The most important piece of a footballer’s kit is the right pair of boots, so getting it right matters. With such a big decision to make that includes everything from the ground you’re playing on to fit, brand and colour, choosing the right style of boot can be a minefield. So, the question is...
“How do I pick the right football boots?”
Rather than let you stress about it, we’ve pulled together an easy-to-follow run down on the differences between the main styles of football boots and when you’ll need them. To help steer you in the right direction we’ve got some expert input from Scott Russell, Football Development Officer at the Herefordshire FA.
First, you might want to consider what material you’re looking for. Football boots are traditionally found in leather or synthetic materials and these all sit in different price brackets. Secondly (and this is the most important bit) you’ll need to know what kind of surface you’ll be playing on. Your options will be; grass (soft ground/firm ground), artificial ground (3G/4G), astro turf and indoor.
On the basics of choosing boots in regard to appearance, Scott shared: “What boots players/coaches get are normally influenced by what is popular at the time, currently blackout boots are in fashion for coaches and certain players. There are of course players who see the multi-coloured boots worn by Premiership players and that’s the boots they want to wear. For me it's, without doubt, black boots look good as a coach, I’m not one for bright colours now I’ve stopped playing.
This is how we categorise our boots at MandM to make it as easy as possible for you, so here’s a breakdown of each boot and when you’ll need them.
It’s the start of the season, the Summer's well underway and the sun's shining. However, to any seasoned footballer, this means that calls for Firm Ground football boots. These boots have shorter moulded studs or blades which are fixed to the sole of the boot, so can’t be removed like some with aluminium studs. Firm Ground boots provide traction and stability on hard ground surfaces and are ideal for the summer months when the ground can vary from moderately soft to moderately firm. Just look for the ‘FG’ (firm ground) abbreviation when looking to buy these boots. Scott’s tip: “Plastic/Moulded studs are great for the summer when the ground is hard.”
What does FG stand for? - You guessed it - Firm Ground
Halfway through the season, chances are that pitches will be muddy (unless you’re playing ‘soccer’ in sunny America), so take a look at our great range of Soft Ground football boots. Specifically designed to keep their grip on soggy turf these aluminium studded boots are ideal when braving the winter months on muddy and waterlogged pitches. Look for ‘SG’ (soft ground) abbreviation when buying boots for this type of use. Scott’s tip: “For winter, metal studs are better suited for the soft and normally muddy pitches.”
What does SG mean? - Soft Ground of course!
If the weather’s too miserable for playing outside, indoor football can be either a blessing or a preference. However, a different football boot is needed for this altogether. Indoor Football Boots are ideal for sports halls, gymnasiums and multi-sport arenas. Their low-profile soles provide the perfect grip and comfort as well as protect the playing surface from getting unwanted scuffs or marks. Look for the ‘IN’ (indoor) abbreviation when searching for these boots.
What does IN mean? - Indoor!
A new must have for any footballer is Artificial Ground Boots. There’s been a huge rise in the UK in recent years of 3G (rubber crumb) and 4G (longer pile to replicate actual grass with rubber/sand infill) pitches and a new surface means new boots. The rise of this newer type of surface means football can take place all year round without relying on the weather, making it a popular choice for many. Artificial surfaces are even making their way into the professional game so the rise will only continue.
You shouldn’t use studs on this type of ground as you’ll need something with dimpled soles to provide maximum grip to keep control. When you’re shopping for these boots, make sure to look for ‘AG’ (artificial ground).
What does AG mean? - Artificial Ground
Last but not least and of a similar category to artificial, is Astro Boots. These boots are specifically designed for astro turf, a very unforgiving form of artificial ground which commonly has a dusting of sand across the top of the surface. Astro boots contain a tough dimpled rubber outsole created to counteract the hardwearing surface. Due to this only astro boots should be worn on astro turf as it will result in considerable wear to any other form of boot. These boots are often designed in the same way as the boots for grass pitches, meaning that they have the same features designed to ensure maximum control of the ball.
In regard to boots for 3G and astro surfaces, our Herefordshire FA expert gives this input: “On 3G pitches, it’s a little more specific on what boots you can/can’t wear. Nearly all 3G facilities will ask that you wear plastic studs (moulded). Trainers, astro trainers, blades and metal studs are normally not allowed on the pitch for player and pitch safety reasons.” So, make sure your footwear is fit for purpose!
Probably one of the most important things to consider when buying your boots is how easy they are to clean. We’re going to break down the process for the different options of boots that are available to you!
First, use cold water and a very soft brush (an old toothbrush or kids' toothbrush is best) to get rid of dried mud and any stains on the upper part of the boot. Using a toothbrush helps you get into all the little annoying nooks of the boot.
For the soleplate, you can scrub harder and use a little more water. After you’ve finished cleaning, wipe the boots down with an old towel and store them in a cool, dry place. Don’t put them near a radiator or in the sun, this will damage the leather.
First things first, are there any cracks or flaking of the material? If so, don’t wear these for football matches. If you do, this will aggravate the material and cause them to rip and tear a lot quicker and easier. Cleaning the upper boot is the same for leather, cold water, a very soft brush and just being careful. For any scuffs, try a magic eraser!
Please don’t wash your knitted boots in the machine or use any soap on the upper. The wool will absorb the water and soap and may lose its shape. The best thing to use is cold water and a very soft brush to gently brush away any marks or dirt. If you have a loose thread or a pulled thread, don’t be tempted to cut it off. This could weaken the boot.
When you get your boots out after not wearing them for a while, gently bend the soleplate to check for any cracks and tears in the boot. Make sure to wear the boots for a gentle jog and have a few kicks of the ball to get the boot used to moving again.
When you’ve finished a game, fill the boots with newspaper so they can absorb any smells and moisture.
The first thing to consider before going through the motions of stretching your new boots is to make sure that if you have laces, you have loosened them and re-tied them so they fit the shape of your foot.
The best way to do this is to pop them on with your thickest pair of socks and wear them around the house, taking a minute every now and then to bend the soles. If they start to hurt, make sure you put a plaster on those areas to prevent blisters.
If you want to stretch out your boots without wearing them, try pushing a tennis ball deep into the boot to stretch them out and leave for as long as needed.
Or if you are a keen footballer and would like to invest in your boots, get yourself a shoe stretcher. You can customise where you would like the boot to be stretched from the toes and the sides to the heel. Stick a pair of these into your boots and in 24 hours you should feel a difference!
Your football boots should be snug and fit well, but shouldn’t feel so tight that you feel uncomfortable when walking. Your toes should be to the end and the boot should feel like a second skin. If they are too tight, this could bust the cleats of the boot which could cause you to trip or if they’re too loose, you’ll slip around and end up with blisters.
On the importance of how football boots actually fit your feet, Scott shared: “(Fit) is so important, as a player, you don’t want your feet sliding around in the boot itself whilst playing. Likewise, if they are too small and tight you will suffer from wearing the boots. The boots do stretch a little after you wear them for the first few matches but the better make of boots will mould nicely around your feet in time. As a coach they need to be comfortable so you can actively join in with training when needed but also to be worn on the touchline during matches, a nice snug fit is my personal preference.”
Rugby boots tend to be a lot bigger than football boots as they need a wider sole for kicking power whereas a football boot needs to feel tight due to the intricate footwork needed to control the ball.
The rugby boot has 8 studs compared to the football boot which has 6. This is because a powerful grip is essential when in a scrum. They need to be able to trust that the boot will help keep them in a strong stance and keep their bodies stable. The football boots only have 6 to prevent slipping, they don’t necessarily need the grip.
Scott Russell, our man at the FA left us with this parting wisdom: “If you are new to football I would suggest getting an affordable pair of boots that will last the season, especially if you are a youth player, within 6 months you might needing to buy new boots again as their feet have grown. The brands such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Umbro etc normally offer cheaper versions of the expensive boots but if you aren’t in a position to buy (different types of) boots I’d start with the plastic/moulded boots. The older you get, you develop a better understanding of what boots suit you best, but 80% of players' preferences would still be plastic/moulded boots. I’d stay away from bladed boots purely because you’ll get turned away from facilities that don’t allow those boots.”
In regard to price: “Obviously the more expensive the boots, you’d expect the quality to be better. However, the cheaper versions are just as good these days. It’s like most things, the more you look after your boots the longer they will last and not crack/split. If you have some polish and dubbin you can make your boots last more than one season if you really wanted to. For me, I preferred to go mid-range on price around the £30-£50 mark. An ex-professional said to me when I played, a boot with more stitching on it and less glued panels means the quality of the boot will be better and last longer.”
Now we’ve got your feet sorted, how about the rest of the kit and kick-off in style? Shop our huge range of football gear with big savings for the whole team.
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