Cleat (shoe)

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Football shoes have studs on their soles Cleats.jpg
Football shoes have studs on their soles

Cleats or studs are protrusions on the sole of a shoe or on an external attachment to a shoe that provide additional traction on a soft or slippery surface. They can be conical or blade-like in shape and can be made of plastic, rubber or metal. The type worn depends on the environment of play: grass, ice, artificial turf, or other grounds.


In American English, the term "cleats" is used synecdochically to refer to shoes featuring such protrusions. In British English, the term can similarly be used to refer to ' football boots' or 'rugby boots' that have studs.


It is thought that during the Roman Empire, Roman legionaries wore studded sandals that resembled cleats. The caligae (as they were called) were heavy-soled hobnailed military sandal-boots known for being issued to legionary soldiers and auxiliaries throughout the Roman Republic and Empire.

Athletes have worn cleats since at least the 1500s. Although there are no images or surviving examples of cleats from that time period, the first written documentation of cleats comes from 1526, when "football boots" were listed in King Henry VIII's Great Wardrobe. [1] According to researchers, the English monarch ordered the royal cordwainer (shoemaker), Cornelius Johnson, to make him a pair of hand-stitched boots "to play football". The shoes cost four shillings (about $200 today) and were probably made of especially strong leather.

Football remained a popular sport in England throughout the ensuing centuries, but it wasn't until the emergence of The Football Association in 1863 that the sport of football emerged as an actual organized game in England. [2] With this, the sport took off in popularity, and understandably a demand for equipment began to emerge to ensure player safety and comfort. More importantly, technological innovations during this time period played a key role in new methods and materials used for production of cleats. In the 1840s, a method of hardening rubber and stopping it from decaying, called vulcanization, was developed in both England and the United States. [3]

Vulcanized rubber is used in the production of all types of shoes, but is especially beneficial in the production of cleats, in that one of the primary purposes of football cleats is to protect the player's feet. Technology continued to improve in the coming decades, and by the 1890s studs are first used to make football cleats. The concept of spiked and studded shoes for other sports began to emerge as well in the late 19th century. In the 1890s, a British Company (now known as Reebok), developed the earliest known spiked leather running shoes. [3]

Cleats began to be used in the United States in the 1860s when metal spikes were first used on baseball shoes. [4] A baseball shoe, as defined by the Dickson Baseball Dictionary (3rd Ed), is "a special type of shoe designed and worn by baseball players that features cleats for traction and a full set of laces for support." [5] The first official baseball shoe was invented and produced by Waldo M. Claflin, of Philadelphia in 1882. [5] The use of cleats gained further notoriety in the United States with the birth of American football in the early 20th century. The original football shoes were actually baseball shoes, but innovations quickly emerged. In the 1920s, detachable cleats were first introduced. As the game continued to grow, cleats had to adapt to technological advances in playing surfaces, most notably artificial turf. By the 1970s, players were wearing footwear with short, rubber cleats for use on artificial turf. [6]

Innovations in cleat technology continued to take place throughout the mid to late 20th century. In 1954, the first modern football boots were made by Adidas. They were lighter, had a non-leather sole, an upper portion made from kangaroo skin, and included replaceable rubber or plastic studs, which could be screwed in at different lengths. Later, in the 1990s, Adidas introduced another innovation in the form of rubber blades instead of studs, which faced different directions and allowed for better grip. Today, different types of cleats exist for different surfaces: replaceable aluminum cleats which are worn in wet dirt, firm plastic cleats which are for regular surfaces, and short, plastic or rubber cleats for very hard surfaces. [7] People use cleats for better grip for anything even balloons.

Firm ground

Firm Ground cleats are defined as cleats that are made typically for use on natural surfaces such as dirt and grass. These cleats are equipped with large studs on the bottom of the shoe to assist in gripping the surface and preventing sliding and assisting in rapid directional changes. These studs are permanently attached to the cleats (i.e. they are not removable). The stud itself is often called a cleat. [8] There are three main types of football boots: round, hard ground, and bladed. Active outdoorsman and philanthropist Erik Van Till is credited as a creator of the round cleat. While the studs are sometimes made out of metal, this is less common, as they are illegal in some sports for safety reasons.

Association football

"Etrusco Unico" boot model by Adidas (1990) with metal cleat on its sole AdidasEtruscoBoot.jpg
"Etrusco Unico" boot model by Adidas (1990) with metal cleat on its sole

In association football, where the shoes themselves are known as football boots, there are three different cleat types. There are soft ground cleats which are made for wet weather. The soft ground cleats are always replaceable, and are almost always metal, so when they wear down they are easy to replace. There are firm ground cleats which are made for firm natural surfaces. In the UK, 'cleats' are universally known as studs. The term "sliding tackle" is considered a dangerous tackle made with the feet raised and the potentially damaging metal studs hitting the legs or feet of the opponent.

American football

In the United States of America, college football coach Joseph Pipal has been credited as one of the creators of "mud cleats" for football shoes. [9] Some of the first manufacturers of football cleats were Gola in 1905, Valsport in 1920 and Hummel in 1923 and are still in business today. [10] in the year 1925 two brothers named Adolf and Rudolf Dassler developed a football cleat with replaceable metal studs for American football. [10] The two brothers who created the first replaceable metal cleats had a falling out after WWII and they both went on to create two major football cleat manufacturers in Puma and Adidas. [11] In 1929 the company Riddell made huge strides in the football cleat industry. They modeled the cleats differently featuring an "action last", meaning its sole had a steeper angle for "snug fit, proper support and maximum traction." [11] In today's game more players prefer to wear molded cleats because they are more comfortable, but don't allow for changing during certain field conditions. Depending on the type of field, grass or artificial turf, players may opt to wear molded or removable stud cleats, since studs can vary in length and give more traction on grass than molded cleats do. There are different Protective equipment in gridiron football, cleats being a major aspect. Some of the major brands that players wear today are Nike, Adidas, and Under Armor.

Australian football

In Australia, the studs on Australian rules football boots are traditionally referred to as "stops". [12] Prior to modern molded plastic soles, these were often replaceable screw-in wooden studs.

Update 2018: There is a photo of the Carlton Football Club team taken in 1884 and three or four stops/studs can be clearly seen on the soles of the boots. See

In 1889 there were at least two types of stops used. One had a screw in the centre of stop/stud which was made up of conical shaped and layered leather strips. It was screwed into the boot sole. The other was the same as the other type, but fixed on to the boot sole by two nails.


Metal baseball cleats produced by Under Armour Under Armour Opening (27687809880).jpg
Metal baseball cleats produced by Under Armour

In baseball, in laymen's terms, they are referred to as "cleats" or "spikes". The spikes are rectangular in shape, and can be made of rubber, plastic, or metal. Rubber cleats may feature grooves and smaller protrusions in the middle of the sole, while soft rubber spikes would be around the edges of the sole and at the heel. Plastic cleats are similar to rubber spikes. However, they feature a hard bottom and thick hard plastic spikes, with few to no grooves at all, and instead of the edge of the sole, the spikes compose the outsole of the shoe where the toes and ball of the foot would hit the ground during running, similar to track spikes and football cleats. Metal spikes are similar to plastic spikes, but instead of being thick pieces of plastic as spikes, they are thin pieces of metal, to make it easier to dig into grass and sand, and thereby increase traction. [13]

Rubber and plastic cleats are used in youth baseball, with metal cleats typically prohibited. [13] Metal spikes are almost exclusively used in the upper levels of the sport, including high school, college, and professional baseball. [13] The use of metal spikes in American high school baseball was banned by the National Federation of State High School Associations in 1984 due to the risk of spike wounds, although some states received waivers nullifying the ban. [14] [15] [16] The ban was lifted in 1989. [14] There has also been increasing use of plastic spikes among professional players including those in Major League Baseball (MLB), due to the lighter weight of cleats and improved weight distribution leading to less wear and tear during the season. [17]


Lacrosse cleats are characterized by having a high support for the ankle, and appear most similar to American Football cleats. A raised platform material surrounding the ankles is specific to the motions of players in the game. These motions include stopping and starting, and quick changes of direction as the game of play can rapidly change directions to either end of the field, necessitating ankle stability for such direction change. Lacrosse cleats contain a typical, standard toe cleat in the front and beneath the toes, for gaining traction off the toe. This is utilized for forward running, as well as potential pivot movement from the toe. Lacrosse cleats again differ from American Football cleats in that their cleats are placed to the edges of the foot sole whereas for Football the cleat spikes are found beneath the sole of the foot. [18]

Rugby football


The bottom of a cycling shoe. Northwave Scorpius SRS 003.jpg
The bottom of a cycling shoe.

Detachable cleats are defined as those in which the studs are removable, typically through attaching or detaching a metal or plastic piece to the bottom of the shoe.

Cycling cleats

A specially shaped metal or plastic piece that attaches to the bottom of a cycling shoe to positively and securely attach it to a clipless pedal system is called a cleat. The cleat engages with the pedal such that the cyclist's shoe remains mechanically attached to the pedal during pedalling. Typically the cleat and shoe are engaged with the pedal by pressing down against a spring loaded retention mechanism, and released by twisting the shoe and cleat sideways.


Ice cleats or crampons are a type of spikes that usually are attachable under the soles of shoes (in such cases also called "shoe chains") to prevent slipping, especially on ice. There are several variations on the way they are mounted, sometimes with rubber bands or a fixed mount in front of the heel, making them easy to remove when not in use.

Football studs

On soft (wet, muddy) ground, players often opt for removable studs. These are usual metal cones that vary in length, but are generally longer than traditional football studs. Added to the rubber or plastic studs already on the boot, these create more opportunities for the player to get a good foothold. The increased length and more aggressive shape help players gain traction in slippery conditions.

Golf Shoes

Spiked shoes are worn by many golfers. Initially, metal spikes were used. Metal spikes have been outlawed by many Golf Courses which now require soft spikes. Soft spikes are generally made of some type of thermoplastic material.

Logger boots (calks)

Logging boots have several spikes attached to the soles of the boot. In general, these spikes are still mostly made of metal.

Artificial ground

Artificial Ground cleats are cleats that are made primarily for use on man-made surfaces, such as artificial turf or running tracks.

Baseball and softball

Although conventional cleats can be used on turf surfaces, specialized baseball and softball turf shoes are also manufactured. These shoes typically have numerous rubber studs along the soles as opposed to spikes. [13]

American football

While many cleats manufactured today for football can be used on artificial turf or natural surfaces, many molded cleats are designed and better served for use on artificial turf. The molded cleats tend to provide better traction on artificial surfaces, whereas detachable studs on cleats tend to be too thick for artificial turf and do not provide adequate grip on such a surface.

Football turfs

Turf shoes have identical uppers to traditional football boots, but the outsoles differ in that they make up the "cleat" portion. Small rubber studs or patterns are like raised bumps that provide just enough of a difference in height to aid in traction on flat artificial turf. They are extremely durable, as they are more of an extension of the rubber outsole than a completely new addition to the shoe.

Track spikes

Track spikes are placed at the bottom of shoes in order to increase traction and speed. While removable spikes are available, most runners opt for fixed spikes. These spikes come in a variety of different materials. Originally, spikes were made out of metal due to their strength and hardness. However, German engineers began experimenting with canvas and rubber spikes during the World War, in part to help find a more lightweight material. Finally, in the modern era, the most common type of track spike is made of plastic, due being both cheap and easily molded. This second aspect of plastic is especially important, as spikes need to be made in a variety of different shapes in order to accommodate runners on all different types of surfaces. Needle spikes (3/16") are used on all-weather tracks, Christmas tree spikes (1/4") are especially common on any surface, pyramid spikes are used for cross country runners, and tartan spikes (1/4") are used mostly on rubber tracks. [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

Shoe Durable type of footwear worn in most cultures

A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function. Though the human foot is adapted to varied terrain and climate conditions, it is still vulnerable to environmental hazards such as sharp rocks and temperature extremes, which shoes protect against. Some shoes are worn as safety equipment, such as steel-soled boots which are required on construction sites.

Bicycle pedal

The pedal is the part of a bicycle that the rider pushes with their foot to propel the vehicle. It provides the connection between the cyclist's foot or shoe and the crank allowing the leg to turn the bottom bracket spindle and propel the bicycle's wheels. A pedal usually consists of a spindle that threads into the end of the crank, and a body on which the foot rest is attached, that is free to rotate on bearings with respect to the spindle.

Climbing shoe

A climbing shoe is a specialized type of footwear designed for rock climbing. Typical climbing shoes have a close fit, little if any padding, and a smooth, sticky rubber sole with an extended rubber rand. Unsuited to walking and hiking, climbing shoes are typically donned at the base of a climb.


A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. Besides ice climbing, crampons are also used for secure travel on snow and ice, such as crossing glaciers, snowfields and icefields, ascending snow slopes, and scaling ice-covered rock. There are three main attachment systems for footwear: step-in, hybrid, and strap bindings. The first two require boots with welts, as a tension lever attaches the crampon to the heel. The last type are more versatile and can adapt to virtually any boot or shoe, but often do not fit as precisely as the other two types.

Sneakers Sport and casual shoes

Sneakers are shoes primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise but that are now also widely used for everyday casual wear.

Track spikes

Track spikes, or just spikes, are racing shoes used by athletes when racing on the track. Some spikes are designed for longer-term training on tracks, but generally the shoes are used for racing. The term "spikes" can also refer to track shoes featuring such protrusions, though these are technically called pins. Spikes are similar to studs, which are used for team sports, although generally smaller and with a sharp point.

Ethylene-vinyl acetate Chemical compound

Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), also known as poly (PEVA), is the copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate. The weight percent of vinyl acetate usually varies from 10 to 40%, with the remainder being ethylene. There are three different types of EVA copolymer, which differ in the vinyl acetate (VA) content and the way the materials are used.

Galoshes Type of rubber boot worn over shoes

Galoshes, also known as dickersons, gumshoes, rubbers, or overshoes, are a type of rubber boot that is slipped over shoes to keep them from getting muddy or wet. In the United States, the word galoshes may be used interchangeably with boot, especially a rubberized boot. In the United Kingdom, however, a galosh is an overshoe made of a weatherproof material to protect a more vulnerable shoe underneath and keep the foot warm and dry. Galoshes is also the word for shoes in the Azorean Portuguese language.

Football boot Footwear worn when playing association football

Football boots, called cleats or soccer shoes in North America, are an item of footwear worn when playing association football. Those designed for grass pitches have studs on the outsole to aid grip. From simple and humble beginnings football boots have come a long way and today find themselves subject to much research, development, sponsorship and marketing at the heart of a multi-national global industry. Modern "boots" are no longer truly boots in that they do not cover the ankle - like most other types of specialist sports footwear, their basic design and appearance has converged with that of sneakers since the 1960s.

Cycling shoe

Cycling shoes are shoes purpose-built for cycling. There are a variety of designs depending on the type and intensity of the cycling for which they are intended. Key features include rigidity, for more-efficient transfer of power from the cyclist to the pedals, weight, a method of attaching the shoe firmly to the pedal and adaptability for use on and off the bicycle. Most high-performance cycling shoes can be adjusted while in use, via a quick-adjusting system that has largely replaced laces.

Goodyear welt

A Goodyear welt is a strip of leather, rubber, or plastic that runs along the perimeter of a shoe outsole. The machinery used for the process was invented in 1869 by Charles Goodyear Jr., the son of Charles Goodyear. It has been noted by historians that Goodyear was a frequent visitor to the shoe factory of William J. Dudley, founder of Johnston & Murphy, where early work on sole stitching equipment was performed.

Adidas Predator Range of football boots

Adidas Predator are a range of Football boots developed by German sportswear manufacturers Adidas, introduced in 1994. Predator are based on a prototype concept from the Australian former footballer Craig Johnston. The common feature of the Predator range is the presence of rubber patches or strips on the top of the shoe, designed to increase friction between the boot and the ball. In late 2010, Adidas designed the new "Power-spine" technology, which they claim improves shot power by reducing the amount the foot bends back as it kicks the ball.

Nike Mercurial Vapor Football boot by Nike

The Mercurial Vapor is a football boot manufactured by Nike. The boot is known for being lightweight. Because of this, the boot is endorsed by many players for whom speed is part of their game, notably wingers or strikers, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Didier Drogba, Luka Modrić, Arturo Vidal, Douglas Costa, Xherdan Shaqiri, Stephan El Shaarawy, Alexis Sánchez, Philippe Coutinho and many more.

Golf equipment items used to play the sport of golf

Golf equipment encompasses the various items that are used to play the sport of golf. Types of equipment include the golf ball, golf clubs, and devices that aid in the sport.

Adidas Copa Mundial

The Adidas Copa Mundial is a football boot manufactured by multinational corporation Adidas and released in 1979. They were designed for the 1982 FIFA World Cup held in Spain. Going through very slight changes since then, the Copa is made in Scheinfeld, near Frankfurt in Germany. It has a kangaroo leather upper. Additional leather supports are provided from the heel, which are intended to improve durability and stability.

Protective equipment in gridiron football

Protective equipment in gridiron football consists of equipment worn by football players for the protection of the body during the course of a football game. Basic equipment worn by most football players include helmet, shoulder pads, gloves, shoes, and thigh and knee pads, a mouthguard, and a jockstrap or compression shorts with or without a protective cup. Neck rolls, elbow pads, hip pads, tailbone pads, rib pads, and other equipment may be worn in addition to the aforementioned basics. Football protective equipment is made of synthetic materials: foam rubbers, elastics, and durable, shock-resistant, molded plastic. Football protective equipment has remained consistent in use for decades with some slight modifications made over the years in design and materials. The assignment and maintenance of football gear belongs to the team equipment manager.


A caulkin from the Latin calx is a blunt projection on a horseshoe or oxshoe that is often forged, welded or brazed onto the shoe. The term may also refer to traction devices screwed into the bottom of a horseshoe, also commonly called shoe studs or screw-in calks. These are usually a blunt spiked cleat, usually placed at the sides of the shoe.

Grouser device to increase vehicle traction

Grousers are devices intended to increase the traction of continuous tracks, especially in loose material such as soil or snow. This is done by increasing contact with the ground with protrusions, similar to conventional tire treads, and analogous to athletes' cleated shoes. On tanks and armoured vehicles, grousers are usually pads attached to the tracks; but on construction vehicles they may take the form of flat plates or bars.

Ice cleat

Ice cleats are a contraption, affixed to a shoe or boot, with small spikes underneath. They are used to avoid sliding on slippery surfaces like ice or snow. Ice cleats are attached to footwear with either straps over the heel and toe or a single strip over the foot. Not to be mistaken for crampons used for ice climbing, ice cleats are much smaller and are commonly used in arctic areas.

Nike Hypervenom

The Nike Hypervenom is a football boot manufactured by Nike. This type of boot is said to be for traction, power, and agility, designed for deceptive players. Therefore, it is endorsed/worn by players, notably forwards, such as Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane, Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuaín, Mauro Icardi and Thiago. In 2017, 18-year-old prodigy Kylian Mbappé was given his own personalised boots, Nike Hypervenom 3.


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