Whether it is soccer, football, baseball, lacrosse, or any other sport played on a field, cleats are essential for moving around and having the right amount of traction. Without cleats, players run the risk of serious injury, especially if they are playing at a decently high level.
When searching online, there are plenty of cleats specifically designed for certain sports. While that might be the case, how much of a difference is there between certain options?
Do soccer cleats work for football? Soccer cleats do technically work for football. Some differences might become more apparent at higher levels, but they will do an adequate job of providing proper footing on grass and turf.
Why Soccer Cleats Work For American Football
The number one reason why cleats are used in nearly every field sport is that players need traction on slippery grass and artificial turf. A standard shoe is not going to allow a player to cut safely and move as fluidly as they would like. With just a little bit of doubt, players will not move as quickly, and they open themselves up for injury if they do.
Soccer and football do not include the exact same movements, but both rely heavily on pinpoint footwork to play both offense and defense. A soccer players movement most closely resembles wide receivers and running backs, as they need to cut in many different directions while trying to avoid defenders. It should come as no surprise that these players use cleats that are very close as well.
Kickers are also very fond of soccer cleats, for obvious reasons. Soccer cleats are built for players having the best touch imaginable with their feet. A lot of kickers grow up playing soccer, and it just feels more natural to them than using a traditional football cleat.
Responsibilities on the football field are vastly different than in soccer. Most of the field players in soccer need the same skillset, and even the goalie does not have a job that differs all that much. In comparison, football players on the line are playing a completely different game than skilled position players, and their footwear needs show that.
The Differences In Soccer Cleats vs. Football Cleats
The general consensus is that the less competitive the level of sport is, the easier it is to use cleats not designed for that sport. Soccer cleats in football at a lower level should be just fine, but there are some differences that higher-level players will notice. Whether this makes them change or not is another thing, but here is a closer look at why both options are designed.
Soccer cleats, in general, are designed much more like a running shoe in that they are pretty light. Players are running miles each match, and the game is focused more on speed and endurance when compared to football. That is not to say that certain players do need to move very quickly in football, but there also needs to be a little added weight as well.
When looking at the bigger players in football, such as linemen, they can’t use soccer cleats if they are playing at a high-level. There will not be nearly enough stability with such lightweight cleats. It is not going to make that much of a difference for a 350-pound linebacker if they can shed a few ounces off the shoes. It makes more sense for them to have stability in that case, so they do not have to worry about any potential injuries.
To have a better range of motion, nearly every soccer cleat out there is a low cut. This means that the ankles are exposed, and it is something that a lot of football players do not like at all. Yes, some soccer player still cover up their ankles quite a bit with tape, braces, socks, padding, and more, but they do not have to worry about as much contact in their sport.
The only football players that seem to wear low-cut shoes are wide receivers, and they do it for the same reason as soccer players. They like having the ability to change direction easily and have better range of motion. It might not seem like it is that big of a difference, but it does help when people are struggling.
There is a common thought that height is going to give people more protection with their ankles. It makes sense in theory, since there is more material that goes behind the ankle and seems like it would stabilize things a bit more. However, doctors seem to be on the page that it makes more sense to tape up ankles to prevent injuries instead of using high top shoes. Soccer players like the fact that they can have a very flexible ankle if they want to, and customize their stabilization a bit more with tape.
For non-skill position players in football, it makes more sense to wear high top shoes for stability. Just understand that they usually add a bit more overall weight to the shoe.
Cleats for football and soccer use pretty much the same materials, but how the materials are distributed on the shoe is what makes a difference. Since football is more about having stable feet to move around in, they do not need to provide the same type of touch and feel on the outside that a soccer player needs.
Soccer players like to have their cleats as narrow as possible, giving them a feel that is very close to their actual foot. Synthetic cleats are going to be made a little lighter than a leather cleat, but some players still prefer leather options because of their comfort and fit.
Playing football in soccer cleats might not provide the same type of protection with material if a person is tackled or stepped on by a huge player. There are definitely some accidents with a soccer match, but the players are usually not as heavy as football players. Getting stepped on ultimately happens less, and that reduces the need to have the ultimate amount of protection.
All in all, soccer cleats are made for a bit more precision, and do not seem to last as long as football cleats. Football cleats are meant to withstand just about anything thrown their way on the field. A typical soccer player tends to go through more cleats than football players, but it mostly has to do with losing a sense of feel. Playing in soccer cleats might not last as long when used for football because they will not have the same type of build that will hold up when people are stepped on.
The biggest difference between the patterns of soccer cleats and football cleats is that there is a toe stud with football cleats. Soccer players do not need that additional grip when they push off from a stance off the line. They are continually moving around, and it would ultimately get in the way. Not only that, but it would cause some serious issues with injuries by slide tackling other players.
Advanced players are going to use different types of cleats depending on conditions as well. Soccer cleats come in different sized studs so that players can get a good sense of security moving around. The slippier the conditions, the more traction a player needs. That means putting in longer studs in both soccer and football.
The Final Verdict
Soccer cleats and American football cleats share a lot of the same characteristics, and therefore, can be used in a pinch. Most players at higher levels would suggest against it however, unless a kicker is looking for a good amount of touch with their cleats.
Skill position players are going to have a much easier time adjusting, but the important thing is having traction on a slippery surface. It makes a lot more sense to use any type of cleat compared to going out there with a standard shoe.