Choosing the perfect football boots

choosing the perfect boot

For football (aka. soccer), rugby and league, boots are a critical part of your performance. You need to consider grip, weight, material, support and fit. Get it right and you can max your performance. Get it wrong and it could be a fast track to injury.

NOTE: If you’re fitting sports shoes for kids let’s get specific: Go here for the low down on football boots and here for advice on all sports shoes.

Support

Minimal differences exist between boots with regard to support. Running shoes offer different ranges of support throughout different areas of the shoe. The studs in a football boot take away the ability of the boot to provide the same levels of support as a running shoe.

Weight

One of the most talked about features of a boot. The lighter boots which are marketed for speed tend to be quite narrow and very snug fitting. These boots would not be suitable for people with wide feet or if you use orthotics.

Here is a quick weight comparison of some popular boots:

Adidas F50 Adizero = 150g

Nike Mercurial Superfly = IV 200g

Puma King II = 239g

Nike Tiempo Legend V = 240g

 The weight difference between the “top of the range” boots is around 90 grams. 90g is not going to slow you down although choosing a lighter boot may have a psychological influence and make you feel sharper and better on the ball.

Material

Leather: will stretch and mould to your foot. It provides better protection as the material is thicker. The downside is that leather is more absorbent and will take on water, which will further stretch the material. Nike claim that their moisture blocking HyperShield technology absorbs 73% less water than their previous range of leather boots.

Synthetic: Very thin light materials used. They are very lightweight and durable although they will not mould to your foot as well as leather. Greater water resistance makes synthetic materials lighter in wet conditions. Certain synthetic materials (especially the cheaper ones) can become slippery in the rain affecting ball control.

Many new generation boots provide a combination of synthetic and leather materials – This is great in theory although it may not provide you with the same comfort as other boots.

Fitting your boot

You should have a 5-10mm gap between the tip of the longest toe to the tip of the boot. If the boot is too loose it will impair foot stability and alter the mechanics of how the foot and lower limb functions. This may lead to excessive stresses being placed on muscles and joints of the lower limb.

Orthotics and boots

Football boots are designed to be a snug fit. An orthotic device will further decrease the available space inside a boot and will also provide a heel lift. When selecting a boot make sure to select a boot with a higher heel tab to decrease the chance of heel lift when running. Try an Adidas predator or Nike Tiempo. Frequently people will select a boot that is 1 size bigger to fit the orthotic. You have to weigh up the benefit of the orthotic against the effects of wearing a boot with extra length/width.

Studs

Grip is very important. The studs must match the conditions. Too much grip can increase the potential for injury particularly with agility and change of direction tasks. As for artificial surfaces I recommend a low profile stud or artificial turf boots. Artificial grass is very unforgiving. Too much grip on an artificial increases the risk of many different ankle and knee injuries.

Weigh up these factors and consider which boot is right for you. With the temptation of buying online to save a few dollars, be sure to try on a boot before purchasing as comfort and fit can outweigh any of the above factors.