Football-Soccer Footwear Traction Options

Surface and conditions be what they may, Nike can help you stay glued to the pitch.

 
Explore all the different field types and how cleat shape, configuration, outsole material and technology help determine what type of boot you need.
 

Nike Cleats

 
During a game of football a professional player runs an average of seven miles. One of the biggest benefits they want in footwear is comfort, provided in part by the outsole.
 

Nike Outsole Benefits
 

Comfort

Dispersed cleat pressure increases comfort.
 

Traction

Players can get great grip on a variety of field surfaces.
 

Stability

During lateral movements such as cutting (or changing direction) from side-to-side, stability is key.
 

Cleat Types

 
The boot’s name includes the type of surface it is designed for. So if you know what you’ll be playing on most of the time, finding the right traction is easy.
 

Soft Ground (SG)

 
These outsoles are beneficial for fields that are wet, muddy and require the most traction. They are popular in areas where it rains a lot and are used most in northern Europe.
 
Most of the time you’ll see a six-stud configuration with the traditional screw-in studs.
 
With a screw-in stud, the entire stud is removed for easy replacement.
 

Firm Ground (FG)

 
In the United States firm ground is the most common surface for soccer games. Firm ground cleats are used on a field with short grass that may be slightly wet, but rarely muddy.
 
These use molded, conical- or blade-shaped studs, designed for comfort and enhanced traction.
 
The FG stud offers traction and comfort for firm ground cleats by dispersing cleat pressure evenly across the foot.
 
Structural elements—bars or plates—are also used to provide support, motion control and improved stability.
 

Hard Ground (HG)

 
Hard ground boots are popular in Japan and China. They are designed to provide traction on hard surfaces such as extremely dry grass, dirt or gravel.
 
These use a harder TPU compound for enhanced durability and typically feature slightly shorter, evenly dispersed studs for optimal pressure distribution.
 

Artificial Grass (AG)

 
Artificial grass boots utilize a unique stud configuration, featuring various heights for optimal traction and performance on artificial grass surfaces.
 
Cored-out (hollow) studs in the heel and forefoot reduce the overall weight of the cleat, enhance cushioning, and provide optimal comfort on the field.
 
The strategically placed shorter studs help provide a smoother transition during horizontal and vertical movements.
 

Versatract (VG)

 
Usually found in kids’ boots, Versatract outsoles feature rubber studs that deliver traction suitable for a variety of surfaces, from firm ground to turf. It’s one of the most versatile outsole options available.
 

Turf (TF)

 
Turf refers to synthetic-grass surfaces. Playing soccer on these surfaces requires less cleat penetration, which is similar to the needs of a hard ground cleat.
 
Turf cleats are designed to provide traction appropriate for play on very dry surfaces, hard dirt fields and dry artificial turf.
Cleats designed for this surface feature a solid rubber outsole with many small (5 mm or 6 mm), multidirectional “studs.”
 

Indoor (IC)

 
Indoor outsoles use non-marking materials such as gum rubber, durable, clear rubber and molded rubber to provide traction, flexibility and durability.
 
Indoor soccer shoes use pivot points, flex grooves and herringbone patterns for optimum movement and traction.
 
-Soccer Mom
 
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Football-Soccer Footwear Uppers and Midsoles

Mixing eye-catching design with devastating performance.

 
From superior materials to innovative design, discover the details of what goes into every upper and midsole of Nike soccer boots.
 

Nike Soccer Uppers

 
The main benefits the upper provides are protection, comfort and enhanced touch. The “touch” of the soccer boot refers to the ability of a player to feel the ball with their foot in order to control it when passing, dribbling or kicking.
 

Upper Materials

 

Natural Leathers

 
Full-grain and kangaroo leathers are soft, supple and offer excellent ball feel.
 

Synthetic Leathers

 
Synthetics offer great ball feel, don’t absorb water, maintain their shape, and are lightweight and more durable than leather.
 

Teijin Microfiber

 
This synthetic material conforms to the foot’s shape, providing supreme touch and optimal support.
 

Kanga-Lite

 
By wrapping snugly around the foot, this synthetic material helps provide great ball touch and mimics the feel of kangaroo leather without the weight.
 

Upper Design Features And Benefits

 

Asymmetrical Lacing

 
Laces are moved to the lateral side of the shoe to create a cleaner surface and bigger striking zone for better touch on the ball.
 

All Conditions Control (ACC)

 
Helps provide excellent ball control in wet or dry conditions.
 

Suede Heel Lining

 
The texture of the suede reduces heel slippage.
 

Nike Soccer Midsoles

 
Very few boots have midsoles. This is because most soccer players want to be close to the ground for better lateral stability. Nike soccer cleat midsoles provide cushioning for a players foot, but compared to running shoes, it’s minimal.
 

Midsole Materials and Design Features

 

Phylon and EVA

 
Offering optimal comfort and cushioning, these materials are most often found in IC (indoor) and TF (turf) styles as a 3/4- or full-length midsole that enhances cushioning and comfort on hard surfaces.
 

PORON® Inserts

 
Inserts may be placed under high-pressure areas of the foot for an additional layer of low-to-the-ground cushioning.
 

Low-profile Sockliners

 
Help to reduce stud pressure for cushioning and comfort underfoot. Sockliners are commonly made from EVA foam that is either molded or die-cut.
 
-Soccer Mom
 
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Kick It Up!

The worldwide popularity of soccer is undoubted. There’s scarcely a corner of the globe where the game is not played. More nations belong to the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) than to the United Nations. There are over 301,000 clubs, 1.7 million registered teams and over 240 million registered youth and adult players around the world.
 
Over 15.5 million people in the United States participate in soccer. National youth organizations have over 3.8 million registered participates under the age of 19. More than six million females play. There are over 600 teams and 12,000 female players at the college level. More than 700,000 boys and girls play at the high school level.
 
A Natural Game
 
One reason for soccer’s popularity is that it’s a natural game to play. If you roll a ball to a toddler who has just learned to walk, their first instinct might be to pick it up, but they are just as likely to kick it instead. They’ll soon discover that a kicked ball will go farther and it’s also a fun thing to do.
 
Simple and Exciting
 
Many factors contribute to soccer’s popularity. The rules are very simple. Anyone can understand the basics in just a few minutes. It doesn’t require much to get a game together. A few players, a ball, something to use as a goal, and it’s game on. Soccer can also be played and enjoyed at a very early age. It’s fun for children and spectators alike because there is plenty of action and excitement on the field. In addition to scoring goals, it’s also exciting to see players deftly dribbling through defenders, completing pinpoint passes to teammates, and making exciting runs down the wings.
 
Getting Game Ready
 
Another reason for soccer’s popularity is that it doesn’t require pricy equipment. Once you’ve got a ball, some cleats and a pair of shin guards, you’ve got pretty much everything the pros have. “By making cost-savings equipment packages of high-quality balls, shin guards, cleats and socks available, brand manufacturers are now making soccer even more affordable for players of all ages,” says Adidas.
 
The Ball
 
Adidas offers a wide variety of machine and hand-stitched soccer balls. Choose the one that best meets your game and training requirements. A ball with high durability, all-weather construction is ideal for a 5-year-old just learning the game. A 12-year-old honing her ball handling and passing skills might prefer a ball with a softer touch. Serious players will opt for a ball FIFA-tested for circumference, weight, rebound and water absorption.
 
Another consideration is size. Adult-sized soccer balls are marked with a 5, smaller size 4s are more appropriate for players age 8 to 12, and players under 8 will probably fare best with a still smaller size 3 ball.
 
Shin Guards
 
Shin guards are essential for keeping young and older legs safe from all those other flailing limbs out there. The best combine lightweight construction, a hard protective front plate, and a soft synthetic lining. Guards without strapping usually include a compression sleeve. Some offer adjustable widths and built-in ankle protection. “To ensure a proper fit,” says Adidas.
 
The Cleats
 
Adidas, Nike, Under Armour and Puma offer a wide selection of cleats for children and adults. Quality-crafted kid’s cleats feature lightweight, supportive synthetic leather uppers and outsoles designed to provide a steady grip on firm, natural surfaces. Different adult cleats feature asymmetrical lacing systems for better ball contact, leather uppers for a more natural fit, and advanced cleat designs for more aggressive traction, surer turns and sudden stops. When fitting a shoe for a child or adult, remember to lace it, hit the back of the heel onto the ground and then place the foot firmly down. If there’s one finger width of room across the area of the big toe, it’s the right size. If not, go up to the next size.
 
Soccer is hot, booming and a whole lot of fun. Cost-saving equipment packages from brand manufacturers now make it even more affordable for players of all ages. So, what are you waiting for? Get in the game!
 
The Coach’s Corner
 
Barry Brodsky has coached club and high school soccer for 15 years. He’s only one of the few coaches to guide both senior boy’s and girl’s high school soccer teams to state championships. Coach Brodsky was also voted Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association (MHSSCA) Division One 2010 Boy’s Coach of the Year, as well as MHSSCA Division Two 2010 Girl’s Coach of the Year.
 
Q: What are the skills of the sport?
 
A: As a high school soccer coach I know players need to be extremely fit to play at a high level. Depending on the position, a player may cover over two miles during a high school game. Centers and mid-fielders work at a very high rate. Recovery time is precious. Foot skills and the ability to control the ball while dribbling, passing and receiving are also very important. Keepers need excellent vision, good eye-hand coordination, outstanding flexibility, and the ability to anticipate where a shot will go.
 
Q: What type of conditioning works best?
 
A: Interval training is the most effective. We combine 10 to 15 yard sprints with jogging for short distances. We try to simulate game conditions as much as possible, using rapid starts, stops and short rests between sets. Cross training with other sports is a plus. Hockey and basketball players make fine soccer players. Female soccer players who practice yoga and dance usually have superb strength and flexibility.
 
Q: What type of drills do you recommend?
 
A: We use a system called Coerver ball handling drills to teach players to change direction with ease while keeping their head up and the ball close to their feet. Passing and receiving with a partner, dribbling exercises and target practice all translate well on the field. There are plenty of drills one player can do to increase their confidence level with the ball. They can practice using the inside and outside of their foot, touching the ball only with their laces or the side of the shoe. They should practice rolling the ball back and forth, alternating touches only with inside, outside, laces, heel and top of the foot.
 
Q: Does size matter?
 
A: Winning the ball in the air is important, but good soccer players come in all shapes and sizes. The game offers ample opportunities to put yourself in a position where you don’t need great size to accomplish great things. Small players can and do excel. Most of the time it comes down to conditioning, confidence and heart.
 
-Soccer Mom
 
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It Must Be The Shoes

Beginning baseball player or all-star, without the traction advantage of cleats, it’s no go.
 
The runner on first base steps toward second, then stops and studies the pitcher, looking for a clue that might reveal whether his next move will be a throw to first or a pitch to the plate. The pitcher goes into his stretch, looks over his shoulder and returns the stare, gauging the base runner’s lead and calculating whether he’s likely to break for second on the pitch. The runner takes one step back toward first. Confident that he has the runner leaning toward first, the pitcher delivers to the plate. But by the time he releases the ball, the runner has shifted his weight, and he digs in with his cleat, pushing off toward second with all the power his leg can generate.
 
Without baseball cleats, that runner would be spinning his wheels, slipping and sliding in the dirt, but the grip of the shoe allows him to apply as much force as he can muster. While cleats are essential equipment for the base runner, they’re also necessary for defensive players, who must react quickly to a batted ball and move into position. Similarly, that pitcher has to have firm footing on the pitching rubber and mound in order to deliver the ball with maximum velocity and accuracy.
 
A Historical Footnote
 
Baseball cleats are an important part of a player’s equipment, and they have been since a ballplayer named Paul Butler first attached spikes to his leather shoes more than 150 years ago. Today, players can choose from a wide range of baseball cleats, including types designed for different conditions and playing surfaces. And while cleats may resemble street shoes, there’s a lot of science involved in their construction. Wedges are frequently used within the shoe to provide cushioning in some areas without adding excessive weight. The wedges can also serve to keep the front of the foot low to the ground, an advantage when running. Soft pads are located within the shoe to minimize pressure, and cushioning is used in midsole areas to reduce the discomfort that results from hours of standing and running. Tongue flaps keep the tongue in place while keeping dirt out, and zippered shrouds lock laces in place.
 
The cleats on the underside of the shoe are usually made of metal, solid rubber or molded thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Metal cleats are durable and can dig into hard dirt. Non-metal cleats reduce the risk of injury to opposing players and can make for a more comfortable shoe. But since rubber and TPU cleats don’t provide as much grip, more metal cleats are used. Maximum height for all types is ½-inch. Generally, players who have reached high-school level or above use metal cleats when conditions warrant, while more junior ballplayers use a non-metal type. Some shoes are made with removable cleats, so both metal and non-metal cleats can be used interchangeably and worn cleats can be replaced.
 
The position of  the cleats can affect the way the shoes — and the athlete — perform. Nike, for example, has moved the toe cleat under the big toe to improve traction, while the secondary cleats in the forefoot area are engineered to improve lateral movement.
 
Sizing Up the Shoe
 
It’s not all about traction and cleat design, the support the shoe provides and its durability are also important. Baseball cleats are available in both low-top and ¾-height shoe configurations. The low-tops offers great flexibility and are favored by speedy baserunners, while he ¾-height shoes provide more ankle support and are less likely to fall off. In terms of materials, synthetic outers can reduce weight, while leather is tough and durable. Many shoes are made from a combination of materials. Under Armour, a major supplier of baseball cleats, uses a combination of leather and a synthetic material called nubuck in many of their shoes. Nike baseball cleats use a rubber compound called Diamond Guard in the toe area to enhance durability.
 
Special Applications
 
Most manufacturers offer shoes designed specifically for softball and for children. Because softball involves motions that differ from those of baseball, particularly for pitchers, shoes are engineered specifically for that game. Kids, on the other hand, grow fast, and some baseball cleats are designed to accommodate growth with removable spacers in the heel area.
 
Dunham’s carries a wide range of baseball cleats for boys, girls and adults. Among the most popular are the Nike Keystone and Under Armour’s Leadoff IV. A Dunham’s sales consultant can help you choose the cleats that are best for you or your aspiring athlete.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 
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