Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats (Showdown!)

The things you see in youth soccer coaching are priceless. 

Kids playing with their long hair down, dandelion bouquets, jean shorts, and yes, even football cleats at soccer. 

Understandably, many parents (even those who know soccer) can get confused about soccer cleats vs football cleats. Especially if they already have football cleats, they may figure that the kid can also wear them for soccer. 

Is there really a big difference between football and soccer cleats?

We’ll outline the key information you need today including:

  • Similarities and differences between the two cleats
  • The purpose of cleats in soccer vs football
  • If kids can and should wear football cleats to soccer

Read on to find out everything you need to know about soccer cleats vs football cleats!

Soccer Cleats Vs. Football Cleats Infographic 1.1

Are Soccer Cleats The Same as Football Cleats?

Simply put, no soccer cleats are not the same as football cleats. If the cleats were the same, then there would not be two categories. Each type of cleat was specifically designed for the needs of the sport.

 In soccer, you need cleats to provide traction on the surface, but also to allow optimal contact with a round ball. In football, most players only use the cleats for tractions. kicker/punters do kick a ball, but it is a ball that’s shaped very differently from a soccer ball. 

standing on turf with soccer cleats

What Is The Difference Between Football and Soccer Cleats?

At first glance, soccer and football cleats seem pretty similar. However, when you take a moment to compare, you will see clear differences. 

Here’s a helpful table to break down the differences between football cleats and soccer cleats:

CategorySoccer CleatsFootball Cleats
WeightLighter weight for speed and touchHeavier to protect
MaterialThinner, more flexibleThicker, more protective
StudsNo toe spikeExtra toe spike and more studs
RiseLow rise Offers high-rise to protect the ankle
ShapeNarrow, tighter-fittingLonger, wider, curved top
Table showing difference of soccer vs football cleats

What Do Soccer Cleats Look Like On The Bottom 

Close up of soccer cleats

The bottom of regular firm-ground soccer cleats (the ones you would wear on normal grass) contain the studs. Studs are what grips the grass and mud to provide traction. 

The exact shape and layout of studs can vary depending on the manufacturer and specific cleat style. In general, they tend to have foud studs near the heel in a sort of “square” shape. Then, around the toe box, the cleats often have 6 studs (3 along each side)  with one in the middle. 

You’ll notice that football cleats look a bit different. They have longer studs and more studs around the front of the cleat, including a toe stud. This toe stud provides optimal traction for pushing against heavy opponents, but not for soccer-style play. 

Why Do Football Players Wear Soccer Cleats?

While it’s rare, you may see a football wearing soccer cleats. Simply put, regular firm ground soccer cleats are permitted as American football cleats. 

Let’s take a look at what the NFL says:

Article 3:Item 5. Improper Cleats. Shoe cleats made of aluminum or other material that may chip, fracture, or develop a cutting edge. Conical cleats with concave sides or points which measure less than ⅜-inch in diameter at the tips, or cleats with oblong ends which measure less than ¼ by ¾-inch at the end tips are also prohibited. Nylon cleats with flat steel tips are permitted.”

NFL Official Operations

Do Soccer Cleats Work for Football?

Both soccer cleats and football cleats have come a long way over the last 100 years. Now, each is specifically designed for the needs of their sport. 

For most football players, soccer cleats don’t work well. They do not provide the same grip or support for pushing into others. 

However, for players who run more (like wide receivers) or who kick the ball (kickers, punters, etc) soccer cleats may work well. Really, it depends on the player’s position and their personal preference. 

Kickers or other players who’ve previously played soccer may find that soccer cleats work well for them in football. 

Do NFL Kickers Wear Soccer Cleats?

set up football field goal

If you visualize a football player wearing soccer cleats, chances are that you think of a kicker. After all, their job is sometimes more similar to a soccer player than a football player. 

According to the Kicking Coach, “Most college and pro kickers wear a leather soccer cleat that is simple in design. Nike Tiempo cleats are the most popular kicking cleats at the moment.”

So yes, some NFL kickers have worn soccer cleats. One example is Matt Prater from the Denver Broncos. He wore customized CTR360 Trequartistas. They must have worked pretty well, considering he broke Tom Dempsey’s 1970 record with a 64-yard field goal in Dec 2013. 

What Cleats Does Justin Tucker Wear?

Justin Tucker wears Nike Mercurial Veloce III soccer cleats. 

Remember Matt Prater’s record-breaking 64-yard field goal? Tucker beat that record in 2021 with a 66-yard field goal

Interestingly enough, Tucker says he wears cleats for only two to three games before replacing them!

What Cleats Did Adam Vinatieri Wear?

Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts also wore soccer cleats. He wears Under Armour Hydrastrike’s (on both feet). 

He announced retirement in the spring of 2021. 

Do Soccer Cleats Make You Kick Better?

Wearing soccer cleats won’t magically make you a perfect kicker, but the shoes are designed for kicking function. 

One review paper sought to examine just how helpful soccer cleats are for kicking. 

It was found that soccer shoe design can have a substantial influence on sprinting performance, improve kicking accuracy, and influences maximum kicking velocity.

The influence of soccer shoe design on playing performance: a series of biomechanical studies

Can My Kid Wear Soccer Cleats for Football?

So clearly, professional athletes tend to use specialized equipment for their sport. But not all of us get shoe deals and new cleats at the snap of a finger. Not to mention, kids’ feet are still growing. 

To save time, money, and hassle, many parents want to know if their kids can wear soccer cleats for football and vice versa. 

The simple answer is this: probably, but it’s not ideal. 

According to the rules of the game, soccer cleats are allowed in football, but they are not designed for football. Furthermore, football cleats are not usually allowed in soccer. 

The official IFAB rules on player equipment do not specifically ban football cleats, but many referees view them as dangerous equipment. This is mostly because of the extra toe stud, which can do more harm than good for soccer players. 

Do 4-year-olds wear soccer cleats?

The laws of the game do not require cleats, they only require footwear. For this reason, a lot of 4-year-olds may not wear soccer cleats.

Kids at this age are very young, which means the “physical demands” of the game are much lower. They may not really require cleats for their safety. Furthermore, cleats can actually make it more difficult for very young kids as they certainly feel different than shoes. 

Ultimately, you do not need to buy cleats for your 4-year-old to play soccer. However, if you already have some or find some inexpensive ones, they are allowed to wear them. 

Do 5-Year-Olds Need Soccer Cleats?

Much like 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds may not need cleats to play soccer. They are still in “pee wee” soccer and may not have official matches 

If you have football cleats, your young child still should not wear them to soccer. Ideally, they should wear soccer cleats by U6 or U7, as this is when real games usually start. 

young boy playing soccer

Conclusion: Youth Soccer Cleats vs Football Cleats 

Kids grow out of shoes and cleats quickly, which can make it hard to get all of the equipment they need for different sports. 

The truth is that a very young kid (3-5 years old) may not even need cleats to safely play soccer or football. 

However, you may be tempted to use one pair of cleats for soccer, football, and other sports. This is not ideal and can impact your child’s performance and susceptibility to injury. 

Still, if you can only choose one cleat, then soccer cleats are the most versatile option. Other sports, like football, permit soccer cleats. 

Overall, it’s best to look for hand-me-downs, used cleats, and on-sale cleats to ensure your child has the ideal footwear for each sport. 

Soccer Products FAQ

Can I Use Running Shoes for Soccer? 

You can play soccer in running shoes, but you won’t have the best performance unless you wear cleats or soccer boots.

Why are soccer balls black and white?

Soccer balls are traditionally black and white because when soccer was first shown on TV it was in black and white, so the mix of black and white on the balls helped viewers see the ball easier. 

How hard and what pressure should a soccer ball be?

The FIFA regulations say that the soccer balls should have a pressure between 8.81757 psi (0.6 atm) and 16.1655 psi (1.1 atm). If you’re playing soccer with friends, then opt for a pressure amount from the lower range.

What is the size of goals in soccer?

5-A-Side has dimensions that are 12-ft wide by 6-ft high. Such soccer goals are for under-7 and under-8 soccer games
7-A-Side has dimensions that are 12-ft wide by 6-ft high again. Such soccer goals are for under-9 and under-10 soccer games
9-A-Side has dimensions that are 16-ft wide by 7-ft high. Such soccer goals are for under-11 and under-12 soccer game
11-A-Side or full-size soccer goal has dimensions that are 24-ft wide by 8-ft high for the under-15 and over. Whereas, for the under-13 and under-14, it is 21 ft wide by 7-ft high

What is the soccer ball size and weight for each age group?

Size 1 - 3 years or under - 18 to 20 inches - 195 to 205 grams
Size 2 - 3 to 5 years - 20 to 22 inches - U4 - 250 to 280 grams
Size 3 - 5 to 8 years - 23 to 24 inches - U5 to U8 - 300 to 320 grams
Size 4 - 8 to 12 years - 25 to 26 inches - U8 to U12 - 350 to 390 grams
Size 5 - More than 12 years - 27 to 28 inches - U12 to Pro - 410 to 450 grams

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