How to Choose Football Cleats

Man running in nike football cleats

When summer football camps start up, the buzz and excitement around the upcoming fall football season starts to set in. Whether you’re a football player or the parent of a player, you know that having the right gear on the field is important. Cleats are especially important and provide traction for quick movements and acceleration, protection from hits, and support throughout the game. If you’re new to buying football cleats, check out our tips below and choose the right cleats for the upcoming season.

Bottom of Football Cleats

When buying new football cleats, first pay attention to the bottom of the shoe where the cleat spikes (also called studs) are located. These cleat spikes help provide traction and grip on both turf and grass fields. Each type of cleat offers a slightly different feel and use, so it’s important to know which one best fits your needs.

Rubber Molded Cleats

the bottom of a rubber molded football cleat

For players who are learning the basics of football, cleats with a rubber molded bottom are an ideal option. Rubber molded cleats are permanently attached to the bottom of the shoe and offer a comfortable underfoot feeling. Plus, cleats with rubber molded bottoms are usually less expensive compared to other football cleat options, making them great for beginners and young players who may outgrow them quickly. 

Hard Molded Cleats

the bottom of a hard molded football cleat

Hard molded cleats are the most popular type of cleat. Like rubber molded cleats, hard molded cleats are permanently attached to the shoe. Made with a harder plastic, these cleats provide a mix of comfort and traction while still offering a lightweight feel. Hard molded cleats are perfect for any age of player from youth to collegiate.

Turf Football Shoes

the bottom of turf football shoes

Turf shoes feature small rubber nubs on the bottom of the football cleat plate to provide traction. You can only wear turf football shoes on synthetic surfaces, making them primarily useful as training or coaching shoes rather than game shoes.

Upper of Football Cleats

Next, pay attention to the upper of the football cleats. There are three main ways an upper can be cut in order to provide different levels of ankle support: low-top, mid-top, and high-top. If you’re an advanced player, you’ll want to pick the right style of football cleats based on your position, while youth players should typically buy based on what provides the best fit and comfort.

Low Top Football Cleats

a low top football cleat

Low-top football cleats work for any skill position player because they are lightweight and leave the ankle free to move for quicker acceleration and speed. Typically, wide receivers or defensive backs wear low-top cleats to allow for maximum mobility for quick, multi-directional movements. However, the low cut also provides less ankle support, which can make players who spend more time blocking or fighting for yardage prone to injury. If you're a receiver or DB who needs speed and mobility, low-top cleats are a great option.

High Top Football Cleats

a high top football cleat

In contrast to low-top cleats, high-top football cleats provide the most ankle support and protection. The upper on this style of cleat wraps around your ankle, making them the best option for players who are focused on blocking rather than running. Although high-top football cleats are heavier, linemen need the stability and protection this style offers as they battle at the line of scrimmage.

Mid Top Football Cleats

a mid top football cleat

Mid-top football cleats are in between low-top and high-top cleats. With this type of upper, your ankle is supported but still has the mobility you need to make cuts and change directions. Mid-top cleats are also more lightweight than high-top cleats making it easier to build speed. Mid-top football cleats are perfect for positions that need both speed and support like running backs, linebackers, tight ends, and quarterbacks.

How to Fit Football Cleats

Once you know which cleats to choose, pay attention to how your football cleats fit. Wearing ill-fitting cleats will make you uncomfortable and can impact your performance as well as increase your risk of injury. Follow these steps to know how football cleats should fit.

  1. Try your football cleats on later in the day and with your football socks. Your feet swell throughout the day, so try your cleats on in the afternoon or evening to make sure they'll be comfortable all day.
  2. Once you have your football cleats on, feel towards the front toe of the shoe to make sure your longest toe is about half an inch from the end. You’ll want the forefoot and the heel to fit comfortably snug. Also, pay attention to what kind of material the upper is made from—a full leather upper will stretch while a synthetic upper will not.
  3. Take some time to walk around and make sure the football cleats are both comfortable and flexible. If you notice any pressure or discomfort while walking, try a different pair of football cleats.

Kids’ Football Cleats

Under Armour kids football cleats

Many kids try a variety of different sports when they are young, and with growing children, buying new football cleats each year can get expensive. Parents often ask the question: Can my child wear soccer cleats while playing football? Yes, young football players can wear soccer cleats while playing football, but parents need to know that football cleats cannot be used while playing soccer.

Also, always make sure your child’s cleats properly fit each year. It’s tempting to buy a pair of football cleats that they can grow into, but it's important to choose a properly fitting shoe to limit injuries and keep your child comfortable.

Finding the right football cleats for your position and making sure they fit properly is essential to performing your best on the field. If you want recommendations to start shopping for new cleats, check out our blog featuring the best football cleats. For personalized advice for you or your child, stop by your local SCHEELS and see one of our shoe experts! They'll help you find the right style and size to have you playing your best this season.