(UPDATED July 1, 2017) When I was in high school I spent hours researching kicking cleats trying to find what the best kicking shoe is and figure out the differences between all of them! Finally after becoming friends with NFL kickers and talking to guys around the league and other college teams I finally found out what works best. It was a long trial and error process of testing out several cleats and combinations until I finally found the ‘proven winners.’ I hope this article helps you find the best kicking shoe for you!
Hands down, more pros and people serious about kicking and playing soccer use the Adidas Copa Mundial soccer cleats. I used ‘Copas’ throughout my college career and it is still the most preferred kicking shoe among specialists in the NFL. Watch any NFL game and you will see one out of every few kickers or punters wearing them. Adidas Copa Mundial soccer cleats are of the highest quality and made in Germany. Both Kickers and Punters can benefit from kangaroo leather soccer cleats like the Copas. Please note that in 2016, many states began a ban on the selling of kangaroo leather cleats, but you can still find them in many specialty soccer stores and some online stores including Amazon.
The Nike Premier cleats are one of the front-runners in Nike’s line and are considered a direct competitor to Adidas’ Copa Mundial. The other popular kicking shoe is the Nike Tiempo Legend soccer cleat which is also made from kangaroo leather. There are a few versions of the Legend cleat since Nike updates their models every year. We recommend either the Nike Premier, Adidas Copa Mundial or Nike Tiempo style soccer cleats.
Why do I recommend these cleats?
The reason I recommend the two above cleats is because of the soft and supple leather and how it forms to your foot. Just like anything you wear, you want it to be comfortable. With kicking, punting and soccer it’s even more important to not only be comfortable but to also be able to ‘feel’ the ball. Look at many of the top ball strikers in all these worldwide soccer and futbol leagues. Most of them have the ability to finesse their shots and control their kicks. In kicking, you don’t want a soccer cleat that is just going to be built for speed. Your main focus should be a kicking shoe that will allow you to make solid contact as consistently as possible and enable you to feel the ball and control your kicks and punts.
Kicking Shoes I do not like
Some popular kicking shoes I’ve seen students wear that I personally do not like are the Nike Vapor soccer shoes. Many of my students like them, but I tried kicking in them and they just felt weird. While the Vapor cleats are designed for speed and have a multitude of color and model choices, I just could not ‘feel’ the ball as much as I can with a kangaroo leather style shoe. There are several soccer cleats and specialized football kicking shoes that will work for everyone. Most of it comes down to taste, fit and personal preference. I suggest you go out and try on as many pairs as you can at all the local shops like Dick’s, Academy, etc. They all have similar prices, or if you like buying online I recommend Amazon.com
Why Do Kickers Wear 2 Different Shoes?
You may see some kickers and punters wearing two different shoes. What the heck is that all about? Well, the answer is, some kickers and punters prefer a more stable football shoe with better ankle support for their plant foot. The plant foot is the foot that you land on just before you kick the ball. The other reason is sometimes field conditions may not be favorable for a soccer cleat which tends to have smaller spikes on the bottom. Some kickers and punters use screw in football cleats for their plant shoe. Many times guys wear a different plant foot because of previous ankle injuries, weak shins, or even compensating for a flaw in their form which puts them off-balance. Personally, I find that if your technique is right, you will have better balance and stability and look less goofy if you just wear the same shoe on both feet. I hope this information is helpful for you.
Secrets for Optimizing a kicking shoe
There are so many tricks and secrets kickers have for optimizing their football kicking shoes. One I found quite useful over the years is to cut the tongue flap of your cleat and tuck in the laces on the outside corner so that you have a flush striking surface. Every little bit helps, even if it just makes you a little more confident!
For even more detailed information about kicking cleats and special secrets including how to get the right fit, choosing the best plant foot shoe and more, please consult my book and my 2-Disc Instructional kicking DVD:
Complete Guide to Kicking (DVD)
Complete Guide to Kicking & Punting (Book)
Step by Step Guide to Punting (DVD)
This is the first article in a new series on ‘What is the Best ___’. Be sure to follow the rest of our articles in this series which tackle tough questions like What is the Best Kicking Net, What is the Best Kicking Tee, What is the Best Field Goal Block, What is the Best Ball Holder, What is the Best Football to Kick and more!
Coach Brent Grablachoff is a Professional Kicking Coach and the Owner of Kicking World. He trains Professional, Collegiate, HS & MS, and Youth football kickers and punters. He and his staff travel to over 50 camps across 22 states and also offer year-round private instruction. Coach Brent is based out of Austin, Texas.