Football boots, called cleats or soccer shoes in North America, are an item of footwear worn when playing football. Those designed for grass pitches have studs on the outsole to aid grip. From simple and humble beginnings football boots have come a long way and today find themselves subject to much research, development, sponsorship and marketing at the heart of a multi-national global industry. Modern “boots” are not truly boots in that they do not cover the ankle – like most other types of specialist sports footwear, their basic design and appearance has converged with that of sneakers since the 1960s.
Depending on the type of surface, kind of sport and even the wearer’s position or role in the game, different cuts of boot and particularly stud arrangements are available. For hard pitches, amateur participants may wear a sneaker shoe or a plastic-stud boot (known as a “moulded sole”); in most sports and positions this is adequate, although on a well-grassed or sodden field, screw-in studs are recommended for more grip; these may be metal, rubber or plastic. When playing on this kind of pitch, some players favor using a boot with screw-in studs in their non-dominant (supporting) foot to provide grip, and a boot with short rubber or plastic studs in the dominant (kicking/passing) foot to provide accuracy. Presently, boot designs are based on the “criteria” of speed, power, touch or control with some boots offering a combination of these. However, these specifications matter little on the player’s actual playing ability and are actually a marketing strategy.