Gridiron Guide: How to Buy Youth Football Cleats

The three factors you need to know before buying your child’s first pair of football cleats.

Choosing a child’s first pair of football cleats can be a tricky and overwhelming process. With varying styles, types and materials, not to mention their rapidly growing feet, there are many factors to weigh — all of which will play a big role in how a child performs and how safe they are while playing. Learn all of the components of youth football cleats before your child’s season starts.

CUT STYLES

Cut styles in football cleats refer to where on the ankle or leg the top of the cleat touches. These come in three varieties: high-cut, mid-cut and low-cut, and all offer benefits based on what kind of support and movement a player prefers.

  • High-cut cleats lace up all the way above the ankle, and give the most ankle support. Because they lace all the way to the top of the shoe, they have a snug fit and can reduce the risk of an ankle sprain, while still allowing ankle movement.
  • Mid-cut cleats taper off around the ankle and tend to have a looser fit than high-cut cleats. This allows for more maneuverability, with the extra comfort of ankle support.
  • Low-cut cleats are the lightest in weight so they offer the most agility, which best suits skill position players. They offer little ankle support, so these are not highly recommended for youth players.

SPIKE TYPES

While adult spikes come in both molded and detachable models, youth spikes are only sold in the molded variety. Molded spikes come permanently adhered to the bottom of the cleat and provide traction on both turf and grass playing fields. They also come in two materials: rubber and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane).

  • Rubber spikes have wide studs and deep grooves for traction. Because of their softer composition, they are good for running through the grassy terrain, as they don’t dig in too much, and offer shock absorption.
  • TPU spikes are made of plastic and have a harder feel than rubber spikes, making them similar to metal, without the dangers that metal poses to other players, should they get stepped on. They also tend to be lighter than rubber varieties, allowing for speed.

UPPER MATERIALS

Youth football cleat uppers, otherwise known as the body of the shoe, are made of synthetic materials.

TPU can also be used in the composition of uppers. These uppers offer more protection for the feet due to their thick composition. They are also a great shield from muddy or rainy terrains that may cause water to seep into a player’s shoe.

Uppers made of other synthetic materials often try to emulate leather, as leather tends to be more breathable and flexible, two important factors for athletes.

CLEAT ACCESSORIES

Extra shoelaces are always good to have in case one tears, which could pose a tripping hazard. If your child has detachable cleats, make sure they have replacement spikes on hand in the event of one breaking off of the cleat or a change in weather conditions, causing the terrain to change as well. Shoe conditioners and oils can help extend the duration of your child’s football cleats.

Size is critical for youth football cleats. Never buy a football cleat that’s too large for your child to grow into. Cleats that are too big could pose an injury risk to the player.