We hear it at soccercorner.com at least twice a week: “These cleats were expensive, and I only got a season’s use out of them, and I feel like I should get more for what I paid.”
All cheeky gifs aside, we understand what you’re saying, we really do, our entire staff at soccer corner is made up of either former athletes, current athletes, coaches, rec-league all-stars, and even parents of athletes.
We know how much it costs to keep cleats on growing feet or buy a new pair season in and season out. What we want to make clear is that the price of the cleat does not influence the lifespan of the cleat.
Spending hundreds of dollars for this season does not mean in two seasons those cleats will still be as good as new (full-disclosure: they won’t be anywhere close). More than just the amount spent on pair of cleats, a few other details that are often neglected are major factors in determining the lifespan of cleats.
ONE) Young athletes train more than ever
Young athletes are busier than they’ve ever been. Coaches want their players to focus on one sport for the whole year round and participate in every practice, clinic, camp, that a young player can sign up for. Typically an athlete buys one pair of cleats and then trains in them every practice, plays in them every game. If a season is typically 12 weeks (can’t forget pre-season training!) an athlete is likely putting nearly 10 hours of hard use in a week, at 12 weeks, that’s over 100 hours of wear and tear in every kind of condition.
TWO) Athletes are playing on more surfaces than ever
Firm-ground cleats are designed for exactly what it sounds like: firm-ground. This wasn’t a problem in the 80s and 90s when nearly every U.S. high school sported a natural grass athletic field. Nowadays artificial playing surfaces are all the rage with more and more high schools replacing natural grass with turf athletes are practicing on turf, playing on grass, and then playing away games on a different style of turf.
Firm-ground cleats tend to sink-in on turf which can cause them to catch and start separating the sole-plate from the upper. This is further exacerbated by the small turf beads that will find a home in the slight separations– causing the cleats to separate and open up further.
THREE) Cleats are lighter than ever
Cleats took a beating in the past. You could have the same pair for two or three years as long as your feet didn’t grow. Know what else cleats were in the past? HEAVY. Cleats were almost all made out of durable leather uppers and TPU soleplates until at least 2010. It wasn’t until 2014 that Nike unveiled its first cleat with ‘flyknit’ technology. Since then its been a race to the lightest cleat by the three major manufacturers– Nike, Adidas, and Puma.
The problem is that these synthetic materials don’t have half the longevity of leather– and if you feel that even leather isn’t lasting like it used to, you’d be right. Know why? Because it’s thinner than ever, because players want lighter cleats, and now you see how a single unified obsession of producing ‘the lightest cleat’ has left durability in the dust.
What Can be Done?
There are a few strategies to making you cleats last, one of our favorites is cleat recycling, wearing the appropriate shoes for the playing surface (turfs vs. studs), but overall the most you can do is understand that paying more for cleats isn’t money put toward ‘durability’, but rather toward the lightest most scientifically advanced cleat on the market.
We drop top-quality knowledge here at soccercornertalk, but if you’re looking for top-quality gear for training to match day, you want to pop over to www.soccercorner.com