How to Break in Soccer Cleats and Make Them More Comfortable
Trying to figure out how to get into the game fast? Use this trick to break in soccer cleats and get back on your feet.
From a former athlete's perspective, I relate to the struggle of breaking in new shoes. Wrestling, track, and lacrosse, as you would probably expect, all have significantly different ranges of shoe-wear, and it is prudent to recognize that—even among football, soccer, and lacrosse—the cleats are specified to their sport. Going shoe shopping in the summer and winter of every year, I walked up and down the aisles of Sport's Authority looking at the range of athletic shoes I would need for the year, and I would always find that lacrosse cleats were directly next to the soccer cleats. Every so often, I would pick one of the soccer cleats up instead, trying them on and walking around the store—shopping in its most organic form. I found that, well into practice sessions preceding the season, I would eventually hit a comfortable stride, but I would always wind up wearing them out by the end of the year. Had I known these tips to break in soccer cleats, I would have saved myself a number of ice baths and been on the field like a flash of lightning well before game time.
After you've gone shopping and bought your favorite pair of the best cleats for soccer, use these tips to make sure they last.
The first thing you have to do when breaking in your cleats is make sure they form to your foot. If they are too loose, you'll roll your ankle. If they are too tight, the paramedics will have to remove them with scissors so that doctors can access the toes to amputate. The oldest trick in the book is, when you have them on in the store, reach down and wiggle your toes around. If you can do this, you'll set yourself up for success with these next steps.
Fill a bucket with hot water.
You purchased your shoes and thought about all the ways you're going to juke your opponents on the car ride home. Once you get there, you take them out of the box but realize that the new shoe smell is enough to make your head swim. The first step you're going to do is fill a tub (whether it be a bucket, a plastic tote big enough to fit your feet, or the tub in your bathroom) with hot water.
Disclaimer: This should not be blistering, "Oh my God, why would you tell me to do this?!" hot water. The water should be hot and bearable. You need your feet; treat them nicely.
Lace your shoes up and soak.
As if you haven't already done this, lace up your soccer cleats just as you normally would (socks included), and submerge them into the a-little-more-than-warm water, giving yourself a spa treatment. Massage the sides of your feet for 20 minutes, gently working all the air out of your cleats so that they frame your foot perfectly. Eventually, the air bubbles will stop, and you can remove your soaking feet from the bath.
Break out the vaseline.
Now that your feet are thoroughly drenched, lay a towel down and take off your shoes. With your vaseline, coat the instep and the outside of your cleats thoroughly, making sure to rub in or wipe off any excess. (Shoe maintenance is only one of the many awesome lifehacks for vaseline you never knew you needed.) This process will make the leather more malleable, so you don't crack the leather, and will eventually leading to soccer cleats with significantly more mobility.
Now that your shoes are slimy and disgusting, head outside and put them back on (over a new pair of socks, if you'd like). Lace them up as usual, and then simply start walking. Your first day, though soppy and squishy, will be a progressive build-up of testing your cleats' strength. Walk back and forth on the lawn or on the field, eventually working your way up to a jog, then break out the footwork drills. After about ten minutes, or once the excess water has dissipated, you can have a water break; just make sure to wear your cleats for the rest of the day until everything begins to feel at least a little dry.
Let them dry.
You and I both know that you weren't going to want to sleep in wet soccer cleats, even if you thought about it extensively. After you've been breaking them in all day, now is the time to let them rest, too. This is the important part: Stuff them full of newspaper to dry. Letting them sit in direct sunlight or concentrated air from a duct or vent will make the leather more susceptible to cracking. This is, obviously, not ideal for the state of your season. If you're feeling extra precautious, protect your shoes with leather polish once absolutely dry.
Unfortunately, you're not at game speed yet. The good news, though, is that the last step to break in soccer cleats is to simply practice in them 20–30 minutes a day over the course of a couple of weeks. The recommended duration of time is so that your cleats don't break under pressure when it really matters. This will also allow you to put vaseline on any blisters that might break out as you're getting used to your new kicks. There are loads of soccer drills you can practice at home, and nothing gets the game gear ready like game preparation, which is exactly why you're practicing in the first place; but it is important to remember that the material has its limits, too.
The last step is to simply enjoy! After following these steps to break in soccer cleats and practicing like a pro, you'll masterfully be able to handle the ball, juke out opponents, and rip shots into the back of the net, all while maintaining comfort and style.