It has been said that more people in the world play soccer than any other sport, and there is little reason to doubt the veracity of that claim. With little more than an open field, a makeshift goal, and a ball, you can have a soccer game at just about any time. This is surely one of the reasons that soccer is so popular in some poor countries, but it hardly explains soccer’s popularity in developed countries like the United States. Here, organized soccer players need more than a ball to play, and in many cases, proper soccer shoes are required before you are allowed to take the field of play.
Soccer shoes are required for several reasons. Not only do appropriate shoes give you traction in a sport where traction is paramount, they also provide you with support and padding that will protect you from injury. A quality soccer shoe is constructed with an upper portion that is made with materials and layering that will give the player the most feel for the ball, and in a sport where your feet are as important as soccer, that feel is incredibly valuable.
Since feel for the ball is important, the materials used are also integral in transmitting that feel. Soccer shoes are usually made of real leather or synthetic leather, with real leather providing the best feedback for the player. Real leather has other advantages as well. Leather shoes tend to fit better and are often more durable as well. However, those advantages come with a higher price. Further, if you are playing on a wet, water logged field, a real leather shoe will absorb more moisture making it heavy and robbing it of its durability.
A less expensive option is synthetic leather. Appropriate for beginning and intermediate players, synthetic leather offers an affordable entry level shoe for prospective soccer players. Further, synthetic leather offers greater water resistance and is ideal for play on wet fields. Synthetic leather shoes are easier to clean and tend to maintain their looks for a longer period of time even though they typically do not last as long as their leather counterparts.
The most important part of soccer shoes is where the rubber meets the road; the sole, where the cleats are. There are four types of soles on soccer shoes: molded cleats, detachable cleats, turf shoes, and indoor shoes. Molded cleats are the most basic and affordable design. Perfect for young or beginning players, molded cleats are part of the sole of the shoe and they are designed to be appropriate – although not ideal – for a wide range of playing conditions. Detachable cleats are similar to the molded cleats but with one major difference; you can remove them. By unscrewing the cleats and replacing them with different types and lengths, more advanced players can create a shoe that is ideal for the playing conditions they may face in their game.
Soccer is not always played in cleats, however, and some shoes are designed for use on Astroturf or on other kinds of indoor surfaces. Looking as much like sneakers as typical soccer shoes, turf shoes and indoor shoes possess a tread designed to grip artificial surfaces while still providing the optimal feel that is needed in a soccer shoe.
When you purchase your soccer shoes make sure to be properly fit and remember that they are designed to feel snug, particularly on the upper portion of the shoe. Remember that a leather shoe will stretch over time, so a shoe that feels snuff at first may eventually stretch and mold to the exact shape of your foot making it like a part of you, and perfect for the game of soccer.