Beginner’s Guide to Soccer: Are Soccer Running Shoes a Thing?

New players may wonder if their favorite pair of running shoes can become their favorite soccer running shoes. Let's dive into this question in our soccer beginners guide.
do running soccer shoes exist

If you’re new to the game of soccer, you may be wondering if you can repurpose your favorite pair of running shoes as you take the pitch. Do soccer running shoes exist? Can you wear the same sneakers for running when you play soccer? And what makes soccer cleats so special anyway?

We will first define the intent of running shoes, compare them to the purpose of soccer cleats, and then figure out if any can double as a soccer cleat.

Why are sneakers good for running?

The best running shoe will provide you with protection and comfort on different pavements. They offer a supportive footbed to keep your feet from slipping. Generally, they are lightweight, and cushioning is centered on the heels.

Also – running is an intense sport, and as a result, your feet will likely get very hot. Many use mesh for increased airflow, which also helps reduce weight and keeps your shoes lighter – something that’s incredibly helpful if you’re doing long-distance runs.

Do running shoes make a difference?

Short answer – yes.

Ask anyone who has run any moderate distance – I’m thinking a 5k and beyond here. Having a good pair of running shoes helps whether you are walking on your neighborhood streets, running long distances, or trail running.

Having the right pair of shoes that fits your exact foot shape, and offers the just-right mix of responsive cushioning and stability that can help minimize injury, increase your comfort, and extend your endurance.

So – what kind of shoes should I wear for soccer?

Running shoes are beneficial when you’re doing long runs and you’re moving forward in a fairly straight line.

Compare that with soccer, when you’re often needing to do quick side-to-side movements, cut rapidly across the field, turn quickly, stop abruptly – and of course, have good ball control.

What is special about soccer shoes?

Good soccer shoes are specifically designed to help soccer players accomplish all of the above, while also being exclusively designed to match the playing surface for the game.

It makes sense when you think about it. Futsal soccer, which is played indoors on a hard court, requires different soccer shoes than soccer played on a firm ground pitch.

We dive deep into all the different kinds of soccer cleats in our Soccer Cleats 101 Guide, but in general – a soccer cleat with longer studs works best on slippery, soft ground surfaces since they penetrate deep into the field and help players better grip the field, maintain traction, and ball control. Conversely, shoes with rubber spikes or minimal stud configurations are often used on artificial turf fields or indoor soccer courts.

So… do running soccer shoes exist?

Can you wear running shoes for soccer? Short answer – no.

As a general rule, running shoes are awful for soccer.  Running shoes are great for running in straight lines—some even offer an energetic ride and promise to put a pep in your step—but they will have bad performances for side movements and parallel movements, quick turns, and complete stops.

Running shoes may still be useful for an occasional futsal game, sometimes a hard surface, and surely for running before practice, cross-training on your non-practice days, or just walking to and from your car after a game.

This may be shocking, but for soccer, soccer cleats are the best solution.

Are soccer cleats good for running?

While it’s true you run in soccer, soccer cleats are best for playing soccer and do not serve well as running shoes. 

Running in cleats on hard terrain can damage your ankle joints and knees. If you’re going to be a soccer player, it’s best to get good shoes – which means it’s time to invest in the best soccer cleats for your new sport.

What are the best soccer running shoes for soccer players – off-pitch?

Okay, so I’ve convinced you that it’s not a good idea to wear sneakers when you’re playing soccer. But you still want new shoes for your training off the pitch, like tempo runs on paved roads or recovery runs on recovery days.

Like you do when determining the best soccer cleat for your game, you need to first ask yourself where you’re going to be running and what you value most in your new shoes.

  • Do you value stability? You’ll want to look into stability shoes that offer more cushioning, more support, and a midsole foam insert.
  • Do you like the feeling of a light weight shoe? You’ll want to research new runners with soft cushioning and lots of mesh.
  • Are you looking for a good-for-the-planet option? Check out the new Brooks Ghost.
  • Do you prefer the fit of a women’s shoe? Some women are comfortable wearing unisex sneakers, but if you’re partial to a women’s fit, you’ll want to be sure to check the box for women’s running shoes in your search.
  • Wide feet? Check out stability running shoes, which offer better weight distribution, and look for a shoe with a wider toe box.
  • Will you be running on trails? Then you’ll need to look into trail runners.
  • Do you just like the look of an athletic shoe as casual wear? Sort by your favorite brand or color. New Balance and Puma have some fun retro options, while Adidas is always a classic in the soccer world. You can also look into indoor soccer shoes as a good option for casual wear.

Most people are happy with purchasing from a known brand – like Nike, New Balance, Adidas, and Puma. But be sure to check other brands out there – you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

How do I choose the right running shoe?

You’ll find different types of shoes for different running styles. But the best running shoes share one thing in common: Comfort.  Do not sacrifice comfort and fit – for anything.

Even if you spot your favorite professional soccer player wearing a new pair of Air Zoom Pegasus or Mizuno Wave Rider (both popular options in the running world), but those pairs squeeze your toes – leave them on the shelf. If you force your foot into a shoe that’s too small or your heel rubs the back of the shoe, you’re less inclined to take the stairs or go on that run. 

What shoes do soccer coaches wear?

The good news here – soccer coaches and team managers can be dressed in running shoes or soccer cleats. It’s totally personal preference, as shoes for coaches are not covered by any footwear regulations.

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