Almost all sports have equipment which is specific to them and soccer is no different. There are some obvious examples such as a ball without which no game could play, but while it might seem a very generic item, there are different forms of soccer which require different types of ball. This applies most especially between indoor and outdoor soccer.
This exact same scenario exists when it comes to the equipment which soccer players wear, and nowhere is this more applicable when it comes to footwear. While a player might be able to wear the same soccer shorts, shirt and socks playing either indoors or outdoors, when it comes to their soccer shoes, there are significant differences.
In this article, we are going to examine both indoor and outdoor soccer shoes and will be paying particular attention to the differences between soccer shoes designed for Turf, and those designed for indoor soccer.
In its embryonic days back in the 19th century, soccer was played mainly on grass, and that aspect of the game exists to this day. However, over the decades, due to advances in technology, and the development of soccer as a sport, the number of surface types that soccer can be played on is far more diverse than it has ever been.
Grass is an ideal surface for soccer for three main reasons. The first is that it can be made level so that the ball can travel on top of it in a true line. Secondly, it is firm enough that the players can run on it unhindered, and also it allows the ball to bounce. Thirdly, although it is firm underfoot, turf provides a reasonably soft landing for players if they fall and does not normally pose any risks in terms of scratches and cuts.
An alternative to grass is a surface which is either fully or partially artificial. One of the most well-known is called 'Astroturf', which is actually a brand name for a soccer surface which has been in use since the 1960s. Astroturf is normally referred to as just 'Turf' which is why we are using that word to refer to it in this article.
The other artificial surface is called 'artificial grass' and this applies to various artificial soccer surfaces manufactured by a host of different companies, but which all meet very similar specifications and attributes.
The final surface we need to talk about is the one we find indoors, in sports halls, clubs, and futsal courts. Obviously, these are going to be hard floors, but they are covered in different materials such as varnished wood, linoleum, and generic synthetic flooring, which can accommodate all indoor sports, including soccer.
Obviously, the sort of soccer shoes with cleats or large dimples that you would wear outdoors would be totally unsuitable for playing soccer indoors. It would be akin to skating on ice. The solution is soccer shoes which have grips specially designed for indoor soccer surfaces. When you are researching which pair you might want to buy, look for those marked with the letters, ‘IN’. This stands for indoors, so you know those are the right ones.
To provide the best grip possible, the soles on indoor soccer shoes tend to be made from gum rubber, which is also designed not to mark the gym or soccer hall floor. The tread on them is likely to have lots of thin grooves, or in some cases hundreds of tiny dimples.
Just as outdoor soccer shoes are not suited to indoor soccer, neither are indoors shoes for outdoor soccer. Grass, Turf or other artificial surfaces can be very abrasive, and this will wear out the grip on the sole of your indoor soccer shoes very quickly.
While the 'IN' indicator for indoor soccer shoes is fairly straightforward, when it comes to outdoor soccer shoes the situation is somewhat more complex. There are no fewer than five different types which are differentiated by the type of surface they are designed to be worn on.
With grass surfaces, there are three types of soccer shoes. 'FG' (Firm Ground) are best-suited for playing on very hard surfaces that get very little rain. At the other end of the scale, we have Soft Ground or SG soccer shoes which are the type that should be used on wet, soggy ground. The third grass soccer cleat is one called 'HG' for Hard Ground. These are quite rare nowadays but when used they are suitable for very dry surfaces.
Two soccer shoes types are suitable for artificial surfaces with 'AG' (Artificial Ground) soccer shoes being designed to be worn on most artificial soccer fields. Astroturf soccer shoes are indicated by an 'AT' and obviously, these should be worn any time that soccer is played on an Astroturf or 'Turf' surface.
It should be noted that these two types of artificial soccer shoes are not interchangeable. Artificial grass soccer surfaces tend to have taller strands whereas Turf has a much lower profile. Turf also tends to be tougher than artificial grass.
There are big differences between indoor and Turf soccer shoes, and we will say from the outset that neither is suitable for the other surface. Indoor shoes tend to be flat with rubber soles and will only be suitable if the underfoot conditions are bone dry. Even if it is not raining, an artificial surface may have some moisture on it.
The biggest issue is a lack of traction which makes it very difficult to play as you would like to. You'd struggle to stop, turning quickly would be impossible, and staying balanced as you pass or shoot at goal would be a real challenge. More seriously, not having sure footing is dangerous as it can lead to sprains and strains if your foot gives way unexpectedly.
On the flip side, wearing Turf shoes on an indoor court would be equally frustrating and dangerous for much the same reason. The large dimples on the sole of a Turf soccer shoe would not provide the grip necessary for an indoor surface, and they can also mark the flooring which will not go down too well with whoever manages the sports hall.