King Henry VIII is the owner of the earliest pair of football boots on record, although the game had been played for hundreds of years before his reign. His custom made football boots were developed by his shoe maker; they were ankle high and had as many as 6 leather studs attached to them. Changes to these designs were few and far between over
the next three hundred years or so as people began to modify their steal cap work boots by hammering metal studs and tacks into the sole of their shoes. However, as new laws were brought to the game of football so to was regulation of the equipment and footwear. In the 1800’s the requirement for rounded studs was introduced and the low cut shoe began to make an appearance – at this stage many of the boots were made from a strong and heavy leather with each shoe weighing as much as 500g, in some cases their weight would double when they became wet.
From 1900 to 1940 there was very little change in football boots due to both World War I and World War II, however during this time and soon after came the development of commercial boot manufactures ADIDAS and PUMA. With these businesses now beginning to mass produce sporting footwear there was a motion away from a purely protective shoe to a light, flexible and synthetic material allowing for better ball control and athletic prowess.
Throughout the 1960 – 1980 era commercial air travel became more affordable and safe, leading to an influx of international matches outside of the FIFA World Cup for lovers of sport to see live or televised. Of course this allowed for those manufacturers to build their brand and sponsor elite athletes of local and international origins.
In the 1980’s came the rise of sport science and with it a change in football boot creation as discussion began about optimal placement of cleats, their shape, their composition and how many there should be on the sole of the shoe. Additionally, what materials should be used within the shoe, the use of different textures to increase control and manipulation of the ball and most recently the introduction of 3D printing have all contributed to the current football boots available on the market.
So what does the current evidence say about football boots and injury risk?
Much of the newer research which I was able to find has begun to defer from the football boot itself and focus on how the extrinsic influences such as surface (synthetic turf, various grass and court) interact with the boot and contribute to player risk. Similarly, evidence also investigated how balance and proprioception was effected by football boots. These topics are of importance due to the prevalence of noncontact injuries as a result of pivotal movements or direction change such as ankle inversion sprains and ACL injury in football.
Further information on those injuries can be found here:
Inversion Ankle Injury
The humble football boot has come a long way over the last 200 years from a simple clog with nails through the sole to a piece of scientific art sold on theory and colour to people who participate in all forms of the game. Although, soccer may be considered “The World Game”, football boots have adapted to many sports who tout themselves as being the “true football”. In Australia we fight between Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer. In America its Gridiron and Soccer. However, although these games are very different in rules, player builds and regulation, many of the movement patterns required of the athlete are similar and therefore the commercialisation of these products is possible to cover all bases.
I hope you enjoyed this short overview.
Until Next Time
Director/ Chief Director
Brock, E. (2012). Biomechanical Differences in Two Common Football Movement Tasks in Studded and Non-Studded Shoe Conditions on Infilled Synthetic Truf.
Iacovelli, J. (2011). Effect of Field Condition and Shoe Type on Lower Extremity Injuries in American Football. 1 -86.
Notarnicola, A., Maccagnano, G., Pesce, V., Tafuri, S., Mercadante, M., Fiore, A., & Moretti, B. (2015). Effect of Different Types of Shoes on Balance Among Soccer Players. Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journals, 208 – 213.
Page, M. (2013). Plantar Pressure Measures of Running and Cutting Movements on Third Generation Artificial Turf and Natural Grass.
Waddington, G., & Adams, R. (2003). Football Boot Insoles and Sensitivity to Extent of Ankle Inversion Movement. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 170 – 175.
Wannop, J., Luo, G., & Stefanyshyn, D. (2013). Footwear Traction and Lower Extremity Noncontact Injury. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2137 – 2143.