Buying shoes for children is always a difficult task, but choosing shoes for any sport is even harder. When it comes to football, where there are many different positions, buying cleats takes some research. Keep these key points in mind, and you are sure to find the perfect cleat for your football star.
Football Cleat Basics
Athletes in sports such as baseball, lacrosse, soccer, and football are often required to wear special shoes, called cleats. A cleat has nubs or studs on the bottom of the shoe that aids in traction.
What Makes Football Cleats Different
There are several general differences to look for when searching for a cleat specific to football players. As opposed to cleats for other sports, football cleats have these characteristics:
- Have a toe stud
- Have thicker outsoles
- Boast heavier construction and material
- Typically have two studs at the back of the heel and five under the toe and ball of the foot
- Come in three cuts: low, mid, and high
Most brands and stores will differentiate football cleats from those for other sports if you look at the name or description of the shoe.
Parts of A Football Cleat
Every shoe is composed of different parts. Football cleats have three specific parts as outlined by the buyers guide written by Sports Unlimited.
- Outsole - The outsole is the base of the shoe which uses spikes to provide the highest amount of traction on the field.
- Midsole - The midsole is the internal support of the shoe which provides cushioning under the foot and heel.
- Upper - The upper is the outer layer of the shoe, usually made from leather or synthetic leather in football cleats, and is designed with durability in mind.
Considerations Before Shopping
If you prepare yourself ahead of time with the necessary information, shopping for football cleats will be a lot easier. There are four pieces of information you will want to have before even looking at cleats:
- Position - Consider the position the person wearing the cleats will play. Quarterbacks and wide receivers will be looking for different options as compared to linemen and defenders, for example.
- Type of field - The type of field the team will mostly play on may affect your shopping choices. Recommendations are different for grass fields versus turf fields. If the player will play on a pretty equal combination of both, these factors may not be as important, especially for younger players.
- Rules - Also consider the school, team, or league rules regarding cleats. For players younger than high school age, most teams do not allow detachable cleats.
- Color preference - Some teams prefer all players to have the same color shoes, while others allow each player to display some personality in their footwear.
Types of Cleats
There are two types of studs, or spikes, available on the bottom of a pair of football cleats.
Hard Molded Bottom Cleats
These are made from hard plastic and are permanently attached to the outsole. They are usually less expensive and preferred by younger players, typically those below high school level.
- Available for about $65, the Nike Alpha Strike 2 3/4 TD BG is a mid-priced football cleat designed with kids in mind. It comes in four cool color combinations and is available in youth sizes 1-6.
- With three color options, including royal/black, red/black, and all black, Under Armour Fierce Phantom Mid MC football cleats offer a secondary set of cleats for explosive acceleration as well as a bit of style in sizes 1-6. Costing about $45, these cleats give you support and durability on the low-end of the price scale.
Detachable Stud Cleats
These spikes are typically longer, and you can remove or change them based on personal preference and field conditions. Detachable cleats are usually worn by advanced high school and college players as well as professionals. In addition to the shoes, you will want to buy replacement cleats and a cleat wrench if you choose this type.
The Under Armour Fierce Mid D is available in black/white men's sizes only, which could work for older kids. However, it will cost a bit more at about $90.
Cuts of Cleats
Football cleats also come in three cuts, which describe the height of where the shoe sits on the ankle. When selecting a cut, you should consider personal preference of comfort, position played, and the foot or ankle health of the player.
In this cut, the ankle part of the cleats will rest low on the player's ankle. This cut provides maximum mobility and is great for making aggressive cuts on the field and reaching high speeds.
- For the nontraditional female football star, these Adizero 5-Star 4.0 unisex football cleats sport an innovative stud configuration to enhance speed at the moderate price of $60. They are available in black/white or royal/black/white with sizes ranging from 3-6.
- At only $38, the Nike Vapor Shark offers great speed at an affordable price in red, white, or blue styles for sizes 10C-6Y.
This cut provides moderate ankle support without too much restriction of movement for skill players. These are typical for quarterbacks, running backs, defensive backs, and wide receivers.
- The Freak Cleats from Adidas offer a chance for kids to show off some big personality and lightning fast speed with a black/white or multicolored option. The added style will cost a bit more, $70 a pair, and come in a smaller range of sizes, 3-6Y.
- New Balance also offers a great cleat with modern comforts in the 4040v2 Youth. At the low end of the price range for cleats, these shoes will only set you back around $40 and come in standard black and white for youth sizes 1-3.
High Top Cleats
These will sit high on your child's ankle, similar to a low boot. They provide ankle support and stability, which is great in protecting against rolled or twisted ankles. Because they slightly restrict speed and movement, high top cleats are generally worn by defenders and linemen.
- The Under Armour C 1N MC offers comfort, durability and flexibility in four colors: black/white, all white, royal/white, and red/white. Available in youth sizes 1-6, Under Armour offers a trusted brand at the reasonable price of about $70.
- While the Highlight RM Alter Ego JR scores big in personality with Spiderman, Batman, and the Joker graphics, they have a limited availability for sizes 3-5. For $60 these cleats would certainly get your child noticed!
Shopping for Cleats
Prices for quality football cleats range from $45-$140 with the less expensive being more suitable for younger players and the more expensive reserved for the pros. One pair of cleats should last an entire regular season.
Football cleats are specialty shoes, and you should buy them from websites or in stores that cater to athletes. Consider the following options:
Kids Foot Locker
Offering a store environment geared toward appealing to kids and parents, Kids Foot Locker has the largest selection of athletic footwear, accessories, and apparel for children. They have many nationwide locations, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As the largest mall-based specialty athletic footwear and apparel retailer, Champs Sports is a good option if you want to try on the cleats before buying. They also sell a focused assortment of sports equipment and have store locations throughout North America.
The world's leading supplier of athletic shoes, clothing, and equipment, Eastbay offers awesome selection. You can shop online or sign up to receive their catalog in the mail. They even offers a Fit Promise Guarantee where they pay shipping for exchanges and refunds.
Dick's Sporting Goods
Dick's Sporting Goods is an authentic full-line sporting goods retailer that sells a broad range of sporting goods equipment, apparel, and footwear. This source offers quality products at competitive prices and has free shipping on all purchases. You can use the store locator to find a location near you.
Direct From Brands
Trusted brands like Nike, New Balance, Adidas, and Under Armour have been developing and designing football cleats for years. Their innovation and durability make these the best brands to shop for when buying football cleats. You can buy direct from their websites or look for outlet stores from these brands where you'll find deals on older styles and colors.
Cleat Shopping Tips
Keep these tips in mind as you shop:
- Buying used football cleats is not recommended because the cleats on the bottom of the shoe will be worn down, defeating their purpose altogether.
- The best way to find the perfect fit for football cleats is by trying some on. Don't assume that a player wears the same size in football cleats as in other shoes because this often isn't the case.
- Most stores and websites do offer clearance sections where you can find great deals on colors and styles from last season, something most young kids won't mind wearing.
Outfitting Your Player For Success
Choosing the right football cleats can help a player increase his skill level and sustain minimal foot or ankle injuries. Take the time to do your homework, and your player will find great success on the field.