The right footwear is extremely important, no matter sport you are playing. But since soccer is played on so many different surfaces, having a boot or shoe with the right type of traction can make or break your personal performance. The market today is flooded with so many different options, here's what you need to ensure you are matching the right soleplate to the right pitch. This is The Complete Guide to Matching Soccer Shoe to Field Type, click through to find your daily terrain.
Bryan Byrne is the founder of
Soft Muddy Fields
Suggested Shoe: Nike Tiempo IV SG, Adidas adiPure IV SG
When it is wet and rainy out, you don’t want to get flat footed slipping and sliding over the place. This is when you need to get your hands on a pair of SG boots, or “Soft Ground”. These boots usually feature a 6 stud design with 2 in the back and 4 in the front, although sometimes companies will add in some molded studs for even more traction. The replaceable aluminum studs are longer and really dig into the mud to ensure you are keeping upright on your feet. Please note these boots are not suitable for any other surface so unless you are in a weather worn area of the country, you might not get a whole lot of wear out of them (I have had my pair for a few years and only worn on several occasions – thank you Los Angeles weather!)
Firm Natural Grass
Suggested Shoes: Adidas Predator LZ FG, Puma evoSPEED 1 FG
There is not a better surface in the world to play on that a new freshly cut and sprinkled natural grass pitch. I’m referencing the kind that allows players to really ping and move the ball around without bare, sundrenched patches causing you problems. Think Old Trafford or the Neu Camp. Designed specifically for this surface is the FG collection of boots. This is what most players automatically purchase without even realizing. The configuration can consist of conical studs, blades or a mix of both. They are the mid-way boot that can actually be used on other surfaces without too many problems, but they are perfectly suited to the pitch that features nice lush grass.
Hard and Dry Pitch
Suggested Shoes: Adidas Copa Mundial, Lotto Stadio Primato
For those players that play in hot, sunny conditions, where water and sprinkler systems seem to be non-existent on pitches, you are going to need a pair of HG boots or a good old fashioned pair of “Mouldies.” Basically, these are boots that have lower profiles and leave you standing closer to the ground. They also feature conical studs in huge quantities. The prime example of a boot in this category is the Adidas Copa Mundial, which features 12 studs in total. Distributing pressure allows for better traction when the field is hard and less giving.
New Artificial Turf
Suggested Shoes: Nike Vapor IX AG, Nike Trequartista III AG
As the game grows around the world, more and more fields are switching to artificial turf, primarily because it provides a consistent surface year round with little maintenance required. Recently, we have started to see the best of the best turfs providing ball movement that mimics a top quality FG surface. Companies have started to adjust to the switch and are starting to create their own unique soleplate configurations to suit the surface. For example, Nike has its own AG soleplate that has received a lot of acclaim and positive reviews. If you can find an AG, they are well worth testing out. But realistically, you can easily wear an FG soleplate with little to no problems. I have read several comments from critics that feel the FG configuration gets stuck in turf surfaces and causes ankle injuries—don’t believe it! This might have been true on older, more compact surfaces. I have been playing for several years on artificial turf with FG boots and have encountered about as many issues as I have on natural firm ground.
Suggested Shoes: adidas Mundial Turf, Nike Bomba Finale
Thankfully, turf surfaces are starting to disappear and as a result nasty carpet burns are also on the decline. There are still pitches that feature the extremely outdated surface and there is a boot that was intended for this type of surface. It is the Turf configuration. Note here that this is the type of traction that is being replaced by the newer AG soleplates. Turf features alot of small, compact rubber spikes, intended to provide extreme traction where there is little surface to catch hold of. Turf is also an option for AG surfaces, but for the most part they are best suited to anything with low profile artificial grass or carpet.
Suggested Shoes: Nike5 Gato, Adidas Freefootball TopSala
When you are playing on indoor surfaces, there is only one way to go—with indoor shoes. Ok, so no surprises on this one. It is about as simple as it gets, stick with shoes that state IN at the end of the title. Each company develops its own style of soleplate and you might see several different types. It ends up being a case of which one suit you best and for the most part they will all provide an equal level of performance.
Suggested Shoe: Nike5 StreetGato
For many players, having a casual pair of shoes on that can turn into street soccer shoes is pretty important. I know it is for me as I am always looking for a kick around, whether it be at a park or in the back alley behind my house. You have plenty of choices on this one, but there is only one way to go. Nike has developed a line of shoes known as the “Street Gato” and they are the ones you need to have. Not only do they look trendy and clean, they also feature a street specific sole that will allow you to play on pretty much any surface listed about, baring the SG. It is a flat base, but there are grooves headed in several directions that are intended to catch most surfaces you find yourself playing on.