What goes into a Football cleat?

I want to design a football cleat(American) for my portfolio and I was wondering can anybody give me advice on what makes a good football cleat? What type of performance issues or problems do football players have? I know nothing about how goes into a football so any advice is appreciated. Also if anybody has any info on what goes into a soccer cleat could you give me some advice?

From my days of designing such product, (long time ago, so I might be a bit out of date here - perhaps R knows better) I can remember the biggest issues were to do with the actual cleats themselves.
Stud pressure is one, as they are such a small surface area, the player may be able to feel the studs through the sole of the boots. Stud placement and shape is a consideration. If they get stuck in the ground, as the player turns, the foot remains in the same place and it can cause injury. Different sport entirely, but I worked with a female hockey player who wanted to develop a new stud shape which she hoped would avoid similar injuries in her sport.
The thing with shoes for football, is you can’t add too much cushioning or padding, or support, like you would be expected to do in basketball or the player will complain the shoes are too heavy or they can’t feel the ball (the latter being more true of soccer than American Football). So theres a trade off between comfort, safety and performance.

i dont know anything about american football, but you may want to look at soccer (real football) cleats.

IMHO, theres a lot more design and development in soccer cleats, and more technology as its a much bigger market. you may be able to find some approaches to different problems solved better and use them in your context.

best way to design something for someone- talk to them. sure there must be a local school football team. without speaking to the players, i wouldnt even think of starting a design for a new client.

soccer cleats, i can help you with. to start, i suggest you can check out my blog First Pullover. there’s lots there and it will for sure get you going.


Soccer and American football cleat design is very different. Soccer cleats are very generic in terms of, although there are different cleats types for different field types, there aren’t different cleats for different positions.

American football cleats are position specific. Example, a lineman, quarterback, linebacker, runningback, and reciever may be wearing 5 distinctly different styles of cleats.

Choose a position first that you want to design around, then research what may need to go into it.

Example: For a 300 pound lineman, support is #1 priority, so size/weight may not be as high of a priority. Whereas for a wide reciever who is constantly running and cutting, a cleat that is form-fitting and light weight is critical (alot like soccer cleats)

RK you are right about soccer being the real football. Why us Americans decided to name “Football”, Football I will never know it makes no since. But that is a different story. I will check out your site on soccer/real football cleats. This will be more challenging since I know pretty much nothing about the sport.

I played a little street football but the position I normally played was WR. I would imagine they need a shoe similar to a B-Ball shoe. But Cavballs I was more or so thinking about doing a in between cleat. I was thinking about something that could be worn by many positions. If I had to compare it would be like a shoe designed around a small forward in B-Ball, where both big guards or small centers or power forwards could also wear.

Shoenista I was reading somewhere about stud pressure. I could imagine it somewhat similar to my experience with Shox. I could actually feel the columns under my foot which felt weird. So do you think having more studs would alleviate this feeling.

if oyu look at indoor soccer shoes, they have a lot of “studs” because the surface being played on is uniform and offers a lot of “grip”, where as looking at cleated shoes for grass the most typical configuration when i was playing was 2 unscrewable (inter-changeable) cleats in the heel and 5 in the forefoot. each cleat wass probably close to 3/4 of an inch. this increased the pressure on the cleats making it easier for them to penetrate the earth, even when dry.
now cleats seem to have experienced some major improvemetns with some of the new nike and adidas, whic the are heavily profiled. i wouldn’t know the slightest reasons behind this, but maybe someone (RK) might be able to provide some insights?

in soccer cleats, (and football for that matter) the basic reason for studs is the same. to get more grip.

the more studs there are, the less force/per is distributed from your body weight, giving you less grip (sounds counter-intuitive), but think of it in terms of pounds per square inch on the bottom of the cleat that touches the ground and it makes sense.

soccer cleats generally are broken down into 3 main types-

Firm Ground (FG) typically have 12 studs. 8 in the front, 4 in the back. They are for normal turf/grass the traditional type has conical shaped studs.

another variation of FG studs is the blade shape. these are designed to give greater traction than the conical studs, but some studies have shown they also may cause more injuries (ie. metatarsal/ankle injuries) as they give too much traction when turning. some clubs and youth teams are starting to ban these studs.

Soft Ground studs (SG) are for softer/wet pitches. as mentioned, the less gives give greater grip. these are usually screw in and sometimes different stud lengths are available. the SG outsole is also sometimes more stiff than a FG outsole, in part because the TPU plate must be a higher density to ensure the threaded inserts dont come out.

Turf (TF) studs are rubber, and have a lots of little studs. they are for poor quality dirt pitches, or astroturf. they normally also have an EVA midsole to give a bit of cushioning on these rough/hard pitches.

there are also some variations and combos out there, but are less common (ie. fixed studs in the front, screw-in in the back. as well you will commmonly see rubber stud outsoles for kids that have the same stud pattern as FG, but are softer (being rubber) so safer/more comfortable for kids.

some examples-

more pics

hope this is clear/helps.


Not necessarily - I think it’s the small surface area of the indivudual stud that can cause the pressure. The company I worked for (Pony) did experiment with polycarbonate threads on the studs, which had a larger diameter than the old metal screw in studs but we had nightmare production problems, which I won’t go into here. I went to the factory to check production, I almost had a heart attack when I saw what they had done.

We need another thread - ‘‘My production hell’’

This thread also reminded me of all the differences in soccer cleats and football cleats that I’d forgotten about. Some soccer payers are almost miniscule in stature. Football players are ‘built like brick shit houses’. I got a bit of shock having worked with soccer players, when I started to work with football players :laughing: . Therefore the shoes tend to be a bit more robust.

Having a little experience in American football , could you think of cushioning under the heel a bit more.

Maybe I’m just being a little sissy, but us "built like brick shit house’ people, HATE bruised heels after tough practices and games.

You can’t really have too much or too thick cushioning in football boots - they can be quite unstable - lots of cushioning can create a ‘walking on a lilo’ effect and increase this instability. I think possibly because of marketing one can tend to assume that more cushioning is always better, it’s not. Instead of cushioning, the way to solve stud pressure is to spread out this pressure more evenly along the sole of the shoe. I’m not sure that extra cushioning is a good way of doing this.