide you and inform your purchase. Or it can just satisfy your curiosity. Either way, this article will tell you all there is to know.
Do Soccer Cleats Have Spikes?
Soccer cleats have spiky protrusions fixed onto the outsoles of the shoes. These nubs are more commonly known as cleats and studs but are sometimes referred to as spikes and are a defining trademark of this type of footwear.
This was not always the norm for soccer shoes, though. When the sport gained popularity in the 19th century, people wore regular, heavy work boots for a kickabout. Special footwear was hardly a consideration.
In fact, before 1891, protrusions from soccer shoes were explicitly prohibited as they were feared to increase the likelihood of injuring an opponent. But revisions to this rule were implemented, and people began attaching metal studs to the soles of their shoes for better grip.
The soccer shoe market has come a long way since then, both in aesthetic design and biomechanics.
Over the years, different layouts and materials have been used to create the optimal boot. But one feature that has remained constant is the presence of cleats.
Manufacturers produce different lines of soccer shoes, each specialized for a player’s position and role on the pitch or just their personal preferences.
As a result, there are distinct variations in the number and arrangements of cleats, even from the same manufacturer.
The number of cleats and their arrangement on the outsole varies by shoe brand and model but are always present on outdoor soccer cleats regardless of these variables.
Why Do Some Soccer Cleats Have Spikes?
Soccer cleats have spikes or studs to give their wearer better traction on the field. It’s especially valuable given the nature of movement in this sport that entails sudden changes in speed and direction.
This feature is essential for both professional and casual games. It’s perhaps even more so for the latter, considering that the pitches played on by professionals are well groomed and meticulously maintained.
On the other hand, schoolyard and park pitches do not see the same level of upkeep. A decent pair of soccer cleats can significantly impact one’s performance on these fields, which can be uneven and patchy, especially when they’re made worse by the rain.
Additionally, there are some soccer cleats specialized for playing on artificial turf. They feature shallower treads that are suited for synthetic grass. These are significantly shorter than the studs on regular soccer cleats.
It’s also worth noting that some soccer cleats do not actually have spikes or studs. While “soccer cleats” are an accepted name for soccer footwear in general, the outsoles of indoor soccer cleats do not feature any protrusions.
This is because indoor soccer is played on a hard court surface, vastly different from that of an outdoor soccer pitch. In this setting, studded outsoles would be impractical and even injurious to their wearers.
Do Soccer Cleats Have a Toe Spike
Soccer cleats do not have a toe spike. This is a feature of cleats for other sports, such as American football and baseball, and cannot be found on soccer shoes.
The toe spikes on cleated footwear for other sports provide players with added traction when they push off from static positions, especially on the types of surfaces they play on. These sports include:
- American football
The advantage a toe spike offers is not beneficial to a soccer player. Moreover, it can potentially cause serious injury to an opponent, and as a result, it is prohibited from being used in a soccer match.
Previously, players were allowed to use other sports’ footwear provided they manually removed the toe cleats.
This was not an uncommon practice in the youth, amateur, and even semi-professional scenes where players did not have the good fortune of sponsorship deals that professional soccer players enjoy.
Many talented but less-privileged players trying to make it big had to make do with whatever equipment was at their disposal, and at times, this meant baseball cleats.
However, in recent years there has been a much stricter stance on the use of other sports footwear in soccer matches. Most clubs and organizations prohibit wearing cleats originally designed for other sports, even if the toe cleats have already been removed.
The only acceptable footwear that can be worn in a soccer match is soccer cleats specifically designed for this particular sport.
Do Soccer Cleats Have Metal Spikes?
Soccer cleats can have metal spikes. There was previously a ban on the use of metal spikes in professional football, but it has since been lifted. However, most manufacturers and players still prefer materials other than metal for better performance.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made its stance on the matter known in its official rule book with the following statement:
Rule 4.1.17: 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.
In a soccer match, the referee is the foremost authority, and his or her word is final. Minutes before kickoff, the referee routinely inspects gears and equipment to identify any potential hazards.
In some cases, a referee may still decide not to allow a particular player to use soccer cleats with metal spikes, although the footwear has passed the manufacturer’s regulations.
Referees officiate more than just multiple teams games in a season and become familiar with the players with time.
As a result, a referee may decide that a player’s aggressive play style coupled with metal studded soccer cleats may increase the risk of injury to opponents and order a change of footwear.
Are Cleats the Same As Spikes?
In soccer terms, cleats and spikes are generally the same. Both terms refer to the protrusions in the soles of the boot that improve traction on the pitch. However, depending on location and the sport in question, spikes and cleats can be different things.
There are distinct variations in soccer terminology on either side of the Atlantic. The most glaring one is in the very name of the sport itself. But others involve the gear used by the players.
In the United States, soccer footwear is called soccer shoes or soccer cleats, while Europe and most of the rest of the world call them football boots. But the differences don’t end there.
When you zero in on the nubs lining the outsoles of soccer footwear, you’ll find that even these little protrusions come by different names.
In the United States, they are either called cleats or spikes, while most other — especially European — countries call them studs.
These terms have come to be used interchangeably as the sport brings players of different backgrounds together.
Many European and South American greats have moved to the United States to see out their careers in Major League Soccer. On the other hand, some of America’s finest young talents are challenging in Europe’s top leagues.
These players’ alternating use of these terms is not lost on their fans, who absorb it into their own vocabularies. But regardless of whichever of these terms you prefer, you can usually get away with using them interchangeably.
Why Do Soccer Cleats Have Studs?
Soccer cleats primarily have studs to provide their wearers with better traction, which translates to speed and movement advantages. The studs provide a rougher surface than the bottom of the cleats would ordinarily have. This, in turn, increases friction and, by extension, traction.
Several research papers have looked into the biomechanics of soccer cleats. One study on current soccer footwear found that they can increase a player’s speed by up to 3%. This may seem like an inconsequential number, but it can be very decisive in a soccer match.
Additional findings indicate that the number of studs and their arrangement on the outsole influence other advantages of soccer shoes. These include:
- Stress diffusion
- Reduction of pressure peaks
- Improvement of stability
- Increased comfort
The studs on soccer cleats are indispensable. Without this feature on the footwear, there would be significantly less traction, and soccer players would slip more on the pitch and struggle to maintain their balance.
Cleats are also commonly referred to as spikes in North America and as studs in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia.
Spikes are not just a trademark of soccer cleats. They serve a very practical and vital purpose that players of the beautiful game cannot do without.
- FootballBoots: Football Boots History
- SoleScience: Tips for Choosing The Correct Cleats
- Adidas: FOOTBALL CLEATS GUIDE: CHOOSE THE RIGHT CLEAT FOR YOU
- World Soccer Shop: Soccer Cleat Tiers Explained
- North Virginia Soccer Club Inc: Clarification – Policies, Rules and Laws of the Game
- Business Insider: The Real Reason Americans Call It ‘Soccer’ Is All England’s Fault
- National Library of Medicine: Current Soccer Footwear, Its Role in Injuries and Potential for Improvement