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Football boots studs or blades - which configuration is best?

Which football boots are better for your game? What are studs, mixed, AG or blades football boots? Let's find out.

football boot stud configuration

Most new boot technology is laid bare for the eye to see. Even from the stands we can see the modern vamps, uppers, colourways and silo designs on the feet of our favourite players. But underneath the surface, hiding out of sight, lies one of the most important aspects of a football boot: the soleplate and stud configuration.

Without the soleplate, a football boot would be useless. We’d have no grip on the surface we were playing on, so we wouldn’t be able to change direction without slipping – essentially, we’d lose any agility that is required to play the modern game.

As with all men's football boots, the soleplate has undergone some dramatic changes over the years. On first impressions it would seem little has changed since the early days of bulky brown leather football boots, with an arrangement of studs designed to dig into the ground and provide extra grip, but as you look closer you will see that actually, a lot has changed.

Players are now given a choice of stud configurations, specially designed to perform on a number of different surfaces – from soft grass, to 3G and 4G artificial grass, indoor to AstroTurf – the surface you choose to play on will dictate the style of studs, the stud configuration and the soleplate design that will perform best.

To understand which football boots will work best for you, let’s take a closer look at the individual stud types you will find on today’s market:

What are conical stud football boots?

nike conical studs
Image from Nike.

Conical studs most closely resemble the typical football studs you’d find on old school boots. They are usually of a conical or cone shape that can either be fixed or moulded into the actual soleplate, or like boots of old, can be detached by screwing them into the soleplate by hand.

Players tend to opt for the fixed/moulded studs these days to avoid the age-old problem of losing a handful of studs to the suction of a muddy pitch each and every time we play. No matter how tight we thought we’d secured them into the boot, twisting and turning through 90 minutes would always dislodge a couple of studs from the soleplate, lost forever to the pitch.

Conical studs offer a quick release and greater stability, especially on soft ground pitches where they can better penetrate the wetter conditions. In these cases, the studs will sink completely into the ground until your weight is displaced on the soleplate.

What are blades football boots?

nike blades
Image from Nike.

Whereas conical studs are better for adding grip and stability on slippery surfaces, blades on football boots are more suited to harder ground by providing more points of contact between the bottom of your foot and the ground over a larger surface area resulting in better traction.

Running on hard ground with pointed, conical studs can cause the studs to stab upwards into your feet rather than sinking into the turf and if you’re running around for a long time, this can become uncomfortable.

Are metal blade football boots banned in the UK?

Early bladed stud configurations posed some safety matters as the way they were built into the soleplate meant that if you tried to turn your foot when it was planted in the ground, it could have too much traction, imbedding itself into the ground and causing the famous ACL damage as the knee turned without the foot.

Whilst the banning of metal blade boots isn’t written in the laws of the game by the FA, it’s certainly frowned upon. You’d be hard pressed to find a manufacturer that produces these dangerous studs after 2013, when Sir Alex Ferguson famously condemned the technology and banned his own players from wearing them.

Today, modern blade configurations arrange specially designed square, triangular and/or chevron blades in such a way that when the foot is planted, it can still turn freely allowing explosive movement from different angles. Even Fergie would approve I’m sure.

READ | Our definitive ranking of the best football boots for 2020 (including a variety of stud configurations!).

What are AG football boots?

nike AG studs
Image from Nike.

The ‘AG’ football boot refers to artificial ground or artificial grass. The popularity of artificial pitches is rising exponentially across the UK, where inclement weather has been known to lay waste to large parts of the grassroots season.

Whether it’s 3G or 4G turf, boots designed with an AG soleplate give maximum traction on what can become a slippery, greasy surface in the wet. They often comprise smaller, smoother plastic studs which can easily be inserted and removed whilst twisting, easily.

The smaller studs help to avoid potential injuries brought on by larger moulded studs on artificial turf, but offer far more traction than an indoor shoe.

What is a mixed stud football boot?

nike mixed studs
Image from Nike.

There are stud configurations that try and combine the benefits of both conical and bladed studs into one hybrid soleplate. These can be a combination of moulded conical and bladed studs or a mixture of screw in metal and rubber studs alongside fixed studs and blades.

The jury is still out on whether the mixture of blades and studs brings anything to our boots on any particular surface, or if it actually takes anything away from performance. So far, it is simply a case of personal preference whether to opt for the mixed soleplate configuration over FG/SG or AG in particular.

At FOOTY.COM you can find all the best conical, bladed and mixed stud configuration football boots at the very best prices.

Kevan Thorpe

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