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A Breakdown of Shoe Types and Tips for Young Athletes

With all of the options out there, it can be overwhelming to select the appropriate shoe for your young athlete. Kids always gravitate to the popular brand names and flashy colors.  Give them choices and explain to them the importance of selecting a shoe that feels good and will limit the potential for injury.  Always choose a shoe that fits correctly, provides adequate support and enhances play.

  • Never put a child in hand-me-down athletic shoes.  Ill-fitting cleats and shoes increase the chance of an ankle injury
  • When sizing, make sure the feet are measured.   If your child’s feet are two different sizes, always buy for the larger foot
  • Always wear a game-size sock when trying shoes on

Below is a breakdown of shoe types and tips for young athletes.


When selecting a soccer boot look for comfort, support and freedom of movement. The boot should be lightweight and fit snuggly. 

Mid-profile cleats are best suited for defenders who tackle the ball.  These cleats protect the ankles by limiting movement.

Low-profile cleats are best suited for strikers and wings.  They allow movement and speed.

A soccer boot consists of 3 parts; the upper, the insole and the outsole. Most soccer boots lack a midsole in order to keep the players foot closer to the ground and achieve a lower center of gravity.

  1. The upper is the part of the shoe that wraps around the foot. Upper materials include synthetic and leather. Synthetic cleats do not provide as much ball feel when compared to leather.
  2. The insole is the part of the shoe that touches the bottom of the foot. Insoles can be removed and replaced with added support depending if the athlete pronates or supinates. 
  3. The outsole is the bottom of the cleat that has studs. The stud length varies depending on the playing surface.


There are 3 styles to choose from.  Style selection is dependent on the position of the player. 

  1. High top: for lineman, supports ankle during lateral movement
  2. Mid-cut; for defensive backs, running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks
  3. Low-cut; for defensive backs. These cleats are lightweight and allow for max running speed.

The stud length varies depending on the playing surface.


  1. Lightweight and breathable is best. 
  2. The higher the cleat the better. High-top cleats  provide the most stability and protect against ankle injury. 
  3. Gradual wear is imperative prior to being worn in a game. The player needs to adjust to how the cleat engages the turf.  
  4. Molded cleats rather than steel spikes for young players.  


Make your choice based on body type and playing style.  A professional basketball player will require a much different shoe than a middle school player.

  1. High, mid, low top styles.  High top shoes provide the most ankle support. 
  2. Upper is made of synthetic materials, leather, or mixed with the addition of mesh or canvas. 
  3. To ensure a proper fit, leave space (about ¼ inch) between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  4. A good outsole provides traction which allows the player to change direction quickly.  


Your child does not have to be running 5Ks in order to benefit from a good running shoe.  Everyday play includes jumping, climbing and running.  A high-quality running shoe provides more protection, support and comfort than the average sneaker.

Click on the following link from Runner’s World.  They have broken down their picks for the 10 best kids’ running shoes.

10 Bests Kid’s Running Shoes