Soccer cleats are an essential part of playing the game. You may think cleats are just cleats, but the ever-evolving technology of sports equipment has complicated the quest of finding the best cleats. Cleats are primarily manufactured with leather or synthetic uppers. While synthetics tend to be easier to clean, less expensive and water resistant, leather shoes generally offer superior protection, support and fit. Once you've decided to spend the extra bucks on some quality leather soccer cleats, there are a few other features to be on the hunt for.
Heel and Upper Construction
The heel counter of a soccer cleat is the part of the shoe that cradles and cushions the back of the heel. In a quality shoe, it will be strongly bonded to both the outsole and the upper, and it should not bend. The upper part of the shoe -- the outer part that you see -- protects your foot and provides stability during movement. An upper with strong side-to-side stability is critical for maintaining ball control and placing significant power behind kicks.
The internal last of a soccer cleat is the footbed construction. This part of the shoe is vital to performance because it's responsible for delivering a blend of stability and flexibility required for movement, speed and control on the field. The best shoes have an internal last that provides arch support and cushioning to minimize the risks of developing foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis.
Your leather soccer cleat needs will also vary depending on which position you play. Forwards need lightweight cleats that allow them to feel the ball through their shoes since they're required to perform fast maneuvers to stay ahead of defenders. Try to stick with cleats under 9 ounces if you play forward. Midfielders are constantly on the move, so comfort and control are the most important features for these players. Look for a high-quality midsole with plenty of cushioning to alleviate the pressure that studs place on the feet during 90 minutes of game play. Defenders often take a lot of tackles, so durable, tough shoes with thick uppers and a little more weight are important. Finally, goalkeepers need shoes that provide power and protect your feet while you guard the net.
Another factor to consider when selecting the best soccer cleats is the type of turf you'll be playing on. There are four general categories of playing field that cleats fall into: firm ground, soft ground, artificial turf and indoor. Most shoes are designed for use on firm ground, such as dry, natural grass fields. These molded cleats provide traction and stability and often come with removable studs that are bladed or conical shaped. Soft ground cleats have removable studs of varying lengths and are designed for natural outdoor fields that are softer or experiencing wet conditions. Artificial grass cleats are best for play on artificial turf or extremely hard natural ground. They usually come with a larger number of studs that are shorter in length than other cleat varieties. The cleats or studs on artificial grass cleats are generally very durable due to the hard surfaces of such fields.