How to Spat Your Football Cleats

The advent of low-cut football cleats by the Riddell Company in the 1950s brought about an increase in ankle injuries. Prior to the influx of one-piece, manufactured spats that cover the shoe laces and ankles, football players devised their spats with the same type of tape used by trainers to give them ankle and lower-leg support. You can spat your own football cleats with the method used by players.

  1. Pull two 24-inch long strips of 1 1/2-inch zinc oxide tape off the roll. The tape tears easily, so there is no need for scissors. Stick the end of each strip to the edge of a table or bench at a convenient location within reach and let the strips hang there.

  2. Put on your socks and football cleats. Tie the laces as you normally do. Pull the tops of your socks up as far as possible and fold the top of each sock down 2 inches.

  3. Wrap a 24-inch strip of tape with the adhesive side facing outward around one calf above the fold in your sock. Overlap excess tape. Unfold your sock and press the top against the tape. Wrap the other piece of tape around your other calf in the same manner.

  4. Begin the spat by making a continuous wrap of tape that begins at the midpoint of the laces, continues under the sole of your shoe between the cleats and comes back over the top of the laces. Make three additional wraps around the sole of your shoe and over the laces. Each wrap gets progressively closer to the tongue of your shoe and covers the upper section of your laces. The last wrap should cover the tie in the laces. Wrap both shoes.

  5. Start a new series of wraps at your ankle, just above the tongue of your shoe. Wrap tape two or three turns around your ankle and then bring the tape from the front of your ankle down to your instep at the sole of your shoe. Wrap around the instep a complete turn and come back up to your ankle. Make two turns around your ankle and wrap around your instep again. Continue this process until you have wrapped your instep five or six times. Tear the tape to end this wrap section at the sole of your shoe. Repeat the process on the other ankle and shoe.

  6. Wrap a length of tape around the side edge of your shoe, beginning approximately 1 inch from the center of the shoe toe, along the side, around the heel and up the other side to within approximately 1 inch of the toe center. Make a second wrap like the first one, but approximately 1/2 inch higher up the side of your shoe. Complete this wrap by winding tape three times around your shoe at the instep area. Without tearing the tape, pull the tape up to your ankle and wrap your ankle twice. Tear the tape and end the wrap. Repeat the process on your other foot.

  7. Make a continuous leg wrap that starts at your ankle and goes directly around your leg in additional wraps that get progressively higher on your sock. Terminate the leg wrap at a point that feels comfortable and provides the desired lower leg support. Wrap your other leg.


    Select a color tape that coordinates with your team's colors.

Things Needed

  • 1 1/2-inch zinc oxide tape

About the Author

William Machin began work in construction at the age of 15, while still in high school. In 35 years, he's gained expertise in all phases of residential construction, retrofit and remodeling. His hobbies include horses, motorcycles, road racing and sport fishing. He studied architecture at Taft Junior College.