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Working with Rugby Union I seem to get asked at the beginning of every season, what is the best footy boot for my child? So how do you choose a good boot, what should you look for and how can I get the longest wear out of the boots?
Why are kids boots different?
Children’s feet grow so rapidly that you can often find yourself buying new boots every year. It is for this reason that manufacturers aim to keep children’s boots at reasonable prices. Many of the features in adult football boots are either not added to the children’s boot range, or if they are, it is done using cheaper materials on the features. This way, kids think they are getting the same boot as David Beckham or George Smith, but are actually getting a ‘look a like’ with the fancy features.
Features aside, there is a functional side to choosing boots, the materials they are made of and the type of studs.
Getting the right fit
Firstly, whenever trying on boots, be sure to do so with socks, shin guards or ankle braces, whatever your child normally wears for training or games.
Boots should generally have a snug fit in terms of width, this means the foot won’t move off the sole plate inside the shoe. With length, it is ok to buy a shoe of a slightly larger size to allow for growth, only slightly though. Keep in mind with fit that leather will stretch with wear, are slightly more comfortable and slightly more expensive. Synthetic boots are cheaper, will not stretch, are usually more lightweight and tend to retain their shape better. There are some plastic boots on the market, unfortunately these are notorious for causing blisters on the heels or toes from rubbing, they also do very little ‘self moulding’ to the shape of the foot.
Choosing your stud pattern
Studs, well there are a few different types of studs, and the decision as to which one to choose should be made based on what type of surface the child is playing on. Changeable studs are just that, changeable, and are generally used on wet or soft ground. Generally these are not the studs of choice for children though, as they don’t distribute weight adequately throughout the sole of the foot, and in turn can be uncomfortable and cause blisters.
Little feet are better suited to a moulded or bladed stud formation. These studs are part of the actual sole of the shoe, give better stability, distribute weight more evenly as there are more of them and are safer being not so sharp. For children’s feet I tend to recommended a moulded blade studs, their configuration gives the highest surface contact ratio’s, which is better for softer growing feet.
Caring for the boots
Finally, to prolong the life of your boot, always wash off any excess dirt and mud and let the boots dry in the sun. Stuffing boots with newspaper is an old trick passed down thru generations and yes, this does help to dry boots quicker. If wearing leather boots, remember to polish or oil the boots to replace the natural oils in the leather.
Tim is a Physiotherapist who specialises in football/Rugby and golfing injuries. Tim doesn’t believe that rest will make you a better athlete and he focuses on performance-based rehab methods. Tim is also qualified in golf biomechanics and injuries.