If you’re big on soccer, a pair of good shoes can help you score more often. Or is it cleats that you need to use? Or, wait, are you playing on grass or turf? Isn’t it artificial grass where you’re playing? As you can see, playing soccer isn’t only a ball and a pair of cleats, and there are some matters you need to know by heart.
Is turf different from the artificial grass?
The most iconic soccer brands in the world (Adidas and Nike that is) started the whole thing as they were the first creating different soleplates for different playing surfaces. Turf soleplates and artificial grass soleplates are only two of the many within the category. Even if some may think they’re the same, they’re not.
Even if the turf is artificial grass, the build and installation differ from the artificial grass. The level of performance and quality is, therefore, different.
What is artificial grass (AG)?
Artificial grass is high-quality synthetic grass that resembles the natural grass the most. The big club stadiums where the professional’s train have artificial grass. It’s an abrasive surface and falling on AG is going to cause higher friction with the surface.
When it’s installed, AG has to run through the firm FIFA regulations. They have to contain a specific amount of sand, rubber and various materials below it so that it resembles the natural grass field a lot more. It’s why the bounce of the ball in AG fields is natural.
What is turf?
Turf is aka the First Generation Artificial Grass. It’s a rather primary type of artificial grass, and it’s slowly disappearing from the soccer stadiums. Its quality is instead, and the performance is entirely different from the one on AG.
Turf is a lot like a shallow carpet, and its “hairs” are rather short when compared to the ones of AG. The surface is shallow, and the cushioning is rather weak. You’re going to feel the fall on turf, for sure. The bounce of the ball isn’t natural, either and it’s quite unpredictable.
On top of everything else, turf gets hot and playing on it on a summer day is quite the challenge.
Why is playing on turf so different?
The are two main elements that form the turf: the artificial grass blades and the mat to which they’re stuck to. The synthetic grass blades are, and the turf mat is waterproof. It’s not possible to use regular cleat on turf as cleats are made for improving your traction. Standard soccer cleats don’t work either as they ensure no comfort nor traction. As they tend to wear down the surface, they’re not allowed on turf fields anyway.
Do you always have to wear turf shoes on turf?
Turf shoes present rigid outsoles that has aggressive and raised threads of various designs (really dense). The raised treads are shallow, as opposed to the studs/blades on standard soccer cleats.
Turf shoes aren’t going to go through the mat surface and they tend to grab it. Therefore, turf shoes are going to ensure traction and comfort on turf fields as they touch the turf in an even way.
What types of boots/cleats should you use in turf?
It’s best that you use boots with Turf soleplate with enough padding as the turf is tough. The soleplates have to be made of rubber, which is going to take the use for quite some time. As turf is an abrasive surface, the sole is going to withstand plenty of friction, but good quality rubber can take it.
The studs have to be short, as the turf is a shallow surface. The boots/cleats need to have many studs to distribute the weight a lot more efficiently. It’s going to provide better stability and comfort as well.
Regardless of what many may think, turf shoes doesn’t mean cheap soccer shoes. Famous brands are always developing better turf soccer shoes. The only difference between those shoes and the high-end shoes is the turf outsole that they come with.
Turf shoes (good ones, anyway) also work on AG fields. Even if they’re not going to provide the same aggressive traction as AG soleplates, the turf shoes are an excellent alternative to try.
You can also use the AG soleplates on turf fields. As AG shoes feature rounded studs that don’t penetrate the surface, the risk for getting stuck or getting injured is rather low. You may, however, feel the effects of stud pressure due to the hardness of the turf surface.
Turf shoes or turf cleats?
Gone are the days when you would use a single pair of soccer shoes for all the types of field you’re playing on. Sports shoes have evolved a lot, and nowadays cleats and turf shoes are used in soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, and many other sports.
Let’s take a closer look at the turf cleats and shoes to understand what sets them apart from another type of sports shoes:
Cleats present a classic design and come in both low-top and high top heights. The manufacturer and the build play a big part in the stiffness of their bottoms. Most of the time, they come with 8-15 cleat studs. The studs are made of metal or rubber (It depends on the sport) and are half an inch tops.
Turf shoes are supposed to provide high mobility, so the stiffness of the sole is reduced. Many turf shoes are low-high, and the underside of the shoe comes with plenty of small rubber studs, really close to one another.
A cleat is designed for ensuring efficient traction in a soft grass/mud field. The kind of ankle support you’re looking for is going to matter for the height of the shoe. It makes sense that low tops don’t offer much ankle support, whereas the high tops are going to reduce the risk for slippage. Turf shoes are made for the artificial turf surfaces, and the small rubber studs are going to dig into the turf surface, eliminating the risk for slippage.
When you’re playing on muddy and sloppy terrain, the cleats are going to improve the traction and your ability to change direction with minimal risk for falling/pulling a muscle. The sole of cleats is going to maintain the risk for muscle pulling rather low.
On the other hand, turf shoes are no use on muddy fields but do stand out on artificial turf. The gripping ability of the small rubber cleats is going to give you better speed.
Side note: some sports (baseball is a good example) include both artificial turf and dirt. Turf shoes do ensure adequate traction on the artificial turf, but some cleats offer better traction on the dirt infields. Your position on the field counts a lot when selecting your cleats.
What kind of soccer shoes should you use on turf anyway?
Soccer shoes come in a great variety of models: interchangeable cleats, molded cleats, turf shoes, and indoor shoes. Every type is designed for adjusting to the surface you’re playing on.
For instance, when you play on natural grass fields, you should go with molded and interchangeable cleats as they’re able to bite into the ground for traction. You need to wear indoor shoes for sport courts, concrete, gym floors or asphalt. Turf shoes are, as the name says it, specially designed for turf surfaces.
What counts when buying turf soccer cleats?
Your turf soccer cleats have to fit snuggly in the heel and the toe. You want the touch on the ball to be better, and you don’t want your foot to slide around inside. Sore feet or blisters isn’t something you want when playing soccer.
You don’t want your soccer cleats to be too narrow or to pinch your feet in any way. Soccer turf cleats that are made with leather as they’re going to stretch and adjust to the shape of your foot after a while, providing better fit and comfort.
You should put on your regular soccer socks and shin guards when trying for new soccer cleats, especially if they come with ankle guard that impacts the shoe fitting.
Can you use turf cleats in other situations?
You may use the turf shoes for hard natural surfaces (sand, dirt or short-grass fields including). They’re reliable options for running on natural and artificial surfaces.
Some use the turf cleats as an alternative to the regular cleats. You should have both a pair of cleats and turf shoes so that you have the best traction and comfort, no matter where you’re playing.
One last recommendation
When playing competitive sports, the risk for injury is always there, especially if it’s an activity with a lot of physical effort. Even experienced professional athletes twist/break the ankle from taking a misstep and wearing the low-top shoes.
Turf shoes don’t provide enough sole support, but they impress with the mobility and traction and may even lead to more turf toe injuries than cleats.