Surfaces & Traction on the Soccer Field
How do soccer players, coaches, and teams prep for game day?
We dial in our touch in training.
We discuss our tactical approach to the opposition.
And yes, we discuss the field we'll be playing on.
From grass to turf, field types can have a huge impact on not just your technical and tactical approach to the game, but also your comfort and safety. The type of surface you’re playing on, and the condition it’s in, can increase the risk of injury among female athletes.
Most players can’t realistically expect to play and train on a pristine grass field every time they step on the field… and this is especially true in high school and college soccer where field types are so variable from school to school.
So what do we know about the various field types? And how can we ensure that we are wearing the best footwear for each surface? Keep reading!
MAIN FIELD TYPES
Natural Grass – Dry vs. Wet
There’s a lot of tech that goes into professional grade (or even top fields in college soccer) grass fields, but for most female athletes, your biggest thing to keep in mind is what condition the grass field is most often in.
Do you live in an area that gets a lot of rain and mud like the Pacific Northwest or the United Kingdom? A Firm Ground cleat should serve your needs, but if you find yourself slipping, you might also consider a Soft Ground boot for a little more grip in muddy conditions.
If you live in a dry area like Southern California, Texas, or Australia, a Firm Ground cleat is definitely preferred for those dry grass fields.
Live somewhere in between and play the occasional rainy game? Most players utilize an FG cleat instead of an SG cleat, unless they’re playing regularly in those reallyyyy muddy conditions.
Artificial Grass / Turf – 2G vs. 3G
The technology around artificial turf fields (or “turfaces” as we like to call them) is evolving every year, but the two most common types to be aware of are 2G and 3G. And to make things a little more confusing, stores often refer to any shoes made for turf or “artificial grass” as simply AG.
Second generation turf (2G) is more carpet-like than third generation (3G) which is often identified by the tiny black rubber pellets that you’re cleaning out of your shoes, car, and house every day.
If you primarily play on older 2G turf fields, you should consider turf shoes which have shorter rubber studs in greater concentration. This, along with the added midsole cushioning in these types of shoes, will help support your pressure loads on a slightly harder turf surface.
If you primarily play on newer 3G turf fields, a surface that’s become the norm both for outdoor and indoor soccer, the choice in footwear is really yours. Many players comfortably play on 3G surfaces wearing 2G turf shoes, 3G turf shoes, and Firm Ground cleats.
The main thing to consider when selecting cleats for a 3G surface is minimizing rotational traction so you don’t have one of those terrible stick and twist injuries (let’s take care of our ACLs and ankles). You should look to avoid cleats with long bladed studs and instead seek out soccer cleats or turf shoes that have shorter and more conical studs.
Court shoes may be worn anywhere from indoor basketball to outdoor pavement courts. When considering a court shoe for futsal, indoor soccer, or street soccer, you should be mindful of a rubber sole that provides grip, but not too much grip. The IDA Spirit sole was designed with traction on the futsal court in mind, allowing players to make quick 180 turns on the ball of the foot (check out the tread pattern under the ball of the foot!).
MATCHING FIELD TYPES & TRACTION
Some of the primary factors that contribute to major injury in female athletes are unsupportive footwear and variable surfaces. It is of course ideal to have the right footwear for each surface type you play on, but realistically, many of us may not be able to afford to have 4 or 5 cleats in our quiver. This is why firm ground cleats have become the most utilitarian option, with turfs and court shoes being a good second pair depending on what field you end up in some of the colder climates during winter.
SO WHAT TYPE OF CLEATS ARE IDA?
Great question! Think of your IDAs as an FG/AG cleat. Given the conical shape and shorter length of studs on the IDA Rise, IDA Classica, and IDA Centra, we would consider our cleats ideal for both natural grass and lush artificial turf. In a previous study, the IDA Classica’s rotational traction was found to be in line with the Nike Tiempo (AG), making it a studded cleat that stands up on both grass and turf.