In modern soccer, performance is a key factor for professionals. This performance depends not only on his mental and physical shape, but also on good footwear. An essential part of the footwear is the soccer cleat, also known as studs. The soccer shoes are specially equipped with cleats that prevent players from slipping and assist in rapid changes of direction.
There are different types of cleats for the different sports, such as rugby cleats, baseball cleats, soccer cleats, cleats for track, etc. Most sports played on grass or dirt require the use of cleats for athlete’s stability.
The difficulty to play soccer on different types of ground was recognized early on in the history of soccer. That meant that the sole of the soccer shoes needed to offer proper resistance or ground traction.
At first, metal tacks similar to those of engineers’ boots were used. These metal tacks could be dangerous and their use was forbidden by Rule 13 of the FIFA regulations for the safety of the players. Eventually leather soccer cleats (or studs) replaced these tacks.
Soccer cleats are made of different materials and can be fixed or removable. The most common are the plastic cleats. This is so because shoes with plastic soles are simpler to make and usually cheaper than any other. Rubber soccer cleats, though, are usually softer than the plastic ones.
Both plastic and rubber soccer cleats are usually fixed to the sole of the soccer shoe. There are also aluminum soccer cleats, which are usually removable. These soccer cleats can be entirely aluminum or plastic with aluminum tips. Recently new cleat systems were devised to help distribute pressure across the boot. Incorporation of new polymer materials further strengthened the sports shoe as well as providing lightweight footwear.
Each type of soccer cleat is indicated for a different type of ground. Soft grounds usually are more slippery so one generally uses higher aluminum cleats that penetrate more deeply to avoid slipping. For firm grounds the soccer cleats are a bit lower, therefore plastic cleats are indicated.
Soccer cleats made of rubber should be used on hard grounds, as they are better for impact. On harder grounds the soccer cleats need not penetrate too deeply, as the ground isn’t as slippery. The soccer cleats are usually higher on the heel and lower on the forefoot, as more weight is put on the heel.
Injuries related to the wrong use of the soccer cleats are quite common. These injuries are usually on the knees and ankles. The most common knee injuries caused by wrong choice of the cleats are those to the ligaments. With the use a high set of aluminum soccer cleats on firm or hard ground the injuries are most likely to occur. The ankle injuries are usually sprains. The wrong use soccer cleats can also cause blistering to the feet, giving them an uncomfortable feeling.
Many professional players still prefer the shoe with traditional soccer cleats arrangement, which provide no more protection to the player than the boots of yesteryear.
Changes to shoe design appear to be in response to demand from parents keen to reduce the number of injuries associated with the modern game. The use of the right soccer cleats according to the ground that the game is going to be played is a key factor to prevent blistering and injuries that can be serious.
Soccer players should set an example and use the right type of soccer cleats and also the manufacturers should instruct the client for the better use of the soccer cleats.