Turf Shoes Vs Cleats: What Are The Different Features And Functions?

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Jane Taylor in Life style

14 January 2020, 09:34 GMT

When it comes to buying sports shoes, the amount of variety out there can be a bit daunting. If you’re wondering if you would be better off buying turf shoes or cleats, we have the answer for you. Come check out our guide on turf shoes vs. cleats so you can make the right decision for your sport and for your wallet.

If you’re involved in any sort of sport, it’s not unusual for a specific kind of footwear to be required. For example, if you’re going to be on the ice, of course, you will need a sort of ice skate. But the kind of ice skate you’ll need depends on the sort of skating you’ll be doing. If you’re figure-skating, you’ll have a hard time doing a toe-turn in hockey skates. If you’re speed-skating, you’ll need a different sort of skate altogether!

The same runs true for turf shoes vs. cleats. Depending on your specific needs, you’ll want to ensure that you pick out the right one for you. There are even different kinds of cleats and different kinds of turf shoes! Follow our guide for advice on which one is the right pick for your specific situation.


Truthfully, a lot here will also depend on make, manufacturer, your price point, and your preferences. For instance, both turf shoes and cleats can be bought in real leather or synthetic material. Both will come in high-top or low-top cuts (though turf shoes do tend to be lower-cut) depending on your needs and your budget. Usually, artificial shoes are cheaper than real leather ones.

Cleats typically have molded plastic bottoms (though some may also be metal), and there will be between five and 15 different cleat studs at the bottom. Again, the number of cleat studs will depend on the purpose of your cleat. Whether you want metal or plastic cleats depends on your activity and also the rules of the game you’re playing. For example, most soccer leagues will not let anybody play in metal cleats. However, if you’re taking to the rugby pitch you’ll find that most rugby cleats come with metal studs for greater grip. Make sure you understand the rules of your sports league before you invest.

On the other hand, turf shoes are almost always made with a plastic base, and instead of a few larger cleat studs that are meant to grip into natural grass, turf shoes are covered with a stippling of smaller rubber studs with very little spacing. As mentioned before, while turf shoes do exist in high-top, this is rare. Most turf shoes are low-top only.


The function of a cleat is to give you a stronger grip on natural grass. Again, whether you go with metal or plastic is going to depend heavily on the sport that you are playing and how much grip you need. For example, in the aforementioned rugby example, players may choose either metal or plastic cleats depending on their position. Forwards who spend most of their time in the ruck will likely favor metal cleats for their increased grip, giving them less chance of slippage. Backs, however, will spend more of their time running around and thus may favor the lighter plastic cleat.

High-top vs. low-top also depends on preference and performance. High-top cleats tend to give more protection and stability to the ankles, and thus these tend to be favored by those who play sports in heavy contact positions. Low-top cleats are better for those who prize mobility above all.

The purpose of a turf shoe is to give a good grip on artificial turf surfaces. There are many different types of turf shoes, so it’s important to understand what kind of turf surface you are playing on. Turf that looks more like natural grass is going to do better with a different sort of turf shoe as compared to flat astroturf.


Well, having turf shoes or cleats can greatly improve your performance as a player. In some sports, they are actually required. For instance, having a good pair of cleats will increase your ability to grip the field on unexpected muddy days. Plus, cleats can help prevent accidental falls while running on grass, and this can help protect you from pulled muscles or other injuries.

Turf shoes are not necessary 100 percent of the time. For instance, an indoor soccer player on a flat astroturf field could very well play in simple flat-soled athletic shoes (Adidas’ “Sambas” line is very popular for this, in fact). However, turf shoes meant for astroturf can help players grip the surface better, and thus they will be able to run faster in turf shoes than in regular running shoes.

However, it’s also important to take into consideration the entire spread of the field. For instance, some baseball diamonds are comprised of both artificial turf and dirt. While turf shoes will work very well on the artificial turf, they may cause your performance to suffer if you spend most of your time playing in the areas of the diamond that are covered with dirt. Make sure that you not only understand your field but also understand where you will be playing most of the time before you make any shoe purchases. If you are unsure, talking to the coach of your team will no doubt help you here?


There are many different kinds of turf shoes and cleats on the market. We have collected a few for you to look at. This list is by no means comprehensive; rather, it is meant to illustrate the differences between the types of shoes that you can purchase for your sporting adventures. Make sure that you understand the position that you are playing and the type of surface that you will be playing on.

High-Top Metal Stud Cleats

A great example of extremely protective heavy cleats with metal studs is these Hi RS C rugby cleats by Diadora. These cleats are meant for a person who is playing in a high-contact position such as a prop or a second-row player. You can see that the cleats are very large and designed for the wearer to be able to dig in deep and hold ground if necessary or perhaps get more grip when lifting another player into the air for the lineout.

The high-tops are also protective and will prevent the player from turning ankles as easily. These shoes are meant for somebody who takes heavy hits but needs to stand ground and keep on moving.

These cleats would in no way be suited for artificial turf, and in many other sports such as soccer, they would be illegal to use since metal cleats are typically not allowed in play. Plus, these sorts of cleats are heavier than plastic-molded ones, so the speed is compromised with these.

Low-Top Plastic Stud Cleats

These Nike Legend 7 Club FG Soccer Cleats are a great option for those who need cleats for natural grass but either can’t wear metal cleats or find that metal cleats are a potential hindrance to their position. As it implies in the name, these particular cleats would be perfect for any sort of soccer position.

These cleats are low-top, meaning that they are cut lower on the ankle. This will allow the player greater foot dexterity, which is important when attempting a juke or other fast play on the soccer field. The low-top also allows for greater speed.

The plastic cleats will provide great grip on natural grass surfaces, even if it won’t bite down into the ground as much as the metal stud cleats will. They will also provide adequate grip on wet or moist surfaces such as a field after it rains but not as much as the metal cleats. However, they will perform much better than turf cleats will on wet ground.

Most of the time when you think of “cleats” you are probably thinking of a cleat along these lines. These also tend to be the most common kind of cleats that you’ll see in typical sporting good stores.

Turf Shoes

These Adidas Mundial Team Artificial Turf Shoes are a great example of a standard artificial turf shoe that is most commonly used for indoor soccer games. You can see that the “cleats” on the bottom of the shoe look more like nubs and will not cut down as deeply into the surface as regular studs are intended to do. This is a good thing, as there isn’t nearly as much give on an artificial surface as there is on a natural one.

The smaller cleat-like nubs will help improve traction and speed on a firm surface. Sometimes these are called “firm-ground” shoes as well. Turf shoes can also be used on natural surfaces in a pinch, though the ground will need to be dry. Otherwise, they’re not going to do much better than regular athletic shoes.

Turf shoes will help you improve your grip and your game on either artificial or dry, natural surfaces.

Artificial Grass Cleats

These are another sort of turf shoe that is specifically made to be used on artificial grass or “AG” surfaces. Artificial grass is different from astroturf in that astroturf is more like a carpet, whereas artificial grass is intended to mimic a natural grass surface. Artificial grass fields are becoming more and more popular since they are easier to maintain and often cheaper than natural grass fields.

The good news is that on most artificial grass surfaces, you can continue to use the regular plastic stud cleats if you already have them. However, for maximum performance, you should consider switching over to artificial grass cleats such as the PUMA FUTURE 18.1 NETFIT. These have cleat studs that are slightly longer than the turf shoe studs but shorter than the traditional outdoor soccer cleat. These will help the player get a better grip on the artificial grass as compared to either the traditional cleat or the turf shoe.

Soft-Soled Indoor Flats

These are neither cleats nor turf shoes but are here for comparison purposes, as these sorts of shoes are very commonly used on astroturf surfaces. As mentioned before, the famous Adidas Sambas are probably some of the most well-known indoor soccer shoes of all time. While they can function as streetwear (and often do), they were designed for use on astroturf.

As you can see, the soles here are basically entirely flat. There is nothing that would grip the surface. As a result, while these sorts of shoes are perfectly fine for use on astroturf, they’re not going to give you the same performance as a dedicated turf shoe. However, the reason that the Samba is an “indoor soccer shoe” is due to the shoe’s base of gum rubber. This is going to give it better traction than traditional gym shoes, which tend to have a less-textured sole (think Air Jordans or other sorts of basketball shoes). Basketball shoes are made for gym floors, not astroturf. You’re likely to slip in your Air Jordans on the indoor soccer pitch. Sambas are the better bet here.



As we mentioned previously, the kind of cleat or turf shoe that works best for you depends heavily on the surface you are playing on and also the rules of the league you’re playing in. Make sure that you check out the base requirements for your league (if you send your child onto the soccer pitch with baseball cleats, it’s likely they will not be able to play), and ensure that you understand what sort of surface you will be playing on more often.

You may find it advantageous to have different pairs of shoes. For instance, if you’re a soccer player, you may find yourself practicing on artificial grass but playing on natural grass. Having two different pairs of cleats would be helpful here. Or maybe you play outdoors during the warm season but inside on astroturf during the winter. Here, you’d want to add a pair of traditional turf shoes to your arsenal.

If you are a rugby player, you may want to have a pair of metal-studded cleats when you play a forward position such as a prop or second row, but you may wish to have the speed advantage of traditional plastic cleats when you are playing flank.

Ultimately, a good sense of the game and a good sense of the rules will help you make the best choice.

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