Soccer Cleat Pattern Guide
Some of the most confusing things relating to soccer shoes, and which ones you should buy don’t concern the look of the shoes, or how they fit, but what the cleats on the bottom look like. Thankfully, our soccer gurus are here to help you out.
First of all, you need to know what surface you’re playing on, and then decide what type of cleats are suitable for that type of pitch. There are six different types of soccer playing surfaces, and different cleats for each one. Wearing the wrong type of cleats on the wrong surface can hurt your feet, or lead to injury, so you need to be aware of this.
The first type of surface, and corresponding cleat pattern are for firm ground. This will cover any type of field that is mostly dry, in any kind of climate where it rains less than 150 days of the year. These are standard cleats you’ll find on the shop selves in the USA or Australia, and are denoted on any shoe name by the letters “FG.” There are two different type of firm ground cleats, rounded studs, and long narrow bladed studs. Rounded studs are better for damp ground, and blades are better for dryer surfaces and overall stability.
This is really just another name for firm ground cleats used in the UK and Ireland. Brands like Umbro are particularly fond of using “HG” as a tag in footwear names to denote this. Hard ground patterns are the same as firm ground, and should work just as well.
Soft ground cleats are usually metal, rounded cleats with few point of contact with the ground. These cleats are ideal for wet surfaces, and climate where it rains a lot. There very popular in England, and all of Northern Europe, and are also well suited to the areas around Seattle, Portland, and anywhere else along the Northwest coast of North America. These cleats are designed to cut through the mud and give you grip under wet conditions, and they work really well. But, one huge caveat here sports fans, they are banned in most US youth leagues, so check with your coach before picking some up. The reason they’re banned, is because of the damage a metal cleat can do a players leg, especially during a reckless challenge.
Next up we have Astroturf specific soccer cleats. These cleats tend to have lots of short stubby cleats all over the bottom pattern to give ideal traction of fake grass surfaces. These shoes are also going to be a bit glossier due to an extra layer of lacquer to protect them from the abrasive grass. Manufacturer denote the Astroturf shoe by either “TF”(turf) or “AG”(Astrograss).
These shoes are designed for the smaller soccer game. futsal, which is played on a material similar to a basketball court. They have a flat bottom, with fins or flex point running across the bottom of the shoe, and tend to be very flexible and comfortable. For my part, I wear them as sneakers. They’re ideal for anything indoor, and work alright on firm ground surfaces, but aren’t recommended for it. They’re denoted by the code “IC” in soccer shoe names and on boxes in your local shop.
Street Soccer Shoes
This a weird category which has very few soccer shoes made specifically for it. With the exception of Nike and Joma, most manufactures don’t build shoes with the durability for play on concrete. These shoes are basically futsal shoes, which are made with a stronger construction, and are double stitched all over. They don’t really have a manufacturers code for these, so you’ll have to read the description and do some digging through reviews online to find a decent pair.
Overall, pick your surface, pick your shoe, and go at it, so long as you get the right cleats for the right surface, you should be able to up your game with some decent shoes.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com