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Soccer Shoes and Cleats: Winning Traction and Control Over Outdoor, Indoor and Artificial Turf

Winning at soccer starts with your feet! What’s on your feet? Whether you need soccer shoes or soccer cleats for men’s, women’s or youth divisions, or whether you are a beginner or an enthusiastic travel player, there are factors to consider when buying soccer shoes or cleats. Particularly, what kind of traction and control do you gain, and which are the types of fields on which you’ll play? This brief guide provides you with answers to these questions. After all, success on the field will come from examining the best soccer player’s greatest weapon: his feet.

Know Your League Regulations
Leagues require you to wear the proper soccer shoes or cleats during practice and play. You can check with your coach or local league association for details. Also, take your coach’s suggestions for the right shoes for your practice field, and inquire if any league regulations are in process to change. Before spending a bundle on your soccer shoes, check your league regulations regarding shoes and the key one’s are summarized here:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association: “Shoes shall be worn by all participants in a game. Shoes with soles containing aluminum, leather, rubber, nylon or plastic cleats, studs or bars, whether molded as part of the sole or detachable, are allowed as long as the referee does not consider them dangerous. The NCAA allows metal soccer cleats in addition to soft or hard rubber cleats.”

High School Soccer: Each state, local section and league creates some unique rules. A rule that is generally accepted and enforced by them is set by the National Federation of State High School Association. It reads: “The bottom edge of the cleat may not be higher than two inches above the ankle.”

Boys’ and Girls’ Youth Soccer: The standard regulations for Youth Soccer confirm that screw-in cleats and cleats from other sports may not be used. In addition, metal cleats are not allowed for safety reasons.

Shoe Construction and Materials
With soccer’s worldwide popularity and the game’s strong competition, research and development for better soccer shoes is always on-going. The result are shoes that are a perfect combination of improved features and new technologies. Their main materials of construction are:

Rubber or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane, a very elastic plastic) produces superior traction which is especially good for grassy playing fields. This is the most common material in soccer shoes due to its ability to prevent slipping.

Leather provides breath-ability, strength and durability for soccer shoes. Soft leather provides a comfortable feel when dribbling or shooting the ball. Comfort and fit increase with each use. Leather is extremely flexible and it wicks away more water and moisture than synthetic shoes.

Synthetic blends are great for all levels of soccer, and shoes made of them are easy to clean and dry out. These types of shoes generally include a water treatment to help the cleat last longer under poor playing conditions, including wet grassy fields.

Youth Soccer Shoes
Young soccer players need footwear that provides ventilation, durability and the feeling of stability and protection. Youngsters should choose molded cleats for safety reasons since the bottom of the shoe is rubber, not metal. So, check out the soles for the regulation rubber cleats that provide traction and stability.

Although an adolescent or teenager is still growing, buy a shoe that fits. A shoe that is too big can cause blisters and sprained ankles. A snug fit is the right fit, and when the shoe is outgrown in size, buy the next size so you don’t affect the growth of the feet. To get the right size in the first place, try on the soccer shoes with soccer socks and shin guards to guarantee a proper fit. The shoes should be snug at the top as this will allow for better control of the ball when passing, dribbling and shooting. As the shoes get worn in, the uppers will stretch and become more comfortable. Keep in mind that leather stretches and then molds to the foot so this is a good choice for growing feet and stability.

Men’s and Women’s Soccer Shoes
Men’s soccer has produced many stars known for their speed and power. Even before the popular film, Bend It Like Beckham, the women’s game, too, is equally represented by soccer stars known for their agility. In order to achieve the skillful edge necessary for the success of our soccer heroes, both men and women players need soccer cleats that maximize mobility while providing full foot protection. Generally, soccer cleats are usually narrower than other types of athletic shoes and this supports greater control of the ball. To guarantee that you get that winning support when buying a new pair, lace the shoes up tightly and walk around to make sure that the inner seams don’t irritate the foot but give that tight fit. Since having the proper footwear will be men’s or women’s players best ally on the field, new technological advances give us the ability to provide soccer cleats that have superior traction and control without sacrificing speed or flexibility.

The world of soccer shoes has evolved and whether you play indoor, outdoor, or on artificial turf, there are soccer shoes that are right for your feet with a fit crucial to your performance. Here is a brief guide to the types of soccer shoes targeted to the various surfaces the game is played upon:

Firm Ground/Molded Soccer Cleats
These shoes are perfect for beginning to advanced soccer players since they are versatile for most field types and various conditions. They are designed for all surfaces and allow you to keep your footing while making quick turns so you can possess the ball with ease. It is formed on the bottom to help provide traction and control. The cleats come in different patterns, but the cleats themselves are always made of non-detachable hard plastic or rubber. They work well on a traditional grass field and turf. The non-removable molded studs are in either a circular or blade shape and these shoes have between 10 to 14 of these individual cleats in locations critical for pivoting and traction. The cleats are harder polyurethane in the tip for durability. Softer cleats are at the sole and stud base for less pressure on the foot.

Soft Ground/Removable Soccer Cleats
The intermediate to advanced soccer player can play in these on soft surfaces. In fact, they are better for players with more experience who can tailor the removable cleats to their playing field and weather conditions. The removable studs allow players to adjust their length depending on how muddy the field is and how slippery the conditions are. The studs on the bottom can be screwed on and off and replaced easily, and players can choose between metal or plastic studs. The studs are designed so that they are widely spaced to prevent mud from clumping. Most models have four studs under the ball of the foot and two to four studs under the heel.

Indoor Soccer Shoes
Flat-surfaced outsole shoes provide greater grip and traction, and the control and foot traction for lateral cuts and pivots. Speed, traction, and ball control are important for the indoor game. These shoes have light construction and this enables a good feel for both the turf and the ball itself when passing or shooting. The indoor game involves a lot of quick cutting from side-to-side, and lighter shoes are critical for these movements. The shoes are durable, with real leather or synthetic leather uppers and strong stitching designed to withstand regular ball contact and other impacts.

Hard Ground Cleats
The hard ground cleats perform best on a hard, dry-grass field or synthetic grass. They provide players with superior traction and are most useful in dry conditions when fields may not be watered adequately. They feature molded round plastic studs that are much shorter and they have more studs than firm ground cleats. Studs on these cleats rest on the top of the playing surface to provide traction without digging into the ground. The hard ground cleats most often have a dozen shorter circular studs with a group of four near the toes, four between the ball of the foot and arches, and four in the heels.

Artificial Turf Shoes
For artificial turf, non-stud shoes have specialized rubber soles geared toward either playing indoor soccer or playing on artificial turf. The shoes contain various raised patterns on the bottom in place of studs. These are generally good training shoes that can be a back-up game pair for hard-surface conditions.

To sum up, your soccer shoes and soccer cleats are an extension of you on the playing field, so find a style and colors that reflects your personality. Some cleats have a new stud shape which allows increased stability and improved lateral movements. For this sport of concentration, precision, team work and speed, your soccer shoes or cleats will give you the skillful edge necessary for success, and such new technologies and materials will maximize your mobility and provide outstanding foot protection. Now it’s onto the field to break in new cleats and to break old records!

Soccer Gear For Every Soccer Player

Choosing the right soccer gear can be a difficult chore. It doesn’t matter whether you are choosing youth soccer gear, or gear for adults. It doesn’t have to be painful. But with so many choices available, you need to ensure that the gear is of good quality, and will last through the soccer wars.

Buying cheap soccer gear will sometimes have you buying that same item more times. That will make it more expensive in the long run. Many times it is best to spend a little more up front and buy longer lasting gear.

With my over 30 years in soccer I have made some good choices, and some bad choices when choosing soccer gear.

I have to laugh when I look in my gear bag and see a pair of turf shoes that I have had for over 20 years. Obviously I haven’t played a lot of games on turf! But they were definitely a good choice. And I can actually still wear them!

Start at the Bottom!

Soccer footwear!

Whatever position you play, it doesn’t matter. You could be playing as a goalie, midfielder, defender, or striker. Sneakers are not the way to go! Unless you want to continually slip around and miss the ball because you can’t get your foot planted. You will never improve your soccer game that way.

Indoor or outdoors?

Indoor soccer shoes are flat bottomed and made of a material that is more firm than a standard sneaker.

Outdoor soccer shoes come in models made for hard fields, firm fields, or soft / wet fields. Some have removable cleats so you do not have to buy a new pair of cleats if one or two studs wear down early.

Soccer Shin Guards!

Not only do they prevent injury, they are now a mandatory piece of soccer equipment. It only makes sense. Most of the action is in that area of your body.

Soccer Socks!

Soccer socks are used to hold your shin guards in place and are part of a complete soccer uniform. They used to be so plain and boring. Red, blue, green, yellow. You get the picture. But with increased interest in soccer comes increased options for colors. Can you say Fuschia soccer socks?

Soccer Shorts!

Baggy shorts are not soccer shorts. They may be in-style but that does not mean that they are good for the soccer field. The less restrictive your shorts are, the better it is for your game. They also have to fit your team’s uniform and take the beating that sliding, diving, and falling down will give them.

Soccer Jerseys!

Your soccer jersey will express the personality of your team. And of course it should blend well with your shorts and socks. However some people want to buy replica soccer jerseys to support their favorite soccer club. Those are available for every major soccer team in the world.

Soccer Goalkeeper Gear!

Outfitting a soccer goalkeeper is the same as any player on the field, with a few differences:

Goalkeepers wear shorts or long pants with padding on the hips. This padding helps prevent injuries from the numerous times that they dive for a ball during a game.
Goalkeepers wear special goalkeeper gloves to give them a better grip on the ball.
A goalie jersey usually has padding on the elbows to reduce the impact on their bodies when they land.

With all that gear, a great choice to carry it all is a soccer backpack.

Top 10 Soccer Mom Ideas to Improving Your Child’s Soccer Skills

The modern day soccer mom or dad is constantly being pulled in all directions. From driving their sons and daughters to practice and games to volunteering their time for concession stand duty, a soccer mom is constantly on the go. Combine this with the demands of a 9 to 5 job, taking care of a household, and having a successful marriage and you have the recipe for the modern day soccer mom. On the surface it seems that there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all that is required to be a successful soccer mom but hopefully my top 10 soccer mom ideas will help you find some balance in your life. These top 10 ideas are in no particular order of importance but rather should be used as a guide to helping you become a better soccer parent.

1. Schedule – The most obvious and what I consider to being the backbone of success is having a defined schedule. We unfortunately don’t go through life with a crystal ball and unforeseen events will happen, but in order to be successful you need structure in your life and that is the result of a well-tuned and organized schedule. All members of your family including anyone helping the children need to understand and comply with the daily schedule. I recommend using your smart phone’s built-in calendar or Google Calendar to write down the daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. What has worked best for my family is that every Thursday or Friday we cook a nice family dinner and discuss the weekend and following week’s schedule. This work best when everyone who is involved in helping with your children is in attendance so that all input and output can be compiled and disseminated and possible issues mitigated. Additionally, it’s nice to eat dinner with friends and family on a weekly basis.

2. Organizational Laundry – We all want our children to be successful so it’s best that we show them success at an early age. There are many adjectives to describe success but one common thread that resonates with most people is the necessity of having organizational skills. The common villain to being organized is laziness. Thus, what has worked best for my family is that we actually incorporate in our schedule the person responsible for doing laundry which includes the soccer uniforms, cleats, socks and practice clothes. The mountain of laundry for a family of five each week can be a daunting task and that is why my wife and I alternate this endeavor weekly. Doing laundry includes washing, drying, folding and most importantly putting it away. If your family is anything like ours then you must tackle the weekly “Case of the Missing Sock” problem. Any suggestions here will be welcomed because we cannot figure it out.

3. Dedicated Fan – Regardless of the level of enthusiasm your children have for soccer, you should be a dedicated fan. Think about all the time you have already dedicated to raising your children in the sport of soccer. Being a dedicated fan means learning about the history of soccer, learning about the different professional teams and leagues and the prestige of winning the World Cup. By expanding your bubble of soccer knowledge you can impart that knowledge and enthusiasm onto your children who will truly appreciate you taking a genuine interest in what they are doing on the soccer field.

4. Play soccer – When I was younger my dad played a lot of baseball with me but we also kicked the soccer ball from time to time. Those memories will live with me forever allowing me to replay them as often as I wish in my mind. I bet if he were still alive today, he would be out their kicking the ball with the family. My son and I have enjoyed watching soccer games and implementing certain techniques on the soccer field. Both of us have dramatically improved our skills and are learning a lot more about soccer. Although I’m in my 40′s, I’m still able to play at a level that both challenges my 13-year old son and encourages him to play harder and smarter. I understand that some parents based on health or age won’t be able to actually play with their children so perhaps you can hire a private coach but do what you can to stay engaged and your children will appreciate you for it.

5. Volunteer – From volunteering at the concession stand to being a referee or coach, your time is appreciated by the soccer community. My wife and I schedule our time so that we can maximize our volunteer time and still not miss our son’s games. Additionally, volunteering has allowed us to meet and work with other soccer families. The concept of it takes a village to raise a child is at the core of being a productive volunteer. Volunteering allows you to stay in tune with soccer events and essentially makes you an instant role model for children because they view you as part of the leadership of the soccer community.

6. Fundraising – If there are members of your team that are less fortunate and cannot afford the cost of soccer cleats, shin guards, goalie gloves etc., or your team is trying to raise money, then a fundraising role may be your niche. Successful fundraising starts with having a genuine purpose. Asking people to separate themselves from their hard-earned money with no rate of return is anti-capitalism and definitely should not be your purpose. However, if you approach other parents, local business owners, school officials, etc. with a valid and detailed explanation of where and how their money will be spent, it will not only be easy to fundraise but also rewarding. For example, I most likely wouldn’t ask people to give money so that we can buy pizza for the children after each game but I would ask for a donation for an end of the season party. Another idea that worked out really well is this past season we (soccer dads) bought matching soccer bracelets for all the kids and matching soccer necklaces for all the soccer moms to show our appreciation. Parents from a girl’s youth soccer team heard what we had done and purchased soccer earrings for all their teammates.

7. Carpooling – Gas is expensive regardless of what part of the country you live in so I recommend carpooling as often as you can. We carpool with the same family that we have dinner with once a week to write the schedule. During our weekly scheduling session, we assign carpool duty throughout the week and ensure that our children are aware of who to expect and on what days. We have also coordinated with our school to inform them that our friends are authorized to pick up the kids and take them to soccer practice. Our mini-van has served us well and without a doubt has been a great investment allowing us to transport our children to all their events.

8. The right soccer gear – When I was younger my grandfather enforced the concept of having the right tool for the job at hand. In the case of playing youth soccer, your children need to have proper fitting soccer cleats, and soccer clothing that is not too constraining. Children can outgrow a pair of soccer cleats in less than a month so it’s imperative that you routinely inspect your children’s cleats. I learned this the hard way when after a game I saw my son’s big toe protruding from his right soccer cleat. I asked him how long he had been playing with his toe sticking out of his soccer cleat and his response astonished me. He had been going to soccer practice and playing with his toe sticking out for over 2 weeks! That night when we got home from the soccer game we ordered him a new pair of cleats from and now I make it my business to visually inspect his soccer cleats.

9. Individualism and Soccer – As a parent we need to ensure that our children grow up to become secure and responsible individuals. It’s a task that we cannot take lightly considering the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Being an individual means knowing your skills and limitations and not being influenced by trend setters whose goal it is to sell merchandise. For example, my son is a natural when it comes to individualism. He doesn’t pretend to be someone he is not and he is absolutely happy being by himself and consumed with his own thoughts and ambitions. Our society is loaded with people who fail to grasp their own reality and are dependent on others for what I call their “social want.” Social want comes in many different flavors but the bottom line is that it’s one person wanting something from another for his irrational state of being. You may be asking yourself, how will being an individual help my children be better soccer players considering soccer is a team sport? The answer is simple: successful teams are made up of successful individuals. It takes each individual player to play at their absolute best for the team to be successful. When my son was younger, I asked him to pinch himself with his fingers. He thought it was an awkward request but nonetheless he pinched himself. I said, “Son I couldn’t feel that because it’s not me you’re pinching it’s you! You are your own person and your decisions you make will guide you into the future. So if you want to be a better soccer player then you have to dedicate yourself to the sport.” This concept is similar to leading a horse to water but it’s the horse who must decide to drink the water. Keep that in mind when you’re investing your time in your child’s soccer future.

10. Other sports – Your child’s soccer skills can be optimized if they play other sports. I highly recommend enrolling your child in gymnastics at an early age because of the demanding strength and precision that is required to perform as a gymnast. My daughters are both gymnast but when they play soccer they look like naturals out on the field. As a gymnast you condition your body daily and you fine-tune muscles that can help improve your soccer skills. Other sports can be beneficial too but in my opinion and from experience, gymnastics is by far the best sport you can get your child to do along with soccer.

Hopefully, these top 10 soccer mom ideas can help you become a better soccer parent and help your child become a better soccer player. I look forward to hearing from you about your own soccer experiences in the blogosphere.