- Molded cleats are not ideal for artificial turf as they can damage the surface.
- Turf shoes or turf cleats with many short studs are better for grip on artificial surfaces.
- Some turf fields allow molded cleats, but check regulations before use.
- Poor footwear traction raises injury risk on turf.
- Consider surface hardness, age, and pile height when selecting cleats.
Participating in sports that involve running, cutting, and change of direction requires proper footwear for traction and safety. This is especially true for football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and other field sports typically played on grass. However, artificial turf fields have become increasingly popular from youth sports to the professional level. This raises questions around footwear and what type of cleats give optimal grip and performance on these synthetic surfaces. Specifically, can molded cleats intended for natural grass be worn on artificial turf?
This article will comprehensively evaluate whether it is recommended to use molded cleats on turf fields. Key factors such as traction, injury prevention, surface protection, and regulations will be analyzed. The relative benefits of true turf shoes and cleats over standard molded options are highlighted. Specific considerations around field age, pile height, hardness, and allowed footwear are also provided. After reviewing this guide, readers will understand the drawbacks of using incorrect cleats on turf and how to select appropriate footwear for safety and peak performance.
Wearing proper cleats tailored to the playing surface is vital for stability, acceleration, cutting ability, and reducing strain on joints like ankles and knees. Given the unique demands of artificial fields, selecting suitable shoes can make the difference between excelling during competition and risking detrimental slips, falls, or injuries. The in-depth information presented here aims to protect all athletes from youth to professionals by promoting informed choices around footwear.
Are Molded Cleats Recommended for Artificial Turf?
No, it is not recommended to wear molded cleats on artificial turf fields. Molded cleats, sometimes called firm ground cleats, are specifically designed for natural grass surfaces. The longer, conical studs are made to penetrate and release from softer, natural turf pitches.This provides grip on grass by limiting slippage during lateral cuts or sprint starts and stops.
However, the longer studs of molded cleats can get caught on artificial turf surfaces. Synthetic fibers are also abrasive on the thermoplastic of most molded cleat studs. This increases the risk of hand and ankle injuries if the foot does not release properly during play.
According to a study by the Hospital for Special Surgery, there is a 28% higher rate of ankle sprains in football on artificial turf compared to grass. Much of this injury risk can be attributed to inappropriate footwear for the surface. The researchers recommended choosing cleats with optimum traction features for turf to enhance performance and safety.
What Are the Benefits of Turf Shoes and Cleats for Artificial Surfaces?
Turf shoes or turf cleats are specifically engineered for premier grip and traction on artificial playing fields. Instead of longer studs, they incorporate many short rubber studs or lugs that are densely packed across the sole.
The shorter studs on turf shoes allow for quick release on the harder synthetic fibers without getting caught. The larger quantity and wider distribution of studs also gives more consistent stability for starting, stopping, pivoting, and cutting.
According to a study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, soccer players wearing turf cleats on artificial fields showed improved agility test times versus those in molded cleats. They also reported much higher satisfaction with their footwear traction compared to the molded cleat group.
The dense rubber of quality turf shoes or cleats is durable against the abrasion from synthetic fibers. They provide enhanced grip across the full surface of the outsole. Turf specific footwear also tends to have a slightly lower profile fit closer to the ground for optimized balance and acceleration.
Do Some Turf Fields Allow Molded Cleats?
Some modern artificial turf fields may allow the use of molded cleats traditionally meant for grass. However, it depends on the regulations set by the owner, league, or manager of the specific facility.
Certain types of artificial turf are less abrasive and more forgiving to longer studs. For example, some third and fourth generation turf fields have infill between fibers for additional cushioning. If the turf has sufficient pile height and resiliency, molded cleats likely won’t damage the surface significantly under limited use.
Still, it is important to check the stated rules of each field before use. Many will restrict molded cleats to avoid premature wear or fiber damage. Using banned cleats also poses unnecessary injury risks to athletes from potential slips and lack of release. Facility owners can assess their turf material, age, hardness, and ability to withstand some molded cleat pressure. But when in doubt, default to turf shoes for safety.
What Footwear Factors Are Important for Artificial Turf Fields?
When selecting appropriate cleats or shoes for artificial turf, consider these key factors:
Surface Hardness – Older fields are more compacted with less pile height and cushioning. Go with more flexible turf shoes on harder surfaces to allow proper release and traction.
Pile Height – Higher pile and more infill provide more forgiveness for longer studs. But still use caution and opt for short turf cleats when unsure.
Field Age – More modern 3rd and 4th generation turf withstands molded cleats better than earlier synthetic fields. But verify with field before assuming.
Allowed Footwear Types – Check official rules as some ban molded cleats entirely. When in doubt, go with turf shoes.
Stud Shape – Rounded shorter lugs in turf shoes are ideal for easier release on artificial fibers.
Stud Material – Rubber lugs have the durability and grip needed for synthetic turf play.
In conclusion, it is not generally recommended to wear molded cleats designed for grass fields on artificial turf surfaces. The longer studs can catch on the turf fibers leading to injury risk and field damage. Instead, turf shoes with many shorter rubber lugs provide superior traction and easier release on synthetic fields. However, some modern turf materials can permit molded cleats with caution. Always check specific field regulations before choosing footwear. Consider surface hardness, age, pile height and allowed cleats. With proper turf cleats or shoes, athletes can perform safely with peak stability and speed on artificial playing fields