Over the years, soccer cleats have gone through serious design modifications. With all the different styles and looks that players can choose from, low top soccer cleats certainly haven’t lost its relevance. In fact, a good number of players still prefer the classic-looking cleat over the new innovative collars and sock extensions integrated into some of the modern-day models.
The birth of low top soccer cleats
The 19th century saw the rising popularity of soccer in Britain. Back then, people wore their heavy and rigid work cleats to the pitch. These cleats were ankle-high with long laces and a steel toe cap at the front - the first of its kind during that time. The early playing cleats also sported metal tacks placed on the sole.
As demand for better soccer cleats grew, manufacturers rose to the occasion, developing better, more comfortable cleats to replace the work cleats players used in the game. The first ever soccer-specific cleat was introduced during the later part of the 19th century. It featured a thick and heavy leather that runs to the ankle for better protection. It weighed 500 grams, but when wet, it doubled its weight.
In the early 1900s, several brands promoted their soccer cleats for players to wear. These included Gola, Valsport, and Hummel. Around this time, various design alterations were utilized by manufacturers, with an increased focus on functionality instead of merely protection. The soccer cleats then became more lightweight and flexible.
The European brands, Adidas and Puma, came into the picture as a result of the falling out between the Dassler brothers in the 1940s. Adolf, the founder of Adidas, competed with his brother, Rudolf, the founder of Puma, in producing the better-performing shoes. This was the beginning of what would be decades of rivalry between the two of the biggest names in the soccer cleat industry.
Over the next decade, soccer cleats underwent major improvements. One of the most significant changes was its complete design makeover. New designs highlighted a lower cut instead of the ankle-high cleats. These low-top soccer cleats gave players the convenience of having free ankles, allowing them to move faster on the ground. The new design also enabled athletes to experiment with quicker and fancier footing.
In 1970, the Puma King stole the scene at the World Cup Finals, with the endorsement of Brazil’s national hero, Pele. The King sported a low top design and featured the Puma form strip. The soccer cleat was known for its unmatched comfort, quality, and durability.
Majority of cleats that followed the Puma King featured a low profile upper, and it wasn’t long until the basic design and style of soccer cleats converged with that of sneakers, as seen in today’s modern-day cleats.
Different low top soccer cleats
Low top soccer cleats come in various categories. With the countless available options out there, it will be useful for wearers and potential purchasers to know how they are classified so they would know which one is right for them. The soccer cleats are generally grouped according to what type surface they are most appropriate to use.
Indoor low top soccer cleats
Indoor low top soccer cleats are best suited for use on indoor courts, like gym and indoor court facilities. Resembling the look of a running shoe, they typically wear a flat gum rubber outsole that’s a bit harder than that of the standard sneaker. They also feature tread patterns that provide maximum traction on smooth, flat surfaces.
Turf low top soccer cleats
Low top cleats for turf surfaces usually have multi-density rubber outsoles. The sole unit is evenly covered with protruding rubber bumps that provide the needed grip on turf pitches. It also facilitates quick rotations and offers better stability.
Outdoor low top soccer cleats
Soccer cleats designed for outdoor use are fitted with studs to deliver the right amount of traction that prevents slips and eases movement on the field. The studs can be made of rubber or metal. They can either be molded or detachable. Depending on the kind of surfaces, outdoor soccer cleats are classified as follows:
Hard ground low top soccer cleats. These are built for hard fields. They usually have short circular rubber studs spread through the entire outsole. These studs provide maximum traction on hard surfaces without putting too much pressure on the feet, minimizing discomfort whenever the cleats are unable to dig into the pitch.
Firm ground low top soccer cleats. These cleats work best on fields with natural grass. They feature a combination of conical and bladed studs that facilitate a player’s movement on the firm ground pitch. The stud configuration efficiently gives the right amount of grip for quick turns and cuts during the game.
Soft ground low top soccer cleats. These soccer shoes are designed specifically for soft, muddy pitches. It is most suited for use in areas frequented by rain. Majority of soft ground cleats has detachable studs that are either bladed or conical. The studs come in different lengths to allow players to adjust their shoes based on the condition of the field. The shorter studs can also be used on firm ground surfaces.
The Difference between low top, mid top, and high top soccer cleats
Soccer cleats come in three distinct cuts and styles that vary in terms of the height of the upper and where it sits at the ankle. Each style offers different advantages to players depending on their personal preference as well as their position and playing style.
Low top soccer shoes
These soccer shoes have cut right below the ankle, freeing it from any restrictions. With the ankles free, players are given maximum mobility, allowing them to execute aggressive cuts and speedy moves on the pitch. The majority of modern-day soccer cleats wear a low top design. However, wearers should note that these cleats offer little to no ankle support.
Soccer cleats with mid-top cut rise to the ankle, providing extra stability and support without seriously restricting movement and speed. They are designed for most skill players like running backs, quarterbacks, defensive backs, and wide receivers.
The mid top style gained better popularity over the recent years, with most companies adapting it into their cleat designs. Nike initially introduced the dynamic fit (DF) collar on their Magista line. It wasn’t long until the Hypervenom and Superfly silos also released their mid top models.
High top soccer shoes
These shoes include everything from ¾” cut to ⅝” cut, even higher. Compared to the other styles, high top soccer shoes provide the most ankle support to protect against ankle injuries. They also offer excellent stability and are most suited for players who make a lot of lateral movements, such as defenders and linemen.
The Advantages of using low top soccer shoes
With the increasing popularity of mid-cut collars and high-cut styles, one might think that low top soccer cleats are getting a bit old-fashioned for the pitch. That notion could not be more wrong. This classic design might have had the earliest beginnings, but through time, it has proven its timeless charm.
The low top style of soccer cleats was among the most significant innovations in soccer cleat history. Even with the newest designs available, many athletes still favor the traditional cut. In fact, low tops are still the most widely used shoes in soccer, primarily because of its functionality. Among the advantages of low top soccer cleats include the following:
Less restricting. Ankle-high leather soccer cleats were the first pair of playing shoes ever to grace the soccer pitch. These cleats were designed for foot protection, but not necessarily for performance. Modern-day low top cleats offer a less restricting experience for wearers, mainly because the ankles are not covered. It allows for ease of movement of the feet that significantly improve a player’s game.
Maximum mobility. With a less-restricted fit, low top soccer cleats offer maximum foot mobility, allowing players to move with speed and agility around the field. Making quick cuts and swift moves can be executed with ease when wearing a pair of low top soccer cleats.
More lightweight. Since low top soccer shoes lack the extra bulk that other styles have, they considerably weigh less. Moreover, low top soccer cleats that wear a synthetic or mesh upper are even more lightweight than most soccer shoes.
Frequently asked questions about low top soccer cleats for men and women
We’ve rallied up a few questions below that might help you in your search for the perfect low top soccer cleat for you.
What kind of support can I expect from low top soccer cleats?
Since low top soccer cleats are trimmed just below the ankles, wearers can expect to move their foot without any restrictions. Most players find this beneficial largely because it enables them to execute plays smoothly and swiftly. However, the exposed ankles will mean minimal or no support at all against ankle injuries like accidental twisting and the like. Then again, that doesn’t seem to bother quite a number of players who patronize this style.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one superstar who knows what he wants when it came to his cleats. As much as he appeared in all of Nike’s marketing of the regular Superfly versions, he has been spotted wearing a customized pair of Superflys with a low-cut collar. Guess, he must have a good reason to go for the traditional cut.
What kind of low top soccer cleat should I get if I want breathability and flexibility?
The answer will have to come down to the material that makes up the shoe. You will want to look for low top soccer tops that are made of leather. Whether it’s kangaroo or calf-skin leather, it will provide the needed flexibility to allow wearers to skillfully maneuver the ball. It is also quite breathable as it fits snugly to the feet. Then again, leather stretches over time, affecting the cleat’s overall fit. Also, it is not waterproof.