Footwear is critical for virtually every sport. The right soccer cleats hug the grass, improving footing and providing stability for those extra-effort shots. But artificial turf has become the norm for soccer and other sports fields across the country, from school grounds to professional pitches. So what kind of soccer shoes can you wear if you’re playing on fake grass?
Different shoes for different grass
Today’s advanced field turf is designed to look and perform like natural grass – without all the negatives we associate with traditional turf care and maintenance. Nonetheless the shoes you wear to play on artificial turf are not the same as those you would choose for natural grass. That’s interesting, isn’t it?
Grip matters. Early on, players complained that they couldn’t run as fast or retain their balance on artificial turf while wearing traditional soccer shoes. It turns out that smaller cleats work better on fake grass. That’s because traditional cleats provide traction and stability by digging into the ground, something that doesn’t work on artificial turf. With heavy use, standard cleats can actually damage artificial turf over time.
Instead, today’s soccer shoes for artificial grass have smaller, more numerous cleats or shallow blades that cover the entire outsole. The studs are usually made of rubber. This design grips the surface of the turf, not the ground underneath.
What to look for
Modern technology has dramatically changed soccer boots, so you can find exactly what you need whether you’re playing on natural grass or faux, indoors or out. As you’re shopping, you’ll want to consider each part of the shoe’s anatomy:
- Outsole (harder for AT play)
- Heel counter and cushioning
- Studs (cleats)
Each of these elements contributes to the shoe’s overall fit, performance, and durability, not to mention its cost. The right fit ensures comfort and protects feet as they run, twist, and turn. The shoe should be the proper width and snug around the heel and toes, so your foot cannot slide around as you move.
Leather lasts longer than man-made fabrics. And it conforms perfectly to your feet, increasing comfort as well as performance. However, if you’re a parent shopping for kids’ soccer shoes, you know youngsters outgrow shoes before they have a chance to wear out. Faux leather may make more sense.
In response to the rapidly growing switch to artificial grass for sports fields, shoe manufacturers continue to introduce new soccer shoes designed specifically for play on fake turf. Nike created the AG soleplate specifically for artificial turf soccer shoes, and has proven to be quite popular. If you or your kids play on both artificial and natural surfaces, Adidas makes a shoe with their hybrid AG/FG outsole.
One of the many reasons artificial turf is replacing natural grass for pitches at every level of play is that it is weather-proof. It drains quickly and reliably, so water doesn’t puddle up if it rains. And it isn’t slippery when wet. It doesn’t develop worn spots from heavy play – areas that can trip up players and turn to a muddy mess.
That consistency means the soccer shoes you choose for artificial turf will always be the right shoes. With natural grass, you have to maintain a wardrobe of different cleats or shoes for different conditions.
Whether you’re playing in the Big Game or you’re practicing on your artificial grass at home, wearing soccer shoes created specifically for artificial turf will keep you on your toes, comfortably and safely.