Whenever you go to buy yourself a new pair of football cleats, it’s likely you’ll be weighing up (amongst other things) what type of boots you might want with respect to their sole, whether they’re Soft Ground, Firm Ground or AstroTurf.
With not much help other than from disinterested and often clueless store assistants, it can be a tough decision, especially when most grassroots players only want 1 pair of football boots for all of their footballing activities.
Soft Ground cleats contain screw-in studs or blades. The studs/blades are longer compared to other types of boot, which means they’re perfect for very muddy conditions. On drier/harder grass pitches, they’ll be OK but you’re more likely to slip around as the studs won’t fully go into the ground.
Soft Ground cleats though are a definite no-go for playing on old style Astroturf or rubber crumb pitches. You’ll have no balance, and risk of injury will significantly increase.
As the studs/blades are metallic and long, Soft Ground cleats are a little bit heavier than Firm Ground. Although it’s much more important to be wearing the right type of studs, rather than losing a few grams of weight on each foot.
Firm Ground Boots are made of rubber mould studs or blades. The studs/blades are shorter than Soft Ground cleats, meaning they match up perfectly to playing on hard grass during the summer. This also means they cope perfectly well on rubber crumb surfaces (although some leagues/centres might not allow them).
As for playing in muddy conditions, they won’t be as effective as Soft Ground cleats and you’re likely to slip if you’re constantly changing direction, but they’ll generally be OK.
If you want the lightest boots possible, firm ground cleats with plastic blades are the way forward, although research has suggested playing in blades may lead to a higher chance of injury. Few makes of cleats provide a Moulded Stud option, but they might be the best option if you’re prone to picking up injuries.
If you’re only going to be playing on Astroturf or Rubber Crumb surfaces, Astroturf cleats are a decent cheap option.
Compared to both Soft & Firm Ground cleats, they’re noticeably heavier, so I’d recommend you wear AstroTurf cleats on rock hard Old-School sand based AstroTurf pitches. As for Rubber Crumb, they’ll provide you with a sure footing, but Firm Ground cleats will allow you to play to your potential more.
Being similar to trainers, AstroTurf cleats work well for Indoor football. Some centres might not like you wearing them as they may leave marks on the surface, but for playability, they do a good job.
Which Ones To Get?
Overall, it depends on how much you’re willing to spend on buying different types of boots, if you regularly play on many different surfaces, it’d be nice to get a pair of all three types…
However, if you only want to buy one pair which will allow you to play on most surfaces, I’d have to recommend Firm Ground cleats. Firm Ground cleats are a safe, middle-ground option and will cope on all but the softest and hardest surfaces.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have, and check back here soon for further Soccer Cleat-Buying Guides.