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The different types of football boots | Complete guide

Lost in all the ground and surface type football boot jargon? We’ve got all the answers you need in our simple guide.

different types of football boots soleplates guide

When searching for your next pair of football boots, you might see SG / FG / AG / MG / TF / IC or to be honest, any combination of these letters. Don’t panic, they do all have an important purpose: the terms relate to the boot’s suitability for a particular ground or surface type.

Whether you’re a Sunday league bog-trotter, a Tuesday evening futsal specialist or a Saturday semi-pro maestro, you’ll need the correct footwear for the pitches used in your league. It’s lucky then, that boot brands nowadays have a huge range of soleplate options available.

In addition to all of that, our beautiful game is played throughout every imaginable seasonal change. So there’s a good chance you’ll need to pack different types of football boots in your bag, just to keep up with the ever-changing weather.

To figure out the differences between firm ground and soft ground, artificial ground and astro turf boots, we’ll have to dig into the details. Here we go…

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Soft Ground (SG) | Firm Ground (FG) | Artificial Ground (AG)Multi-Ground (MG) | Astro Turf (TF) | Indoor (IC)


What are SG or soft ground football boots?

Images from Unisport.

OK, so some of this guide will be a little on-the-nose and soft ground football boots are fairly self-explanatory. Picture the scene: it’s the bleak winter, it’s pouring, the game’s somehow still on. Soft ground (SG) football boots are the ideal partner for soft, wet and muddy grass pitches.

In the modern era, you’re more likely to see traditional soft ground metal studs mixed with firm ground plastic mould formations. Nike’s Anti-Clog tech is a perfect example of this style. This makes the boot more lightweight, offers better traction and gives the player better touch and feel on the ball.

If you’re unsure as to which boot models are ideal for you, we’ve already ranked the best soft ground football boots on our blog. You’re welcome.

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What are FG or firm ground football boots?

Images from Unisport.

Yep, you guessed it. Firm ground football boots are the opposite of soft ground ones. In this scenario, it’s pre-season, the sun’s beating down and the pitch has finally dried out from the months of winter hammering. This is the exact time that you should dig out the firm ground (FG) football boots.

This style of stud formation has been around for many years, but the shape of the ‘blades’ has been adapted as technology and research advanced. Shapes vary across leading boot brands and it’s up to you to find which suits your game.

Firm ground football boots are super popular, which is why you can get all of the best football boots of the year in FG. Go on, treat yourself.

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What are AG or artificial ground / artificial grass football boots?

Images from Unisport.

If you’re one of the lucky folks who have a pitch which guarantees that your game won’t get called off, you’ll definitely need to pick up some artificial ground (AG) boots. Sometimes referred to as artificial grass boots, they’re designed specifically for modern 3G and 4G synthetic plastic pitches.

Artificial turf is still firm underfoot, which means longer studs are ruled out and firm ground blade shapes can snag when you’re turning on it. AG boots have smaller, often circular plastic studs which can enter and release from 3G and 4G with ease. No slipping, but no unwanted knee injuries either. Win-Win.

Playing on 4G regularly? You lucky devil. We’ve picked out the best football boots for 4G to help you choose a new pair.

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What are MG or multi-ground football boots?

Images from Unisport.

Now we’re entering the niche world of football boot soleplates. Another recent hybrid, multi-ground (MG) football boots are a split between firm ground and artificial ground boots, which means they’re potentially a value option for the savvy shopper who wants to cover both bases in one.

Multi-ground football boots have very short, rounded plastic studs which can work excellently on both dry grass fields and 3G/4G artificial grass pitches. It’s worth noting, not all brands produce MG options and if they do, it’s usually in the lower tech / lower price point arena.

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What are TF or astro turf football boots?

Images from Unisport.

This surface is beginning to die out a little, luckily so for the sake of our grazed knees. Sand-based astro turf 2G pitches require a certain type of boot, and they’re aptly named astro turf (TF) trainers. The soles are covered in grippy, rubber bumps which can grab into the hard turf and help you turn without skidding.

You’ll often see them described as ‘astros’, astro football boots or more likely astro trainers or shoes. They are adaptable and in more urban football settings, they can be the primary choice for concrete or street play. Want the best news? They’re hard-wearing and usually cost less than studded boots. Yay.

Aiming for the local astro turf for your next game? Before you do, don’t forget to check out our ranking of the best trainers for astro turf.

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What are IC or indoor court football trainers?

Images from Unisport.

Now we’re into the final stages, it’s time for those ‘ballers who prefer the comfort of 5-a-side in the local sports hall. Futsal and furry yellow football enthusiasts will likely need a pair of indoor court (IC) football trainers for those wooden floors. Side note: they’re sometimes referred to as ‘sala’ shoes.

These trainers have a flat, patterned, non-marking sole which can give maximum grip on hard gym floor surfaces. Built for comfort and durability, all the leading brands offer their own version of IC shoes for your game including Nike, adidas and Puma.

If you’re struggling to choose from all the indoor models, we’ve picked out the best indoor trainers on our blog. Go squeak yourself to glory.

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Whichever surface type you need, you’ll find every single option here at FOOTY.COM. We gather prices from leading brands and retailers, to show you the lowest prices online. Check out our full collection of football boots, filter easily by surface type and get that kitbag ready for your next game.

Kevan Thorpe

Quintessential grassroots journeyman. I've had more "you look like Gareth Barry" comments than I have career goals.