Cleats are essential to success in American football. Without the proper cleats, you will experience poor performance and possibly injury. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on aesthetics before function — the best cleats do more than make you look cool.
Proper cleats ensure you have optimal traction and protect your ankles. If you’re looking for affordable but high-quality football cleats, the Under Armour Hammer Mid D football cleats are the top choice.
On grass, the best material for football cleats is the metal-tipped, screw-in cleats. It depends on your division and conference if you can actually use metal tips, but they are the absolute best for playing on grass fields. They push into the ground more easily and provide optimum traction for accelerating and enduring collisions.
Materials like plastic and rubber work better on turf fields. Metal can tear through turf while plastic and rubber have more hold. There are also specialized turf cleats, made from rubber, built into the shoe. Metal tears through turf while plastic and rubber have more hold because they create more friction against the rubber bits in the turf.
Plastic cleats tend to wear down and become little nubs, especially if you have to walk on concrete or pavement on the way to the field. That said, plastic is better if you want to buy one pair of cleats for both astroturf and grass.
The length of your cleats will vary depending on the position you play. For example, a wide receiver should have shorter cleats to help increase their speed. Speed players need short cleats in order to maximize their performance. Shorter cleats don’t dig into the ground as much, and they’re lighter, making it easier to move.
Linemen, on the other hand, should use longer cleats so that they can hold their ground more easily. If you’re playing in high school, some conferences only allow players to have ½ inch cleats, but they can range in size from ¼ inch to 1 inch.
Cleats come in a few different heights: low-top, mid-top or high-top. Your cleats need to be able to protect your joints, but there are different styles that offer greater movement at the cost of stability.
Low top cleats are the greatest choice for agility and skill players who want to be able to cut on a dime, change direction and accelerate. These shoes are also the most lightweight. If you’re wearing low-top cleats, it’s recommended to wrap your ankles with tape.
Mid-top cleats are for all-around players who want some ankle support without restricting too much movement. It’s a good cut for quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers and tight ends.
High-cut cleats are for the big guys on the line who are going to be subject to high-intensity impacts and the weight of people falling on them. For additional protection, linemen should also have knee braces to support the joints.
Screw-in cleats are easier to maintain because it’s simple to replace studs that get worn down. You can also swap out the spikes when you need to change from grass to turf, so there’s no need to buy extra shoes.
No one likes being stepped on, and football cleats hurt when they come down on your feet. It’s smart to invest in shoes that have a protected toe box that softens impacts and keeps your feet from being black and blue after a lineman accidentally stomps on them.
Cleats need to be made to last. It’s frustrating and possibly dangerous to have equipment that falls apart. Therefore, it’s better to spend a little more on quality-made cleats than to buy cheaper cleats you’ll need to replace.
The most affordable cleats are sold for $50-$80. Midrange cleats will run you anywhere from $80-$120. High-end cleats cost above $120, which is mainly an investment in the look of the cleat.
A. The best way to keep cleats alive for a long time is to only wear them on the field. Walking around on asphalt or pavement can wear them down. Keep them dry, if possible. After rainy game days, you should get them into a dryer.
A. Cleats should be almost uncomfortably tight, and there should be no wiggle room for your toes or on the sides of your feet. You want them secured tightly so they can properly protect your ankles and you have better control.
What you need to know: These cleats are made from a light but strong material, making them breathable while also protecting your feet from impacts.
What you’ll love: The mid-top height provides support without sacrificing mobility. The insole is made from high-rebound SuperFoam which provides optimal shock absorption and improves explosion.
What you should consider: Make sure you buy more replacement screws. The studs can get lost or dislodged, so it’s good to have extras on hand.
What you need to know: These cleats are for the skill players. They were designed for sprinting, and a rotational traction zone helps keep traction when performing sharp cuts.
What you’ll love: The lightweight knit uppers look good and feel good without sacrificing protection. A polyurethane sock liner makes these cleats extremely comfortable.
What you should consider: These shoes tend to run a little small, so consider getting a size up. They’re narrow, too, so if you have wide feet, they won’t be for you.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: These cleats for linemen will keep ankles stable even during the biggest collisions.
What you’ll love: The molded 4D foam footbed relieves pressure while ensuring there’s no slippage inside the shoe. Everything will be snug and secure, but also breathable and comfortable.
What you should consider: They will reduce your range of motion and hamper your agility. These shoes run narrow, as well.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.