There is always a right place and a right time for everything in life, even for cleats. Funny fact, have you ever thought about the difference between American football cleats and soccer cleats? I am sure you haven’t. A lot of athletes wonder if both cleats are the same and can be worn in both sports. As a matter of fact, a lot of people believe both cleats are the same. Just because they serve for the same purpose: enables more traction in sudden movements on the field and avoids slipping. Some people may believe that any cleat may be worn for any type of sport, but that’s not the case. Every cleat has a different function, weight, height, stud and material.
“No, these aren’t even soccer cleats Dad!”
I still remember the first time my father ever bought me “soccer cleats”, it was humorous and sad at the same time. Let me throw it out there. My father was never really a big sports fan and did not have much knowledge in soccer nor in American football.
It was during the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, when Ronaldo from Brazil wore a special edition cleat. I had asked my father to please get me a pair of the Total 90 Nike cleats. I was awaiting his return from his trip so I could have them and start playing with them. That day I was waiting so eagerly and they finally arrived. When he showed me the cleats and handed them to me I thought it was some kind of joke. I even said to him “dad where are my cleats?.” He was a bit confused and asked me “what do you mean, you’re holding them”, “no, these aren’t even soccer cleats” I insisted. To his amusement he thought that because they had studs I could wear them in the soccer pitch, and he even stated they all looked the same. He had a good point, they all look similar or the same. We have established that American football cleats can’t be worn for soccer. But the question remains, can you use soccer cleats in American football?
At first glance football and soccer cleats may have similar aspects but they do differ in some ways.
First, let us discuss the lightweight of the soccer cleats compared to American football cleats. The lightest soccer cleat was released in May 2016, they are the AdiZero 99g (weighing 99grams). This specific cleat won’t be of value to a lineman or a positional player who needs some form of stability in his ankle. An average weight for a cleat wore by a typical linebacker is between 11.8oz and 12.2oz. American football cleats have more support for ankles and lower leg for the amount of impact they are involved. Weight is not the only spec that we must look at. It is definitely equally important as comfort and stability. Athlete will make a decision whether or not to choose a lighter cleat over protection depending on the position. Talking to Davis Mills, current Stanford University football player. He said “our coach lets us use whatever cleat we want, although he does recommend linemen to stay away from lightweight, but as far as running backs and wide receivers, we have a few using soccer cleats”.
We all know that both of these sports are high contact sports. Yet, American football players get body slammed compared to soccer players. So we have to look at the importance of the coverage the cleat may give to the ankle or foot. We see football players having a cleat that usually covers their ankles. While to soccer players, wear cleats that usually cuts right below the ankle.
As shown in the image above, we can see that the ankles of a soccer player are more vulnerable than the American football player’s. In American Football, cleats are higher and usually cover their ankles. This way giving the player more support and protection in their ankles and lower part of their legs. These cleats may be worn more often by players who are in constant collisions, such as linemen.
Low cut cleats may not give the same ankle protection as others. But they may give the player more freedom to the rotation of the ankle. Just like soccer players need to change of direction in a split second, certain positions in American Football like running backs or wide receivers may benefit for a low cut cleats as well. – Richard Manfredi, “Soccer vs Football Shoes”.
Davis Mills – Stanford University – said that the height may give you some protection, but it’s not a protection that an ankle tape can give you. He added “There are even low cut American football cleats. If you feel comfortable with cleats that cut off your ankles, just make sure to get an ankle wrap to prevent any big injuries.”
The material that is used in a certain cleat does not define the type of sport that it may be worn in. Even so, the type of material is a choice preference from the athlete itself. Both cleats (soccer and football) are made of leather and synthetic. However “leather shoes are generally built for comfort and a better fit as they will stretch and conform to the uniqueness of your foot”. – Jeremy Elon, The Low Down on Synthetic vs Leather Soccer Shoes.
Another fact we have to take into consideration is that soccer is played with the feet, and as a soccer player you like to have a greater feel of the ball. That being said, the cleats have to be narrower than American football’s.
Synthetic cleats in the other hand are much lighter than leather cleats. Synthetic will always be the same weight in wet or dry conditions compared to leather. Both fabrics are good for either cleats. This will come to a player’s decision as if he wants to use leather or synthetic cleats, and the decision may be well based on comfort.
So, Can You Use Soccer Cleats for American Football?
As we come to a conclusion, to see if soccer cleats may be worn in American Football we can see from the previous findings that both cleats are very similar. In my professional opinion I say that soccer cleats may definitely be worn in American Football. Yes, both cleats have very little differences. But we can be sure that football players will be safe in the pitch wearing a soccer cleats. As we have seen many times, kickers and punters use soccer cleats due to the shape of the cleat that helps them kick the ball. There has also been instances when wide receivers are wearing strictly soccer cleats. Their game hasn’t been inhibited by their choosing of one over another. “Yes of course, why couldn’t you be able to wear them? You are able to wear any cleat you feel comfortable with, but just keep in mind of the position you’re playing” said Davis Mills – current Stanford University American football player. When asked if he ever would wear soccer cleats as a QB his response was plain and simple “Yes I would, and I have before”.