Differences Between Soccer And Football Cleats

James Cunningham
James Cunningham

Since they look similar, you might wonder what differentiates soccer and football cleats. Are they even the same at all, simply marketed differently?

It’s natural to contemplate using your football cleats for soccer: on the surface, it seems like a good idea due to the comfortability, and hey, who doesn’t like to save a few bucks?

However, there are many reasons you shouldn’t use football cleats for soccer, from the design to even some soccer leagues simply forbidding the use of football cleats altogether.

Today, we will dive deep and compare soccer cleats to their football counterparts.

Are Soccer Cleats And Football Cleats The Same?

Having played both sports, I can assure you that soccer cleats and football cleats are not the same. In fact, it would be bizarre if they were because both sports require a different set of skills, and players in both sports need specific attributes from their gear to improve their performance.

There are many differences between them, such as weight, material, traction, midsole, studs, design, and overall construction. Both cleats were designed and manufactured specifically for their sport.

In football, for example, you need a pair of cleats that gives you tons of stability and traction. When you run into an opponent or when you get pushed around, it’s critical to be properly grounded and stable.

Now with soccer, stability is still important, of course, but you also need a pair of cleats that allow you to control, dribble, and interact with the ball. A certain level of finesse will be required, and the studs can’t be as big and rough as in football.

Comparison Of Football And Soccer Cleats

Football cleats often referred to as “mud cleats,” are designed for American football.

Football cleats serve to provide peak performance on the field. They are often made of various studs on the sole that penetrate the ground, providing you extra traction and stability.

This traction aids in players’ ability to change direction and make sharp cuts on the field.

table comparing soccer and football cleats attributes

Soccer cleats, often called “soccer boots,” are designed for modern-day soccer.

Soccer cleats are arguably the most vital accessory used by soccer players. Like football cleats, soccer cleats have studs that provide extra traction and stability.

However, the soccer cleats studs are not as long or as sharp as football cleats, allowing players to have extra stability without sacrificing touch. Soccer cleats are also designed to prevent slipping and aid in direction changes.

Weight

Football cleats are a considerable amount heavier than soccer cleats, and this is because the nature of football cleats demands stability, even at the expense of speed and agility.

In soccer, however, cleats tend to be lighter by 3 to 4 oz, which is a significant amount when it comes to making a difference in speed.

Football cleats weigh 11 to 15 ounces on average, whereas soccer cleats weigh 7 to 10.

This is because football players need to be agile and change directions sharply. Soccer players must also be able to feel the ball and be lighter on their feet.

Material

This is where football and soccer cleats are the most similar. Built to withstand every terrain and weather condition, they use the same types of materials.

Football cleats tend to be thicker and sturdier, emphasizing ankle support and protective uppers. This is, so they last longer and offer the players additional protection due to the more rugged nature of football.

Both types of shoes are often made of leather and synthetic with plastic or metal studs.

Traction

Football cleats have superior traction than soccer cleats for apparent reasons.

As a football player, you can never predict how the field you are playing on will be. Different grounds have different textures and terrain, increasing the versatility and adaptability needed from football cleats.

Football players need to have confidence in their cleats to provide the traction required to play at their highest level, no matter how icy, grassy, wet, or slippery the ground is. Soccer cleats, however, don’t offer as much as a sturdy grip.

It is considered counterintuitive to have extra traction on the soccer field because you need to be agile with the ball and wear more lightweight cleats to run faster.

Midsole

Football cleats tend to have an extra layer soft midsole. This is to provide cushioning and shock absorption to help reduce the risk of injury.

Soccer cleats don’t include a midsole. This is due to soccer players needing to keep their center of gravity as low as possible, and be close to the ball which helps them be more agile.

Outsole

Outsoles are generally found at the bottom of the shoe, often made of rubber or synthetic materials.

Football cleats have thicker, sturdier, and more rugged outsoles to maximize protection. However, soccer cleats have thinner and lighter outsoles to optimize agility and speed, so again, wearing football cleats for soccer would be counterproductive and negatively affect your performance on the field.

Studs

Football cleats have one toe stud, which maximizes grip and stability. However, it would not positively correlate to a soccer player’s performance if one was on soccer cleats.

The studs on football shoes tend to be longer and sharper than on soccer cleats, which would create serious injury hazards or severe repercussions on a soccer field.

Design

Soccer cleats are designed to be light to maximize agility and speed. That’s why they’re in a low-cut style, allowing the ankle muscles to move freely with no resistance.

Football cleats can come in low, mid, or high-cut styles. Mid-cut gets the best of both speed and ankle support, while low-cut cleats maximize the quickness of players (often used by receivers). High-cut cleats offer the most protection for the ankle joint.

Depending on your playstyle and your position, you’ll have to use a specific football cleat. Linemen prefer high-cut cleats as they offer ankle support needed in their position due to the constant intense impact they have to give and receive.

However, these football players usually prefer going for the mid-cut design:

  • Defensive-backs
  • Quarter-backs
  • Running-backs
  • Some defensive backs

Can You Wear Soccer Cleats In Football?

Football players have been known to use soccer cleats on the football field, particularly the kickers and punters. This is due to the shape of the soccer cleat designed for kicking.

Referees allow players to wear soccer cleats as it doesn’t go against any rules or regulations. The laws of the NFL state, “shoes must be standard football design, “sneaker” type shoes such as basketball shoes, cross-training shoes, running shoes” therefore, soccer cleats are allowed.

Soccer cleats can be good and bad for football: it depends entirely on position and style of play.

Can You Wear American Football Cleats For Soccer?

As mentioned, football cleats are not allowed in soccer leagues or tournaments.

The international soccer association board laid out the laws of the game: one law states  “a player must not use equipment that is dangerous.”

Including footwear, and given that football cleats are notorious for their longer, sharper studs that are generally not found in a soccer shoe, they are deemed dangerous.

Football cleats on a soccer field can cause severe injury to other players and result in a suspension for the player wearing them or, in extreme cases, banned from the league altogether.

Do NFL Kickers Wear Soccer Cleats?

One might think they do since they simply kick a ball, right? But the shape of the ball is quite different, so maybe not

According to several football coaches, most kickers do indeed wear soccer cleats. More precisely, the Nike Tiempo model, because of its simple design and heavier weight which allows for more powerful kicks.

Matt Prater, the current holder of the longest field goal record with a 66-yard kick, wears Nike Mercurial Veloce III cleats that are normally worn by midfielders in soccer.

4th & 10

All in all, using football cleats for soccer is a sure way to guarantee a negative outcome for your career and your performance. An amateur soccer player may not be able to tell the difference, but the talented, hardworking professional will, as they value and respect the sport.

Both types of cleats are excellent in their sport, it’s even speculated you can use soccer cleats for football, but the other way around, you cannot.

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James Cunningham
James Cunningham
James lives in Chicago with his wife and three daughters. Originally from the UK, soccer has allowed him to travel the world. Now a youth coach, he fully enjoys teaching others about the game that he loves so much. His favorite team is Manchester United.