We are heading into that time of year again when rain starts to fall more frequently and the state of natural firm ground surfaces are starting to change. In some cases, the changes are dramatic and mud becomes a weekly feature on your boots, while others will be lucky enough to have a proper grass pitch year round.
FG, or firm ground, boots have become the rage over the past few years, with players choosing to stick with a pair year round. Because of the price of boots, many players don’t have the option of buying a second pair and SG boots become a desired luxury. Thankfully, several companies have looked at ways to develop blades and more strategically positioned, but there still isn’t a “concrete” winning design.
So, as we head into the wet weather, here is my breakdown on what FG wearers can expect in different situations and why considering other soleplates might be extremely important for your game.
No. 1 – Playing on Artificial Grass (AG)
No matter what the weather, it seems like most AG soleplates prove decently effective. Many players (and parents) have concerns with studs catching the surface and causing ankle injuries. This might be the case where you are wearing boots with blades and a lower number of them, but the larger companies have adjusted their designs to lower the risk of injury. Your safest bet is a stud configuration that is compact and features round, conical studs over blades.
Turf or AG configurations are top options, but they can only be used on AG pitches. FG is a sort of hybrid and can used on multiple surfaces. In fact, in my opinion using FG over AG in wet conditions is a far better option. The extra grip will stop you from slipping and improve your overall traction. In turn, this means your performance will be better and it will help to avoid potential injuries.
Reaction: If you don’t have dodgy, shaky ankles and the surface is of a modern day standard (ie. not astroturf) then FG with conical configuration should work out pretty well.
No. 2 – Playing on FG with a Well Maintained Surface
For those that are lucky enough to play on s well maintained, natural grass surface this one is a no-brainer. I don’t think I need to go into much detail on this one – just appreciate the fact that you can play some top quality “Barca style” soccer when the surface is smooth and grass is abundant.
Reaction: Go for it – this is where they were designed for use, both blades and conical.
No. 3 – Playing on FG with Long Grass
Then there are the pitches that are not quite as smooth and feature grass that might be a little longer then you like. On occasions like this, FG configurations should work out pretty well. As long as the surface is not saturated and moving as you cut or turn, you should be pretty ok wearing them. This is the one instance where individual style and performance will dictate your decision about wearing an FG boot. But, in the vast majority of cases I would approve the use of FG boots.
Reaction: Safe to use and they should perform pretty well. This is the one area where you have a personal choice to make.
No. 4 – Playing on FG with Mud or Soft Ground
In either of these cases, your FG configuration is not going to help your performance. When mud is evident or the surface is soft enough for an SG configuration, you are in trouble. The primary issue is the fact that the studs or blades on an FG boot are more compact and dense, thus allowing mud to really grab on and stick to the underside of your boot. The extra surface area acts as a catalyst for mud to play a role in your performance. An SG configuration is much less compact and this means you are able to penetrate and accelerate away from the surface without catching the same quantity of mud. You will still catch mud, but it is likely to fall off as you run or is much easier to scrape off with your fingers.
Obviously, traction is a major problem in this case and players really can’t rely on an FG boot to allow for sharp cuts and turns. But, there is also another real issue on hand. The extra mud stuck to your boots actually adds extra weight and can create an uneven feel as you run or shoot. Think about this for a second, adding an extra 4oz of mud straight on to the sole creates a very different leg movement and actually requires different form. So, when you are familiar with shooting in a 6oz boot, a 6oz boot with +4oz on the sole is going to be problematic. My advice here is simple, don’t wear a pair of FG boots in these conditions unless it is all that you have got.
Reaction: Avoid using FG in these conditions – maybe look at finding a pair of SG that are more specific to the surface.
Again, I understand many players don’t have an option to buy boots with different stud configurations, but it worth noting and understanding what performance differences come with sticking to one pair. SG boots seemed to have died off a little in recent years, but I don’t anticipate that to be the long term case as players start to appreciate their use over never, highly promoted, FG configs.
If you are interested in SG, here is the current available SG Line-Up at Soccer.com.