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Some parents have asked for my thoughts on soccer cleats given the wide range of brands, designs, quality, and cost out there. Of all the pieces of equipment cleats are obviously the single most important. Pretty much everything your child does during practices and games focuses on the feet, so my suggestion is to invest a little in good, well-fitting cleats.
Right now I think that for youth the Adidas Ace 15.3 FG AG J cleat has a very good balance between cost and performance. This cleat costs around $55, but please see my suggestion at the end of this post about how to save some money if you can time the purchase.
The ~$50 to ~$60 price range has been consistent for me over the years. There is absolutely no reason to spend more than this at the youth level. For example, Adidas also sells a Messi 15.1 cleat for $100. Not worth it in my view.
I would also not go significantly below that $50 price point. Adidas and Nike sell kids cleats for $20 or $30, but the quality of those cleats in terms of fit, weight, and foot support drops too much in my view. And the material doesn’t give enough ‘feel’ on the ball.
Also keep in mind that cleats have different stud lengths. In our Bay Area I recommend you go with FG (Firm Ground) studs. Note that the above Adidas Ace shoe has a new FG/AG hybrid stud design with different stud lengths to accommodate both firm ground grass surfaces (FG) and artificial turf surfaces (AG). The image above shows what this hybrid looks like.
The best time to buy a cleat is when the $50/$60 cleat is on sale to clear inventory for the new model (which is often just a new design without significant performance improvements). At that point you can often get that ~$55 cleat for ~$30. I then tend to buy at least one size that fits and then the next two half-sizes up. It’s a great deal and I have them at home ready to go for when my son/daughter suddenly says how tight their cleats are.
So, my rule of thumb is to focus on correctly sized firm ground (FG) Adidas or Nike cleats in the $50 to $60 price range and then wait for price reductions to snap up a couple of sizes of that cleat for (almost) half price.