What’s The Difference Between Football and Soccer Cleats? [Fact checked]

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Fact Checked

In the world of sports, there are few rivalries as intense as football vs. soccer. And while the debate between fans of these two sports can get pretty heated, today we’re going to set aside our differences and take a look at one thing both football and soccer players have in common: their cleats.

We’re going to explore the similarities and differences between football and soccer cleats and help you decide which type of cleat is right for you. 

Let’s kick off!

football cleats vs soccer cleats customized infographic - 
Football cleats - material, thick and leather, shape longer and wider, studs up to 13 with toe stud, rise, high ankle protection, weight, heavier for stability.
Soccer cleats - thin and synthetic, narrow and tight, up to 8 and blades, Rise, low rise with sock liner, lighter for speed

Different sports, different cleats. 

While both football and soccer are played with a ball, the similarities pretty much end there.

These two sports couldn’t be more different when it comes to how they’re played.

Football is a full-on contact sport where players are constantly running into each other, while soccer has less contact and the emphasis is on speed and agility.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the cleats used in these two sports are also quite different. 

What’s the difference between soccer shoes and football cleats?

Football cleats have long been designed with stability and traction in mind.

Because football players are constantly changing directions and making quick stops and starts, their cleats need to provide a good amount of support to prevent ankle injuries.

Because soccer is played on grass, turf, or artificial turf, players need soccer cleats that will help them make sharp cuts without losing their footing.

The soles of soccer cleats usually have fewer studs than football cleats, and those studs are typically made of metal or hard plastic.

This design helps players move quickly without sacrificing traction. 

Watch and learn: Soccer cleats vs football boots

Here’s a video that breaks down what the differences are between soccer and football boots.

What’s the difference between football and soccer cleats?

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between soccer and football cleats.

Design Differences

The first thing you’ll notice when you compare football and soccer cleats is that they have different designs.

Football cleats tend to be bulky, with thick soles and large spikes.

Soccer cleats, on the other hand, are much sleeker and more streamlined. They have smaller spikes or studs, they’re narrower and the soles are thinner—which gives you better control of the ball.

You can get different types of soccer cleats for different types of surfaces too – soft ground soccer cleats, firm ground soccer cleats and artificial ground soccer cleats are the main ones.

In general, football cleats are designed for power, while soccer cleats are designed for speed and agility. 

Material Differences

Another key difference between football and soccer cleats is the material they’re made from.

Football cleats are typically made from leather or synthetic leather, while soccer cleats are usually made from a combination of materials, including leather, polyurethane, nylon, and thermoplastic polyurethane.

This makes them lightweight and weigh less than their heavier football cleat cousins.

The material your cleats are made from can affect how well they hold up over time—leather is durable but can be heavy, while polyurethane is lightweight but not as durable. 

Spike Differences

One of the most important differences between football and soccer cleats is the type of spikes they have.

Football cleats have metal spikes that are designed to provide traction on grassy surfaces.

A soccer cleat has either plastic or rubber studs that are designed to provide traction on both grassy and artificial surfaces.

The type of surface you’ll be playing soccer on should be a major factor in deciding which type of cleat you should be wearing. 








Can you wear soccer cleats for football?

Yes, you absolutely can wear soccer cleats for playing American football!

Sure, it may not be the optimal choice in terms of providing your feet with maximum protection or greater stability — but according to those in-the-know, plenty of kickers prefer to put their trust in soccer cleats.

And what’s even better news is that NFL rules DO officially allow them.

Some players find that soccer cleats don’t provide the ankle support and padding needed for football’s tough tackles or long runs down an open field – so you may want to opt for dedicated football cleats instead if you’re serious about getting involved in the sport!

What's the difference between football and soccer cleats- soccer cleats close up

Can you wear American football boots for soccer?

When it comes to choosing a proper pair of kicks for the soccer field, American football boots are definitely off limits!

While they may look similar to traditional soccer cleats and might feel comfortable, NFL standards don’t jive with generally accepted soccer rules.

So if you want to look professional and give your team the best chance at winning, you should make sure you’re swapping them out for cleats designed specifically for the “beautiful game.”

That way you’ll be in compliance with all of the regulations and can focus less on your outfit and more on having fun!

What's the difference between football and soccer cleats - american football player football boots

The final score.

So there you have it—a comprehensive breakdown of the key differences between football and soccer cleats!

Now that you know more about the design, material, and spike differences between these two types of cleats, you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

And if you’re still undecided, remember this: when in doubt, go with soccer cleats—they’re versatile enough to work on any type of surface, so you’ll always be prepared no matter where the game takes you.

This article was written by

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's soccer. I've been crazy about soccer for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about soccer with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool soccer trivia, I'm all about making soccer ac...