Soccer enthusiasts are treated to so many new cleats on the market each year, it can be overwhelming choosing between so many premium pairs. Every brand today try is creating new features to differentiate their boots and releases from the rest of the market, from activity monitors to experimenting with upper construction. In some cases, it can prove to be a pretty confusing task trying to pick a pair that suits your style and provides you with additions that you really need to have on a performance cleat. Let's simplify, here are 10 Things To Look For in Your Next Pair of Soccer Cleats.
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No. 10 - ArrowHead Forefoot Vamp
Recently, soccer players were treated to a debut boot on the market from a new company, Warrior Sports. The Skreamer S-Lite offers one of the most interesting designs that we have seen in a while. The fish scale looking design lines the forefoot can be a bit surprising at first. An ArrowHead Forefoot Vamp is added for accuracy and power, constructed using an angled PU injection mold with rebound tech for added swerve. In other words, Warrior has leaped into the Power category when other companies seem to be jumping ship. It is a brave move but one that has really allowed Warrior to take a piece of the market immediately. In play, it does add a nice pop to shots and with several key endorsees signing up in recent weeks, there is a definite need for players to check it out.
Found on the Warrior Skreamer S-Lite, with 2 colorways currently on the market to choose from.
No. 9 - Lethal Zones
adidas made a bold move by switching the Predator from the Power category to more of a Power-Hybrid and it seems to have worked effectively. Initially, we were all left wondering what they were at and why they would want to effectively kill the “shoot on site” mindset that went with the Predator. Now this latest version, the LZ or Lethal Zones, provides players with a more well-rounded set of tools – 5 in total. The Predator range has now become a boot that suits more players on the pitch than ever and can be used with different playing styles in mind. What’s more, it offers a really comfortable fit and you get the option of adding miCoach technology in the soleplate.
You can go with the actual Predator LZ, or you can step it up and move down in weight by picking up the Predator LZ SL.
No. 8 - Innovative Stud Configuration
Companies are pushing the boundaries when it comes to traction and stud configuration. This past year we have been treated to two specific boots that really set a new tone for the market. First, the Pele Trinity 3E and its tri-stud confirmation through the heel that is intended to provide a new type of traction. The idea of playing with 3 misaligned studs at the back goes against the norm. Pele Sports claim that “The extreme position of the rear tripod studs trigger earlier ground contact and stability with high velocity release and the forefoot studs permit excellent traction and explosive acceleration.” The other boot to feature a new configuration is the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX, which has a 2 blade heel design. On this one, it is all about acceleration and allowing the studs to penetrate and release from the surface at the fastest speed possible.
The current two options to check out are the Pele Trinity 3E and the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX.
No. 7 – No Tongue
This one kind of goes against everything else on the list, as it is the removal of something on the boot – the tongue. In my experience, there is always some sort of complication that comes with a tongue that sits across the laces. In most cases, you are left with a problem trying to figure out how to keep the tongue down in place without flapping. Brands are now finding ways to cut the tongue off and create different fits around the ankle, in several different styles. It has become an effective accompaniment with newer releases, allowing companies to lower weight and simply create a better looking boot all-round.
Some top options to check out include the Nike Tiempo IV, the adidas adiPure 11Pro and the Puma PowerCat 1.12.
No. 6 - Lateral Control Zone
What is better than having an area of the boot that helps aid control by cushioning the ball on contact? Well, nothing really if you can get it right. And there are several companies who have got it right. I’m talking about the inner or lateral side of the boot and the area that sits along the arch. It is an area that we have seen certain companies place an emphasis on in the recent past. The top two right now are Umbro and Nike. Umbro is the leader with the addition of ECZ, or Energy Control Zone, on the Geometra range. We now have a new version of the Geometra released on the market, but it is the original version of the boot that really hit the mark. Nike in turn has the CTR360 Maestri range and its own very prominent Control Zone. And a final option is something like the Ryal La Storia, which features a manmade Control Zone in the form of extra padding and some simple double layer stitching.
As above, your best options here are the Umbro Geometra Pro, Nike CTR360 Maestri and Ryal La Storia ranges.
No. 5 - UA 4D foam insert
This one is specific to UA, or Under Armour boots. It is the absolutely fantastic UA 4D foam insert found inside the boot, ready to ease your feet comfortably through a 90minute game. Taking it out of the boot, it is a thicker insole than we normally find in boots and offers a confident spongy and responsive feel. I’ve tested a lot of boots and this is the only insert that truly stands out impressively. Having an insole that is too thin can cause comfort issues, while on the opposite side of things an insole that offers too much bounce can lead to balance issues. UA has got this one right and I continually find myself recommending them to players.
The insole can be found in the likes of the UA Hydrastrike and the UA Blur Pro II.
No. 4 - K-Leather Upper
It is an unusual addition to a list like this, but we have seen a sharp decline in the number of K-leather options currently on the market. It has a lot to do with the development of lighter materials that are offer better weatherproof. Nike and adidas have all but abandoned the material, with the Copa Mundial the only high profile option left to avail of. There is something romantic about the feel and smell of a new pair of Kangaroo leather shoes that should be taken advantage of while we still have the high performing leather available on the boot market.
Other options to consider include the Ryal La Storia and 1946 and then there is also the Asics DS Light X-Fly.
No. 3 - AG Soleplate
Another piece of Nike technology that has really taken the market by storm – artificial ground stud soleplates. In order to accommodate the growing number of players playing on artificial surfaces, Nike has developed a very specific stud configuration that is designed to offer top class traction. This is not the type of boot you will wear on any natural grass surface and it won’t prove useful on old style AG pitches. This is the soleplate you want if you play on any newer style AG surface that mimics a natural pitch.
If you want AG, my recommendation is to head to NikeID and create your own personalized pair!
No. 2 - Kanga-Lite
I’ve already pointed out K-leather as a top option to check out, but for the more modern player who wants the latest development, Kanga-Lite is the way to go. Kanga-Lite is the upper used through all of Nike’s current releases. It is lighter than regular leather and thanks to the addition of ACC, or All Conditions Control, you get a boot that features excellent weatherproofing. This means you take on less water and have a consistent level of control on the ball in different playing conditions.
Options here include the Vapor, Tiempo, T90 Laser and CTR360 Maestri ranges.
No. 1 - miCoach Technology
The ability to track your stats and performance through a game can provide priceless insights into what you need to do to improve as a player. adidas is the leader in this area and the proof is in their ability to track and offer stats to some of the best players in the game. From MLS players to the man himself, Lionel Messi, we have been treated to post-game stats that really give understanding into what players are doing right. Need to track the distance you are covering or see when your game seems to be dropping off? Adidas miCoach has you covered.
In order to use the technology, you need an adidas boot that offers a miCoach cavity in the soleplate, and then you need to get your hands on the miCoach chip.