Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats: Everything You Need to Know

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

Is there a difference comparing soccer cleats vs football cleats? Soccer cleats and football cleats clearly have different purposes and the design, material, studs, weight, and style all play a crucial role in distinguishing between both types of cleats.

Soccer is often referred to as the beautiful game, or as football, in most parts of the world. However, in the USA, football refers to American football, not association football, which is where the word soccer comes from.

Soccer and American Football are two completely different sports that require different equipment and specific cleats. In this blog we will break down the main differences and similarities between soccer and football cleats.

Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats

Weight of the cleats

The main difference between soccer and football cleats is the weight of the cleats. Soccer cleats are typically the more lightweight cleats out of the two because soccer players run more during a game.

Although the weight doesn’t make a huge difference, when you have to run for 90 minutes having lightweight cleats is probably more ideal. Some football cleats can also be lightweight for players that have positions that do more running such as the wide receivers and running backs, however, in general football cleats are heavier.

Stud Designs

When it comes to the stud pattern and design, football cleats differ from soccer cleats in that most, if not all, football cleats will have a big toe stud. This extra big toe stud is to allow the football player to get more traction and extra grip during high-intensity moments such as when pushing against another opponent.

On the other hand, soccer cleats will not have a specific big toe stud and typically have a more uniform stud layout throughout the sole.

Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats Image by Tobias Flyckt

Materials

Both types of cleats can be made out of either a leather or synthetic upper. Soccer cleats are usually made of thinner material that is more pliable to allow for swift and quick movements as well as to allow for a better control of the ball, while football cleats will be made of similar, but more thick materials to shield players from the rough nature of the sport.

Midsole of Cleats

Soccer cleats, designed for the swift movements and precise ball control, typically feature a minimalistic midsole. These lightweight midsoles allow for agility and responsiveness, offering soccer players a close-to-the-ground feel crucial for their dynamic playstyle.

On the other hand, football’s intense nature requires more padding and support, shielding players from the more rough playstyle. The midsole gives extra support for players.

Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats

Image by Keith Johnston

Outsole of Cleats

The outsole, the foundation of any sports cleat, is one of the biggest differences between these two sports cleats. Soccer cleats have a stud configuration created for optimal traction and maneuverability.

This thoughtful design is for quick cuts, sudden changes in direction, and superior grip across various field surfaces, ensuring soccer players maintain control and agility throughout the match.

On the other hand, football cleats offer athletes better traction and extra support needed for crucial plays, due to the big toe stud. This design choice aligns with the stop-and-start nature of American Football, providing football players more stability to navigate the field effectively.

Overall designs

Soccer cleats used to only be made in low top versions, however, in recent times the high top versions have become more popular. In football, cleats come in three different versions, low-cut, mid-cut, and high-cut.

Many people believe that getting a high-cut design will instantly improve ankle stability by providing more ankle support, but that is not always the case. The high-cut design is supposed to make it feel like the cleat is part of you, which is why it covers the ankle to provide a sock-like fit, however it does not act as an ankle brace.

For the most part, football and soccer cleats both have a secure and snug fit, but ultimately what design you choose for the type of cleat you need is totally up to you and it is based on preference. The best cleats you can wear are those that fit you well and that you like best.

Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats

Image by John Torcasio

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my soccer cleats when playing American Football or vice versa?

Yes, you technically could, but it’s not advisable. Each sport has its own cleat for a specific reason so it is best to use the cleats for your sport, except in some cases.

Do any NFL players wear soccer cleats?

Although soccer cleats may provide less protection than football cleats, some NFL players do wear soccer cleats due to their lightweight nature, which may improve speed. Usually the players that run the most will wear soccer cleats such as running backs.

Can you wear indoor soccer shoes or soccer turf shoes for football?

No, do not wear indoor soccer shoes for football. You may be able to wear cleats, but not indoor shoes and also you may be able to wear turf shoes on artificial grass.

Conclusion

Soccer cleats and football cleats are two different pieces of equipment for their respected sport and they should only be used for their specific sport. However, some professional football players in the NFL might wear soccer cleats, such as the running backs, because they require more running than most other football positions. For this reason it makes sense for a footballer to wear soccer cleats, but a player will not be able to play soccer with football cleats.

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