From laceless boots to mid-cut boots, we look at myths about boot performance.
The world of football boots has always been driven by two main pillars of industry – innovation and marketing. From the days of the first adidas Predator, with its “deadly” rubber strike zones promising to add venom to every strike, boot manufacturers have always found ways to upsell their latest developments.
However, not all new innovations are created equal and are often add zero to little performance value despite how flashy the advertising may seem. Below are 5 examples of football innovations that are more myth than reality.
Myth 1 – The “sock” on mid-cut boots provides ankle support
TLDR: They don’t.
It started with the Nike Magista Obra and the Mercurial Superfly 4 launched during World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Nike’s ad campaign was on point and the winning goal was scored by Mario Gotze who propelled the Magista to fame.
This was pivotal in spawning a radical demand mid-cut boots and before long, every brand launched their very own mid-cut boot. Somehow, everyone expected these to provide them with ankle support just because it had fabric covering the ankle area.
Nike’s only promise was that the “sock” element provided the player with a seamless “boot-to-feet” sensation but were happy to let this false perception of its ankle supporting prowess run amok – and so did their competitors.
Above all, mid-cut boot varieties add a cool $50-100 to the price tag without offering any significant performance value save for looking cool.
Looking for actual ankle support? Wrap that ankle up in tape or get a proper ankle guard to limit the range of motion in your ankles.
Myth 2 – Laceless boots help you control the ball better
With Nike pioneering the mid-cut design, adidas has popularized laceless boots. Their selling point? A cleaner touch and strike on the ball. Any actual impact on your control of the ball is minimal but clever marketing and sleek product design have made it a hot commodity.
Everyone’s feet are built differently and laces were intended to add some adjustability so that they can fit you best. With laceless boots, you don’t get that option to personalize the fit and unless the football boots fit you perfectly, you’re bound to be left with a boot that isn’t the perfect, comfortable fit.
All this for an added $50-100 to the price tag as compared to their laced variations. There’s nothing wrong with liking laceless boots but the obsession around it has skewed many buyers’ perception of its performance on pitch.
And don’t get me started on people who remove their laces to mimic the look. If boots come with laces, they’re meant to be used that way to provide you with the required lockdown. Otherwise, you’ll find your feet constantly shifting around within the boot during a game.
If you’re keen on going laceless, find one that fits you perfectly or you might end up with bad cramps and blisters after every game. But hey, at least you’ll look cool in them.
Myth 3 – Lighter boots are “better”
Another misconception that has been borne by the marketing of popular “speed boots” like the Nike Mercurial Vapor and the adidas X series. Thinner and lighter boots aren’t always better for you despite how well they’ve been marketed.
In fact, all football boots have all gotten lighter over the past 10 years. Leather boots used to weight over 300g but it’s quite common to find them around the 230g range – only 30-40g heavier than a typical speed boot.
What’s most important is not the weight but how the boot feels on feet. For some, a lighter boot does make you feel quick on your toes. But for others, a more plush and padded sensation would be preferred even if it’s a little heavier.
Listen to your body and see what feels better on you, even if it’s not the lightest boot on sale.
Myth 4 – Boots are created for specific positions on the field
Another misconception perpetuated by marketing. They get a striker to sport the Nike PhantomVNM and hint that it’s meant for forwards only. Defenders don the adidas COPA 19.1 to display it’s more “rugged” properties as a leather boot.
It’s just a way to sell the idea and properties of the boot in a manner that’s easy to understand to the regular viewer.
If you’re a winger that likes padded leather boots, don’t feel pressured to be forced to buy a traditional speed boot. Do what feels good on your feet rather than what the ads tell you to wear.
Myth 5 – Newer boots are always better than older ones
Brands constantly try to launch the next big concept and often, the latest version of the boot can unrecognisable from its predecessor.
But just because the boot is new and different, it doesn’t always mean it’s better for you. Subjectivity will come into play again as the older version might be more suited to you based on its fit and feel.
Don’t dismiss a boot just because a new variation has just launched. Read some reviews and learn what to expect from the boots available.
Don’t be too influenced by brand marketing
Many of these myths have been in place due to heavy brand marketing. The boots available now are in no way bad performers but its perception has been skewed to get impressionable fans to buy more boots.
What we’re blessed with today is the sheer variety of football boots that are produced so take your time to learn about them before buying. They’re not cheap by any measure and if you’re still growing, you might outgrow them quickly so it’s important to make an informed decision before making a purchase.
Ultimately, boots don’t make you a better player but could make you feel better in a game. Find out what feels good and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time in your new kicks soon.
Got any myths we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments below.