What Is the Difference Between Football and Soccer Cleats?

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There are different types of cleats and they’re designed specifically to use in a certain sport. Some cleats aren’t even allowed to use in other sports while some can be used to almost any field sports. 

In this article, you’ll know the difference between football and soccer cleats.

What is the Difference Between Football and Soccer Cleats?

There are a lot of differences between football and soccer cleats. Some of the differences are the reason they aren’t allowed to be used in other sports. 

A pair of football cleats on a platform

Toe Cleat

Football cleats usually contain a toe cleat. This is an extra cleat located around the forefoot area of the outsole near the big toe. 

The toe cleat adds extra grip to your shoes. This is very helpful in pushing off the ground from a stance. However, it doesn’t work the same way for soccer. The extra toe cleat can also cause injuries in soccer as it can hurt someone when you make a sliding tackle. 


The outsole of a soccer cleat can vary depending on what surface it’s used for. Soccer cleats can be used for firm ground, soft ground, artificial grass, and turf. There are also indoor and multi-ground cleats. Football cleats are only used on natural grass. 

Soccer cleats use shorter studs compared to football cleats. They are more effective for running and don’t dig in the ground too much. Football cleats use studs of different lengths as they sometimes play on muddy fields or fields with long grass. 

Both football and soccer cleats come in removable and molded studs. Soccer cleats used for grass fields are usually equipped with removable aluminum cleat caps. Football cleats use detachable cleats made of rubber, hard plastic, or metal. 


Soccer requires a lot of running so the style of the cleats should fit with this need. Soccer cleats are mainly designed low-cut styles to make the cleats suitable for running. Low-cut style frees up the muscles around your ankle making agility and sprint movements a lot smoother. 

Football cleats come in 3 designs. These are low-cut, mid-cut, and high-cut. Each of them has different features that help your performance in football. 

  • Low-cut football cleats. Defensive backs often use low-cut football cleats because they want the maximum running speed in their shoes. You can say these cleats are the offensive type of football cleats.
  • Mid-cut football cleats: These types of cleats are popular with running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks. They offer a balance between support and movement around the ankles. 
  • High-cut football cleats: These football cleats are great for linemen who are constantly on the frontline. They provide excellent support and protection in your ankle area. They’re the football cleats for people who want to specialize in defense. 

Build Quality

Soccer and Football cleats differ a lot in terms of build quality. Soccer cleats focus on running and improving speed. Football cleats focus on protection because the sport involves a lot of physical contacts. 

LightweightBulky and thick
Midsole placed low to the groundHas more spikes
Usually low-cutThicker outsoles

Soccer Cleat Build

Soccer cleats are built lightweight and look smaller since soccer involves a lot of running on a field. Lightweight soccer cleats are preferred in soccer because they lessen the weight of your feet to move faster. 

Man playing soccer on field

The outsole of soccer cleats is made of either rubber or polyurethane. These materials are made light but still have great durability in the field. The midsole is placed low to the ground to keep for better stability while running. 

The upper of the soccer cleats are made of either leather or synthetic. Leather is heavily favored because of its premium quality. Synthetic is a another alternative that works the same but has less durability to make soccer cleats last longer

Football Cleat Build

Football cleats are built with different styles. Mostly they’re built bulky and thick to provide better protection on your feet. Some football players often use lightweight or low-cut cleats for better speed and agility. 

Compared to soccer cleats, football cleats have thicker outsoles. Football cleats tend to dig deep in the ground. Having thick outsoles improves their durability and protection. 

The upper part also uses leather or synthetic as the material used. The leather, of course, is more popular with football players because of the comfort and protection it provides compared to synthetic material. 

Relation of Cleats and Positions in Soccer and Football

The position you play in soccer and football can factor what type of cleats you may need to wear. All soccer cleats are made lightweight and low-cut. Soccer players don’t have a lot to choose from. 

Football, on the other hand, has different types to choose from. The specific position also plays a part. 

Soccer Shoe Variations

There’s not much variation you can get from soccer cleats since all of them are made lightweight and low-cut. However, there are a variety of unique features in soccer cleats that matters for soccer positions

The forefoot upper area is especially unique because it’s where soccer players kick the ball. Soccer players usually call this the strike area or strike zone. The strike area design can vary from position to position. 

Defenders usually use thicker materials for the strike area to protect themselves when defending. The thicker the strike area the ball feel becomes lesser. Forwards use thin strike areas enabling them to have a better feel for the ball whenever they kick it.   

Football Cleat Variations

Football has a lot of variations when it comes to cleats. The positions in football have different roles and movements in the field. Some need to be quick and fast while others need to be bulky and strong.  

Football player holding ball while running

Football cleats differ based on the player’s position and intended purposes. For example, thermo nylon studs are hard but are lightweight to provide better acceleration. TPU, on the other hand, gives better fit, stability, and comfort which is heavily preferred by positions with defensive roles. 

Soccer and Football really differ a lot in terms of position. Soccer cleats are one dimensional while football cleats have different varieties of design. 

However, soccer and football positions also similar in a way that different positions require a specific type of cleat that can help with their position. It’s just that soccer cleats have limited choices while football cleats have a variety to choose from. 

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about football and soccer cleats.

Are Football Cleats Bigger Than Soccer Cleats?

No, however, they have more spikes near the shoe’s toe. This helps footballers have more traction when sprinting forward at full speed. In some cases, this might make it look bigger than soccer cleats.

Is It Ok to Wear Soccer Cleats for Football?

Yes, in fact, many football players choose to wear soccer cleats. This is because they are much lighter and might feel more comfortable to wear.

However, it is important to remind that soccer cleats do not have the extra spikes that football cleats have.

Are Soccer Cleats Lighter Than Football Cleats?

Yes, soccer cleats are much lighter than football cleats. This is because these cleats are often low-cut and made to enhance mobility and sprint speed. Therefore, they need to be designed as light as possible so the athlete can run fast.


Soccer and football cleats differ in many ways. The most important difference between them is the extra toe cleat football cleats have. It’s because of this that football cleats are often times banned in soccer tournaments and leagues. You can’t use shoes created for disc golf for soccer, to be on the safe side, use cleats that are made for the intended sports it’s supposed to.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.