What Are Soccer Shoes Made Of?

What Are Soccer Shoes Made Of?

Every sport needs gear or pieces of equipment to play them efficiently. They help boost the performance of a player. When it comes to soccer there is one piece of gear that matters the most, and that’s the shoes.

Shoes play a crucial role in the player’s performance. Soccer shoe brands have been investing millions of dollars into the research for these shoes. These companies try to optimize performance every year. These companies are doing biomechanical research to improve player’s life on the field.

Brands use cutting-edge labs, robotics, 3D tracking, motion analytics. All these things are used to understand player’s motion on the field. All this information helps to make perfect soccer shoes.

There was a time when shoes were made with heavy leather. Technology has come a long way now. Brands have managed to reduce the weight of the shoes since then.

Now let’s discuss the question, ” What are soccer shoes made of?”

We will look into all kinds of technology and materials that are used to make soccer shoes.

Different Parts in Soccer Shoes

Soccer shoes have 10 different parts that come together to make one beautiful piece of gear. I will go through these parts and explain what materials are perfect for making these parts and what technologies were part of that manufacturing process.

1) Upper

One of the essential parts of soccer shoes is the Upper. From the name, it’s not that hard to guess that this is the uppermost part of the shoes. This part is crucial for ball control.

The quality of the upper in soccer shoes is determined by the touch rate. Higher the touch rate better the quality of the upper.

Upper should be made from light, breathable material. It should support the feet precisely while maintaining comfort. Soccer players wear the shoes for long hours, so their feet should not get tired by wearing these shoes.

Let’s take a look at all the materials that brands are using nowadays to make soccer shoes.

A) Full-grain & natural leather

Brands are using all different types of leather while making the upper of soccer shoes. Few mainly used leather materials are calfskin leather, kangaroo leather, and full-grain leather.

I’ll discuss and explain these materials individually.

I) Kangaroo leather

Kangaroo leather shoes have the highest touch rate of any other material. This material is also significantly lightweight. It provides good support to the feet. It adapts to the feet of the wearer nicely.

The only problem is durability. Kangaroo leather shoes are very high maintenance. You have to take special care of these shoes, or they start deteriorating in quality. Players love shoes that are of kangaroo leather but maintaining them is just a hassle.

II) Calfskin leather

Calfskin is the most used material in soccer shoes. It’s not as lightweight as kangaroo leather, but it is much more durable.

This leather is also supple and flexible. It has the second-highest touch rate of all materials. All this means calfskin leather provides the ultimate blend of all the things that matter together.

III) Full-grain leather

Full-grain leather is natural cattle leather. This leather is astonishingly strong, durable, and water-proof. This type of leather has more water resistance than the other two types mentioned above.

The only problem with this material is that it’s heavy-weight compared to the other two. Heavier material is not generally preferred by players since it hinders their performance.

B) Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather is a vegan option to regular natural leather. It is durable, lightweight, and water-proof. Shoes that have synthetic leather also have good breathability. These are also easier to clean and maintain.

There are some issues with synthetic leather too. It doesn’t mold to the feet as well as natural leather. This material is durable but not as much as genuine leather. Shoes made from synthetic leather will last player 1 to 2 seasons.

Brands are researching a lot in synthetic leather due to restrictions on genuine leather in many countries. I do feel companies will keep improving this material. So it shouldn’t be surprising if in a few years we see soccer shoes that have all the advantages of genuine leather but eliminates all the disadvantages.

C) Synthetic material

Synthetic material technology has come a long way. Brands are investing millions into researching more about them.

These materials are cheaper to use and make for brands. Synthetic material’s water-proof ability is unmatched. Shoes that have this material are also lighter and breathable. These shoes stay lightweight even in rain due to their water resistance, but they do tend to become glassy, which is worst for ball control. Brands do use some technology to tackle this problem.

D) Knit

The Knit soccer shoe wave started when Adidas launched their first one back in 2014. The reason for the hype was the quality and the weight of these shoes. These shoes are significantly lightweight. They also provide a barefoot feeling. They achieve all this without sacrificing their strength and comfort.

These shoes use one piece, which reduces material waste. Brands also use a protective layer on these shoes that will keep them safe in all weathering conditions. These shoes deliver high performance. As more research will be done on this material, they will get even better.

E) Mesh

Soccer shoes made out of mesh are the newest trend. This material is lightweight and breathable. Shoes made from this material look incredibly stylish.

This material is a nightmare in the rain as it has no water resistance. This trend was mainly adopted from running shoes. Some big brands do have few offerings in their product lineup that have mesh in them. Other than that, it’s not so preferred in professional-level soccer.

F) Vectran

The last material on this list is Vectran. For those of you who don’t know or haven’t heard, Vectran is made using a bundle of very thin threads of liquid crystal polymer. This material is designed to deliver high performance.

It’s thin Vectran fibers that come together to make the shoes. You might think it wouldn’t be strong, but it’s stronger than steel. Making shoes using Vectran is not that expensive, which is another positive for the brands.

2) Collars

The collar is critical in giving support to the feet. Some brands use a good amount of cushioning in the collar. While some brands use softer, plush material in the collar.

In any way, both of those things help your feet stay comfortable. There are multiple types of collar styles available in the market. Let’s go through them.

A) High-top collar

High-top collars were used quite a lot in old times but these shoes are not preferred anymore by soccer players. They provide good support to the ankles but they are also restricting the motion of players.

Plus they are heavy in weight which drags down players. There was a time when these collars were made from leather, but today most soccer shoes use synthetic fabric or knit for it.

Nike has its own thing called Dynamic Fit, which is basically a high-top collar. After Nike, many brands came up with their own high-top fluid collar design. Adidas has TechFit, then Puma has evoKnit, and many other small brands followed the trend.

Nike is already on verge of getting rid of its Dynamic Fit collar shoes. So that tells us a lot about what players prefer these days.

B) Mid-top collar

Mid-top collars go just up to ankle length rather than covering it like a high-top collar. These shoes are also good for supporting the ankle. They have the same downside of being heavy and restricting the foot’s movement.

Leather was commonly also for this type of collar. Over time it was replaced with mesh, synthetic fabric, or knit.

C) Low-top collar

This is the most used collar type. Players feel comfortable the most in shoes with a low-top collar. Not only they are lightweight, but they also allow movements.

A common complaint with high-top and low-top soccer shoes is that the Achilles tendon feels sore after a while. This problem doesn’t occur when you are wearing low-top shoes.

The material used for this collar type is also similar to the other two. It’s leather, synthetic fabric, or mesh. This collar type doesn’t provide much ankle support, but it delivers high performance.

3) Vamp

It is one of the critical parts of the front of the shoes. It’s right below shoelaces and on the side of the toe-box. It is the part players use to hit a shot or manage the ball in the air. Most of the time, shoes come with a vamp that is stitched, but brands are using different technologies to enhance the area to deliver precision. All these new technologies allow players to take a better shot.

4) Laces

Modern soccer shoes use synthetic fibers to make shoelaces. These synthetic fibers are extracted by synthesizing polymers. A lot of players today prefer to have soccer shoes without laces. It allows you to feel the ball with laces interfering with it.

There was a time when companies used to make a pad that would cover lace parts to give a plain surface and better shooting ability. Brands are constantly striving towards making laceless shoes better and better every year.

5) Insole

The insole is a crucial part of soccer shoes. It helps to keep your feet comfortable all day long. When it comes to soccer shoes, brands have to find a perfect balance between comfort and the size of the insole.

The insole cannot be too thick in soccer shoes. The Player controls the ball from under the feet. If you have too much cushioning inside, players can’t get a feel for the ball.

Typically insole is made up of foam. Brands use different technologies to their insole to give players perfect support and comfort. These insoles help provide airiness inside the shoes.

They are also uniquely designed to enhance performance when running or changing directions. Companies also use water-resistant materials for insole because you don’t want insoles soaking up water on a rainy day.

6) Outsole

The outsole is another important part of the shoes. It is made using PU or high-quality rubber. Some brands use a little bit of synthetic leather or PVC material inside the outsole too.

The Soccer shoe outsole should have the flexibility and still maintain support to the feet. It cant be too thick or too thin. This is the part that houses the stud for soccer shoes. So it should not break due to pressure from those studs.

Brands are constantly researching these synthetic materials to increase strength while reducing weight. Having a lightweight outsole is of utmost importance.

7) Midsole

The midsole is a critical part of soccer shoes. That’s the part players use to control the ball, which is why the midsole is almost non-existent on soccer shoes.

Another function of the midsole is to absorb shocks. Brands use intelligent design for the midsole so that it doesn’t interfere with the player’s touch and feel under the foot while providing support to the feet.

8) Last

Shoe last necessary to determine the general structure of the shoes. It determines things like the style, ergonomics, and performance of the shoes.

Wrong last can throw the entire shoe in the wrong direction. You have to understand the function of the shoes and use an appropriate last.

These are made from wood or plastic. Most modern soccer shoes have synthetic material for last that gives them strength.

9) Heel counter

The heel counter is the backbone of the shoes. It is there to maintain structural stability. It is what gives the shape to the heels. It has to be strong in strength, so it’s made from PU or plastic.

The brands use cushioning or padding on them to keep your heel comfortable and not cause irritation due to constant friction between them.

10) Studs

The final part of a perfect soccer shoe studs. Studs play a critical role in providing traction to the player. It is what helps players take a sudden turn or sudden burst while running.

There are quite a few types of soccer shoes, and they have different materials and shapes of studs. Let’s take a look at them.

A) Firm-ground soccer shoes

Firm-ground soccer shoes have studs made from high-quality plastic or rubber. They are shorter in length because the ground is firm, so studs don’t get stuck inside the grass.

These studs don’t have any metal on them as they would create resistance while running. These plastic studs can be removable or easy to repair. That’s up to the brands who design the shoes.

The shape of these studs is bladed. Bladed studs provide the best traction on firm surfaces. Brands put the different directions on side studs, so turning or dribbling will be easier too. There are no studs present in the arch of the shoes for better ball control.

B) Soft-ground soccer shoes

Studs for soft-ground soccer shoes are made using plastic, rubber, or synthetic material too. The difference between soft-ground and firm-ground soccer shoe studs is that these studs have metal cones on top.

They are also longer in length and a bit narrower than firm-ground studs. That’s because these studs are made for muddy grounds or when the football field is wet. So player’s feet don’t constantly keep getting stuck in the mud. This provides better traction as the surface is slippery.

Predominantly these are shaped in conical form. That’s the most efficient shape to dig in your feet to get a push from the soft ground. Sudden turning and running in a wet field becomes effortless due to these studs. Similar firm-ground shoes, there are no studs present in the arch of the shoes for better ball control.

C) Turf soccer shoes

Turf soccer shoes have studs all over the shoe bottom. That’s the best way to provide traction on tur surfaces. These studs are made using a rubber compound. Plastic or metal studs don’t work on turn surfaces. Metal can damage the turf, while plastic doesn’t provide much traction on turf.

These studs are relatively smaller compared to regular studs. They are also in round shape. Some brands add both round and bladed shape studs in a shoe so players can use the same shoes for both turf and firm ground.

D) Indoor soccer shoes

Indoor soccer shoes come with a high-quality rubber sole. The rubber sole on these shoes provides unmatched traction on indoor surfaces.

Since indoor soccer surfaces have hard floors, there are no studs on these shoes. Using shoes with studs would make you prone to slipping and injuring yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have discussed all the parts in the shoes and materials and technologies used to make them, let’s see some commonly asked questions about this subject by people.

  1. Are football boots made of leather?

    Yes. There are various types of football boots. Some are made using leather while some use other materials like synthetic leather, mesh, knit, or synthetic material. It all depends on the requirement of that shoe.

  2. How are soccer boots made?

    There are few steps involved when big companies make soccer boots.
    The first step is material and cutting. The material for the shoes is laid out and then cut into a shape that's needed for the shoes.
    The second step is to print and stitch. At this stage branding logo or name is printed, and then stitching is done. It also provides guidance for final stitching.
    The third step is lasting and assembly. In this step, cardboard last is inserted at a base into stitched cleats. This is what gives it its final shape. Then all the sides of the material are tightly pulled and stitched or glued. Finally, the outsole is attached.
    The final step is a quality check. If the shoes pass those checks, they are ready for shipping.

  3. What material are Nike soccer cleats made of?

    Nike used all kinds of materials in their cleats. Natural leather, full-grain leather, synthetic leather, synthetic material, mesh, knit, Vectran all these materials are used by Nike to make their shoes. Nike has a lot of models on offer, so they use these materials according to the need of their shoes.

  4. Are soccer cleats metal or plastic?

    Both are used in cleats. It depends on the surface. Firm-ground requires plastic cleats, while wet or soft ground requires metal cleats.

  5. What are soccer shoes called?

    Soccer shoes are referred to as cleats in America. In many places, they are also referred to as studs.

  6. What is the purpose of spikes on soccer shoes?

    Spikes are a much-needed part of soccer shoes. That's what provides the traction and stability. Be it a firm surface or soft surface or turf they all require different kinds of studs that help in gripping and using ground to gain speed. It helps players in manoeuvrability too.

  7. Why aren't modern soccer shoes soles flexible?

    Modern soccer shoe soles are flexible just not the way you imagine them to be. The history of football boots has evolved over the period. In the olden era, these shoes were made from leather and stitched and nailed to a base. These were basically like wraparound leather boots that are there to protect the feet.
    As the technology has evolved brands now put a lot more effort into making shoes that deliver high performance. Today soles are flexible, but they also have firmness and rigidity. It helps players gain speed while running and also makes it easier to take sudden turns. All this, plus it keeps feet safe and supported to minimize injury chances.

Conclusion

I hope I have answered the main question in this topic ” What are soccer shoes made of?”. I have showered you with a plethora of information that will help you understand all the nitty-gritty of soccer shoes.

There is a lot more thought goes into making a soccer shoe than it did decades ago. As technologies and needs are evolving, brands are adapting to new methods and ways to create soccer shoes.

All these technologies help make your soccer shoes durable, flexible and maintain structural integrity. It helps them make lightweight shoes that offer performance at the highest level.

I sincerely hope that my article today has helped you enhance your knowledge on this subject. As with everything in this world, things will keep evolving and getting better, so we never know when brands might come up with new material that makes the best soccer shoes. We can only hope until that time.