Soccer, Football, AFL, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Touch Footy, Tag20 & GridIron season is upon us. For those of you that have dusted off last season’s gear and are thinking twice as to whether new footy boots are required, keep reading! For parents and guardians of young people who are about to start their season, keep reading!
This article is your one stop shop for all the information you need to get the right footy boots. I will NOT be recommending certain brands. I’m not associated with any companies that manufacture football boots. I will give you loads of information to equip you to make the right purchasing decision. You will learn about what features are required for your foot shape, foot biomechanics, field conditions and playing position.
Sorry kids, I won’t be recommending a boot based on colour (although red does make you go faster).
Tip 1: What are Your Rules for Footy Boots?
This is mainly for the junior players. Parents, you need to find out what rules your club or association has in place. Often the very young (under 8s) can’t wear metal studs but can wear moulded soles or even runners. At some time, the rule that allows you to wear metal studs kicks in and the rule that allows you to wear runners gets kicked out the window. Every association is different, so please check yours.
For soccer (sorry, to prevent confusion in this article – I won’t be calling it football), I’m seeing more players on synthetic terrain. Again, check your association for guidelines. Sometimes you can’t even wear large moulded studs on synthetic, instead you are advised to wear boots with little, but more studs, similar to hockey player’s shoes.
Don’t let your child get a red card for the wrong shoes
Tip 2: Get the Right Footy Boots for your Foot Shape
A foot that has stopped growing needs a boot that fits snugly without being too tight. Football boots do stretch more than other shoes. For growing feet, a little extra room is okay, but avoid going beyond 15mm from the longest toe to the end of the shoe.
Key Fitting Points
- Beware of stitching inside the shoe that may rub on the top of your toes.
- If you have a narrow heel, look for a pinch shape at the back of the heel. This feature can be difficult to find, heat moulding your boots with a hair dryer can assist in the wear in process. One shoe at a time, get a hair dryer on high heat, quickly circle the heat around the back and inside of the heel until the material is mildly softer. Quickly put the boot on and press the back of the shoe into your heel. Leave for 2 minute and then practice some drills for 1 minute. You should have plenty of practice with moulding mouth guard if you are playing a sport that requires footy boots. It is a similar process- don’t burn yourself!
- If you have a wide heel, look for a rounded back.
- For high arched feet and those needing orthotics to fit into their boots, look for extra depth.
- For flatter and wider feet, avoid highly curved lasted boot. Most boots on the market are curved lasted but some more than others.
- For hammer toes and claw toes, look for what I call a “single piece upper”. The top or upper of the shoe isn’t a few pieces of materials put together, but one large piece. One large piece uppers are usually 100% leather. When there are a few pieces of material around the forefoot, there is usually a combination of leather and synthetic materials.
Several pieces of material construct the upper of this shoe
This shoe has a single piece upper
- Synthetic materials don’t stretch as much as 100% leather, especially when water is involved. Therefore, 100% leather uppers will stretch more than combination material boots.
- Try before you buy! Don’t be tempted by cheaper online prices. Sizes vary between companies.
- Try your boots on with your thick footy socks on, not your everyday socks.
Tip 3: Get the Right Footy Boots for Your Foot Movement
In addition to buying the right size and the right shape for your foot, you need to consider how your foot moves. The way the foot moves can be divided into three main categories: supinated/high arched, neutral/normal and pronated/flat footed.
I do mention longitudinal twist, if you pick up any shoes and try and wring it out like a towel, some twist better than others. A hiking boot as a very, very small twist. A thong has a very, very large twist.
|Foot Type||Football Boot Features Required|
|High Arched||Cushioning, moderate longitudinal twist unless there is a history of ankle sprains in which case longer studs are advised for grip|
|Normal arch||Firm heel counter|
|Flat foot||Firm heel counter that extend up the inside heel, increased stability through minimal longitudinal twist.|
The location of the heel counter is within the back of the shoe and is made out of plastic
Tip 4: Different Footy Boots for the Job
A player’s position is another factor that helps to decide what boot to select. I must say, fit and shape are the most important features to look for in footy boots. Never base your purchasing decision purely on the below information. The below table summarises the features a football boot should have for each positional area.
Again, I do mention longitudinal twist, if you pick up any shoes and try and wring it out like a towel, some twist better than others. A hiking boot has a very, very small twist. A thong has a very, very large twist.
|Position||Football Boot Features Required|
|Defense||Firm heel counter, increased stability by minimal longitudinal twist. Protective against collisions and good gripping by having longer studs.|
|Forward||Lightweight, smaller studs, a boot that allows for rapid change of direction. Moderate longitudinal twist.|
|Striker||Contour and fit to foot important. Single piece uppers.|
|Midfielder||Features dependent on field conditions. Wet conditions indicate a defense style boot, dryer conditions indicate a forward style boot|
|Umpires & Referees||Same as midfielders|
Tip 5: The Influence of Weather and Surfaces
In Australia, our pitches and fields vary significantly throughout the season and between clubs and towns. I remember driving 2 hours to play hockey on a very slippery clover grass filled field. I wish I had larger studs instead of hockey shoes in that situation.
|Surface Type||Football Boot Features Required|
|Screw in metal studs. The stud length can be adjusted to maximise grip on soft surfaces and help prevent slipping in muddy or waterlogged conditions. Harder to balance in these boots as there are about 6 studs. If these were used on a firm surface the studs may fail to dig into the ground leaving the player unbalanced and risking injuring.|
|Moulded studs. Reduce risk of studs being snagged in the turf which will prevent injuries. Although I have clients that feel unstable in these on very, very hard ground as they can’t even dig in any of the large studs into the ground. Fortunately, they typically have 10-13 studs to spread pressure throughout the foot and help balance the body.
The studs are usually shorter than changeable studs.
Can be used in light mud, but can be slippery particularly if the studs are small.
|Artificial||Astrosoles/artificial ground soleplate which have a dimpled sole to help with traction and comfort.|
|Indoor||No cleats or moulded studs as they may mark the floor. Usually have a lower profile as the surface is even.|
Moulded stud configuration
Tip 6: Changing your Screws and Studs
If you feel like there is a pressure point under your foot you can change the position/remove the metal stud and you can grind down a moulded stud. For example, people with very high arches often have excessive pressure under the ball of the foot. That metal stud under the ball can be screwed out provided you still feel you have enough grip on the ground. A moulded stud is more difficult, you could get a course piece of sandpaper and sit there and rub the stud down or you could ask your podiatrist to use a grinder to smooth it down.
Changeable metal studs
Tip 7: Change your Lacing Technique
If your shoe is slipping around the back of the heel, try this lacing pattern to lock your heel in place. It is called a heel lock.
Courtesy of The Colour Run
If you have a bony bump on top of your foot, do gap lacing over the site of the lump. If you have high arches, follow this lacing pattern.
Courtesy of The Colour Run
If you have a wide forefoot, do volume lacing at the beginning of lacing.
Courtesy of The Colour Run
Tip 8: Caring for Your Boots
Perhaps if your name started with “J” and ended with “..ohnathan Thurston”, you could afford several pairs of footy boots over the season. Yes, I know, he gets sponsored so he doesn’t even have to pay for boots. But, for us weekend warriors, we must care for our shoes to keep them in their best working order to keep us safe and in peak form. Follow these tips:
- Clean the grass and mud off with quick wipes of a damp cloth or newspaper. Grass can have chemicals in it that breaks down the upper materials, leading to quicker wear.
- Waterproof the boots which natural leather conditioner. The outside of the boots may be able to handle the wet weather, but if that gets inside the shoe, the internal cushioning loses its effectiveness.
- Dry wet boots in a warm, well aired area. Don’t dry in direct sunlight or infront of a very hot heater or fire.
- Don’t wear the boots on hard surfaces like the car park or the local shoes. Walking on concrete will wear down the moulded studs reducing grip.
- Undo the laces to take them off. Squeeze in and out of boots will wear down the heel counter.
After reading all the information, I understand that people can be confused as to what stud type they need. Remember you can have more than one pair of boots per season. So to summarise what studs someone needs, your association rules and surfaces are the major factors in determining what you require. Additionally, playing position and foot type can also determine what is best for you.
At the end of the day, let’s just be happy football boots have evolved.