10 Best

Lineman Cleats

of December 2023

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A Guide to Selecting Lineman Cleats

Yehudah Posnick

A good pair of cleats are a necessity for every football player, regardless of whether they’re on offense, defense, or special teams. The studs on the bottom of football cleats give important traction on both grass and turf, in both wet and dry conditions. And offensive linemen will have a special need for cleats that help them clutch the ground so that they can unwaveringly maintain their position against a blitz. They have to instinctively know which foot to move first when the ball is snapped, and when they have to keep their feet planted.

If you’re an offensive tackle, you’d like to have a pair of cleats that help you perform your tasks in the best way possible. We’ll briefly go through the various types of football cleats, and point out which features make one pair of cleats better for the big men in the trenches on the line of scrimmage!


What are the parts of the sole of a shoe?

You’ll see the terms insole, midsole, and outsole used when describing sports shoes in general. Let’s define them briefly:

    • The insole is the part of the sole of the shoe that comes in contact with your feet. In many cases, the insole can be replaced. That can be important if someone has flat feet, and wants to build up their arch.

    • The midsole is the middle section of the sole and acts as a shock absorber and cushion.

    • The outsole is the part of the shoe’s sole that touches the ground and where the studs are placed in a pair of cleats.

How are football cleats different from cleats in soccer or baseball?

Football cleats can be distinguished from cleats for other sports. For example:

  • Football cleats:

    • Football cleats will have longer, sharper spikes for better grip and traction on grass or turf.

    • The shoe itself is heavier, to offer more ankle support.

    • Football players will prefer either adjustable cleats to adapt to artificial turf or grass. Otherwise, they’ll use a different pair of cleats for the two surfaces.

    • The studs themselves will vary in length on different parts of the sole.

    • The studs will be from plastic, with blunt, thick tips. Metal studs are prohibited, because of the possibility of stepping on an opponent during the game.

  • Baseball cleats:

    • These have shorter spikes since they’re mostly for running the bases, where the surface is dirt or clay.

    • The shoe itself is lighter and more flexible, to be able to run faster.

    • All of the studs are more or less the same size.

    • The studs can be made of rubber, plastic, or metal.

    • The studs in baseball cleats are fixed and can’t be modified.

  • Soccer cleats:

    • Soccer cleats are very similar to low-cut football cleats. But, a big difference is that football cleats have a spike at the toe, while soccer cleats don’t. That front stud in football cleats helps with traction when accelerating and jumping (especially when blocking, tackling, and pushing forward, which is so common in football).

    • The kicker or punter in football can use a soccer cleat since they don’t usually block or tackle.

    • Soccer cleats will have a shin guard, but will be more lightweight than football cleats, because of all of the running that’s required in soccer. Football cleats, on the other hand, will have more padding and protection.

Why do linemen tape their cleats?

“Spatting” your football cleats involves wrapping the ankle together with the top of the cleat, including the laces and the body of the cleat. Athletic trainers usually use a pre-wrap around the ankle, and then athletic tape on top. This will secure the ankle in place and reduce the risk of twisting it over the course of the game.

Can a lineman wear soccer cleats?

The construction of soccer cleats and football cleats is similar. But a football cleat will have that spike (or spikes) in the toe area that will improve a lineman’s traction. So, a lineman is best advised to use a mid-cut or high-cut football cleat.

Types of Lineman Cleats

What’s special about cleats specifically for linemen?

Linemen's cleats are specifically designed to provide players with the necessary support and traction needed for their position. These cleats typically feature a higher top than traditional football cleats. This supports the ankle and prevents the ankle from getting twisted. They may also feature extra padding as well for added protection. The sole of linemen's cleats has strategically placed studs that offer maximum traction on both wet and dry surfaces, enabling linemen to dig in and push off at crucial moments during a game. In addition, some linemen's cleats also have an additional toe box that provides extra durability for players who experience frequent contact at the line of scrimmage.

What’s different about lineman cleats and football cleats for other positions?

There are some characteristics of lineman cleats that should influence your choice:

  • Height of a lineman’s cleats: Lineman cleats will usually be high-top or mid-top shoes, for more ankle protection. (On the other hand, cleats for running backs or wide receivers, who need to run fast, will usually be low-rise for maximum mobility. They may choose mid-rise cleats, to provide some ankle support, as well as models with fiberglass inserts to prevent the ankle from twisting.)
  • Toe box: They may have a toe box that protects your feet, in the event that other players step on your feet (which is a distinct possibility, considering how densely packed the line of scrimmage can be).

Important Features

Key Factors to Consider When Buying Lineman Cleats

A. Comfort and fit
1. Sizing

  • Length: The sizing of your cleats will depend on the brand. Nike makes their cleats true-to-size, so you should buy a pair of cleats that are the same size as your shoes. However, Adidas says that their cleats tend to run small, so you should order 1 size up. When actually wearing the cleat, podiatrists recommend that the length of the shoe should be a thumb-width longer than where your big toe is situated in the cleat. (On the other hand, some professionals actually prefer buying their cleats a half-size smaller, since they will tend to stretch as you break them in.)

  • Width: Take note of the cleat’s width. Although you select cleats online by shoe length only, you can usually find the shoe width as well. Customers who bought the Adidas Men’s Freak Mid-height 20 Football Shoe said that the width was adequate, even for players with wide feet.

  • Socks: As for the socks that you’ll wear when trying them on, wear athletic socks, which are thicker than dress socks. After all, athletic socks are going to be what you’ll wear at game time.

2. Break-in period

Once you have the correct size and fit of lineman cleats, you’ll have to break them in. When you purchase a new pair of cleats, podiatrists suggest alternating between your new pair and the old pair, until you’ve sufficiently broken in the new pair. Rubbing the upper with petroleum jelly after each use will also help to soften the material.

B. Traction and grip
1. Types of cleat studs:

By and large, there are two types of studs on football cleats:

  • Detachable stud cleats–These allow you to change the studs by removing a small screw, depending on the type of field you’re playing on, whether it's turf or natural grass. Long studs will provide stronger traction when playing on natural grass, especially if it has been raining and the field tends to be wet and sloppy. Short cleats are better for hard, dry artificial turf. You can also replace the studs on these shoes if they wear down over time.

  • Hard molded cleats–In these cleats, the entire outsole of the shoe with the cleats is molded from a single piece, usually made from hardened plastic. If the studs wear down, you have to replace the shoe. These are considered better for artificial turf since the outsole will provide you with both cushioning and traction.

C. Ankle support and protection
Which football cleats are best for each position?

Football cleats will come in three heights. Players at different positions will prefer cleats of different heights:

  • Low-cut: These will be used by running backs, defensive backs, and wide receivers. This type of design allows for speed, agility, and maneuverability. But, it won’t protect your ankles from injury, since the ankle is exposed.

  • Mid-cut: Middle-height cleats (or “¾ cleats”) are used by linemen, linebackers, quarterbacks, and some running backs. It provides some ankle protection, but it will reduce agility if you’re required to run.

  • High-cut: These will provide the most ankle support so that you don’t twist your ankle when blocking. For this reason, high-cut cleats are favored by linemen and edge rushers.

D. Material and durability:

When it comes to the material of the cleat, a leather upper is more durable and sturdy. You’ll find that synthetic materials are cheaper, but are less durable and offer less protection. One very common synthetic material in cleat outsoles is TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). It is resistant to abrasion and impact and remains flexible even in cold weather (which you’ll probably experience a lot when playing football).

E. Price and budget considerations

The prices of football cleats will range from youth sizes that cost around $50-60, to cleats for professionals from higher quality materials that can cost over $200.

An important consideration is that young adults probably shouldn’t invest a lot of money in cleats, since their feet are still growing. You’ll probably have to purchase another set every two years or so.

Trying on and Purchasing Lineman Cleats

Trying on and testing cleats for optimal fit

Buying articles of clothing online can prove challenging, and football cleats are no exception. While some brands, like Adidas, are true-to-size, others may not have the right size or fit. If they don’t fit, you’ll have to send them back. It’s advised to take the following precautions when buying cleats online:

  • Get the right outsole for the surface that you’ll be playing on, either natural or artificial grass. You risk injury if you wear cleats for natural grass on an artificial surface.

  • Don’t play or practice with a new pair of cleats if you’re not 100% certain of the fit.

  • Don’t try to customize the cleats if you aren’t sure that they fit you.

Caring for and maintaining your cleats for maximum longevity

Since playing conditions on natural grass can get messy (especially if it rains), you may not think it’s very important to keep your cleats clean. But it’s important to keep the cleats clean, both the soles and the upper.

  • Cleaning the soles: Remove mud or grass that has accumulated. Use a screwdriver or other pointed tool if necessary. Then go over the surface with a cleaning brush to get off any remaining residue.

  • Cleaning the upper: Remove the shoelaces (if your cleats have laces). Brush the upper with a cleaning brush. Use a cleaning solution if necessary to remove any stains. Finish off by wiping with a flannel cloth. You can either machine-wash or hand-wash the shoelaces, but avoid machine-drying them.

Try to air dry the cleats after cleaning, but avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Also, don’t wear cleats on non-playing surfaces, such as asphalt or on a sidewalk. They should be treated like your other articles of football equipment, and worn only for practice or game time.

Top-Rated Brands

Top Lineman Cleat Brands and Models

Looking at the Best Reviews Guide list of linemen cleats, we see that there are three popular brands that make football cleats:

  • Nike: Nike’s newest offerings include two lines of football cleats: the Alpha Menace line, and the Vapor Edge line. The Alpha Menace line includes both hard-molded cleats and detachable cleats that are appropriate for linemen. For example, the Nike Alpha Menace Pro 3 is a ¾-height cleat that is suitable for linemen, with a wide, hard-molded cleat pattern whether you intend to “dig in” to create an immovable formation, or to dart off the offensive line to pry open an opening.

Nike Alpha Menace Pro 3 Football Cleats

The Nike Alpha Menace Elite 2 D Men’s Detachable Football Cleats are high-top shoes that have stretch-knit fabric that hug your ankle to provide support and balance. It has 7 detachable cleats for traction whether you have to play on grass or turf. (The “D” stands for “Detachable”. If you want the same Nike design, there is also the Nike Alpha Menace Elite 2 Football Cleats, with hard-molded cleats.)

Nike Alpha Menace Elite 2 D Men’s Detachable Football Cleats

Nike Alpha Menace Elite 2 Football Cleats

  • Adidas: Adidas has four lines of football cleats: the Freak line, the Nasty line, the Ultraboost line, and the Adizero line.