Football boots are essential footwear for playing football. They have traditionally been built to offer grip on grass along with protection for feet and ankles when kicking the ball or in the event of being trodden on. In the early days of professional football boots were available only in black and were primitive and bulky compared to today's boots. Nowadays football boots offer a superb range of sizes and styles offering comfort, strength, lightness and flexibility.
Yes but the rules have changed over the years. Association Football Law 4 covers the types of football boots allowed. Until 1891 studs were forbidden. In fact any kind of projection on the soles or heels of football boots was strictly no allowed. In 1891 both studs and bars were allowed as long as they were made of leather and did not project more than half an inch. Studs had to be rounded and not less than half an inch in diameter. Studs now come in all shapes and sizes and can be made of metal, rubber or plastic.
Football boots were originally heavy boots with protection for the ankle, and these remained the standard style of boot in northern Europe for many years. Due to the weather conditions and the winter conditions of the sport football boots needed to stand up to muddy pitches. Leather studs were originally hammered into the boots on a semi-permanent basis. Players needed several pairs of boots with different length studs for different conditions. From the mid 1950s boots with interchangeable screw-in studs became available. These were made of rubber or plastic for varying weather conditions. A lighter boot without ankle protection, more like a studded shoe, became increasingly popular in southern Europe and South America, where weather and field conditions were different. This eventually became the standard style.
Boots have moved away from protection into performance allowing football players to express themselves more creatively and athletically. The focus for the design of the boot has become more orientated around the modern game - kicking and controlling the ball and moving fast across the ground, including sliding. The need for long studs has become more redundant as playing surfaces have improved and artificial and indoor pitches have become more popular. The game has also increased in popularity in warmer climate countries. Consumers demand greater choice and style options these days.
Depending on the type of surface, the level of performance and even the player's position in the park, different types of boot, especially stud arrangements are made available. Makers also compete to offer new innovations in a very competitive market. For hard fields amateurs can even wear a trainer shoe, a bladed or plastic stud boot. On a grassy field screw studs offer more grip using metal, rubber or plastic.
Boots with screw-in studs are the most popular. A boot with studs can have anything from 12 to 16 on its base.
The larger number of studs gives you better support over a wider area and they also reduce the risk of blisters.
If the conditions are wet or muddy then moulded studs will not give as good a grip compared to screw-in studs.
They offer a player the opportunity to adjust their footwear depending on the conditions.
If the pitch is particularly muddy then it is a good idea to use a longer set of studs, changing to shorter on a drier day.
An extra set of studs is cheaper to buy than another pair of boots hence the popularity of changeable studs.
When changing or tightening studs it is a good idea to apply a bit of grease to the thread, to prevent rusting.
Choosing from a wide range of uppers in different colours adds to the attraction of your boots. Leather and synthetic boots are both available and there are advantages with each.
Leather moulds itself to the shape of your feet but can stretch out of shape in wet conditions. Synthetic boots are often lighter and less expensive. Always try and find soft uppers that give you the best control of a ball. Some boots combines a mixture of leather and synthetics which can be a good balance. The position of the laces can vary on boots too. Laces can be traditionally on top or often down the side of the boot. The latter creates a bigger, flatter area to strike and control the ball. Many footballers now prefer them this way.
Football boots are expensive and to preserve them they need to be adequately maintained.
Ensuring your boots are well maintained will also help your game.
The main things you should do is knock off the loose mud after a game and wipe the rest of the boot clean with a damp cloth. Allow your boots to dry naturally. Fill your boots with screwed up newspaper to keep them in shape and absorb any moisture. Once they are dry you can polish them to preserve the leather and keep them supple.
It's also a good idea to protect leather boots with a Dubbin or natural leather oil which will help keep them waterproof and the leather supple. You can also grease the studs slightly to prevent rusting if the boots are screw-in and prevent soil from sticking in them.
Always undo laces properly when taking football boots off. Never heat dry boots by a radiator or they may crack. Never use detergents on football boots. Walking across car parks or on concrete will damage soles and also sharpen studs and blades which could lead to injury.
A good boot should give you stability, support, grip and traction. Try them on. Consider the shape of your feet. Are they comfortable? Do they fit well around your ankles? Is the bottom of your foot comfortable? There are two types of football studs moulded and screwed-in. The screw-in types are popular because they can be changed according to the type of ground. Remember, different studs are available for different surfaces - eg longer solid grip. Boots are now often graded Soft Ground, Firm ground and Hard Ground to make it easy for you. Always wear boots. Training shoes or other standard sports shoes are likely to slip when you turn on grass and will not offer enough protection. Astro-boots, with pimples on the sole, are not suitable for playing on grass.