Best Barefoot Shoes for Soccer Players to Buy in 2024

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What are the best barefoot or minimalist shoes for soccer players to be wearing off the field? As a soccer player it should be no surprise that taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you can do for your overall performance on the field and recovery off it.

One way to start regaining full foot function and taking better care of your feet is by wearing barefoot shoes. The concept is very simple, by creating a flat shoe with no raised heel and a wider toe box than conventional shoes, minimalist shoes provide a barefoot experience.

In this guide we will cover the many benefits of barefoot shoes, how they differ from conventional shoes, the importance of being barefoot, and top picks for the best barefoot, or minimalist shoes, in case you are looking for new shoes.

Benefits of Spending time Barefoot

Spending time barefoot has many benefits, far beyond what you may be thinking, including:

  • Strengthens your feet, more specifically, the plantar fascia, which is your base of support
  • Encourages a more natural walking pattern
  • Can help you become more athletic and resistant to injuries
  • If you are barefoot on natural land you get the benefits of grounding therapy and you are exposed to healthy Native EMFs, such as the schumann resonance, or Earth’s heartbeat

Benefits of Wearing Barefoot Shoes

Although it is advisable to spend as much time as you can barefoot, that is not always possible, which is why it is important to wear barefoot style shoes when you have to wear shoes. Modern conventional shoes are made without your foot function and natural walking mechanics in mind which is why they have a lot of cushion, a narrow toe box, a raised heel, and a bunch of arch support and added features to make the shoes look so technologically advanced.

Doesn’t it make more sense to wear something such as barefoot shoes that allows your feet to move the way nature intended them to? Barefoot enthusiasts swear by the benefits of wearing barefoot shoes and here are the main reasons why.

PromotesNatural Walking Patterns:

Barefoot shoes promote a more natural walking pattern enhancing foot strength, biomechanics, and overall performance. A raised heel mimics what the foot is supposed to be doing naturally inside the shoe and overtime relying on the raised heel and cushion of the shoes may desensitize your feet, arch, and toes. A wide toe box shoe with a drop sole allows the foot to work more like it was actually designed to.

More Toe Box Width than Conventional Shoes:

Barefoot shoes give you more space and allow your toes to splay naturally, making it easier to actually feel the ground beneath your feet.

Reduces the risk of injuries:

Spending time wearing barefoot shoes can also help decrease the risk of injury, since it helps strengthen your feet in ways they don’t usually get engaged and it promotes a more natural walking pattern.

Made of High-Quality Materials:

Barefoot shoes are also made of out breathable materials which help address issues like sweaty feet.

Versatile:

Barefoot shoes are also very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, such as casual wear, while doing exercise, or when going for a walk.

Understanding Barefoot Shoes and its Role in Sports Performance

Barefoot shoes should only be worn outside of soccer training, in the form of barefoot casual wear shoes or barefoot training shoes. This means I only recommend wearing barefoot shoes off the field and using standard cleats when playing the beautiful game.

Certain companies, such as Natur Athletics, have created the first pair of minimalist cleats, which sound interesting, but I don’t think they will work. Also, another company called Dagda Barefoot is currently developing their own barefoot cleat.

The reason minimalist cleats will probably not work is because when you play soccer you actually need the snug fit of soccer cleats to be able to move fast and freely in any direction. When you are playing soccer, your feet and toes don’t have to be splayed because you need to be applying fascial tension to the foot when wearing cleats, which requires retracting the toes, having the arch engaged, and having prominent extensor and anterior tibialis tendons.

This is why if you have wide feet, or if you feel that your soccer cleats are too tight, it is best to wear wide soccer cleats, ideally made out of leather, because the natural materials will mold to the shape of your foot.

Best Barefoot Shoes for Footballers

Here are some of my personal favorites when it comes to barefoot options for soccer players.

barefoot shoes for soccer players

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Best Overall Barefoot Shoe: Vivobarefoot Men’s Sneaker

The Vivobarefoot Men’s sneakers are some of the highest quality barefoot shoes on the market that offer the widest toe box and a glove-like fit. Ideal for soccer enthusiasts seeking optimal performance off the field, these are the best casual barefoot footwear.

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Second Best Overall Barefoot Shoes: Xero Shoes

One of my personal favorite brands of Barefoot shoes are Xero Shoes which provide an excellent balance of minimalist design and support. With a focus on a wide toe box and lightweight construction, they are a reliable choice for soccer players and a close second behind the sneakers. These shoes are perfect for casual wear and for exercise.

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Best Minimalist Shoe: New Balance Minimus

The new balance minimus are not completely barefoot style shoes, but they are minimalist shoes and a great way to begin your transition from conventional shoes to barefoot shoes. Known for its zero-drop design and breathable upper, the New Balance Minimus is a go-to choice for those looking to maintain natural foot movement without compromising on style and functionality.

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Best Hiking Barefoot shoes: Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Runners

If you are a player who likes to go on hikes a lot and wants a barefoot style shoe, the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail Runners are the best in its category.

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Best Budget Friendly Barefoot Shoes: Merell Men’s vapor Glove

The most budget-friendly option on this list that doesn’t compromise on the benefits of wearing barefoot shoes are the Vapor Glove shoes by Merell.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best shoes to wear for playing soccer?

The best shoes, or cleats, to wear when playing soccer are cleats that give you excellent traction and feel comfortable. In my opinion the best shoes are wide soccer shoes made out of soft leather such as the Nike Tiempo Legend.

Is it easy to play soccer barefoot?

No, playing soccer barefoot is not as easy as it looks. Playing barefoot on grass is doable for most people, but being able to play on concrete and hard surfaces is a different story.

What features to look for in a barefoot shoe?

These are the main features to look for in a barefoot shoe.

  • Zero drop / flat design
  • Thin sole
  • Wide toe box
  • Made of high quality materials

Conclusion

Embrace the barefoot revolution for soccer players with our in depth guide to best barefoot shoes for footballers. From encouraging natural walking movements to injury reduction, these shoes redefine comfort and performance off the field.

Whether you decide to invest your money in the Xero Shoes, New Balance Minimus, or any of the other choices on this list, barefoot shoes will allow you to take a step towards healthier, stronger and more mobile feet.. Restrictive shoes have a lot of negative effects and minimalist footwear is one of the keys to proper foot care.

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