CAN SOME FOOTBALL BOOTS MAKE YOU FASTER?

There were some pictures of the actress Sharon Stone in a UK newspaper recently. Topless! The angle of the piece was ‘Doesn’t she look great for a 50 year old’. And you have to admit she did.

The dress she was nearly wearing looked expensive and the make up was flawless as was the hair do. So, here’s a question for you. If 10 women who read that article tried to re-create that picture, how do you think they’d get on? Yes, they could buy the same dress, have their make up done and their hair as well. But would they be a Stone-Clone at the end of it? Of course not.

The reason for this is simple. You need to have the natural talent in the first place (plus a bit of airbrushing if it helps).

It’s the same in football.

speed boots nike superfly

The speedy Cristiano Ronaldo uses the Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly

After Footy Boots ran the story about Theo Walcott being the fastest player in the Premier League, the whole debate on certain football boots making players quicker started again.

It’s easy to understand why given the claims of loads of brands regarding the attributes of their speed football boots. So many youngsters want to emulate Walcott, Ronaldo, Eto’o or Anelka that of course, they are going to be drawn to the same products their heroes wear. But they should be for the right reasons, not because they think the impossible will happen.

Let’s be clear about this. If your ultimate top speed as a player is 20 mph in proper fitting, appropriate footwear then it’s hugely doubtful that you will be noticeably quicker if you wear a different type of football boot, however brilliantly designed, light or well intentioned they may be.

puma v1.815 Ferrari

Built for speed or what? The PUMA v1.815 Ferrari

Of course I get the argument about weight. A player in a standard kit will always beat another player wearing the same kit but carrying two bags of heavy shopping over 40 metres. But we are not talking kilos here, we are talking grams.

If we agree that an average player weights 80 kilos, a 200g pair of football boots represents 0.25% of his body weight. Equally, a 350g pair of boots would come in at 0.44%. And in today’s football boot market place, that’s a pretty big gap.


If we also agree that this player can cover 40 metres in 5 seconds, then the advantage that the lighter boots give him is..one hundredth of a second. That may make a difference in an Olympic 100m final but on a football pitch, I’m not so sure.

Indeed, others will argue that the heavier boot gives a player a better platform to overcome inertia, just as sprinters use blocks on a track rather than going from a standing start. So, any advantage the lighter boot has over the ground will have already been negated before a player reaches sprinting speed.

By way of an experiment, and one which I accept was completely and utterly unscientific, I tried this weight theory out for myself.

Being a lumbering defender and using the lightest football boots I posses, the Nomis Spark, I ran 20 metres from a racing start on 3 occasions.

nomis spark andy kay

I then repeated the process in the heaviest boots in my locker, my trusted open-side flanker rugby favourites, the Nomis Supremacy. Now, my sprinting speed has been compared to that of a depressed hedgehog on valium. Usain Bolt hasn’t got anything to worry about. But the results were at least consistent. And there was no discernible difference over the 6 runs.

By way of a control, I also ran the same course in a pair of PUMA King XL’s, adidas adiPure II’s and finally the PUMA v-Konstrukt II.

andy kay in nomis supremacy

Apart from getting a few strange looks from the hairdressers and dry-cleaner’s across the road, nothing. Nada. The times were virtually identical.

In the end, I suspect that it all comes down to perception and psychology. If you feel than you can run faster in one pair of football boots rather than another, then great. That’s maybe the edge you are looking for. And who knows, for players at our level, that could be enough.

So, if in your mind this means that some football boots can make you quicker, then so be it. I can live with that.

But I also know that if I walked down the local high street in a torso hugging T-shirt and jeans, not many people would mistake me for Jude Law! In the end, I’m convinced that life in general and football as a part of that all comes down to how you are built and what natural ability you possess.

Mind you, I did feel special in those bright red Nomis boots! Oi Jude. Over ‘ere son. First one to five?


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45 Comments

  • Gotta agree with you Andy. A few grams when sprinting 10 yards from a standing position will not make any difference.

    I go one step further to suggest lightweight football boots are worse as they have less protection to your feet.

    Great article!

    • Well actually, i think the opposite of you. i think wearing lighter shoes does 2 things. makes you lighter and makes you *feel lighter. somtimes all you need to do is think you can do or be something:)

  • I think different boots make you faster (feel at least).

    I used to play football a lot and when I changed to a different football boot I would notice the difference, I mean I didn’t feel like I was getting enough out of my boot. Strange if you ask me.

    It’s a bit like a car when you have an induction kit, Take it away and you notice the lack of acceleration.

  • Think its quite an intresting artical, but i think you have missed something out. I used to be a sprinter and the main reason you did the 100m in spikes sure they were a bit lighter than normal trainers but they also had spikes in them making TRACTION GRIP key elements to speed. Now if you think with football boots studs blades etc how many have really look at the sole plate as the means to running faster rather than the weight of the boot. If you think rally cars they uses diferent tyers for different surfaces and if they get the wrong tyers on then they slip lose grip time and speed. Now how often do we see footballers falling over because they are wearing blades when they should be wearing studs all the time. Now the only company i can recall looking into generation more speed from the sole palte was Mitre with its speed stud, thnk it claimed and extra 15-25% acceleration. I did manage to get a pair of the soft ground and i do really think that they make a difference.

  • First of all – How many pair of football boots do you have? lol
    Right, I don’t think football boots can have major influence in a player’s speed and I’ll have to agree with Duberry:
    “lightweight football boots are worse as they have less protection to your feet.”

  • Certainly an interesting piece, particularly as you’ve focussed on the weight issue.

    KFC, not sure your arguement holds up as all sprinters wear spikes so it’s a level playing field just as all footballers wear boots.

    This debate (and excuse the pun) is going to run and run.

  • it is a boot, it doesn’t make a difference. it is about how you play, not some fake technology s**t that helps you get more swerve or speed.

    what has football turned into……

  • what about the stud configuration, chassis’ ability to transfer energy etc? I agree weight means very little but those aren’t the only factors for getting speed.

  • In the piece about the fastest players in the p.l it said torres and drogba were exactly the same speed. And because Torres wears total 90s and drogba wears superflys i asked if torres wore the superflys would it make him a bit faster than drogba. I mean a difference that you wouldn’t notice like a millisecond or two because the total 90’s are nearly twice the weight of the superflys but also because the way the studs are positoned.

  • i have to agree that it depends on your perception.

    i normally wear lasers but i tried on vapor 2 once and just felt like i wanted to keep sprinting cuz it was so light.

    same happens to my mates who try them

  • When the article states on its own, “then the advantage that the lighter boots give him is…..one hundredth of a second,” does that not prove the lighter boots do in fact make you faster? Yes, you all may say it’s a technicality and that in a game you wouldn’t notice it, but wouldn’t that be like trying to say that a player doesn’t deserve to get the golden boot for a season because he only had one more goal than the man in second place? It is the closest they could possibly get without being tied, and who knows, that goal could have come from a toe poke on a 50/50 ball that came one hundredth of a second before a defender or keeper could get there.

  • i agrree it i all about how you feel.
    I have been wearing lasers and tiempos the last 2 seasons but went for the f50i’s this season.
    Although i probably wasnt faster i did feel i was, and had more confidence to burst down the line and do some stepovers.
    I do really believe they are onto something with the whole phycological edge.
    Also companies seem to invest so much into the traction of their firm ground sole plates when infact most premier league players actually just wear studs. A format which has never changed, four at the front two at the back.
    It is a load of nonesense if you ask me.
    Go get yourself a nice pair of tiempos, kings, adipures or specialis as these are truly the best boots.

  • Agreed- on 20/40 meters sprinting, the difference is not large.

    But when you’ve been jogging on a wet novemberfield for eighty minutes, there might be a bit of a difference between 350g leather adidas or 180 plastic nike.

    Still, being a mule myself, I’ll still trust my predators.

  • You are right, a football boot’s weight won’t make you faster. But it might also be a question of making it easier to run. If your carrying something light around on your feet rather than something heavy, your likely to get tired wearing the heavier boots faster than the lighter boots.

  • There are MANY things wrong with this article/test. First, nomis sparks are not a “speed boot.” They do not have cleats like vapors at pressure points on the feet, or nearly the weight of something like v1.08. I a reverse effect, you wearing “heavier boots” (if they actually were or not, I doubt it) could make you work faster to try to proove this whole ‘speed boot’ thing wrong.

    Those are the first two. Next, you did not take into account acceleration, if you get a step infront of someone then you dont have to run as fast. Also, with less wbeight on your foot, more quick twitch muscle fibers are active, similar to punching quickly or punching with weights. (boxing) less weight= quick twitch fibers. Lastly, if you have been running for more than 1 sprint, those boots that weigh less, over a games length with messure out to be a LOT less weight carried throughout the game.

  • In my opinion, the boots advertised as “speed shoes” make me feel as though I can run faster. I have run middle to long distance track while also playing soccer at a high level for a long time. My favorite shoes are preds but everytime i pull on a pair of vapours or my running spikes you seem to get a phycological advantage. You simply feel as though you can run far faster. Maybe this sensation would wear off after prolonged use, but does it ever feel nice to pull on some featherweight boots after youve been wearing some heavier clunkers

  • I’m more of a track runner than soccer player. When i do a sprinting workout in trainers and not spikes, my legs feel heavier and unbalanced. And i agree with the post above. You will feel the weight difference after youve been lugging the boots around for some time

  • First great article and i’m not here to argue results, but it is a well known fact that football boots cannot make you faster, only training can. But as you stated in the article, “If we agree that an average player weights 80 kilos, a 200g pair of football boots represents 0.25% of his body weight. Equally, a 350g pair of boots would come in at 0.44%. And in today’s football boot market place, that’s a pretty big gap. If we also agree that this player can cover 40 metres in 5 seconds, then the advantage that the lighter boots give him is…..one hundredth of a second. That may make a difference in an Olympic 100m final but on a football pitch, I’m not so sure.” This is where I disagree. I think this can make a difference on the football pitch. If that .one hundreth of a second is enough to get you to the ball that much faster, the the boots do make a difference and are doing the job they were designed to do. My point is the lighter the boot the less weight you have to carry, the slower you may fatigue, and maybe you get to the ball half a step faster. The boot will not make a player faster, it will allow a player to run faster.

  • I used to run track and have always played soccer. Boots don’t make you faster in my opinion

    Now to get technical – if I was racing a clone of myself – and I’m wearing Dois and he’s (me) wearing Vapors – who would win?

    I guess you can say the guy with the lighter boots but it’s rarely that close. In football a lot of the time you’re also dealing with someone nudging you and what not.

    I wear Dois and still smoke a lot of players..Never had Vapors..I’m afraid of them lol

  • feel my own boot test comming on , i’ll do a 50 to 60 meter max sprint and a 5-10 meter acceleration test. The garmin forunner 405 gps will track speed and accelertaion, i think top speed defo.Anyway boots i have to test.
    Totol 90’s studs
    Puma V1 studs
    Puma Shudoh Blades
    Mitre Speed stud RS7s
    Puma V1 atro turff
    Nomis Blades
    Concave studs
    Umbro specials turff
    So mixture of old and new plastic and leather studd blade and turff
    and maybe one or two others

  • light boots will certainly make a lot of people “feel” faster which i think is what they are marketed on but for a sceptic like myself it won’t make a noticeable difference.

    i also happen to play defensive midfield and i can say now that i would not nearly feel as secure going into a 50/50 challenge wearing my friend’s vapors than my trusty preds; looking at this we can see that it’s not just speed but other aspects of the game that are affected in a similar fashion

  • Light boots are good for running, not for playing football. It`s all about marketing. I think, no physics scientist can explain the principle of “flywire”. There is NO physical principle, just a very good marketing by Nike. People (specially children) are looking at their heroes like CR7 and say they are faster wearing Vapors. Of course its bullshit, they only FEEL lighter.

  • Hey,

    Its like KFC said every boot has a different soleplate. I own a pair of Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly. Theyre very light but you dont really feel less weight then the IV SL but these blades are different and you´ll notice that. So combining minimum weight with blades that are made for sprinting then you will definatly notice you can sprint faster. It isnt all about the weight but its the whole shoe.

  • conclusion: its the man in the boots

    light boots will not make a slow player noticeably faster.

    light boots will not turn a fast player into the roadrunner

  • While I agree it is true you do not get a noticeable benefit from a ‘speed boot’ when doing something like a sprint test, I also think it does go a lot deeper than that. As mentioned in other comments, the ‘speed’ effect is not one that comes in the first 20 yard dash or 10 minutes of a game, but instead in the 80th+ minute. The weight of your boots will cause a lot more work needed to be done by your legs over the course of a game, and the player with the lighter boots will likely have a little more spring left than the same player who’s been playing in a 2x heavier boot.

    The other major consideration is that we’re talking about top level athletes, athletes that are the pinnacle of modern day scientific training. Any possible edge, no matter how slight, makes a big difference at the top level. If a lighter boot can give you that .01s advantage over another player, that could be the advantage that gets you to the ball first to win a game.

    While I’m not any sort of scientist, I certainly think there is more advantage to a lighter boot than what can easily be discerned with a quick outdoor-park running test.

  • I agree with you andy, I am a 13 kid, and everyone on my team wants the vapors. But, once they get no faster towards the ball. I myself have lasers, and I am just as fast with those as my brothers vapors. The thing about vapors though are that they make you feel fast, so they give you confidence.

  • thats why nike dont say that the vapors or superfly will make you run loads faster than before, they simply say the boot can give that extra split second that could decidide weather you win or lose a match.

    LEATHER SPEED BOOTS ALL THE WAY!

  • the only boot on the market that may actually make a slight difference to the speed at which you run is the Puma V1.08. they were specifically designed and based around a track shoe and so the aerodynamics and the fit of the shoe around the foot as well as the stud placement may make a slight difference, superflies are actually a useless boot as they are very rigid due to the carbon fibre at the bottom and they have a relatively wide fit so the weight wont make a huge difference, and many Nike sponsored players use the Vapor 5 like arshavin and walcott who seem to wear vapor 5’s for the most part

  • i think that light boots make you feel lighter, but everytime wearing vapors i always go back and put my tiempos or f50i back on as they dont give me the confidence of going into tackles, as a winger/attacking midfielder i like to put in a tackle. but when i get challenged i tend to back out of them in the vapors. not that im scared of getting hurt but ive had the now famous metatarsal fractures 3 times. my legends give me the confidence to fight to keep the ball against the toughest defenders

  • the whole “concept” isent about youre top speed. it’s about how fast you accelerate and turn more faster in every angle. i think the mizuno wave ghost 3 and the mercurial has that kind of stud shape on them…

  • i think its the studs on the boots that matter most… i have t90 2’s and f50i and i cannot run properly in the t90’s because of the studs

  • If u have a 350g pair of boots and take 2000 steps for example you have carried 700000grams on your legs were as if u wear a pair of adizero’ at 165g and take 2000 steps you have carried 330000grams does this make a difference in fatigue ? I am undecided in this debate

  • I had to do a project on this kind of idea just recently and from a test just like this (but performed under better conditions) and a number of other tests I found that despite what is marketed and advertised, certain football boots do not have an effect on your performance. From these tests I found that although some boots offer better traction in terms of studs and better materials, these better quality made boots will not improve your performance significantly enough to gain an advantage.

  • I would disagree with this based on experience. My gait, movemeny and acceleration benefits tremendously on the pitch when I am wearing a very light pair of boots. On paper a hundred grams shouldn’t make a huge difference and perhaps for some people that is true, but lighter, lithe players can be seriously limited by heavier boots. Those extra 100 grams or so over the course of a game can tire legs made primarily of fast twitch muscle. It becomes even more important where kids are concerned. Most of their boots weigh as much or more than many streamlined adult boots, which can seriously hinder certain players. On a pitch a split second matters and can make all the difference when battling to reach a ball.

    I remember well foolishly deciding to run a 100m race in normal trainers when I was 14. I wouldn’t listen to my mum and she was right. I never made that mistake again. Super light footwear makes all the difference to sprinting, whether in a track or football pitch.

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