Protecting Your Feet
Soccer players spend 90 minutes on their feet, running around, kicking the ball and generally using their feet. Being able to stay on your feet and keeping them in good shape is important, which makes the cleats you use your most important piece of soccer equipment. (ref. 3)
Traction and Friction
Cleats allow your feet to grip the turf. Soccer involves a lot of running and sudden changes in direction, and cleats dig into the grass so you are better able to start, stop and cut on the grass. (ref. 2) This also reduces your likelihood of injuries from slipping and sliding all over the turf. Cleats, especially those made of leather, also give you more friction when handling the ball. (ref. 1)
All cleats are going to help keep you on your feet during bad-weather play because they are able to grip the ground. Some are designed specifically to reduce the amount of mud and grass you pick up running around the field.
Cleats, like running shoes and other high-impact footwear, are made with cushioning the foot, ankle and knee in mind. Good cleats can protect against impact injuries. (ref. 1) The bigger the cleats are and the farther from the ground your feet are, the more protection you have. However, that can also increase your risk of a sprained ankle, so make sure you’re comfortable with the cleat size.
Types of Cleats
According to soccerwebsite.org, there are three types of cleats that work best in different types of soccer situations. Firm ground cleats have individual cleats around the edges of the shoe and a few in the middle; this provides the necessary traction as well as good support for your feet and ankles. This type of cleat works best on most field surfaces. (ref. 1) Soft ground cleats have the least number of cleats on the bottom, designed only to provide foot support. These are good for playing soccer on slick surfaces. The lesser number of cleats keeps too much grass or mud stuck to the bottom of the shoe when you’re playing in the rain or on waterlogged field. (ref. 1) Hard ground cleats work best on artificial playing surfaces; these shoes have the most cleats on the bottom and provide the best support, which is why they’re better on the harder artificial turf. (ref. 1)