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Many sports enthusiasts can’t seem to distinguish between football and soccer cleats. After all, they’re identical in several aspects. That said, they have notable differences and serve different purposes. 

These differences aren’t obvious to everyone, though. So, today, we take a deep dive into both sports and explore the differences between football and soccer cleats.

football player cleats and soccer cleats

Key takeaways

  • Design is the biggest difference between soccer and football cleats.
  • Soccer cleats are normally low cut.
  • Football cleats are normally high cut.
  • Soccer cleats offer more flexibility.
  • Football cleats offer more support and protection.
  • Soccer cleats are designed to be used on a natural grass surface.
  • Football cleats are designed to be used on a variety of playing surfaces.
  • Soccer cleats are generally lighter than football cleats.
  • Football cleats have a single cleat on the toe, soccer cleats do not.

Understanding the Purpose of Soccer and Football Cleats

Naturally, the design of football and soccer cleats is meant to complement their functions. So, to understand the differences between them, you need to learn the purposes they serve.

Soccer Cleats

Soccer players move on various fields in different weather conditions. If it’s raining, the grass would be too muddy, preventing them from playing to the best of their abilities. 

Soccer cleats provide enough grip on the ground to maintain their power, speed, and shooting precision while running.

They also aim to give players a natural feel for the ball,  which helps them gain more control over the ball.

soccer cleats on white background

Football Cleats    

Like their soccer counterparts, football cleats provide a solid grip, helping players maintain their balance and agility. Proper cleats help players make quick turns swiftly while preventing potential injuries.

Ultimately, though, football players don’t need much foot precision. So their cleats serve a different function. If you’ve watched a football match, you know players like to tackle and fall on each other.

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Due to the aggressive nature of this game, cleats are designed to protect the ankle from potential injuries caused by heavy collisions.

football player tying cleatas

The Differences Between Soccer and Football Cleats

Now that you understand the purpose of both types of cleats, let’s see how they serve that purpose.


The biggest difference between soccer and football cleats is the design. Since both sports have different requirements, manufacturers design cleats with these differences in mind.

Soccer Cleats

Soccer cleats are famous for their low cuts, which grant players more control over the ball. They’re usually lightweight, as soccer players move swiftly and make sudden turns.

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They also support the foot’s natural movements, helping players maintain speed and agility. That’s not to say they’re flimsy. On the contrary, soccer cleats have firm ground studs, which provide a solid grip on natural grass fields.

soccer players on the field highlighting soccer ball and cleats

Football Cleats

Contrary to their soccer counterparts, football cleats usually come in high cuts and tend to be on the heavier side to provide foot protection. They offer players various studs to choose from depending on the type of field they’re playing on.

Metal studs work best on natural grass as they provide the necessary traction. However, they’d be too hard on artificial fields. So, we recommend using plastic studs for those.


Cleats wouldn’t be able to serve their function if they weren’t made from proper materials. Let’s see how both cleats’ materials complement their design.

Soccer Cleats

Soccer cleats come in a variety of materials, and each one has pros and cons.

  1. Leather

That’s probably the most famous material for soccer cleats. Thin, comfortable, and lightweight, Kangaroo leather has dominated the soccer market for years. It offers excellent control and helps players maintain maneuverability.

Its biggest selling point is that it quickly molds to the feet, making it a versatile option. Unfortunately, it’s not water-resistant. So it’s not the best material to use during winter.

While calfskin and full-grain leather tend to be more durable and waterproof, they’re also heavier, so you lose some of that control.

A pair of cool football boots standing on a ball on a reflective surface.
  1. Knit

Despite being a new addition to the market, knitted cleats have taken the soccer world by storm. You get more control over the ball, almost as if you’re playing barefoot.

They’re made from microfibre weaves, which put little pressure on the foot, allowing players to maintain speed and power.

  1. Synthetic Materials 

Synthetic materials are more suitable for new players, as they’re light, affordable, and water-resistant. Think of them as the halfway point between leather and knit.

They’re thinner than natural leather and maintain a solid grip around the foot, offering better ball handling.

They’re flexible and don’t stretch over time. That means you don’t have to buy a new pair now and then.

  1. Mesh

Like knit, mesh is a new material to the soccer world. It offers excellent breathability and comfort, helping players reach their optimal speed.

However, it’s not durable or waterproof, so it won’t do well in extreme climates.

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Football Cleats

For the most part, manufacturers make football cleats using the same materials as their soccer counterparts.

After all, they also aim to offer players excellent maneuverability while providing a comfortable experience.

However, football cleats usually combine several materials to accommodate the aggressive nature of that game.

american football kicker ready for football kickoff closeup shot on the night field

The Upper Side

Like soccer cleats, the upper side of football cleats are made from various materials, the most common of which is leather. 

While the heaviness of natural leather was a crucial downside in soccer cleats, it’s a big selling point for football cleats.

It provides the necessary foot protection to prevent potential injuries from collisions and tackles. A few foot cleats combine leather with textile mesh, the perfect complementary material for leather.

It prevents leather cleats from stretching over time. It’s also water-resistant. So you don’t have to worry about ruining your cleats in the rain.

Heel Counter

As the name suggests, the heel counter is at the back of the cleats. It’s usually made from rigid thermoplastic to provide enough support to run, cut, tackle, and drive.

Toe Box

The toe box is the area where the toes sit inside the shoes. Since it’s meant to protect the toes from potential injuries, the toe box comes in leather or molded plastic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you understand the difference between football and soccer cleats, here are a few common questions to help form a more accurate picture:

Can I wear football cleats for soccer and vice versa?

Yes, you can. However, we don’t recommend it. As we’ve already mentioned, both cleats have different purposes.

Soccer cleats won’t provide ankle support or foot protection. Football cleats, on the other hand, are too heavy to allow soccer players to move swiftly.

What is the best pair of soccer cleats for football?

If you insist on playing football with soccer cleats, we recommend using the Puma Future Z. They provide enough traction and protection to keep you going in a game.

Wrapping Up

Both football and soccer cleats are made to bring out players’ full potential. However, both do that in different ways.

Soccer cleats provide a natural feel for the ball, allowing players to gain more control. Football cleats, on the other hand, offer a comfortable experience with more ankle support to prevent foot injuries.

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