The AFL season is fast approaching. Clubs at all levels are well into pre-season training and most grounds at a junior level will shortly permit the use of football boots on the harder surfaces. For many players it is time to consider purchasing boots for the 2015 football season. The question is which to choose? There are many different brands available on the market for AFL players with some important factors to consider when filtering out these brands.
Football boots need to fulfill the following criteria:
- Grip/traction across a variety of turf conditions
- A level of waterproofness (invariably on a wet day players will end up with wet socks anyway!)
- Good ‘feel’when kicking the ball
- For some players the colour is important too (namely former Essendon player Kyle Reimers)
What many players dont consider are these other important features that can significantly influence the performance of a boot AND reduce the likelihood of injury:
1. Heel Stack Height
Many boots are quite flat at the heel which places more stress on soft tissue structures including the calf and hamstring muscle groups. Predisposition to injury will be higher in the flat-heeled boot.
Many modern footbal boots do not contain a midsole. The midsole is the foam material wedged between the outsole/grip and the upper material of the boot. Having a midsole in a football boot tends to make the boot slightly heavier but provides a superior level of cushioning which can be important for players carrying a foot or lower leg injury.
3. Grip Pattern
The decision between blades and stops is a difficult one and can depend on the quality and condition of the grounds being played on. Longer stops will be better on a wet/muddy ground whilst blades will provide more maneuverability on a better quality/drier ground.
4. Leather Type
It is generally considered that a softer leather (eg Kangaroo or similar) will afford better ‘touch’of ‘feel’as well as accommodating carying foot shapes.
5. Fit of the Boot
Getting the width and the depth of the boot correct is paramount and yet the podiatrists at Eastern Foot Care Ringwood and Eastern Foot Care Knox regularly see inappropriate fitting of boots that have been chosen oftem more for colour than practicality! A tight boot can lead increase the risk of forefoot compression injury, and poor depth in the shoe can compromise the fit of custom foot rothotics if they are being used.
6. Weight of the Boot
Many players prefer a nice, lightweight boot as it gives a feeling of responsiveness and power when running. The trade off is that the lighter boots do not contain the same degree of cushioning. Some higher-grade players may consider having two pairs of boots – a more cushioned boot for training and hard grounds, and a lighter boot for softer grounds
For further advice on choosing the appropriate boot to match your specific needs make an appointment to see one of our experienced Sports Podiatrists today!