The Ins and Outs of Soccer

Played indoors, soccer remains a great game, but equipment needs can differ.
Did you know that more people play soccer than any other sport in the world? An estimated 265 million, in fact, and that’s more than those who play basketball, baseball, football, tennis and golf!
Soccer, which is known as football in most countries, has traditionally been an outdoor sport. However, in recent decades a growing trend has been taking the internationally beloved game indoors. Today, indoor leagues are growing in number, and players of all ages are kicking the soccer ball both in the great outdoors and in arenas. The indoor sport is particularly popular in the northern United States and Canada, where the outdoor season is brief and facilities built for hockey and basketball are readily available for indoor soccer games.
The outdoor and indoor games are similar in that players use their feet (and sometimes their heads) to drive a ball into a goal and score points, but there are some differences that are game changers.
Indoor fields, for example, are half the size of their 400-foot outdoor counterparts. In other words, they’re the same size as the ice rinks on which hockey is played. That’s no coincidence since many indoor soccer venues are converted hockey arenas. Most are covered with artificial turf, although the game is sometimes played on hardwood basketball courts. Some rules are different as well. There are no kick-ins, throw-ins or out-of-bounds in indoor soccer. Because the playing area of a hockey arena is walled in, the ball remains in play if it bounces off the walls. If the ball clears the wall, the team that touched it last is allowed a free kick at the spot where the ball left the arena. The sliding tackle, a useful tactic on outdoors grass, is banned by most indoor leagues, since it can result in injury on hard indoor surfaces. The offside rule, common to outdoor soccer, is not enforced by most indoor leagues. Many indoor leagues use a penalty box where the player must sit out a yellow-card infraction. Again, hockey arenas, which include a penalty box, make this rule convenient.
Of course, it’s not just field size and rules that distinguish the indoor game from the outdoor variety. Whether you can move like Messi or bend it like Beckham is dependent in part on the equipment with which you play the game – equipment that is specific to indoor and outdoor play.
From the Ground Up
Since soccer is played primarily with the feet, selecting a shoe is among the most important gear choices a soccer player has to make, so let’s talk about shoes first. In general, there are two types: outdoor cleats and indoor turf shoes.
Outdoor cleats are made of rubber, plastic or metal and are designed to dig into grassy fields for better grip. And, according to Peter Hong, assistant merchandise manager for adidas, there are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a pair.
Fit is the most important thing to consider. A shoe that’s too big or small will not only hurt your feet but it can also affect your touch and feel when handling the ball. Technology is key to both how the shoe contributes to speed afoot and ball handling capability, and all of the adidas lines are designed with different properties in mind. For example, the F50 line – Hong’s favorite – was designed in collaboration with Lionel Messi, one of the game’s fastest players. So it’s not surprising that the shoe is engineered to optimize speed. That capability is in part the result of a new stud configuration meant to enable maximum acceleration on firm ground. The shoe features a new lightweight HybridTouch synthetic leather upper so its weight won’t drag you down. DribbleTex technology provides a textured grip to enable high-speed dribbling and excellent ball control under all conditions.
The brilliantly colored Nitrocharge shoe was inspired by Brazil, site of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and that country’s carnival tradition. With EnergyPulse design, the Nitrocharge optimizes energy transfer and provides a claw-like grip on firm ground. Its lightweight design and glove-like feel optimize ball handling.
Turf shoes designed for indoor soccer have small rubber cleats or a flat, rubber bottom to keep you from damaging the carpet while providing better traction on hard surfaces. Your Dunham’s sales consultant can help you choose a shoe that’s just right for your soccer league.
Shin guards and balls are also important parts of both indoor and outdoor games, and adidas makes them in various styles, sizes and colors. Some indoor players wear extra protective gear in that fast play on hardwood floors or firm turf is more likely to result in injury than is outdoor play on grass. Even the balls used indoors are different than those used outdoors and are designed specifically for the fast pace of arena play.
So, whether you’re looking for the latest technology in cleats, cool turf shoes in more colors than you can imagine, or shin guards to match your gear, a wealth of options are available at Dunham’s, where you’re sure to score something that’s perfect for you.
-Soccer Mom
*To receive exclusive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, enroll in our e-mail or text message programs (or both). Sign Up Now

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


Dispersed cleat pressure increases comfort.


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


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
*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

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.


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
*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

Football-Soccer Ball Fundamentals

Learn the basics of ball size, construction and certification.

Nike soccer balls are fast, round, responsive and durable. Explore the inner and outer workings of each ball and learn a little about certification too.

Ball Sizes

Soccer balls come in different sizes. Kids usually kick a size 3 ball. Players 8 – 11 years old typically play with a size 4 ball. A size 5 ball is the most common. It’s the official size for high school and professional play. Players can also use size 1 miniature skills balls for practice.

Did You Know?

Soccer balls designed specifically for Futsal, or other small-sided games are available in Youth size 3 or Pro size 4.

Ball Construction


Ball Casing

The outer layer of a soccer ball is called the casing. Nike soccer balls are most commonly made with a polyurethane (PU) or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) casing.

PU casing

Absorbs less moisture for more consistent, durable performance in varying weather conditions. And it’s much softer than traditional polyvinyl chloride (PVC), especially in colder temperatures.

TPU casing

Provides a soft feel to the ball and is a great value for consumers.
Leather typically isn’t used on soccer balls because of its tendency to retain water. Retaining water makes for a heavy ball that doesn’t move quickly on the field.

Graphic or Color

As part of the casing, graphics or color is used to help players read the ball better, especially when in flight.

Asymmetrical Graphics

Some soccer balls have asymmetrical graphics, creating a break in the pattern to help you judge the ball flight, trajectory and spin.

Hi-vis Color Combinations

These combos make it easier to see the ball in low-light conditions.

Nike RaDaR Technology

With a scientifically tested combination of color, contrast and graphic design placement, Nike RaDaR technology offers a pronounced visual signal that helps players quickly identify the ball and its movement.

Did You Know?

A soccer ball may be kicked up to 2,000 times in an average match.

Ball Panels

Casings are made up of different shapes of panels. The number of panels varies between 32 for the traditional, everyday ball to 26-panel (and even 12-panel balls) that offer increased durability and enhanced touch because of fewer seams.
Panels can be stitched by machine or hand. To distinguish between the two types of construction, look at the stitches. In a machine-sewn ball, the stitches are more visible.


Requires thicker casing and a foam underlay, often EVA, to withstand the automated stitching process.


Provides highest quality.

Geo-Balanced II

Nike soccer balls that use the Geo Balanced II technology have an advanced panel pattern to create a soccer ball that is faster, rounder and more responsive.
Special configurations of hexagons and pentagons allow uniform dispersion of air inside the casing.
The center of each panel aligns with the center of the bladder, which makes the ball rounder. And rounder balls have a straighter flight.
They also have better durability since they wear more evenly instead of getting worn down on particular spots.

Ball Bladder/Lining

Beneath the soccer ball casing, a bladder and lining hold the air in and provide shape retention. Bladders are made of either: butyl, latex or rubber.

Butyl Bladders

Reduce rebound for better performance on hard surfaces and provide optimal air retention.

Latex Bladders

Used in pinnacle soccer balls – they offer high-energy return for powerful shots.

Rubber Bladders

Often have an extra layer inside to create maximum shape retention, bringing performance to value-priced balls.

Nike Exclusive 6-wing Bladder

Improves overall roundness because there are more touch points on the casing than a typical 4-wing bladder.

Did You Know?

Some soccer balls created specifically for Futsal (or small-sided games) have a bladder filled with foam instead of air. Using foam gives the ball less bounce, making it easier to control on hard surfaces.

Ball Certification

Certification stamps on soccer balls are important because they help differentiate the performance and price.

FIFA Approved

Look for the FIFA approved mark to identify the highest guaranteed quality and consistency in the world. FIFA approved balls pass seven tests that measure:
1. Circumference
2. Roundness
3. Rebounding
4. Weight
5. Pressure
6. Water absorption
7. Shape and size retention

What is FIFA?

FIFA stands for the Federation Internationale de Football Association. It’s the world governing body for soccer and has over 200 member nations.
Another, independent certification is International Matchball Standard, or IMS.
And an NFHS stamp means the ball is approved for high-school play.
-Soccer Mom
*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.

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
*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.