Can Football Cleats Be Used for Soccer? Everything You Need to Know

By Luís Miguel
Updated on

Cleats can be expensive. Playing multiple sports (like soccer, baseball, softball, etc) might mean having to buy different cleats for each one. If you play American football, it is natural to wonder whether you can reuse your cleats to play soccer too.

Football cleats cannot be used for soccer. Their use is forbidden in official soccer leagues. They are not allowed in competitive and recreational soccer leagues or tournaments or by most clubs and teams. Using football cleats for soccer can cause injuries and hinders players’ performance.

In this post, I’ll explain why they’re not allowed, why you shouldn’t use them for soccer even if they were, the differences between them, and more.

Can You Use Football Cleats for Soccer?

Football cleats are not allowed to be used in soccer leagues, tournaments or competitions that follow or base their rules on IFAB’s Laws of the Game due to safety reasons.

IFAB, the International Football Association Board (“football” here relates to soccer, not American football) — the “Guardians of the Laws of the Game” –, are very clear in their Law 4 that addresses “Safety”:

«A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous.»

This includes footwear.

Since football cleats have longer and sharper studs than those found in soccer shoes and — most importantly — because they feature a toe stud (unlike soccer shoes), their use is considered to be dangerous in soccer.

Someone wearing football cleats could seriously injure other players with those longer spikes and toe studs. Besides causing pain and injuries in other athletes, the wearer could get sent off from the match, suspended for a few games or, in worse cases, even banned.

That’s why referees inspect players prior to the start of each match or before substitutes enter the pitch.

You have probably seen players putting one foot down and the other up when there’s a substitution. That happens so the assistant referee can see if their studs are of an allowed size, length and material and if there are no toe studs.

Why Shouldn’t You Use Football Cleats in Soccer

Although football cleats are comfortable to wear, if you were allowed to use to them for soccer, you shouldn’t.

Here’s why:

Football cleats were designed to be used for playing American football only. They’re built with that specific use in mind.

Using them for soccer, even if allowed, would only work against you.

They may appear similar but in reality they weigh more, are larger and bulkier than soccer shoes which are lightweight and fit perfectly.

And since they usually feature longer studs and a toe stud, you would have a harder time controlling, passing, dribbling, and shooting the soccer ball.

All in all, it would hinder your overall performance and slow down or even recede your skill development.

That being said, you cannot and should not wear football cleats for playing soccer.

Are Soccer and Football Cleats the Same?

Soccer and football shoes look similar and both types of cleats can be mistaken for the other.

Soccer cleats and football cleats are not the same. There are many differences between them such as use type, cut style, construction, materials, outsoles, stud types and length and the existence of a toe stud in football cleats that soccer cleats don’t share.

Cleats for American football were designed to be used for that sport specifically. Soccer cleats have a more flexible type of use.

Differences Between Football Cleats and Soccer Cleats

There are 5 main differences between football cleats and soccer cleats:

  1. Cut length.
  2. Midsole.
  3. Outsole.
  4. Studs & Toe Stud.
  5. Construction sturdiness.
Football Cleats Soccer Cleats
Cut Length Low, medium and high Generally low-cut
Midsole Included Not included or include a thin one
Outsole Thick and sturdy Thin and light
Studs & Toe Stud Long and sharp spikes. Toe stud included Shorter and less sharp spikes. No toe stud.
Construction Sturdy and thick Light and snugly

Differences Between Football Cleats and Soccer Cleats Explained

Cut Length

Basically all positions in soccer require speed of movement, sudden stops, quick cuts, agility and ankle maneuverability. That’s why cleats for soccer are usually low-cut and lightweight.

One may say that there are soccer cleat designs that seem to feature a cut above the ankle, like a high-top, but that’s actually more like a collar made from stretchy fabric to offer a softer and more secure feel to the ankle.

Cleats for American Football vary between three cut lengths: low, mid and high.

Each length is best suited for specific positions on the gridiron and for different styles of play.


Low-cut cleats for football go below the ankle and are similar in look to standard soccer cleats. They are lightweight to maximize speed and agility.

Football players who rely on speed to play their role in the game of football have them as their favorite. That includes defensive backs like cornerbacks and safeties, but also offensive players like wide receivers.


Mid-cut football cleats only cover a portion of the ankle to provide ankle support while, at the same time, allowing for more ankle freedom and speed when compared to high-cuts.

This length design is preferred by defensive backs, linebackers, quarterbacks, running backs,and wide receivers.


High-cut or high-tops cleats for American football have a similar shape as basketball shoes. As the ankles are fully covered, they provide extra ankle support and more padding. But it also makes the cleat heavier and bulkier.

High-cut football cleats are the best option for positions that do not require a lot of mobility on the playing field. Most offensive and defensive linemenpick this style of cleats to help with their constant lateral movements during the game.


The midsole isa layer between the inner and outer sole of the shoe that provides cushioning, absorbs shock and helps reduce foot fatigue. It’s designed to protect the ball of the foot, which is the area where the majority of impact occurs.

Soccer cleats either don’t include a midsole or feature one that’s generally thinner than that of an American football cleat.

This allows soccer players to keep their center of gravity as low to the ground as possible which helps them have higher stability, ball control and speed.

Cleats for gridiron come with midsoles. Besides comfort, they offer increased stability which is definitely required to withstand the rigors of contact sports like football.


The outsole is the bottommost part of the shoe, after the insole and midsole. Outsoles are generally made of rubber or synthetic materials like polyurethane.

Soccer cleats have thinner and lighter outsoles compared to American football boots which have thicker and sturdier outsoles for maximum protection.


Depending on the playing surface, soccer shoes come with different types of studs.

Soccer shoes for Indoor Soccer (which is played on synthetic turf and is different from Futsal and so are its shoes) feature spiked or bladed cleats for increased traction and higher speed or rounded cleats for more stability.

Studs for outdoor soccer shoes come in different makeups, lengths and shapes depending on the type of playing field.

For soft ground grass pitches, soccer shoes usually come with removable studs made of metal (aluminum) that helps with traction and are more durable.

For harder outdoor surfaces like dried grass or artificial turf, soccer shoes have studs molded into their outsoles.

Compared to soccer cleats, football cleats have longer and sharper studs for increased grip and traction which enables players to turn and cut faster and more confidently.

Studs for this type of boot can also be detachable (more expensive depending on the type of material which varies between metal, plastic and rubber) and molded (least expensive overall).

As a measure to reduce injuries, youth football competitions require the use of molded cleats.

Toe Stud

American football cleats feature a toe stud located close to the big toe.

This special kind of stud (which baseball also feature) was designed to provide traction and grip in those situations when players move straight-ahead from a still position, block or push against opponents.

Toe studs are not included in soccer cleats — making it one of the biggest differences between football cleats and soccer cleats.

Having a toe stud would only make things even tougher for soccer players. Receiving, controlling, passing, kicking and other movements would be largely affected.

That’s why brands focus so much in creating soccer cleats that not only fit perfectly and feel natural, but also have a consistent and responsive touch in the shooting and toe areas of the shoe.

And due to how the beautiful game is played that extra spike near the big toe could be responsible for potentially severe injuries to other players as well as to those wearing it.


Both football and soccer cleats are built with reliable materials that are able withstand the toughest of uses and circumstances: wet, soft, rough or hard grass, dirt, mud, high temperatures, cold, rain and ice and snow.

Their manufacturing naturally takes into account the distinct specificities of each sport itself.

Cleats for American Football have a sturdier and thicker build which features protective uppers. They’re heavier and bulkier to last longer, offer more protection, and be ready for the most brutal of tackles, hardest of blocks and greatest power plays.

Cleats for association football are constructed with thinner materials so they’re lighter and snugglier to provide maximum speed and agility.

Guy wearing an SL Benfica jersey holding soccer ball over his head

Article by:

Luís Miguel

As a true soccer enthusiast, I’m Soccermodo’s team captain. My job is to make sure the site’s content is top-notch so that you, our reader, can focus solely on improving your game and reach new heights.