Footwear in football

Special topic
  • Is there an effect of shoe traction and surface compliance on performance?


  • Is there a difference in cutting maneuvers when wearing different studded shoes?


  • Can/should female wear men soccer shoes?


If you are interested in these topics you might want to continue reading and/or download the research.


#1 Shoe traction and surface compliance affect performance of soccer-related movements
Reference: Footwear Science, 6(2), 69-80, 2014
Authors: Nicole Marie Schrier, John William Wannop, Ryan T. Lewinson, Jay Worobets & Darren Stefanyshyn
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Summary: The purpose of the study was to determine how shoe-surface interaction, specifically traction and compliance, affects performance and biomechanics of soccer-related movements. Third generation artificial turf was installed in the laboratory to allow for kinetic and kinematic data collection both on the turf and on a laboratory surface (Pulastic sports surface). Twelve male athletes performed five 5 m sprint accelerations and five 180° sprint turns in three different shoe-surface conditions (indoor soccer shoe on the laboratory surface, indoor soccer shoe on the turf surface, soccer cleat on turf surface). Comparisons between the indoor shoe across surfaces indicated compliance effects and comparisons between the cleat and indoor shoe on turf indicated traction effects. Performance increased for the sprint acceleration in the indoor shoe on the turf compared to the laboratory (1.04 s vs. 1.08 s); however, no further increase in acceleration performance occurred with the soccer cleat. For the turn movement, no change in performance occurred comparing the indoor shoe across surfaces however an increase in turn performance was seen when using the soccer cleat on turf compared to the indoor shoe (2.67 s vs. 2.56 s). The cleat had both increased utilised translational and rotational traction compared to the indoor shoe on turf for the turn movement. The cleat also resulted in increased ankle eversion moments as well as increased knee abduction and external rotation moments compared to the indoor shoe on the turf surface for the turn movement. Both compliance and traction shoe-surface characteristics affect performance; however, the effects of the different characteristics are different depending on the movement type.

#2 Cutting performance wearing different studded soccer shoes on dry and wet artificial turf
Reference: Footwear Science, 6(2), 81-87, 2014
Authors: Dirk De Clercq, Gijs Debuyck, Joeri Gerlo, Stijn Rambour, Veerle Segers & Ine Van Caekenberghe
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Summary: The ability to perform fast cutting manoeuvres is essential in soccer and requires sufficient traction between shoe and surface. Artificial turf (AT) surfaces are widely used in soccer and among others turf moisture and shoe studs can influence traction. The aim of this study was to quantify the influence of moisture (DRY and WET AT), for three realistic shoe stud characteristics sets [Turf Field (TF), Artificial Grass (AG) and Firm Ground (FG)], on cutting performance, executed traction and perception of the players. Twelve experienced soccer players performed 10 × 5 m shuttle run tests. Ground reaction forces of the open stance phase of the 180° turns were measured and required traction was calculated. Players' perception was also measured. A two-way 2×3 analysis of variance (ANOVA) Repeated Measures with Bonferroni correction was conducted. On dry AT no performance differences between the three tested shoe stud characteristics sets could be measured. On wet AT the AG and FG designs performed evenly well but when wearing the TF shoe, equipped with 74 short studs, significant surface x shoe interaction effects indicated decreased performance and traction on the wet surface. The experienced players perceived shoe x surface evoked differences in performance and traction very well.

#3 Criteria for gender-specific soccer shoe development
Reference: Footwear Science, 6(2), 89-96, 2014
Authors: Katharina Althoff & Ewald M. Hennig
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Summary: To date, there is a lack of research on gender-specific soccer footwear, even though there are biological differences as well as differences in playing behaviour among female and male players. This paper discusses criteria that are important for the development of women-specific soccer shoes. Females are different in size and body composition and due to a lower muscular strength, movements are less powerful. Biomechanical and neuromuscular differences are the cause of different movement patterns and in comparison to men women bear a higher risk of non-contact injuries. Traction properties of the shoe should be studied to understand the gender related influence of footwear on high risk movements like cutting or landing, which often cause knee injuries. Questionnaires showed that comfort is the most important shoe feature that soccer players expect from their shoes, but comfort is even more important for the female players. Therefore, it is necessary that shoe last design and upper construction are based on gender-specific foot morphology. In general, female feet are smaller and even if feet have the same length as males, female feet tend to be narrower. A lot of female players are not satisfied with their shoes and would like to have a narrower fit and a (slightly) more flexible outsole. However they do not want shorter studs, although cleat design is likely to influence injury risk. In conclusion: Female players need their own shoe design that decreases injury risks without sacrificing performance.

#3 Effect of soccer shoe ball girth differences on fit perception, agility running and running speed perception
Reference: Footwear Science, 6(2), 97-103, 2014
Authors: Thorsten Sterzing, Mathias Wulf, Ting Yu Qin, Jason Tak-Man Cheung & Torsten Brauner
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Summary: Soccer shoes influence agility running due to traction properties. Shoe upper fit was identified to effect stability perception of players. However, its influence on agility running performance is unclear. This study examined whether soccer shoe ball girth dimension affects fit perception, agility running, and running speed perception. It was hypothesised that a narrower shoe ball girth would improve running performance. Thirty male soccer players performed agility runs in three experimental shoe conditions, featuring the same length but different ball girth (narrow, medium, wide). Fit perception, running time, and running speed perception were measured by a timing gate and perception protocols. One-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Friedman tests were used to identify differences among shoe conditions, complemented by least significant difference (LSD) post-hoc and Wilcoxon signed rank tests. Fit perception scores revealed that the medium and the wide shoe condition were perceived to have wider ball girth compared to the narrow condition (p < 0.05). No agility running performance and running speed perception differences were detected among shoe conditions. Anatomical foot measures were only weakly, or not correlated to fit perception at corresponding shoe locations. Fit differences of soccer shoes, only regarding their ball girth, did not influence agility running performance. This indicates a lesser importance of fit properties for achieving best running performance compared to traction properties, when ball girth is varied in shoes featuring a given shoe length. Individual lacing procedures were used in this study and may have compensated for the fit differences of the experimental shoes of this research.

#4 Myth and fact of ball impact dynamics in football codes
Reference: Footwear Science, 6(2), 105-118, 2014
Authors: Hiroyuki Nunome, Kevin Ball & Hironari Shinkai
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Summary:  Kicking is important in all the football codes and impact is the most crucial component of the skill. However, only a few studies have documented the foot to ball impact phase adequately due to low sample rates and methodological issues. This paper reviews these studies in an attempt to better understand foot-ball impact and explores the veracity of impact-related coaching cues. In soccer, the use of ultrahigh-speed video, a new smoothing procedure and ball modelling to calculate the centre of mass of the ball during deformation has allowed for detailed analysis of impact. A number of studies have identified four phases during foot-ball contact. First the foot acts to deform the ball (phase I), followed by ball acceleration until foot and ball speeds are similar (phase II). The ball then begins to reform while still accelerating (phase III). The last phase shows little interaction between foot and ball suggesting no influence on ball speed. Also using ultrahigh-speed video in the punt kick, but with methods largely focusing on average rather than instantaneous analyses of impact, differences in impact characteristics have been found between seniors and juniors, preferred and non-preferred legs, and kick distances and kick types. The four phases evident in soccer kicking were also present in the punt kick and might have similar underlying mechanisms. Differences exist between player perceptions of what is happening at impact and what actually occurs. Coaching advice to extend the time in contact to produce greater ball velocity was not correct but maintaining a firm foot in the punt kick for distance is an appropriate cue. Further, impact phase analysis has been shown to have useful practical applications. A unique impact location on the foot was found in producing a knuckle ball, and using the difference between this and the instep kick as a cue, the technique was successfully learned by a university level player. Finally footwear design to improve resultant ball performance was explored, looking at existing footwear products, application of ball to foot impact research and potential theories applicable to footwear.

#5 Plantar pressure measurements for the evaluation of shoe comfort, overuse injuries and performance in soccer
Reference: Footwear Science, 6(2), 119-127, 2014
Authors: Ewald M. Hennig
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Summary: Soccer has become the most popular sport across the globe. Players would agree that footwear has a large influence on the game of soccer. Shoe traction properties determine the speed of the game, and various shoe stud configurations are optimised for wet and dry ground conditions. Questionnaires show that comfort is the most desirable shoe feature that soccer players want from their shoes. Better comfort is strongly associated with a reduction of high pressures under the foot. During running, sprinting and cut movements large differences in plantar pressure patterns are present. These different loading patterns may explain some of the overuse injuries in soccer. The type of footwear also modifies in-shoe pressures substantially. This knowledge is not only important for improving foot comfort and injury prevention but can also explain performance differences between various shoe constructions. Even the influence of shoe design on the kicking accuracy can be analysed by pressure distribution measurements. Overall, pressure measuring devices can be considered the most important tool for the evaluation and design of shoes for better comfort, enhanced performance and the prevention of overuse injuries.


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