Can You Use Soccer Cleats for American Football?

There is always a right place and a right time for everything in life, even for soccer 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 the same purpose: enable more traction in sudden movements on the field and avoid 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 of soccer nor American football.

It was during the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France when Ronaldo from Brazil wore special edition cleats. I had asked my father to 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 on 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.

Cleats Weight

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).

Adidas adizero 99g - Lightest soccer cleats
Adidas adizero 99g – Lightest soccer cleats

This specific cleat won’t be of value to a lineman or a positional player who needs some form of stability in his ankle. The average weight for a cleat worn by a typical linebacker is between 11.8oz and 12.2oz. American football cleats have more support for the 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. The athlete will make a decision whether or not to choose a lighter cleat over protection depending on the position.

Talking to Davis Mills, a former 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, as far as running backs and wide receivers, we have a few using soccer cleats”.

So, we might have an answer already, but let’s dig in even deeper.

Cleats Height

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 soccer players, wear cleats that usually cut right below the ankle.

A player wearing soccer cleats with his foot on the ball
Soccer cleats usually do not cover ankles.

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 gives the player more support and protection in their ankles and the 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 direction in a split second, certain positions in American Football like running backs or wide receivers may benefit from low-cut cleats as well.Richard Manfredi, “Soccer vs Football Shoes”.

Soccer cleats for American football. Football cleats look a bit different
American football cleats usually provide more protection for ankles.

Davis Mills – Stanford University – said that the height may give you some protection, but it’s not the 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.

Cleats Materials

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 of 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. That’s why there are special soccer cleats for players with wide feet.
Synthetic cleats on 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?

  • YES

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 difference. But we can be sure that football players will be safe on the pitch wearing 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 have also been instances when wide receivers are wearing strictly soccer cleats. Their game hasn’t been inhibited by their choice 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 the position you’re playing

said Davis Mills – a previous 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”.

Can you wear soccer cleats for other sports? What about baseball, or lacrosse?


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