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Best Soft Ground

Dean Ariola

When playing on softer pitches, especially during the winter months when you are more likely to be playing in the rain, you are going to want a pair of Soft Ground football boots, with removable metal football boot studs. Check out the most popular pairs on the site below:

Soft Ground & Muddy Pitch Boots

Now standard on all Nike Elite level soft ground boots, anti-clog technology resists mud, meaning it struggles to stick to the bottom of your boot, improving your traction in difficult pitch conditions. Maybe Elite level players don’t often need it, but on some of those dodgy Sunday morning pitches, this will be a gaming changer in you getting around the park.

Soft ground boots are prepared for wet and muddy pitches. When the ground is wet and muddy, or to a certain extent is composed of very tall grasses, the pitch loses its ability to provide cushioning and bounce back to sprints. Certain attributes make the SG useful for these conditions. They are usually made up of longer studs to get more bite on the softer plane. The main difference though, aside from the length of the studs, comes into the use of metal studs, which are usually designed to be screwable and interchangeable. This allows any accumulated mud to be wiped off from the studs. For muddy, sticky, wet surfaces, metal does a better job in providing grip and stability.

Can you wear FG on SG pitches?

The metal studs of soft ground boots will struggle to penetrate the harder firm ground, giving you an unstable footing and off-balanced foot, this can also lead to an increase in blisters on the feet and the chances of a rolled ankle or twisted knee and should be avoided at all costs. Consider buying replacement plastic studs, to make your boots firm ground suitable, adidas stocks TPU studs, whilst you will need to buy aftermarket generic ones to fit Nike and other brands thread size.

Can you wear SG boots on AG or artificial grass/turf?

The short answer is no, firstly they can damage the pitch and you won’t be very popular with the owners or managers of the field. They can not penetrate the ground properly so you find the same issues as FG as above, you should consider a specific AG-Pro pair or switching out your metal studs for a plastic alternative.

Top 10 SG Football Boots

1. Nike Air Zoom Mercurial Vapor 15 Elite

Anti-Clog meets Zoom Air in the current Mercurial to setup a technologically-packed Nike soft ground outsole.

2. Nike Phantom GX 2 Academy

One of your cheapest options in this list.

3. adidas Predator Elite

Grippy Strikeskin grip elements on a Hybridtouch 2.0 upper; 6 screw-in metal studs supported by moulded ones; ball control and traction in wet natural grass all in one boot

4. adidas X Crazyfast.1

Snappy Speedframe makes the X Crazyfast .1 one, if not the most responsive SG-tooled football boot

5. Puma Future Ultimate

A boot that partners its soft and comfortable textile upper and adaptive-fitting Fuzionfit+ midfoot compression band with muddy ground-friendly traction

6. Puma Ultra Ultimate

If you’re into speed boots, the Puma Ultra can give you a lightweight pair to work on soft ground pitches; Now with a dual density structure for a snappy soft ground outsole

7. New Balance 442 V2

Legitimately a suitable buy for wide-feet players; One of the few that is both cheap and leather

8. adidas Copa Pure 2+

Adidas brings in their trademark Fusionskin technology of leather and knit in a laceless SG-specific make

9. Mizuno Morelia DNA MIJ

Arguably the most premium of K-leather execution on an SG boot

10. Nike Tiempo Legend

Maximise the premiumness of the Flytouch+ upper and the benefits of a full-length Anti-Clog outsole on wet pitches.

Nike Soft Ground Boots

Nike have the Anti-Clog soft ground versions for all their existing silos of Mercurials, Phantom, and Tiempo. However, you might have heard about the SG-PRO Nike boots that professionals favoured back then over the Anti-Clog ones.

Elite SG-Pro models usually maintain the soleplate structure of the FG variants and do not have the Anti-Clog full-length application which significantly added weight.

What is Anti Clog for Soft Ground?

Technology-wise, Nike introduced in 2016 its Anti-Clog soleplates (AC SG) for Nike’s SG boots. They are made up of an adaptive polymer material that, in the words of Dr Jeremy Walker, moves away from repelling water to being compliant to it, resulting in a lubricious layer without sacrificing traction. The layer of the Anti-Clog soleplates works best when in contact with mud & water or a slick, slimy surface that feels almost like a goo or watery.

Why Pros Don’t Like Anti Clog

1. Anti Clog, when it was first released, added even more weight to soft ground soleplates and reduced the flexibility of the sole for players.

2. Pros play on good quality pitches, where the problem of mud sticking to the sole is considerably reduced compared to the poorer quality social pitches, where they can be more mud that grass.

3. Nike started to reduce the availability of the standard SG-Pro boots as the pushed the Anti Clog tech throughout their range, making it harder for pros to get their preferred boots.

Nike have now tried to address the weight issue by strategically limiting the coating to certain areas and retaining as much of the original FG soleplate structure as possible, thus adding much less weight than before. Another change is the use of the more durable non-removable steel instead of the screw-in aluminums. This allows for the removal of the screw-in structurally inserts altogether, thereby freeing up another burden to Anti-Clog plates overall.

How Many Studs Do SG boots have?

Traditionally, SGs had used a 6-stud configuration. The boots have now evolved and have increased in the number of studs employed as well as shapes, usually mirroring the stud patterns of their FG counterparts whenever possible, with SG-Pro being a combination of the six metal studs, with smaller plastic studs used also.

SGs are then worn during rainy seasons and most of the winter when extreme moisture has already built up on the pitch, making it wet and muddy to play on.

adidas and Puma currently only offer two types of sole plate, the PRO version which includes a combination of changeable metal studs and fixed plastic studs, the cheaper versions of soleplates, included only six changeable metal studs, rather than the mixed sole option perferred by pros. Whilst that pro set up is ideal for quality pitches, you may find a six stud combination works best on the average Sunday league pitch.

Save yourself some cash and get two pairs of boots for one with adidas boots, as their metal studs can be switched our for screw in plastic studs, converting any soft ground adidas pair in to a firm ground pair, with the help of your stud key!

Boots for soft pitches (except for the 2021 Nike SG-Pro ACs) have removable studs, which means depending on the conditions you can change the studs to give yourself more or less grip as the field requires. By changing the studs you make one pair of boots usable in multiple conditions, saving yourself money in the long run. Studs usually come in three different lengths, mixing shorter studs at the front with longer studs at the back. In really bad conditions you’ll need to use the longest metal studs provided.

Best to apply some water (just pour some from your drinks bottle) over the soleplate of the Nike SG-Pro ACs before you walk onto the pitch, to activate the sole & stop the mud sticking as Anti-Clog boots work at their fullest when wet.

Be aware that you should never use SG boots on an artificial, dry ground or sand slip pitch, as the special anti-clog coating on the soleplate can get scratched by these surfaces, reducing its effectiveness in future.

If the ground is very hard you may want to consider a pair of firm ground boots, or changing to those plastic studs, but usually through the winter months of the season you will want to stick to your soft ground boots.


Dean Ariola

Dean has worked Chief writer at the Black & Orange team since 2020, he has an indepth knowledge of all the soccer shoes from the big brands, you have him to thank for all the updates to our Boot Secrets guide and he is first on the scene with all the new releases for you!