Expensive vs. Cheap Soccer Cleats – What’s the difference?

Are they going to make you a better player?

In all honesty, no.  The athletes of the parents that work at StriveFar might disagree. The 10 year old is on Instagram following Footy Headlines, the 14 year old is looking at The18.com  to see what members of Barca are wearing, the common theme is the more expensive, the better you play.

More expensive cleats can increase your power, but probably not by too much!  They don’t teach you how to hit the ball with a better technique.  They don’t increase your muscle speed and power so you can hit the ball harder.  They don’t teach you to make the right connection with the ball so you hit it really cleanly.  They don’t suddenly teach you how to make better decisions on the field.

If you take the same player and watch a game with them in the expensive cleats for 1 half of the game and a cheap pair for the next half, no-one will be saying “OMG they were such a better player in the first half with those more expensive cleats on – quick, get the expensive cleats on NOW!”

The real difference and the reason people want to wear the more expensive cleats are pretty much down to these reasons:

  1. They look better.
  2. The ‘feel’ is nicer.
  3. They’re comfier.
  4. They’re lighter.
  5. The touch on the ball is better.
  6. They look special, so they make you feel special, so you play like you’re special! (sounds silly but it’s true).
  7. Like a sweet pair of sneakers or high heels, cleats express your personality.  They also show your personality and style off.  With 95% accuracy, I can tell what type of person and what type of player a person is from the cleats they’re wearing.

It’s essential to express your personality through how you look and play when playing soccer.  Cleats are an extension of your personality, just like how you wear your shirt (tucked in, half-in/half out, long sleeved/short sleeved etc.), so players want to get it right.  It also builds credibility.  Cleats reflect your playing style and you need to get the right cleats to back that up!

Personally, since the age of 16 or so, I’ve always worn expensive or high end cleats (I love shopping in the sales to still get some value).  Once you start with the comfort and feel of a more expensive cleat, it’s difficult to go back.

I spent that money because it was important to me whilst I was playing that I felt as comfortable as possible – that money was worth it in my eyes.


First of all, more expensive cleats weigh a lot less than the cheaper ones.  This makes them lighter on your feet and more comfortable to wear.  In fact, some are made so light that you don’t really feel you’re wearing them.  It may be argued that this can then improve your speed and thus performance, but honestly, I’m not sure it will make a huge difference to the speed of a player.  Get down the track if you want to make a real difference to your speed!


Cheaper cleats are usually made out of plastic or a lesser material.  The more classic boots (Adidas Copa Mundials, Nike Tiempos, Puma Kings) will be made out of Kangaroo leather.  These really are soft and supple and definitely make the touch on the ball superior.  Again, this adds to the comfort too.  This is a justified expense.


Due to how lightweight expensive cleats are and the material they’re made out of, the feel is probably one of the biggest differences.  They feel lighter, are a better fit and feel part of your foot rather than on your foot.  They’ll less chunky and wrap around your foot a lot better, so you notice them a lot less when you’re playing.  Think of the difference as wearing socks to play in (expensive) or wearing dutch clogs to play in (cheap).


Like a good, custom suit, the look of the cleat is going to be more fitted, less bulky, sleeker looking and in general, stand out more.  Cheaper cleats tend to, well, look cheaper.  However, from far away and to the untrained eye, most people won’t be able to tell the difference between the expensive cleat and cheaper cleat.  The problem is that most people that play soccer to some sort of level, absolutely have that trained eye!


Don’t be fooled into thinking the more expensive the cleat, the longer they’ll last.  This is not how it works!  In fact, due to the light weight material used in high performing cleats, they’ll often last a shorter amount of time!  Compared to that long lasting plastic, you may get more wear out of a cheaper cleat than a more expensive cleat!

How to know if you have the right pair of cleats?

The real test as to whether you have the right pair of cleats is whether you’re thinking about your cleats or not when you’re playing.  If you are, you have the wrong cleats.  If you’re not, you know you’ve got the right cleats!

Spending time to work out which cleats suit your personal style, shape of foot and playing style is well worth taking time over as it can be expensive.  But once you find the right cleat for you, you’re likely to be passionately loyal to that brand and model for years to come!  Some people won’t ever change once they find the one they like.

Whether you get expensive or cheap cleats, it is not the performance of the player that will change that dramatically.  It is how the player is going to look and feel which makes the difference in choosing which cleats to buy and whether to go cheap or expensive.


For an awesome selection of cheap and expensive soccer cleats, check out soccerstop.com!



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Played with Coventry City F.C. in the English Premier League and England Under 18 Schoolboy Football team. 13 years in the Sports and Education industries as an Athletic Director, Head of Physical Education, Teacher and Coach. Extensive international experience in Europe (UK), Africa (Tanzania), Asia (Singapore) and now permanently based in USA (Denver, Colorado). Nick is co-founder of StriveFar, an online marketplace that connects athletes with private coaches. StriveFar’s goal is to eliminate the headaches and help coaches grow their private coaching business by finding athletes, scheduling the sessions and collecting the money so coaches can focus on what they love to do, developing the athletes. Nick’s passion has always been to develop and inspire young people through the medium of sport. He loves to share and promote his commitment to all things sport. Nick always tries to motivate young people to be their best and tries to exemplify a positive, healthy, driven and energetic lifestyle. He has developed Athletic and Educational programs from scratch for private international schools, combining clear objectives with a strong use of strategy, planning, organizational and communication skills.

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