Soccer may not be America’s favorite pastime, but it is still regarded as the king of sports. Soccer cleats are part of a billion-dollar industry because even amateur players know how big of a difference it can make to wear the best soccer cleats when stepping onto the field.
The problem is usually selecting the right type of cleats for your position and for the field conditions. Soccer cleats are just like football players in that they have specific upper designs, outsole stud patterns, and so on, for their respective positions.
Check out the following top picks for soccer cleats that cover any position and all popular playing surfaces.
5 Best Soccer Cleats
Adidas Performance Men’s Copa Mundial Soccer Shoes
The Copa Mundial soccer cleats series is one of the most popular to come from Adidas. The shoes are available in almost any size and they have an old-school design that’s universally popular.
The Copa Mundial soccer cleats are made of leather. They feature synthetic soles and a well-designed outsole pattern. Due to the length of the studs, these shoes can be used on both soft ground and firm ground fields. However, the performance will be better on soft ground or during rainy conditions.
The leather upper is one of the main highlights due to the improved elasticity and flexibility of the material over synthetic alternatives. The synthetic lining and EVA insoles take care of the player’s comfort. At the same time, this combination allows the shoes to still be lightweight, despite the leather upper.
You can only get these soccer cleats in one color pattern. It’s an all-black background with the iconic white Adidas stripes on the side. No matter what color uniform you’re wearing, you can’t go wrong with the classic look.
What's to like about the Adidas Copa Mundial
The use of leather brings up an interesting point. As opposed to many other synthetic shoes that might be more durable, the kangaroo leather used in these cleats is elastic. This means that playing with swollen feet or during your growth period is a lot more comfortable as the shoe can accommodate these changes.
What's not to like about the Adidas Copa Mundial
These aren’t the most rugged or cheapest shoes on the market. They’re comfortable but offer minimal protection if someone steps on your foot.
Nike Men’s Mercurial Vapor XI FG Soccer Cleats
As the name suggests, these soccer cleats are made for firm ground soccer pitches. They have cool graphics and an optimized stud pattern that helps with traction and ball control.
The Mercurial Vapor XI are low-cut soccer cleats. They’re inspired by the graphics Cristiano Ronaldo wears but also by the famous goal scorer’s preference in ankle height and mobility. These cleats will serve you well as a midfielder or forward.
The design also sees a low-profile toe box. This makes it easier to get spin and height on balls. Free kick takers and corner specialists will have the most to gain from this design feature.
Here, the studs are displayed in an interesting way too. They mirror the shape of the player’s foot. This should make sprinting on studs feel a lot more natural. In a way, these are beginner-friendly soccer cleats. Though, it’s worth mentioning that the low-profile toe box design demands a certain level of skill and precision.
A combination of synthetic leather and other materials is used. The shoes are fairly durable in that regard. However, due to the toe box design, overall light weight, and lack of rigidity, constant use will eventually lead to degradation on the front end.
What's to like about the Nike Men’s Mercurial Vapor XI FG
The best thing about these soccer cleats is the advantage they can give you as a free kick taker, corner specialist, or even as the main striker. In terms of traction, they score off the charts, and the low-profile design makes it easier to get your foot under the ball and apply the optimum amount of spin.
What's not to like about the Nike Men’s Mercurial Vapor XI FG
These aren’t the most durable shoes for the money. The synthetic leather used is less elastic than natural leather, but it’s not overly impressive in the ruggedness department either.
VITIKE High-Top Soccer Cleats
VITIKE soccer cleats enjoy quite the popularity among amateur soccer players of all ages, even though the brand mostly caters to kids and teens.
These cleats are one of the safest choices you can make when deciding to step on the soccer field. They’re made from synthetic materials and have screw-in studs.
The ribbed upper design is supposed to improve ball control and it does a good job of it too. You may notice that the upper also has a tongueless design, which makes it even easier to tie the shoes, run in them, and execute powerful strikes.
If you’re looking for extra protection, these shoes are hard to beat, especially in their price range. The high-top ankle design is ideal for defenders and goalkeepers. The absence of the tongue means that the upper is more rigid and better equipped to handle pressure and someone stepping on it in the heat of the moment.
The outsole features evenly dispersed V-shaped studs. It’s also worth pointing out that these are great practice shoes as they’re rated AG for use on artificial grass.
What's to like about the VITIKE High-Top Soccer Cleats
Optimum pressure distribution at an affordable rate – it’s pretty much how you can best describe these VITIKE high-top soccer cleats.
What's not to like about the VITIKE High-Top Soccer Cleats
This particular model is available in few sizes, covering mostly kids and teens. Although affordable, they’re not very useful for adult soccer players, even those below average height.
Puma Men’s Evopower 1.3 FG Soccer Cleats
Puma is among the leading brands when it comes to soccer cleats for both amateur and professional players. The brand is just as recognizable for their slim shoe profiles as they are for their iconic Puma logo.
The Evopower 1.3 soccer cleats are available in sizes 7M through to 11M. This puts them right in the kid and teen department. In terms of pricing, these cleats are quite affordable and provide good value for the money.
Puma designed these cleats for firm ground. Therefore, the studs have much more spacing between them and they’re not too long either. What’s interesting to note is that the sole is made of rubber. This takes away from their durability but adds so much in terms of flexibility and agility.
The ankle height is between a low-cut and medium-cut. It offers a good balance of perks, which means that both midfielders and forwards can use these soccer cleats with confidence.
What's to like about the Puma Evopower 1.3 FG
One of the best things about the Evopower 1.3 soccer cleats is their fit rate, which is estimated at 88%. That number is a lot higher than what you can expect even from more expensive professional shoes.
What's not to like about the Puma Evopower 1.3 FG
Not all players will feel comfortable playing with a more flexible sole. In the long run, what you gain in terms of flexibility and mobility you may lose in longevity. Rubber soles are known to give out sooner than synthetic soles, especially under constant use and pressure.
Adidas Women’s Goletto VI FG Soccer Cleats
Women’s soccer is gaining more and more traction worldwide. Top manufacturer Adidas have been making quality women’s soccer cleats for a long time, and with every model, they find a way to improve the design to cater specifically to women’s needs.
The Goletto VIs have FG outsoles. This means that they’re perfectly viable for use in professional soccer leagues and tournaments. The use of synthetic leather for the upper grants a good balance between elasticity and protection.
What’s also good is that the overall profile is slimmer than what Adidas usually goes for in men’s soccer cleats. This should provide a better fit (81%). With sizing not being such a big issue, the Goletto VI soccer cleats are often the go-to choice.
Another good thing about these cleats, besides the obvious budget pricing, is the size availability. You can get them in sizes 5M through to 11M, which is great for kids, teenagers, and most adult women soccer players.
What's to like about the Adidas Goletto VI FG
The fact that the shoes are molded to fit a woman’s slim foot profile is the most important takeaway when it comes to the Adidas Goletto VI soccer cleats.
What's not to like about the Adidas Goletto VI FG
At this price, it would’ve been preferable to see a more rugged upper that would offer better protection against hard sliding tackles.
You can categorize soccer cleats based on what playing surface they were intended for. Therefore, you have the following cleat types:
Soft Ground (SG) soccer cleats are sometimes used on real grass fields. The SG designation usually indicates that the studs are longer and pointier.
Firm Ground (FG) cleats are characterized by having screw-in metal studs. The pattern of the studs promotes even dispersion and a rather small number of studs. You will find that the studs are somewhat short and almost never rounded.
Most indoor soccer cleats don’t have any studs. You wouldn’t need them anyway when playing on a basketball court.
Turf shoes are similar to indoor shoes. They feature highly textured outsoles but with barely visible protrusions.
Artificial Grass (AG) soccer cleats have the shortest studs. The pattern is usually compact and features more studs than on FG or SG outsoles. This improves the traction on artificial fields. The short length of the studs ensures minimal penetration for less chance of ruining the field or getting stuck.
When it comes to materials, there are two things to remember: the upper determines the durability and flexibility of the shoe, while the materials used in studs are responsible for traction and agility.
Leather is the classic soccer cleat material. Leather cleats are known for their weight and overall rigidity. They’re tough, ideal for defenders, and they used to be the premier choice back in the day. In fact, the light synthetic shoes made today wouldn’t allow players to perform at their highest level if they were to use old-style soccer balls – thick, heavy, leather balls.
These days, leather is not used for a few clear reasons. First of all, in terms of affordability, leather shoes can’t hold a candle to new synthetic shoes. Secondly, the game is played much faster than in the 20th century, which means that light shoes offer an advantage.
There’s also an argument to be made about synthetic shoes being more consistent and maintaining their form in all types of weather. This means that leather shoes don’t do much to improve a player’s accuracy, especially with the new types of light soccer balls that are used in professional competitions around the globe.
Synthetic soccer cleats are what pretty much everyone is using, whether you’re talking about pros, amateurs, or weekend soccer players. Kids, teens, adults – they all benefit more from synthetic shoes due to the way the game is played, lower prices, and the overall level of comfort.
Metal studs are the optimal choice if you want SG soccer cleats. These studs penetrate soft ground better and offer a lot of traction. You will notice a huge improvement going from regular FG cleats to SG cleats with metal studs when you’re playing in rainy conditions or on a poor grass field.
Rubber studs are not as popular as they used to be. They’re still used on carpet-style pitches like AG pitches. Usually, they are characterized by their compact design and limited penetration ability.
Synthetic studs are sometimes used for AG and FG shoes. They’re not as durable as metal studs and don’t have a screw-in feature. However, they can still provide plenty of traction and security while being slightly cheaper.
What’s also worth pointing out is that, when it comes to soccer cleats, the pattern, shape, and length of the studs is just as important as anything else.
Soccer cleats tend to come in just two heights: You can choose between low and medium-cut shoes. There are pros and cons to each. Generally, players choose between these models based on the position they’re playing.
Defenders tend to go with the medium-cut soccer cleats. They provide some additional ankle protection and the cleats are also usually sturdier. However, this comes with a few drawbacks such as reducing the freedom of movement and making it difficult for defenders to perform skilled dribble moves.
Midfielders and forwards will often choose low-cut soccer cleats, essentially trading safety for agility. Low-cut soccer shoes are much more comfortable and accurate when executing free kicks, sprinting towards the goal, or splitting defenses with ankle-twisting moves.
As it is with many other sports shoes or casual shoes, soccer cleats won’t always come in the advertised size. Most manufacturers even list their sizing accuracy in the form of a percentage, based on numerous tests and feedback. Just keep in mind that this may not be the case with kids’ cleats or cheap cleats.
The fit is something that’s pretty much unique to most players. There’s a big difference even between a player playing in an amateur league on a regular basis and someone that just straps on their soccer cleats every other weekend.
If you’re wondering how a pair of soccer cleats should feel, think of the following: the cleats should be tight, but not tight enough to restrict blood flow. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely but not feel any pain when hitting the ball with the tip of the shoe.
Around the ankle, you want a sense of security, but you shouldn’t feel too much resistance when you’re trying to bend it. There are many more things to consider, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference and your own level of comfort.
Note that many top and even mid-level soccer players have custom soccer cleats. The rest of the world just has to try on a few more pairs before something feels great.
Perhaps the three top-selling, popular, and most respected brands are Nike, Adidas, and Puma. They’ve been making soccer cleats, among other sportswear, for decades. They’re also the brands that offer the fattest endorsements to soccer players.
But, unless you’re preparing to play professionally with the big boys, you won’t go wrong with lesser known brands. The differences in pricing can sometimes be night and day. Besides, soccer cleats go through a lot of wear and tear. Replacing $500 soccer cleats two or three times a season is not ideal.
How to choose soccer cleats
If you want to select the best soccer cleats for the occasion, you need to think of the following: price, studs, outsole pattern, ankle size, and fit.
Pricing is important for almost anyone, so you can’t avoid factoring it into your purchase decision. Then the most important things come up – studs and their pattern. Depending on what surface you play on, some studs will perform better than others (metal for grass, synthetic for artificial fields, rubber for cement).
Then you must look at the pattern of the studs, their length, and shape. Each type of soccer field is best served by a particular type of studs. Also, consider the fit and how high or low you want the shoes to be. High or medium-cut cleats are more durable and protective while low-cut cleats let you sprint like Usain Bolt and execute precision dribbles and strikes.
How should soccer cleats fit?
In most cases, going by what makes you feel more comfortable is good enough in terms of fit. But there are a few things to look for when strapping on soccer cleats. They’re important in terms of safety and performance.
The cleats should feel tight around the ankles — not too tight that you can’t run but enough to make you feel like you’re walking or running naturally.
On the inside, you should aim for a bit of space on the sides and in the toe box. This can prevent ankle injuries when hitting under the ball or getting tackled. Remember that using soccer cleats also comes with a learning curve and a breaking-in period.
How to clean soccer cleats
There are two types of soccer cleats if you’re categorizing them by their ease of use and maintenance: those with fixed studs and those with removable studs.
Cleaning soccer cleats involves scrubbing the outsole first to remove the gunk and then rinsing them under a powerful water jet. If your shoes have removable studs (screw-in studs), simply unscrew the studs and then scrub the outsole hard with a brush.
Not all soccer cleats are machine-washable. Always check the label to see the correct water temperature and recommended cleaning agents. Don’t forget to remove the studs if you can before putting the shoes in the washing machine.
For the most part, washing soccer cleats with a damp cloth is good enough. Use some professional shoe deodorant to manage the odor accumulation on the inside of the shoes.
How to tie soccer cleats
Tying or lacing your soccer cleats is one of the main ways in which you can avoid an ankle injury and give yourself better agility on the field. Some players take up to 20 minutes before they’re satisfied with the state of their laces.
First of all, try looking at shorter laces before you step onto a soccer field. Short laces won’t get in the way of your dribble moves and are less likely to be caught or tangled in an opposing player’s studs during a tackle or attempted tackle.
You have only two options for tying your laces. You can either use a regular knot or a double knot. The only trick is to remember to hide the excess as well as you can. For this, you can use the upper arch to tuck in excess laces.
It’s more important to lace your cleats in the classic X-shaped pattern than using extra knots when actually tying the shoes.
How to wear soccer cleats
The most important thing to remember when it comes to wearing and playing in soccer cleats is that you should avoid a loose fit, especially around the ankles.
Ankle injuries are the most common type of injuries in soccer and many of them can be career-ending. Having a snug fit around the ankles is important, just as important as tightening the laces from head to toe.
Read also: Best Soccer Cleats for Wide Feet
The Copa Mundial soccer cleats from Adidas may just be the best soccer cleats for men. They look great, feel great, and are made from high-end materials all around. The cleats offer superior mobility, which is ideal for highly skilled players.
That being said, all soccer cleats on this list have their own selling points. As you know by now, because of how different soccer fields can be, cleats aren’t always interchangeable. So select whichever pair fits your needs best based on the type of field you play on, your age, or your gender.