Soccer Cleats Vs Football Cleats But Which Are Better?

If you want to play both soccer and football, you may want to know if you can wear the same cleats for playing either sport.

You may also wonder which cleats are better so you have an idea of which ones you should properly invest in out of the two. 

For a parent, buying one pair of cleats is certainly preferable to two but knowing which pair you should pay more attention to is also helpful and it could depend on your child’s chosen position.

Soccer Cleats Vs Football Cleats But Which Are Better?

There may not be a huge amount of difference between a pair of football cleats and those used for soccer yet they would likely affect a player’s performance.

In this guide, we will look at the similarities and differences between soccer cleats and football cleats, and also consider why they are different.

We will also look at the characteristics of soccer cleats, the different types of soccer cleats, and whether you can wear soccer cleats for playing football. 

How soccer cleats have developed, the rules that govern the use of soccer cleats in football, and the positions in football where you could wear soccer cleats will also be looked at. 

The Similarities Between Soccer Cleats And Football Cleats

While they may look quite similar on a general level, soccer cleats are certainly not the same as football cleats.

That explains why you would see them in different parts of the same aisle in a sports store, they may both relate to ball-playing sports and may contain the same sorts of materials but how those materials are used and how the boots are designed will be different.

Both cleats also involve studs but even how those are constructed and laid out on the bottom of the cleats will differ too. 

The Difference Between Soccer Cleats And Football Cleats

The simple difference between soccer cleats and football cleats is how they treat the playing surface.

Soccer cleats will need to offer traction with a suitable amount of contact to play with a round ball. 

That constant contact with a soccer ball goes a long way into designing the cleats.

However, in football, the cleats used will be typically constructed for reactions as there is no dribbling of the ball and no constant contact with many players needing to grip the turf. 

Starting with the most fundamental features, a football cleat will be heavier to protect the foot while a soccer cleat will be lighter to dribble the ball and offer a more adept touch.

A soccer cleat will also be thinner and made of increasingly flexible material to the more protective football cleat.

A football cleat will also include an extra toe spike and even more studs than a soccer cleat to sufficiently grip the turf. 

If you were to hold up a soccer cleat to a football cleat, you should notice the longer, wider shape of a football cleat.

Again, this has to do with the control of a round ball as in soccer, the foot should be tighter-fitting to offer close control.

Finally, the soccer cleat should have a low rise compared to a football cleat which has a higher rise to look after the ankle. 

Both cleats should include studs and comparing the two types of cleats may include flipping them over.

These studs are used to provide traction which is crucial when playing on a wet surface or even in mud as they can grip whatever is underneath so a player does not lose their footing.

Though how those studs are laid out or shaped may differ between manufacturers, there are typically four studs at the heel in a square for landing support on a soccer cleat. 

You should also find three studs lining each side of the soccer cleat with one or two studs lying between them. The studs on a football cleat are a little different.

For one, the studs should be longer with more included towards the front. There should also be a toe spike, also known as a toe stud, which you would not find on a soccer cleat.  

The designs are also fundamentally different and while a low-rise football cleat may look similar to a soccer cleat that’s largely where the similarities end.

Football cleats can come in mid-rise and high-top designs which are specifically designed for certain positions.

For instance, a low-cut cleat helps with movement and agility as the ankle is allowed more freedom of movement.

However, mid-rise and high-top designs are closer to basketball shoes, and that higher ankle increases the support, padding, and weight.

For added protection, football cleats will come up and cover the ankles so if there is contact with other players, the skin and ligaments should not be exposed.

This helps to avoid injury and various football cleats will also include a curved top so a player can position their foot so it has less chance of getting hurt when contact occurs.  

How A Soccer Cleat Is Characterized

Cleats can come in various shapes and sizes which goes a long way to determining the sports you can play in them.

Soccer cleats are particularly designed simply for how a player is expected to control the round ball with a single touch and then dribble it past a player.

How the round soccer ball is passed across short and long distances is also enhanced by the construction of their soccer cleats. 

Once you pick up a soccer cleat you should note how lightweight it is. This construction is ideal for enhanced speed, and agility, and can even reduce fatigue during the end of a match compared to a typical football cleat. 

Try on a soccer cleat and if you are used to bulky football cleats then the natural toe feel of a soccer cleat may be hugely preferable if you are a kicker or punter.

The construction is such that soccer cleats should have engineered toes and the striking area should feel responsive and natural so the ball feels like an extension of the foot. 

Skills such as dribbling, passing, or shooting are typically enhanced by soccer cleats that include a consistent touch response and one a player can relate to.

If the player cannot trust the touch response from their cleats then their performance may struggle as they would be unsure how to control the ball and deliver it how they intend to.

A snug fit from your cleats can go a long way to ensure you touch the round ball just right so make sure you get the right size. 

The Different Types Of Soccer Cleats

Concerning yourself with the differences between soccer cleats and football cleats is one thing yet you should also try to understand what different types of soccer cleats there are.

The variations largely depend on the playing surface which can differ depending on the type of climate the pitch has to face.

For instance, molded studded cleats are typically for artificial turf or on firm ground in summer when the pitch is dry so you should find several rounded studs known as ‘mouldies’.

Long studded cleats will be your best bet for a grassy, wet, or muddy pitch as they include screw-on studs which can be made of plastic or metal at a maximum length of 21mm. 

A relatively recent feature of soccer cleats are bladed boots which are designed for firm and artificial pitches.

These blades can also include metal tips that are specially designed for wetter, damper surfaces that can become available towards fall and winter. 

Some cleats are even designed specifically for certain pitches including astroturf cleats with shorter studs.

If the game of soccer is to be played indoors, even as futsal, there are specific cleats that are rubberized or have flat soles with no studs at all. 

Is It Possible To Wear Soccer Cleats For Football?

A soccer player may branch out to playing football so it is a good thing to check if you can wear the same cleats.

This may also save a fair amount of money as you would not have to buy a new pair of football-specific cleats.

Though the cleats are markedly different to suit the playing requirements of both sports, football referees do allow players to wear soccer cleats. 

Certain rules do determine the wearing of particular equipment and soccer cleats do abide by football’s specific rules and regulations.

However, a soccer referee would not allow a player to wear football cleats which is, again, down to the rules and regulations that cover the sport.

The natural toe feel of a soccer cleat also helps with ball control and passing. It may even be ideal for a football player unless they are a kicker or punter as the striking response and toe feel are largely not consequential for a football player in another position. 

That’s right, a kicker or punter could easily perform their role in soccer cleats and it may even help them kick the ball easier than they are used to.

This is largely because soccer involves a lot of touches with the ball so wearing those cleats should help how a kicker can propel the ball just how they want to, whether that’s up the pitch or between the posts.

The Rules That Govern The Use Of Soccer Cleats In Football

The Rules That Govern The Use Of Soccer Cleats In Football

In the NFL, one of the specific regulations that govern the use of soccer cleats is Article 3: Item 7 which relates to shoes. The regulation states that shoes must be ‘of standard football design’.

This includes sneaker-type shoes which the regulation lists as basketball shoes and cross-training shoes, soccer cleats would also be included in that list.

A player is not restricted to wearing a specific type of cleat so as long as they comply with the regulations then a player is permitted to wear them. 

The second regulation that looks at the use of soccer cleats in football is Article 3: Item 5 which surrounds ‘improper cleats’ so if you do want to wear soccer cleats while playing football then you should look at how those cleats are constructed.

The cleats that are permitted include nylon cleats with flat steel tips. 

However, cleats made from aluminum are deemed improper as well as those that are constructed from a material that ‘may chip, fracture, or develop a cutting edge.’

The regulation also looks at conical cleats, specifically those with ‘concave sides or points which measure less than ⅜- inch in diameter at the tips, or cleats with oblong ends which measure less than ¼ by ¾ -inch at the end tips’.   

The Positions On A Football Field That Soccer Cleats Are Useful For

A football player may even prefer wearing soccer cleats as it enhances their game and performance, specifically when running.

The regulations permit that they can wear those soccer cleats as there is no instance of wearing a specific type. Feel free to wear your soccer cleats at a football game but only if it works for you in your specific position. 

Certain positions do have more propensity for soccer cleats such as receivers who require cleats that are lightweight and low-cut to enhance their mobility and speed.

Defensive backs could also see the need for more agile and lightweight cleats than those typically available for football.

They should be advised to consider soccer cleats instead of heavier cleats and it may enhance their performance. 

It is worth noting that football cleats are specially designed for that sport due to how it is played. A lineman can expect to face an opponent who weighs upwards of 300 pounds which will involve plenty of contact in blocking and tackling. 

That position also involves a lot of force so the cleats need to offer support and sturdiness which you can find in high-rise boots.

Then there are running backs who need to be agile and, importantly, quick so they tend to wear mid-height cleats for their mobility and support. 

How Soccer Cleats Have Changed

When soccer cleats were first designed in the 19th century they mimicked what football cleats look like now.

The studs were longer and they were designed with a mid-cut or high-rise appearance to look after the ankle as the game was decidedly rougher back then.

These early soccer cleats would also soak up water due to the material used being leather which made wearing them decidedly difficult as they would become heavy.  

Since then, soccer cleats are predominantly low-rise to allow for ankle movement and agility with no fundamental need to offer as much protection.

The studs have become shorter and include blades too, as well as those cleats that are designed for modern pitches such as astroturf.

The weight of soccer cleats has also fundamentally changed as more lightweight materials have been developed which still offer durability. 

Which Are Better; Soccer Cleats Or Football Cleats?

For anyone playing a sport on an outdoor grass-covered surface, such as soccer or football, it helps to wear the right type of footwear.

If a player is not, it can become quite obvious quite quickly when they slip and slide across the pitch as the footwear is not designed for their typical natural movement. 

When you step into a sports store, the soccer cleats and football cleats will be specifically labeled.

This is with good reason as you would be advised to get the right type but learning which is more ideally suited is worth finding out. 

For versatility, soccer cleats are better as you can wear them in football and in positions such as receivers or defensive backs they can even enhance performance.

However, you cannot wear football cleats in a soccer game as certain regulations dictate that only specific footwear can be worn. This may not be the case at an extremely young age but at a professional level, this is certainly the case. 

There are fundamental differences that dictate how the cleats for each sport are constructed.

The most obvious difference is that football is considered a full-contact sport while soccer is more or less a non-contact sport, even though there is some incidental contact typically when tackling or marking players. 

A football cleat is specially designed for achieving maximum push-off from the ground which means the bottom will be longer and the toe spike is included to let a player dig in at the front when they do push off from a scrimmage line.

This toe spike is not necessary for soccer, hence it is not included and is even considered dangerous.

Soccer cleats are relatively lightweight and not just when compared to football cleats.

The materials will be chosen for their durability and touch response so need to be thinner. Less material is also used as soccer cleats will be low-cut in style to aid with agility and freedom of movement.

Most of the material in a soccer cleat is also lighter so it can be airy and allow the foot to breathe while football cleats are built tougher to withstand more force in a full-contact sport involving players that weigh over 300 pounds.

Football cleats are designed to protect the feet so include a midsole which soccer cleats typically do not include.

The midsole is included for increased stability when playing football though without one in a soccer cleat, a player can achieve more maneuverability and get around the pitch easier. 

While you could put on a pair of football cleats when playing soccer and vice versa, the design of the cleats could prevent you from playing your best game.

Unless you are playing as a receiver or defensive back, you should buy specific cleats for the sport you are playing. 

Why Soccer Cleats Are Different From Football Cleats

The underlying reason why soccer cleats are different from football cleats is how the games are played.

While soccer games can be intense and fast-moving, football games are incredibly stop-start with plays lasting a couple of seconds in a lot of instances.

For a football player to perform well, they need a pair of cleats to deal with the stop and start force of the game and their performance to be enhanced by sufficiently gripping the turf. 

The stop-start nature of football dictates that the cleats need increased ankle stability which comes from mid-cut and high-rise cleats.

The cleat studs are also positioned for this need for stability and even include a toe spike. However, soccer cleats include studs to the outside of the sole for the necessity of rapid movements.

The low-cut design of the soccer cleats is specifically to allow a player to enjoy more freedom of movement and flexibility around the ankles.

Soccer matches typically last 90 minutes and for a lot of that time, a soccer player will be expected to be on the move.

That helps when playing in a lightweight cleat that allows for plenty of movement even if a player is just walking but especially when jumping and running.

If a soccer player was to wear football cleats they would soon note how much heavier they were as their legs would tire and they may even feel more tired.

The heavier aspect of a football cleat is there to bring more stability to the foot whenever it is planted on the turf. 

A lot of the difference between soccer cleats and football cleats comes down to the ball used in that sport.

The round soccer ball is a substantially different shape from a football so requires a different construction to kick it with the optimal contact. 

Several characteristics differentiate soccer cleats from football cleats which include the studs, construction material, weight, shape, and even the rise.

Though they may look quite similar, they are vastly different which is why they are specific to their sport. 

Final Thoughts

There may not be a definite answer to who would win out in a showdown between soccer cleats and football cleats.

Both types of cleats are designed for optimal performance in that specific sport. Soccer cleats are relatively lightweight which necessitates a design for agility, speed, and touch response.

Due to the stop-start nature of football, the cleats are designed for ankle stability and protection so use a bit more material.

There are certainly differences between football and soccer cleats yet these are purposeful.

By coming up over the ankle, football cleats include more material to ensure that players do not suffer injuries when they come into contact. These cleats may even include a curved top to aid that positioning.

While you can wear soccer cleats for a football game and they may even improve your performance in certain positions, for protecting your feet you cannot beat a pair of football cleats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Would A Referee Check A Pair Of Cleats Before A Substitute Comes Onto The Soccer Pitch?

The match officials largely do not have time to check every pair of cleats from an entire playing staff before a game starts.

The referee should be checking the cleats of the players that begin the game but it is also important for an assistant referee to check the cleats of a player who is substituted to come on.

For instance, if the substitute had accidentally put on a pair of football cleats, including a toe spike, then they would be expected to change cleats. 

The toe spike is ideal in football to dip into the turf at the start of a scrimmage when players are crouched down and then face each other.

However, in soccer, the toe spike is not only unnecessary but is considered dangerous and unsafe to play in.

If the substitute was trying to wear football cleats they would also struggle to move as freely due to how heavy the boots are and how they restrict movement and flexibility, particularly around the ankles. 

How Big A Difference Does Wearing The Right Sort Of Cleats Make To Performance?

Aside from the difference in weight between a lightweight soccer cleat and those used in football, wearing the incorrect pair of cleats will likely affect your performance.

For one, wearing football cleats while playing soccer may mean you struggle to run as the studs are longer and designed to grip the turf.

If you cannot control yourself while running you may injure yourself and even endanger an opponent. 

The toe spike in a football cleat is also considered dangerous and unnecessary in the game of soccer and you would not be permitted to wear a pair.

If you were spotted wearing a pair of football cleats in a game of soccer, you would likely be approached by a match official and told to leave the pitch to change into a pair of soccer cleats.

If this was not possible then chances are you would be substituted and your participation in the game would be ended.