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What Is The Difference Between Soccer And Football Cleats?

difference between soccer and football cleats

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This is a very common question for anybody new to either soccer or American football, and the confusion between the two sports is a general occurrence. The difference between soccer and football cleats lies in several features that are;

Let us clear up why there is confusion between the sports, to begin with, and why this has made shopping for soccer or football cleats especially difficult.

soccer world map
Image Source: Business Insider

In the majority of countries all around the world, soccer is called “football” or some variant of the word, as you can see above.

The reason why it is termed “soccer” in the Americas, some parts of Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, Oceania, and South Africa is because the word “soccer” is some form of abbreviation for “Association Football”.

Soccer VS Football

According to this post on Slate, the two sports, soccer and American football, are derived from the same group of parent sports, involving two opposing teams battling to get the ball to the end of the field or pitch and scoring a goal or point. 

Both sports became popular amongst the upper-class and were played in schools during the early 19-century. However, there were no set rules for the games, so these varied from place to place.  

The history of soccer can be traced back hundreds, even thousands of years, depending on the historian. However, soccer, as we know it today, came about as a result of various schools playing their variation of the sport. 

The lack of agreed-upon rules resulted in confusion back then, too! Different schools would attempt to play games against each other but couldn’t.

So, as the game spread, there were many efforts to standardize a set of rules that everybody could adhere to across the board.

Eventually, the UK standardized football (association football), which had one set of rules, while the US had chosen the game with another set of rules and also called that football. 

In order to separate the two sports, the version that the British played by the name “football” would now be called “Soccer” by the US, which, again, is an abbreviation and a slang term for “association”.

This small but significant detail has lead to confusion over the years.

This confusion especially occurs when people from different territories discuss the relative sports or try to find information online.

Soccer VS Football Cleats

The Studs

studs of soccer cleats and football cleats

The layout of the spikes is the main difference between soccer and football cleats. Football cleats have a spike near the big toe for better grip during a tackle.

On the other hand, soccer cleats do not have a toe stud because players need meticulous ball handling and speed, and a toe stud would prevent the swift movement of a player.

front cleat of football cleats

The studs on a football shoe are also longer to dig into the ground and support a player’s weight during play. For soccer, a player needs to stay off the ground when serving headers and a match requires a lot of movement across a field.

Toe Design

Toe Design of soccer cleats and football cleats

Soccer shoes have a firm yet natural toe design to aid touch and ball control because these two actions make a soccer match proceed.

To achieve that, the toe design offers a good kicking zone and protection from injury. Even though a soccer player’s skill greatly influences ball behavior, the shoe upper may also affect the technique.

This might be why so many soccer cleats are designed with a sort of texturized outer and upper and try to provide a large surface area. For example, the Nemeziz 19.3‘s design.

Similarly, the Nike Phantom Vision Academy Soccer Cleats offer the same. Textured outer, for better control of the ball and a naturally close-fitting toe design with a good amount of surface area on the upper.

The Design Of The Cut

The Design Of The Cut

Soccer shoes have a low cut because of the rigorous ankle movements on the pitch. However, football shoes come in three designs that are low cut, the mid-rise and high cut.

The high-top design gives the ankle more support, and protects a player’s ankles from the spikes on the shoes of other players during a tackle. This design is the ideal shoe for a lineman.

The mid-rise design surrounds part of the ankle but allows more flexibility, unlike the high-top cleats.

Therefore, a quarterback can wear a mid-rise design. Footballers who wear the low cut need speed and agility like soccer players, and they may also need it for a drop kick or a punt in.

The Weight

Soccer cleats are lighter than football shoes because all the players in a match need speed, unlike in football, where some playing positions require a heavier pair of shoes for support.

Further, soccer players need lightweight footwear to avoid exhaustion from all the running on the pitch.

Additionally, soccer cleats do not have a midsole so that the feet are closer to the ground, and the outsole is made of light materials like rubber.

Both soccer and football shoes have either leather or synthetic material. However, leather is heavy, and synthetic material does not soak in mud or water.

Therefore, the material used also influences the weight of the shoe.

Can I Use Football Cleats For Soccer?

A football shoe can be disastrous when worn in a soccer match because the toe spike can injure other players during some tactics, such as a high kick.

For that reason, clubs and teams wouldn’t allow you to wear them in an official match and the referee even makes players raise their feet to show their studs before they join a match.

In addition to the extra stud being a hazard, football cleats being a lot heavier than cleats designed for soccer would be a detriment to a soccer player on the field.

You will want to be quick and nimble, and any additional and unnecessary weight will affect your ability. As well as slowing you down, they will also tire you out quicker.

While this might be a good resistance training technique, it certainly is not something you want to experiment with during a match.

Can I use Soccer Cleats For Football?

Soccer cleats are allowed in football because they are safe and functional. Additionally, soccer cleats come in so many designs because soccer matches take place on artificial turf, muddy pitches, on natural grass, and in indoor courts.

Therefore, a football player can readily find a soccer shoe that offers firm support for the position he/she plays.

In summary, there are many functional differences between the two types of cleats however some soccer cleats can be used safely for playing football while the same is not true for football cleats.

This is good news for somebody on a budget, looking for just one pair of cleats to play multiple sports.


Similarly, you may be wondering – what other sports can I play with soccer cleats? Baseball, lacrosse?

Lets see…

Can You Use Soccer Cleats For Baseball?

Just going by appearance, people often ask; “Are soccer cleats and baseball cleats the same thing?”

No, they are not.

But, as I mentioned previously, soccer cleats are designed to be lightweight, to allow the player to sprint consistently without causing fatigue. They also offer great traction to support one’s sprint efforts and maneuvers.

For this reason, soccer cleats generally make a good, versatile shoe of choice for somebody who plays multiple field-based sports.

In other words, yes – technically, you can use soccer cleats for baseball.

However, the stud structure is entirely different, and wearing soccer cleats for a baseball game may affect your performance.

Likewise, wearing baseball cleats for a soccer game will certainly affect your performance – the sports require different things of the player, and the respective cleats have been designed in a way that supports those efforts.

It isn’t just the studs a player needs to think about. There are many design aspects that could result in injury if used incorrectly, or, in this case inproperly for a sport they were not deisgned for.

These design factors include, but are not limited to;

  • The weight of the cleats
  • Front studs
  • Toe of cleats
  • Ankle cut
  • Midsoles

Keep in mind, the extra spike on baseball cleats, just like with football cleats, means that you cannot wear them for soccer games.

Can You Wear Soccer Cleats For Lacrosse?

Soccer cleats can be used for lacrosse, however, there are some design factors to consider if doing so;

  • Stud length
  • Weight of cleat
  • Ankle Cut

The studs on soccer cleats are shorte than those on lacross cleats. Another thing is, if you intended to use them for both soccer and lacrosse, you would want to ensure you purchase firm-ground soccer cleats rather than soft-ground soccer cleats as the soft-ground cleats have metal studs.

While the lightweight soccer cleat is usually a benefit, lacrosse cleats are much heavier than soccer cleats.

Lacrosse cleats use a thicker material for ankle support and are designed to protect the ankles whereas soccer cleats are designed with mobility and freedom of movement in mind.

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