When it comes to the costs for equipment, field time, travel and registration, soccer is relatively inexpensive compared with most other team sports. Fields are easy to come by in most communities, and the required apparel is limited to a jersey, shorts, long socks and shin guards. Considering that soccer cleats are probably the most expensive piece of a equipment in a sport that is relatively inexpensive to play, it pays to buy a model that's comfortable and long-lasting. Taking the time to make some minor adjustments is the best way keep your feet performing well.
Things You'll Need
- Soccer equipment catalog or Internet access to online soccer shoe shop.
- Mink oil
- Extra pair of laces, different in length than the ones that came with the shoes.
- Sports insoles or heel pads (if necessary)
Picking out the right cleats for yourself, and making them last
Browse and consider a variety of soccer shoes in catalogs like Europort, soccer supply websites and local sporting goods stores. Understand how the sizes and designs vary by brand. For example, certain models of Adidas shape closely to the contour of your feet, while many boots by Nike are a good fit for wider feet. Several types have an extra layer of rubber or synthetic material around the instep area for shooting the ball harder. High-end models can exceed $150, and some sellers can put your number or initials on the back of the boot.
Make your selection based on your budget, style of play and, if you're able to try them on, comfort level. For outdoor soccer, the primary decision is whether to buy molded cleats or screw-in cleats with removable metal (or plastic replacement) studs. Screw-ins offer traction advantages in muddy playing conditions and may enhance the mechanics of planting your front foot before shooting or long kicks, but they require a good deal of maintenance to keep the thread marks on the studs from deteriorating. They are not allowed in many youth leagues because of their potential to injure other players.
Apply mink oil or a similar product to waterproof the boot. Jog in the boots and practice turns, cuts, sprints and running backwards to get a feel for what kind of sock thickness you'll need to avoid blisters. Ideally, this should be done on your own, not during a team practice. Keep an extra pair of laces on hand in case the ones that came with the shoes are too long or to short. If you get a blister or pain due to lack of arch or heel support, it's up to you to decide whether you want to endure some of the pain to break the boot in and condition your foot to it, of if you want to apply extra padding inside the boot for relief and comfort.
Tips & Warnings
- Don't rule out a particular model just because it's not made of a popular type of leather or because it has some plastic materials. Many high-end soccer shoes now contain durable, lightweight synthetic materials. Leather can dry out and become brittle if not maintained properly.
- Use mink oil regardless of whether the box or label says the boot is already waterproof. The boot might have some vulnerable areas.
- Sports insoles or heel pads are not the only ways to deal with foot pain, according to Runners Rescue (Reference 1, http://www.runnersrescue.com/Heel_Pain_Running.htm). There are a variety of stretches, exercises and even diet changes that help avoid foot strains or repair damaged muscles after pain sets in.
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