A foolproof guide to boot ground types and which soles to go for...
There's not many things we love more at Football Nation than football boots - and we know you all love them too (seriously, why else would you be on this page?)
However, what's not blatantly obvious to everyone is just what all these different stud combinations actually mean and what surfaces they ideally should be used on. Thankfully, your pals at Football Nation have come up with this quick & easy reference guide to help you.
Now you'll never be confused about firm ground & soft ground, or turf trainers or artificial grass boots ever again - hooray!
Firm Ground boots (FG)
What they are: Firm ground soles are designed for use on natural grass pitches where the grass is kept short. Ideally for use when the pitch is dry, they can handle slightly damp pitches too though.
Most modern firm ground football boots are equally at home on 3G & 4G pitches; just be prepared to remove a small mountain's worth of black rubber from your insoles afterwards.
What they look like: boots with a firm ground sole usually have plastic or hard rubber "moulded" studs. Unlike standard boots with six studs, firm ground soleplates tend to have multiple studs of various shapes & sizes.
Don't use them on: Traditional sand-based turf pitches. Although they work well enough on them, they're not really designed to. Using them on old-school turf can wear the studs down faster than usual. Don't wear them for indoor football either, unless you fancy breaking your ankles.
Soft Ground boots (SG)
What they are: Soft ground soles are designed for damp, muddy pitches with long or short grass. They're used when you need to get the most amount of traction possible and are worn by most players during the winter months.
What they look like: Soft ground boots have the most traditional form of sole, featuring six conical studs that screw into the soleplate. That said, modern styles are also prone to going for a "mixed" sole that also includes a few moulded studs as well (much like the X17s pictured above).
The traditional studs are usually metal, though other materials can be used. Most of the time they are replaceable on soft ground boots, meaning they could potentially last you forever.
Don't use them on: A bouncy firm pitch - it'll be like having a mini-earthquake inside your ankles every time you break into anything more than a slow walk (so Balotelli's probably alright). 3G is a big no no as well. Basically, if it's not a muddy grass pitch, don't even think about it!
Artificial Grass boots (AG)
What they are: Artificial grass boots are a modern idea that came about because of the rise in popularity of 3G turf pitches. 3G pitches are the ones that have those little black bits on them - you know, the things your mum probably complains about you leaving all over the carpet after your game.
AG boots are meant to look & feel like a firm ground boot, however they offer increased grip and cushioning that's needed on 3G.
What they look like: At first glance the studs will look just like the ones you'd find on a firm ground soleplate, however AG boots tend to have the studs hollowed out. This not only keeps them lightweight, but it's how they absorb the harsh impact that comes from running on 3G.
Don't use them on: Grass pitches, whether they're muddy or firm you'll spend most of the game on the seat of your pants or face down in the mud.
Turf Trainers (TF)
What they are: Football trainers that are designed for the small-sided version of the game. They are meant to be used on water or sand-based artificial grass pitches. They can also be used on 3G pitches too, though they don't offer as much grip as AG boots.
What they look like: They're very easy to recognise thanks to their soleplate consisting of multiple rubber pellet-like studs.
Don't wear them on: Indoor pitches. Lots of people mistake turf trainers for indoor shoes because they do kind of work indoors. But that's like saying a rock is as good as a hammer because you can still smash a nail in with it. Indoor 5s courts tend to get quite slippy (especially in the corners) and turf trainers don't offer the traction you need to deal with that.
Indoor Shoes (IN)
What they are: Well we're not going to give out prizes for you guessing this one, they're for use when playing indoor football.
What they look like: They can look like those beautiful Nike Mercurials pictured above & they can also look like regular football boots with a flat rubber sole. The main difference between indoor shoes and turf trainers is that the rubber sole is flat (with maybe a couple of slightly raised rubber portions).
Indoor football shoes are also used in the increasingly popular South American game of futsal (it's similar to traditional 5-a-side but the ball can go out of play & the goals look different).
Don't wear them on: Anything except indoor courts. You'll slide everywhere on grass and you'll ruin them on 3G or turf. Certain indoor shoes, like the Sambas also double up as a perfect shoe to wear to the pub - handy that!