When Chelsea take to the field of the Luzhniki stadium in their Champions League clash against Spartak Moscow, they’ll be playing on one of the few stadia in Europe to utilise a FieldTurf artificial surface, which has traditionally been a problem for those who have not played on it before.

Especially English teams.

“Spartak Moscow play on a Plastic Pitch WITH a Jabulani!? That’s barely football at all!” said A. Whiner, head of baseless criticism at the LMA

A few months back, Harry Redknapp said he “hated” the artificial turf at the Stade de Suisse, opting to rest players such as Aaron Lennon and Robbie Keane, on the basis that they ‘weren’t comfortable’ on the surface, which Spurs argued contributed to an unwelcome 3-2 loss to BSC Young Boys.

David Beckham also landed himself in a spot of bother when moving to the MLS, decreeing that the MLS should outlaw Artificial Turf and convert all pitches to grass, and later being forced into an apology.

And, as if to typify the issues had by English clubs and players on the subject of FieldTurf, fans of the Three Lions won’t need much reminding that the Luzhniki Stadium was the site of their 2-1 loss to Russia, arguably costing them a place at Euro 2008.

So, as players – how do you cope with the tricky artificial pitches that are on the rise all across the world?

Looking at Chelsea’s football boots for tonight, the basic idea is to play in an FG stud configuration at the very least, but some wiley pro’s try to take advantage of the different types of sole on offer to maximise their performance.

For example, in training for tonight’s game we noticed Chelsea’s signature boot-lover Florent Malouda has snagged himself a pair of custom Nike CTR360 Maestri‘s.

Florent Malouda Custom football boots

It looks to us that Malouda is using an AG (artificial Ground soleplate), to cope with the surface – not a soleplate that is an option on retail CTR360‘s.

We all know that after playing in 6 different types of football boots in the last 3 months that Malouda is very switched on when it comes to what’s on his feet – so by asking for an AG soleplate, is Malouda doing something that all the pro’s should be doing when playing on this FieldTurf?

Another option is to play in AstroTurf trainers – something which is generally frowned upon as many astroturf variants often don’t include the features of fully-fledged FG or SG football boots.

However, Shalrie Joseph – of MLS outfit the New England Revolution – plays on artificial pitches week-in, week-out and sees his adiPure ATRX fit for purpose. Though we don’t really like to use Mr Joseph as a ‘good example’ as he also likes to play without shin-pads on. Nutter.

When you come up against an Artificial Pitch like the kind that Chelsea are playing on tonight, what football boots do you prefer to tackle it?

What do you think of artificial pitches in general? What are the big differences for you?

Let us know in the comments, especially if you’ve been playing in an AG soleplate!

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  1. says: Ali

    i play on artificial turf once a week wearing the laser 3 FG. i encountered no problem at all so far and it feels great playing with it. although i havent played with AG soccer boot on the pitch, maybe it would be better but the firm ground boots seem to work very well.

  2. says: guti

    it all depends, when i’m playing in an indoor artificial turf field, i typically wear the Adidas Mundial Team Turf, but when playing on an outdoor artificial turf field i stick with the fg sole plate, I wear either my trustee Nike Mercurial Vapor II, or my Adidas F50 Adizero.

  3. says: stanley

    I actually own a fair number of of boots with the AG soleplate. I like them. The studs are essentially a hard plastic/rubber, but not as hard as FG boots so my boots don’t get stuck in the turf and i don’t roll my ankle. Also,the studs are deeper than turf shoes so they don’t get worn out as easily and i don’t slip when the surface is slick when it rains. It’s sort of a happy medium between the two in terms of the soleplate.

  4. says: Splinter09

    I play on artificial turf twice a week here in Brazil and I use an AG soleplate and they keeping up to the standards. Don’t slip and hold on firm to the ground.

  5. says: Kurve

    I use the Nike Mercurial Glide TF and have no problems, I find the TF shoes in general have extra cushioning for what can be quite a hard surface.

    I do however find it infuriating that the TF shoes are usually substandard in terms of tech,

    Usually I go for the more expensive versions (bout ÂŁ50-ÂŁ60) as they do share some of the top of the line tech but are hard to come by as high street outlets don’t tend to stock them.

    The same could be said for AG versions also.

  6. says: Matt

    I dont like playing on turf, because it plays way too fast and does not slow down the ball like a normal natural pitch would, and when it rains its like 5 times faster, the ball skips a lot faster on the other hand i have played on some turf that was made specifically for football, the blades of grass are longer than normal and there are a lot more black little beads, this slows down the ball slightly like a natural pitch would and rain does not affect this pitch either, this turf, i enjoy playing on but on regular turf i can not stand, Rutgers Newark, has the turf with the longer blades of grass and i like using FG’s on almost every type of turf, has worked for me for a while

  7. says: Jonesy

    Very interesting and useful post. Increasingly, the use of 3G turf is on the rise especially in countries with poor weather (like my Scotland) and boot manufacturers have been slow on the uptake. Traditional Astro trainers are clumpy and give a poor touch but sometimes FG studs can be too much. AG boots are a massive Market for the average player which is yet to be fully realised or exploited fully

  8. says: GK1

    Here in the states, we play highschool games on turf pretty often. I gotta say that from a goalkeepers perspective, I hate it!! It just doesnt feel right, I prefer a good grass field ANY day lol

  9. says: Jose Luis

    There are different lenghts of turf, 1 to 3 inches, and according to the ammount of rubber chips on top and silica sand below the pitch will be softer and faster. There is also a Belgium company, DessoSports Systems, that mixes natural grass with artificial fibers to make the grass grow stronger and look always green, in fact this grass system iwas installed at the stadiums in Nelspruit (Mbombela) and Polokwane (Peter Mokaba) for the 2010 World Cup.
    When I play on artificial ground I wear two different kinds of shoes. The first is a black Adidas Predator Power Swerve with the HG sole and they perform perfectly. My second choice is an old pair of Puma King SL, made of thin Kangaroo leather with rounded studs, also terrific.

  10. says: Pablo

    I’m in highschool and our school plays on artificial turf. We have a big advantage over other schools because we our faster on our home turf and we are used to it. A downside is that our turf tears up your cleats twice as fast and it is really hard on the legs. I always have shin splints by the end of the season…actually mid season!

  11. says: zc

    Firstly, I would like to remind readers who haven’t played on astro turf fields, is that it is completely different to the fake turf in cages, like in the nike vid.
    My local rep team has a turf field that is ranked by FIFA as the fourth best in the world. I know people in the rep teams who play on it and they tell my that they hardly get burned, its more consistent than any other pitch in their league and that the ball is always on top of the grass. In other words they love it. I must say though that they would prefer a perfect grass field to a perfect turf field

    1. Well put we all know if every pitch was like the Emirates Stadium real grass is best but in the real world of amateur, youth and small club football where budgets are low and fields are over used artificial turf is going to be better. My one concern is not the quality of the pitch when new vs grass but just how long does a pitch last a natural pitch can grow new grass when damaged but how long before a new pitch is toast and how good is a worn out pitch as we know as schools and youth pitches switch they will have to cover the cost of the replacement in one shot vs the spread out costs of maintaining grass and it may be a tall order unless someone was planning ahead

  12. says: Nicoacademia

    I have a feeling pros are being very fussy, they play on $30,000 a month manicured lawn grass.

    Whereas for us, the facilities we get to play on require artificial turf to maintain playability due to weather conditions.

    However there is a thinking that some FG soleplates create too much friction and there have been many injury cases of getting “stuck” in the AG and terrible ligament tears.

    I guess for non Pros it is better to be careful and take note of the amount of friction. looking at AG soleplates it does address by reducing amount of friction between player and AG and helping quick turns.

    Stay safe and injury-free is most important for us non-pros.

  13. says: fido

    may i rebut about the fact that astro turf is hard on the legs and ankle..imo, astro turf is better than any natural pitch that does not get maintained regularly.. its softer and ppl get less injuries. im not sure about any of you guys, but in my country, the natural pitch is more of a mix of mud and sand patches due to heavy usage. also turf pitch mean no cleaning of mud from your boots!

    anyway when i played turf using FG rounded studs, it felt less stable and lesser grip. but playable none the less. when i played with FG blades, it felt more stable and more grip. when i played with turf studs, it felt really stable and the most grip and i find turf shoes last the longest when playing on turf as compared to FG studs. my boots ripped into 2 before due to the studs catching on the turf.

    yes, turf shoes tend to be the “lower versions” but many people tend to overlook the fact that one of the most important factor of soccer boots is the stud that help you grip the ground appropriately. especially so if you like to twist and turn when you dribble, turf studs the way to go!

  14. says: snolly

    it really depends on what kind of artificial turf, but most places near me now have artificial grass (fake blades of grass).

    fg boots are fine for me.

    the three main differences that i find affect play:
    1. balls roll farther and faster, so you pay a price if you don’t have the right touch on the ball.
    2. because of the rubber pellets, the field grips the ball–this makes for some “funny” bounces–at least not what you would expect if you normally play on grass.
    3. sliding hurts.

    all of this basically means i’m more careful when defending.

    the old-style artificial turf (basically carpet) is a different story.

  15. says: chris payne

    Artificial turf plays much faster then most grass but is harder and can punish those who dare to slide, also any knee problems or ankle problems will be felt afterwards as it is like running on concrete in football boots for 90 minutes.

  16. says: jPizzO

    thanks for this article. I have wrestled with artificial pitches since i started playing on them 4 years ago indoors. I play on the same one as Toronto FC (black rubber pelts).

    I usually play with Nike 5 indoor flat soled shoes.

    I have flat feet so i prefer the low profile shoes as opposed to Adidas/Puma who put more cushion in the heels.

    While I have less grip with Nike 5’s with the flat soles – I have no chance of twisting/getting caught on turf.

    Found even kicking with turf shoes stops your foot from making good contact as it skids in the a/grass.

    I found the “turf shoes” made by Nike were actually too grippy on the artificial grass. We saw many players twisting knees/ankles because there is no “release” or give from the fake grass who wore blades/turf shoes.

    I am looking at picking up some Nike AG soled shoes and will provide feedback.

    But for now, I do not recommend astro-turf shoes on artificial grass.

  17. says: NSS

    My advice is to get shock absorbing insoles if you play on 3G art.grass pitches. They make a huge difference and reduce the chance of getting shin splints and sore knees.

  18. says: zc

    I should add that most players use FG or HG studs on the ground I mentioitned in an earlier post. Also, I don’t know about pitches elsewhere, but this one has soft ground beneath the grass itself so it doesn’t hurt. In fact in my league, the winning teams in all the top division, no matter their age play their grand final on this pitch and second division teams play GF on women rep teams pitch (which is real grass) and one highlight of the GF is playing on the Turf pitch. For those wondering, I’ve never played on this pitch but have felt the turf with my hands. ( this tells you I’ve never made a div 1 final.)
    Also can future posters say if the pitch is one or two FIFA star rated. This pitch is 2 star rated.

  19. says: Gus

    Only ever played one match on artifical turf, and with FG boots found it OK, but would mind trying AG or HG boots in that occasion!!

  20. says: bigtrainpete

    Have to agree with my fellow Scotsman Jonesy – there is a massive market for pro standard AG boots in the UK.

    Our unfortunate climate means the overall standard of grass pitches in Scotland is relatively poor. More and more matches at amateur and junior level are being played on Field Turf or 3G as it seems to be called. In my amateur league the fast majority of players are wearing traditional FG model boots like Copas, Preds and Tiempos.

    Recently, the likes of Puma, Adidas and Nike have all got wise to the AG sole-plate market. I don’t think it’ll be too long before every pro-standard boot on the market comes with an AG option.

  21. says: gregthegoalie

    i train 3G and it’s a good surface as long as you wear a pair of trousers&a goalkeeper top.I don’t recommend it for the top level of the game.With the high standard of groundskeeping in the premier league there’s no need for using astroturf.

  22. says: Richard

    You must use Hard Ground Blades such as Addidas Predetor mentioned above or indeed the Nike AG’s they make a HUGE difference.

    Only thing i would add is that alot of these centres such as powerleauge actually ban blades and therefore nike is becoming the only option by getting a pair from Nike ID.

    Allthough my Joma AG’s are mint ; )

    Manufactures definately missing a trick.

      1. Not really they are not long enough and get clogged up with grass and mud really fast. As the term AG should tell you for Artificial turf NOT grass. If you play on mixed surfaces you need more then one pair of boots sorry but that is how it is but if you are serious about your game you probably already had soft ground and firm ground boots so now you need to add AG boots if you also play on turf pitches.

  23. says: Roman

    Its a so much better than playing on bad grass or dirt/sand pitches. I would take nice level turf any day. But obviously I would rather play on premier league grass.

    1. I hear rounded is more forgiving on 3G pitches but Adidas’s AG sole is a blade type (just slightly shorter then their FG sole. So far Nile is ahead in the AG sole (after all they sell the damn turf so they batter make shoes for use on it) too bad my feet feel better in a pair of Adidas boots

  24. says: shiv

    I play on astro turf..i hate the black rubber bits that get stuck in my boots…its contributed to my dodgy left knee now =\
    still when u play at the highest level and get paid ÂŁ100k a week, you should be able to play on any surface, football is football…players grow up on the street with no boots.

    astro turf and jabulani, spartak moscow are militant!

  25. says: harry

    HELP….ANYBODY…..can AG boots be worn on the old carpet style astroturf or shld i stick with TF as I train on both 3G and the carpet style knee burning astroturf

    1. says: Michael Fournier

      I think you know the answer on 3G you can where FG or AG studs on the old Astroturf forget it there is nothing for the cleat to dig into on that crap it stick with Turf shoes on that stuff they should really rip out all that stuff it is the worst thing shy of playing on pavement.

  26. says: Mustardspaz

    can you use AG plate on firm ground? I play often but not like a junky. Will it make a difference if i play on firm ground? mercurials are cheaper in AG and i am low on cash. (13year)

  27. says: Raouuuuul

    Any idea on the impacts made on the joints? For example, what sorts of injuries are you preventing/opening yourself up to when you play in FG studs vs AG studs on astroturf.

  28. says: Ice

    the ag outsole is gret on any artificial grass field long or short if u want an alround shoes just go with the mundial team u can also use it on normal grass as long its not soft …

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