So, you’ve started playing regular 5-a-side football, result. You’ve learnt that 3G refers to more than just mobile internet, and it’s revolutionised the way you think of football. You’ve waved goodbye to the muddy bog of Sunday league shame. You’ve joined the purists, and you’re not looking back.
Problem is, no-one seems to have told you what type of football boots are best for the surface you’re playing on. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A surprising number of regular 5-a-side players aren’t sure what footwear is best for 3G and artificial turf, or for indoor pitches either.
We’ve got your back; this guide will show you the best football boots for all varieties of 5-a-side pitches, whether you’re playing outdoors on artificial turf or if you’re looking for the perfect footwear for indoor futsal. Here’s how to choose the best 5-a-side boots for you.
Why now is a great time to buy new boots
It is amazing the difference the right footwear can make to your game. Having the right grip and traction allows you to play to your best and with confidence. Nobody wants to fall victim to a Gerrard-esque slip. But there are a lot of people that aren’t wearing the right footwear for the surface, and don’t see the detriment it might be having on their game.
As the big sports brands like Nike, Adidas, Puma and so on have become aware of the popularity of small sided football, they have begun to cater very well for it with their equipment. Often many boots will come with different “sole plate” options. This is what you need to pay attention to, as this refers to the type of grip or stud on the base, and are tailored to different types of ground. The great news is, the small-sided player has never been catered to as well as they are now, with so many different options.
But before you go starting to flash the cash and buy some new boots, you need to realise that:
- The best boot varies from person to person, depending on things like playing style, design, size, comfort, fit and so on. Knowing what key things you should look for allows you to make the right decision to suit you.
- You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great boot. If you’re shopping in the top of the range then great, but it’s perfectly possible to get yourself a good boot that is going to last you years for as little as £30.
The 4 things to look for in any good 5-a-side boot
Make sure that you thoroughly check your potential purchase out (or that you at least have a returns policy). You should be thinking about the following 4 things:
The Best Football Boots for Artificial Grass (3G) Pitches
By this, we mean the plastic grass with black rubber crumb. The place you play might be claiming to have the latest 4G, 5G or even 6G – these days we seem to be tantalized with an ever increasing amount of ‘G’ – but basically if it’s a long-pile carpet like this one then we’ll call it 3G ‘artificial grass’ (or artificial ‘turf’)’.
Not all types of boots are suitable for artificial grass surfaces, as you can see in this chart:
The golden rule is: don’t wear blades or full studs on artificial grass. Many venues have rules against this (although they do seem to be flouted all too often). They can damage the surface, but more importantly they are actually dangerous. These boots are designed for softer ground, so will provide too much traction. This is all well and good until you turn quickly and find your boot has caught in the surface. Many a knee has been put out of action in this way, and there are some horror stories out there. Do yourself a favour and don’t risk it.
As long as you get the right sole-plate, the rest of the boot design is really up to what you prefer. For example; you may want a light material to feel the ball better and improve your touch, or you may decide you are after something that will provide you a little more protection against the lunatics who insist on blades and invariably come over the top on you in a tackle.
Artifical Grass (“AG”) Boots – Best for 3G
The “artificial grass” plate has emerged as a new phenomenon over the past few years. This is often shortened to ‘AG’ in the title of the boot. These sole plates vary somewhat but in general take the form of rounded, plastic studs which are shorter in length than normal studs, even compared to standard firm-ground (FG) boots, but longer than the dimples on a normal turf trainer.
These artificial grass plates are designed specifically with 3G pitches in mind. They provide the right amount of grip and are excellent at providing a quick burst of acceleration when required. Note that these shouldn’t be used on traditional (short-pile) astro-turf surfaces.
Example 3G/ Artificial grass football boots:
Astroturf Boots – Great for 2G, 3G and more
2G pitches are generally either sand based, or more like a strange carpet. They are becoming less common as 3G is generally viewed as superior, but there are still plenty of them around.
Not soft enough for an AG plate, but not quite solid enough for an indoor shoe. The best boot for an astroturf pitch is the “turf” boot. These have a sole plate that consists of many small, dimple-style studs. These will provide the best possible traction on this surface.
If you’re anything like me, you might have splashed out on a pair of these in secondary school and thought you were the absolute business. Wearing them not just for football, but as a fashion statement to complement any outfit. The upside being you were always ready for an impromptu kick-about. The downside being you looked like a total prat.
A big benefit of the turf boot is that they are also suitable for use on longer-pile artificial grass pitches. They won’t give you the optimal performance of an artificial grass boot, but they’re not far off. The other big benefit is that they’re much more versatile than the AG plate: you can use it on 2G (the sand-based surfaces), 3G (the rubber crumb variety) and even indoors if the sole is non-marking. It could save you having to buy several types of boot.
Example Astroturf boots:
The Best Football Boots for Futsal / Indoor
The nature and requirements of futsal or other indoor games are quite different and serious indoor players should look to buy some specialist shoes that keep their feet low to the ground for uncompromising grip and manoeuvrability. You can’t beat a good ‘vulcanized’ rubber sole (obviously made and assembled by real Vulcans) for some indoor action.
If you’re an occasional player you can get away with turf trainers, but you could find yourself sliding a little too much because they typically don’t have anywhere near the same levels of grip. The best indoor or futsal shoes will have soles designed to deliver grip, but also easy turning. The circular / hexagonal designs under the ball of the foot are designed to aid your pivot point as you quickly change direction.
Whatever you do though, make sure that the shoes you use for indoor use are non-marking, otherwise you’re likely to have an angry caretaker chasing you round the gymnasium when he realises what’s going on.
These days there are some really good indoor boots available, and they are generally a little cheaper than their outdoor counterparts.
Example Futsal / Indoor boots:
What do you look for in a boot?
There you have it, the definitive roundup of which boots you need for 5-a-side pitches. Now you have no excuses for the wrong footwear, it’s time to stop blaming your wild shots on your standing foot slipping.
As we’ve said, everybody is different. Let us know your tips for getting the right boot. Do you have a boot that has lasted an impressively long time? Let us know in the comments below.