Football cleats are an essential piece of equipment that all players ranging from professionals to beginners should acquire for optimal on-field performance. We will touch upon the functions of football cleats and discuss all of the factors you must consider while looking for the pair that serves you best!
Benefits of Football Cleats
Cleats make all the difference for football players on the field, and without them the player is already at a massive disadvantage. This is because football cleats serve a range of purposes to ensure peak on-field performance, particularly due to the traction they provide. Cleats are designed with a variety of studs on the sole of the shoe that dig into the ground, creating added traction. This traction allows the athlete to make easier cuts on the field, keeping them upright when making quick and sharp changes in directions. Football cleats also help players move faster when sprinting and remain stable while pushing off the ground.
There is no one type of cleat model that serves all football players the same. In fact, as performance enhancement technologies continue to improve, more and more cleat designs are being created that serve football athletes in specific manners based on factors such as position and surface of play. Thus, it is important to understand which type of cleat best serves what needs the athlete is looking for before purchasing.
Things To Consider
When looking for football cleats, you'll want to consider the following:
- What size cleats do you need?
- How much do you want to spend on football cleats?
- What style of football cleat do you want?
- What position do you play?
What are you looking for in football cleats?
- Outdoor use
- Indoor use
- Worn at practice
- Worn in games
- Maximum ankle support
- Maximum ankle mobility
Cleats consist of three sections, the outsole, the midsole, and the upper. Certain types of cleats vary how each section is composed in order to build a specific type of cleat that serves some functions better than others.
Molded bottom cleats are one of two outsole designs (bottom of the cleat) that consist of a single mold of hard plastic spikes that grip into grass or astroturf. These cleats are designed to be versatile, but the studs can not be detached and switched out like its counterpart the detachable stud cleat. Molded cleats are typically recommended for younger or more casual players.
- Versatile cleat for most playing surfaces
- Used heavily by younger players
- Less expensive than alternative options
- Mold can not be detached/altered for varying conditions
- Not used by professionals
- Less powerful studs in general compared to alternative options
Detachable stud cleats are the second of the two outsole designs that consist of longer, more powerful studs than the hard molded design. The shoe can be customized using a wrench which allows you to detach and change the cleat/stud type, adjusting for preference and varying conditions.
- Detachable feature allows for adjusting stud type for varying field conditions
- Studs are generally longer and more powerful
- Commonly used by professionals
- More expensive than molded cleats
- Need to purchase accessory studs that can be attached for varying conditions
Low-cut cleats are one of three upper cleat designs that offer a range in ankle support, serving different purposes for various positions. Low-cut cleat models are designed to free the ankle from restrictions, allowing players to make aggressive cuts and reach high speeds, but offer little to no ankle support. These cleats are typically used by fast/agile players like returners.
- Frees ankle from limitations
- Allows for peak maneuverability and agility
- Lighter than other upper cleat designs
- Little to no ankle support
- Less protection against ankle injuries
Mid-cut cleats are the next of the three upper cleat designs that offer a range in ankle support for varying on-field purposes and positional differences. Mid-cut cleats offer moderate ankle stability without significantly restricting mobility. These cleats are typically used by skill position players such as quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and defensive backs.
- Offers some ankle support
- Does not significantly restrict mobility
- Designed for skill position players
- Most balanced cleat in terms of the trade-off between ankle support and mobility
- More ankle limitation than low-cut cleats
- Less ankle support than high-cut cleats
High-cut cleats are the third of the three upper cleat designs that range in ankle support to serve varying purposes and positions. The high-cut cleats themselves offer maximum ankle support, protecting against rolling and twisting ankles. They are designed to aid in lateral movement while restricting maneuverability and speed. Any cleat from 3/4” cut to 5/8” cut and above is considered high-cut and is designed primarily for linemen and linebackers.
- Offers maximum ankle support
- Protects against ankle injuries
- Designed to aid lateral movement of lineman and linebackers
- Heavily restricts mobility and speed
- Heaviest cleat in weight
It is also important to take into consideration the brand when looking for the right pair of cleats, as different brands vary when it comes to important factors like range of options, durability, style, and cost.
Adidas offers a wide variety of all cleat types, including both hard molded and detachable stud, as well as the full range in cut length. This wide range of options has attracted many NFL players of different positions to sport their cleats, including Aaron Rodgers, Von Miller, and Deandre Hopkins. Adidas also has a wide pricing range with cleats for all budgets, ranging from $40-$180 depending on the type.
Nike produces both hard molded and detachable stud cleats, as well as all three cut lengths. While Nike provides something for everyone, Nike does not have as deep of a range in total options compared to Adidas. In terms of pricing, Nike has a similar pricing range, with cleats ranging from $45-$200 depending on type.
Under Armour also offers the full range of cleat types, with both hard molded and detachable studs available in all three cut lengths. While Under Armour does not have the most extensive list of options, the brand brings some unique styles and designs into the cleat market. As for pricing, Under Armour offers cleats for all budgets, ranging from $50-$130 depending on the type.
What kind of cleats do NFL players wear?
Most NFL players wear detachable stud cleats over molded cleats because of their ability to detach and switch cleat types to match varying playing surfaces and conditions. In regard to the cut of the upper portion of the cleat, NFL players wear all types, low-cut, mid-cut, and high-cut, depending on the position and type of player. Faster and more agile players prefer lower-cut, while lineman and laterally moving players prefer higher-cut. NFL players wear all kinds of brands depending on preference and sponsorship.
How much do football cleats cost?
Football cleats range in cost depending on the type and quality of the cleat. Typically, they can be purchased for between $45 and $140 with certain models from specific brands exceeding that range. Molded cleats tend to be on the lower end of the range and are targeted towards youth and casual football players. Detachable stud cleats tend to be on the higher end and are designed for more serious football players, typically NFL and college players.
How do I know what size cleat to wear?
Finding the correct cleat size is important to guarantee peak performance and to avoid foot/ankle injuries. When finding what size cleat to wear, make sure that the heel fits snug and is supported, and ensure that 1/2 inch of space is left between the front of the cleat and the longest toe. It is also important to try the cleat on before purchasing whenever possible to ensure that the size fits and is comfortable to wear.