As one of the undisputed giants of the soccer world, Nike continues to dominate the soccer market with each new release. With a flair for innovation and strong ties within the soccer populace, the brand has etched itself into the soccer pantheon and continues to be a relevant player in the soccer world.
History of Nike soccer cleats
One of the biggest soccer brands, Nike, didn’t reach success overnight. Initially failing in the release of their first soccer shoe in 1971, the brand named after the Greek goddess of victory did not achieve coveted fame (and fortune) in soccer shoe history until the first Tiempos came out in 1994.
To keep the momentum going after the Tiempos’ success, Nike tapped into top soccer teams and eventually, Brazil’s Soccer Federation (CBF) in 1996. In doing this, the brand made good with the belief that they can only truly understand soccer when seen through the eyes of Brazilians. Choosing Cristiano Ronaldo as their muse, Nike designed a cleat embodying the celebrated player. The Mercurial is a Nike soccer cleat that matches Ronaldo’s explosive style and was released in 1998. This line remains relevant today with the newest release in 2016.
Over the years the brand created strong ties with top soccer teams worldwide to carve their place in the soccer market.
Fast forward to 2013; the Nike Hypervenom line was announced showcasing the brand’s NikeSkin technology. Specially created to bring about a barefoot feel for players, the line was launched in collaboration with Neymar Jr. and Wayne Rooney. With the ever-increasing speed of the game, Nike collaborated with these professionals to keep up.
Mid-cut cleats were also pioneered by ‘the Swoosh’ in 2014. Showcased in the Magista and Mercurial Superfly models, they were combined with the Nike Flyknit uppers. Considered as groundbreaking, Flyknit offers a lightweight, seamless, snug-fitting feel.
Until today, the company has become a trailblazer in the soccer world and continues to be one of the top organizations that people flock to for high performing soccer cleats.
Nike soccer cleats according to surface
Nike soccer cleats are classified according to court types that they are best suited in. The categories include:
- Firm-ground soccer cleats. Dubbed as a ‘universal shoe,’ firm ground (FG) Nike soccer cleats can work in most courts. However, this cleat is best suited for surfaces that are slightly wet yet still firm underfoot and, features short, natural grass.
- Artificial grass soccer cleats. Cleats designed explicitly for AR courts aim for less abrasion associated with synthetic grass surfaces. With this, less nylon is used in the construction of the soleplate, and it features more and densely-packed studs.
- Soft ground soccer cleats. These Nike soccer cleats come in handy during the winter months when courts are soft, wet and muddy. Soft ground soleplates consist mostly of screw-in plastic or metal studs which can be quickly removed and replaced.
- Turf or Astro turf soccer cleats. Designed for courts consisting of synthetic grass with a carpet that is either sand-based or water-based, turf shoe outsoles are constructed to withstand harder and faster surfaces. Light stud penetration is required in this type of court so flat or dimpled rubber outsoles are commonly used.
- Indoor soccer cleats. The outsole used for indoor court (IC) shoes are usually made of non-marking gum rubber. Indoor Nike soccer cleat outsoles are also commonly flat to optimize ground contact and create grip.
- Street soccer cleats. To withstand the varying surfaces in urban areas, street soccer cleats have extra hard-wearing rubber with a traction pattern comparable to that of Turf cleats.
Notable technologies used in Nike soccer cleats for men and women
Dynamic Flyknit - Aiming to create an ‘as one’ feel in their cleats, the brand designed a Dynamic Flyknit construction which hugs the entire foot resulting in a one-piece design. Additionally, the Dynamic Fit collar (commonly featured in their mid-cut models) and Flywire cables (incorporated into the cleats’ laces) are designed to create a more secure foot lockdown.
All Control Condition Technology - The All Control Conditions (ACC) technology is also a popular one. Mostly found in Nike’s high-end cleat models, ACC allows for maximum ball control even in wet conditions.
Heel Lock System - Concerning grip technology, Nike developed a Heel Lock System which is an internal mechanism designed to hold down the foot while providing comfort through cushioning.
Anti-Clog Traction Technology - For the outsole, the Anti-Clog Traction technology prevents mud from accumulating on the shoe. This technology ensures that the cleat remains lightweight throughout the game while optimizing traction.
Finite Element Analysis - With all the innovations introduced by the brand, you’d think that they’ve run out of ideas; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Nike’s latest and greatest is the use of Finite Element Analysis. This technology is utilized by designers to tweak stud geometry and configuration virtually and test cleat performance. After which, the design is made into a reality with the use of a 3D printing technology.
Nike soccer cleats continue to be ahead of the curve as they are released each season as they feature innovative technologies. It’s exciting to see what the brand comes up next!
Factors to consider when buying soccer cleats from Nike
There are several factors that one can take into account when purchasing Nike cleats. These factors include:
- Comfort. The number one factor to consider when buying Nike soccer cleats or (any soccer shoe for that matter) is comfort. The brand strives to provide comfort for every cleat release. Nike does this by incorporating quality uppers and integrating a good cushioning system into their soccer cleats.
- Technologies. No stranger to innovation, Dynamic Flyknit is one of the brand’s most recognizable technologies. Designed to wrap around the user’s foot, this type of construction brings about a featherweight, sock-like fit, and feel. Other than knit, Nike soccer cleat also uses other premium materials including kangaroo leather, synthetics to enhance a cleat’s fit.
- Cut. Another factor to consider when choosing Nike soccer cleats is the cut. The brand offers two types of tops which are elaborated below.
- Low-top soccer shoes are meant for skill players. These types Nike soccer cleats allow for a broader range of motion in the foot. Although with this freedom comes to a greater risk for injury as there’s no support in the ankle area as players move.
- High-top soccer shoes are designed to create more support for the whole foot as well as in the ankle area. By minimizing the foot’s range of motion, this top prevents players from twisting an ankle when making a wrong step.
- Surface. Depending on the type of court that you’re playing on, Nike has developed soleplates that optimize performance for each specific court. Categorizing their cleats into Nike firm ground soccer cleats (FG); Nike soft ground soccer cleats (SF), Nike Turf shoes (TF), Indoor Court (IC) soccer shoes and Street (ST) shoes, the soleplate for each model brings about the needed traction for the specific court it’s been designed for. Additionally, advanced technologies like Finite Element Analysis, as well as 3D printing has been used in the construction of their outsoles.
- Ball Control. Nike took a keen interest in ball control for their cleats. To ensure optimum cleat performance regardless of weather, the brand incorporated the All Conditions Control technology (also known as ACC) into most of their uppers. This piece of technology creates consistent friction on the cleat even in wet environments.
- Price. Depending on your budget, there are several high performing cleats that the brand offers from every price grade. Options range from high-end cleats worn by the pros to mid-tier cleats that bring the best of both worlds - price and quality. There are also options for beginners who are still starting out in the sport.
Nike soccer cleats vs. other brands
Innovation is without a doubt one of Nike’s biggest strengths. ‘The swoosh’ has created a niche for making high performing cleats for the outdoors. The knack for coming up with ingenious and well-thought-out products (with some even years before being released) has set the company apart from the competition.
Perhaps Nike’s biggest competitor is the ‘three stripes’. Always in close competition, both brands have their strengths in cleat construction. Adidas, mainly, is known for their lightweight cleats. Coming up with the Hybridtouch, which is lighter than natural leather and the brand’s version of ACC, is one of Adidas’ more recent breakthroughs to maintain competitiveness.
Although Nike offers a wide range of choices when it comes to indoor soccer shoes, another strong competitor is Puma. The German-owned company provides a list of good quality cleats as well. Using their Speedcell technology, Puma’s outsoles are designed for aggressiveness while maintaining stability, control, and affordability.
Several other brands offer quality cleats on the market, but Nike is without question one that belongs to soccer royalty.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best Nike soccer cleat for beginners?
The Nike Premier is a frequent feature among site list rankings for the best Nike soccer cleats for beginners. Keeping it classic both in looks and in construction, this cleat has a full kangaroo leather upper which is well known for its great feel and touch. Designed to withstand the test of time, this high performing model is a steal with a price below $100. It’s no surprise that the Nike Premier is a favorite as it ties both quality and price into a neat little package.
Which Nike soccer cleat is best for what positions?
While there are several factors that should be taken into account in Nike soccer cleat selection, it certainly helps to consider the different playing styles to enhance player performance. Nike has an array of soccer cleats that are a good fit for each player depending on their position on the field. Below is a rough estimation of the best cleat option for each:
- As this post requires less running, the most critical aspects of a Goalkeeper’s cleat are grip, the upper and the overall comfortable cleat. The Nike Magista Obra or Opus seems to serve Goalkeepers well as it is a favorite for most of the players in this position. Another excellent option for the Goalie is the Nike Tiempo Legend which provides an excellent touch for the ball as well as comfort.
- Delegated to stop the opposition from scoring (especially strikers), Defenders are expected to be good in tackling and aerial dominance. A Nike soccer cleat that complements this is the Tiempo Legend that brings with it a durable kangaroo leather upper that provides excellent support. Another popular choice among modern defenders is the Nike Magista Opus. Using NikeSkin and Kanga-lite for its upper, this cleat is lightweight but still manages to provide ample foot protection. Additionally, it also brings a good feel and touch for the ball.
- Central Midfielder. Expectations are high for the players in this position as it involves tackling, passing, dribbling and shooting the ball while moving across the field. With this level of play, Central Midfielders are in need of soccer cleats that can keep up with both performance and comfort. Swearing by the Nike Magista Obra silo is Mario Gotze and Paul Pogba, two of the most distinguished midfielders in soccer today. The line brings about an enhanced touch and control with the 3D textures for the ball with the upper used; it can handle quick turns with the conical studs used.
- Depended upon by the team to get past Defenders, a Winger primarily banks on their speed and skill. Players in this position need a cleat that is lightweight for speed and a thin upper for a light ball touch. Just the line to meet these requirements is the Nike Mercurial Vapor or Superfly series. Most notable players using this line is Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, and Raheem Sterling.
- Responsible for scoring goals, Strikers need a generous striking surface, an excellent traction and, a good ball feel and touch. A preferred cleat by none other than the soccer legend, Robert Lewandowski, the Nike Hypervenom Phantom III is one of the superb choices when it comes to Striker cleats. Featuring a Nikeskin upper, it brings about a barefoot feel that aids ball control and a one-piece construction integrated into this cleat to minimize distractions.
How do you break-in a newly purchased Nike soccer cleat?
Taking as long as a few days to several weeks, breaking in new pair soccer cleats is crucial before a match. The goal is to make the cleats as comfortable on feet to last the next 90 minutes of its first game. One technique is to wear them during several practice sessions or jogging to loosen them and create a snug fit. Another technique is to soak the pair with warm water while wearing them for about 20 minutes. After which, allow them to dry on feet.
15 best Nike soccer cleats
- Nike Mercurial Superfly 7
- Nike Mercurial Vapor 13 Elite Firm Ground
- Nike Phantom Vision Elite Dynamic Fit AG-PRO
- Nike Mercurial Superfly VI Elite Firm Ground
- Nike Mercurial Vapor 12 Elite Firm Ground
- Nike Tiempo Legend VII Elite Firm Ground
- Nike Vapor 12 Academy Multi-Ground
- Nike Tiempo Rio IV Firm Ground
- Nike Mercurial Superfly VI Academy Multi-ground
- Nike Phantom Vision Academy Dynamic Fit Turf
- Nike Phantom Vision Academy Dynamic Fit MG
- Nike Premier II Anti-Clog Traction SG-Pro
- Nike Tiempo Genio II Leather Firm Ground
- Nike Premier II Firm Ground
- Nike Phantom Vision Elite DF Firm Ground