Not All Football Boots Are The Same?
Football season is upon us and you may be in the market to get yourself a new pair of boots. Well, if so it is worth noting that not all football boots are born equal. Upper materials vary from one boot to the next, the stud formations and materials also vary, as does the overall technology going into each boot.
Some boots are designed with the main goal of being ultralight weight, appealing to the athlete wanting to move quicker, run faster. Other boots are manufactured with a special upper, an upper designed to encourage good “feel” of the ball on the foot, with the goal of improving the athletes control and touch on the ball. Whereas some football boots are specifically designed with the intention of helping the athlete generate greater power, or curve when striking the ball…
When buying a football boot one thing that is commonly overlooked yet crucial to the overall performance of the boot (as well as the athletes overall performance) is stud formation/patterning. Stud formation on the sole of the boot will vary in arrangement and size of studs and may well be the single most important thing to consider when purchasing your next pair of football boots. Although outwardly there may appear to be only minimal variations between different stud patterns and sizes, not only can selecting the boot with the right stud formation for the surface improve performance, it can also help reduce injury risk. Conversely, choosing the wrong stud formation for the football surface can actually increase your injury risk! The dreaded ACL rupture is every footballers nightmare, the wrong boot and stud selection can increase the risk of this devastating injury, especially when athletes are training, or playing on artificial grass surfaces.
Football Playing Surfaces In Australia
When looking to purchase a new pair of football boots and wanting to match the stud formation to the surface you play on, there are generally three main surface variations played on here in Sydney Australia. Although generally the same rules can apply to all football codes, for the purpose of this blog I am referring to soccer here, as it is the sport I know the most about.
- Soft Ground: Soft ground stud patterns are best used in wet and muddy conditions. Given Australia’s climate the majority of Australian footballers at least those playing at an amateur level will be playing on firm, or hard surfaces due the lack of truly wet winters in Sydney and the local councils rules regarding ground closures and the protection of their sporting grounds. Meaning most park footy games at an amateur level are cancelled when there has been enough rain to create a softer playing surface. Footballers playing at higher levels in Sydney, and on club owned grounds, or stadiums may train and play on soft ground surfaces and need a boot with stud patterns designed for these sessions. But for the majority of us battlers long studs are unlikely to be necessary in Sydney.
- Firm Ground: Firm ground stud patterns are best used when playing on hard grass, where there isn’t a lot of give in the ground and the studs don’t penetrate far into the earth. The stud length will be shorter than a “soft ground” boot and this sort of boot is particularly applicable for use during the summer months. The perfect boot for preseason matches and training. For the majority of Australia’s towns and cities with the typically dry climates around the country, there is a good chance that the playing surface would be considered as ‘firm ground’ all year round. This is almost certainly the case for Sydney based footballers as discussed above, and more than likely a firm ground boot would work for the entirety of the season not just preseason if all games are played on natural, not artificial surfaces.
- Hard Ground: Hard ground stud formations are designed for playing on surfaces which are very hard, such as artificial surfaces. Artificial grass surfaces are becoming more commonplace throughout Sydney and Australia as a whole. Artificial surfaces are very hard, and although the artificial grass is designed to mimic its natural equivalent, the actual ground surface is far firmer than a typical natural grass counterpart. Artificial surfaces require even shorter stud formations than that of firm ground, formations made up of many moulded circular multi-studs. Personally I regularly recommend players opt for a boot with multiple dimpled sole, I like this set up as it positions the athlete closer to the ground when studs can’t sink into the hard surface, avoids localized discomfort on the sole of the foot where occasionally moulded circular studs can press unevenly into the bottom of the foot if foot bio-mechanics vary and the dimpled sole eliminates any risk of a stud getting stuck in the turf and the athlete suffering a twisting injury.
Reduce Injury Risk By Buying The Right Football Boots
The take home message is that football codes have a high rate of injury what ever football you play, so why increase your chance of injury by selecting the wrong stud set up. Avoid the risk and make sure you purchase a boot that is built for the surface you spend the most time on. Ideally if you play and train on different surfaces at points of the season then I would strongly recommend having a couple of pairs of boots with the appropriate set up, doing so could help you avoid the agony and disappointment of injury. If you switch between playing on different surfaces but can’t afford to purchase two top on the range football boots with different purpose stud patterns, then consider purchasing a cheaper option for your second boot (for the surface less frequently used, or the surface that is your training surface where performance isn’t as crucial). This way you can get the two stud patterns/lengths you require, without having to break the bank to do so.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Choosing The Right Football Boots should consult his or her physiotherapist, sports medicine specialist, football coach or sports store.