Don't go on a football field without cleats. That seems obvious, but it might not be so obvious that there are multiple types of cleats and getting the right cleat for you can make a huge difference on the field. Spending all that time in the weight room, on the practice field, and in the film room could go to waste if you don't take the time to equip yourself with the right gear. First, let's get a basic understanding of the different parts of the cleat that will allow you to understand each brand's terminology and features when you go to make a purchase.
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This is the bottom of the shoe where the 'spikes' are positioned. Without spikes, cleats would just be normal shoes. There are multiple configurations of these spikes that can improve a player's acceleration, stopping, and cutting. The configuration you use can depend on the position you play or how you want to play that position. Some cleats have the configuration permanently installed and some have customizable and removable spikes, but we will get to that later!
This is the cushioning and support that lies within the shoe. There are plenty of different types of technologies from different manufacturers that bring midsole support to the best it has ever been. The better the midsole foam or technology, the more impact absorption and the healthier your feet, heels, and ankles will feel. Sometimes it takes trying on the different types of cleats to really feel what each support could do for your particular feet. Most high end manufacturers like Under Armour and Nike are on the cutting edge of midsole technology and you will definitely feel the support throughout the game.
The upper is generally made of leather or something resembling leather called "synthetic leather" and it is the outer layer of the shoe so that all that great technology and support within the shoe doesn't break down. Also, the laces are considered part of the upper and any straps as well work to keep your feet and ankles in the right place to help prevent injuries.
Hard-Molded or Detachable Cleats?
Hard Molded Cleats are cleats that have the plastic spikes permanently attached to the outsole of the cleat. These are incredibly popular in youth leagues as well as high school leagues because they are typically less costly and you can use them exactly as they come in the box without ever having to change a thing.
Detachable Stud Cleats use longer spikes to provide better traction on the field and the player can choose what configuration, choose what type of stud (spike) they desire, and they can easily remove and replace them as they see fit. These are the more expensive option and are used throughout the pros and college. Some elite high school players prefer these to the standard hard molded cleats as well.
Cleats come in different heights that depend on the position and preference of the player. First we will examine low-cut cleats that look eerily similar to soccer cleats. Well, these cleats originate from the soccer cleat, so it makes sense they would look similar. The low-cut cleat stops before the ankle so the player has less protection there, but allows for better mobility, cutting, and speed. This is for the fast and agile players who want to sacrifice ankle support for playmaking capabilities. If you want to adjust your studs for each game depending on how you are being utilized, check out this Cleat System. Killer product for customization of the configuration and of the type of stud.
The mid-cut cleats rise to the ankle and provide extra stability and support without limiting movement and speed too much. This has been the most popular style of football cleat recently and it is designed for the skill player such as running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs. You are allowed to wear any cleat you want and some players stray from the position standard to go for something more comfortable, supportive, or less-restrictive. It's all up to player preference.
High cut cleats can be advertised as ¾ cut to 5/8 cut or higher. These provide the most ankle support possible in a cleat. This is used by players who have had ankles rolled or twisted or simply like the feeling of support that they provide. Usually used by defenders and linemen who make a lot of lateral movements, but some pro QBs such as Cam Newton use these as well. It is all player preference.
Finding the right cleat for you is all about learning what each aspect of the cleat does. With options in configuration, type of stud, and height, you can narrow down your search to only a few shoes that fit your style and playing abilities. Don't forget to take into consideration how wicked those shoes look because feeling confident on the feel is just as important as anything else.