The Best Nike Football Cleats to Wear This Season

Buying Guide

The best Nike football cleats feature cutting-edge technology and design features to change the game. Here’s how to choose the right pair for you.

Last updated: August 11, 2022
6 min read
The Best Nike Football Cleats to Wear This Season

To be lightning-quick and powerful on the football field, it’s important to have a solid foundation from the ground up. By wearing the best football cleats, players gain traction and flexible support needed for sharp pivots, sprints to the end zone or digging in for contact on the line.

Nike football cleats are built with game-changing technology to optimize an athlete’s performance on the field — from youth players all the way up to the pros. Whether you’re looking for the all-around best football cleats, best cleats for wide receivers, best cleats for running backs or best cleats for linemen, this guide will help you choose the best pair for your greatest season yet.

What to Look for in the Best Cleats for American Football

  1. 1.Durability and Protection

    The best football cleats are built with a protective upper that will shield the tops of the feet, while also being breathable and lightweight. Some Nike styles feature a Nike Flyknit upper (which provides flexible support and good air circulation) with a layer of fabric on top for added coverage. Others feature a synthetic leather upper for durable comfort.

  2. 2.Cleat Placement

    The cleats on a football shoe are more spread out than those on other types of cleats, like soccer cleats, which helps to create a stable base. Many football cleats have a cleat positioned by the big toe, so when you push off to explode from the line, there’s a cleat to help you effectively grip the turf and push forward.

  3. 3.Shoe Height

    While soccer cleats are generally low-cut and baseball cleats tend to be mid-level or high-top, football cleats come in all three heights. High-top cleats are ideal for linemen who want more ankle stability to dig in at the line.

    Mids provide a mix of support and ankle freedom that can work for a variety of positions. And for the team’s speediest players, low-cut cleats can unleash the full power of your ankle to propel you forward with each stride.

    (Related: A Beginner’s Guide to American Football Positions)

The Best Nike Football Cleats for Adult Players

  1. 1.Best Nike Cleats for Linemen Who Want More Ankle Coverage

    The Best Nike Football Cleats to Wear This Season

    For athletes like linemen, who may want more stability in a cleat as they’re blocking opponents, check out a mid- or high-top pair. In a 2014 study published in Sports Journal, researchers compared low-, mid- and high-top football cleats and found that high-top cleats significantly impacted the ankle’s ability to dorsiflex (when the foot is pulled toward the shin).

    For this reason, athletes who participated in the study perceived mid- and high-top cleats to be more stable than low-top cleats. And the findings suggested that high-top cleats may limit ankle motions associated with injury without negatively impacting performance.

    Two Nike cleats that sit higher on the ankle are the Nike Force Savage Shark and the Nike Alpha Menace Elite. The Nike Force Savage Shark features an ankle strap for extra stability and a secure fit, and there’s webbing on each side of the foot to help lock it in place and minimize slipping.

    The Nike Alpha Menace Elite features a Nike Flyknit upper that wraps the foot in breathable fabric, and the ghost lacing system integrates the upper with the plate underfoot to cinch down the fit. The carbon-fiber plate is stiff in the heel and midfoot for stability. On the sole, the wide stud placement with traction on the edges helps support lateral moves, and the traction pattern facilitates multidirectional movement.

  2. 2.Best for Quick Pivots

    The Best Nike Football Cleats to Wear This Season

    If you’re a wide receiver hoping to stretch the field on routes this year, a tailback training to blow by linebackers or a defensive back wanting to cut better than the offensive players you’re covering, low-top Nike Vapor Edge cleats can be your secret weapon. The low-cut style offers ankle mobility, and the shoes’ lightweight construction is made for speed and agility.

    Vapor Edge footwear has a full foot plate that provides flexible support, and the wide stud placement provides a strong, slip-free grip. The Nike Flyknit upper makes for a sock-like, stretchy fit, and the ghost lacing system is designed not to come untied mid-play.

  3. 3.Best Versatile, All-Around Cleats

    The Best Nike Football Cleats to Wear This Season

    For players who want a little more support than a low-top shoe provides, check out a mid-top Nike Alpha Menace cleat. When researchers studied the three heights of football cleats in the 2014 study mentioned above, they found that players in both mid-level and low-top cleats could move their ankles well, and that both shoes felt lighter than high-top shoes.

    The Alpha Menace Varsity, for example, is known for its lightweight stability and traction. The latest version of the shoe features midfoot overlays that offer secure support for the foot. On the bottom of the cleat, you’ll find a stiff plate with a 12-stud configuration, which creates optimal stability and traction for explosive bursts, quick cuts and sudden stops.

    Similarly, the Alpha Menace Pro features top-notch lateral support and a wide cleat pattern to keep you grounded at all angles. But these shoes also empower you to dynamically move: The carbon-fiber plate and X-Frame on the bottom of the shoe add stability, responsiveness and flexibility during hard braking and quick cuts.

  4. 4.Best Youth-Specific Football Cleats

    The Best Nike Football Cleats to Wear This Season

    Nike offers kid-adapted versions of the Nike Alpha Menace, Nike Vapor Edge and Nike Force Savage Shark cleats with similar features and benefits as the adult versions.

    If you’re looking for a low-profile, kid-specific style that’s versatile and can work for a range of sports, check out the Nike Future Field cleats. These are for kids who love different activities and might not want to specialize quite yet.

    The best part of the Nike Future Field cleats is that they're meant for all types of field play — football, baseball, soccer or even running around the field at recess. They're durable so kids can have fun trying out all the sports they want.

Words by Greg Presto

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