The process of buying a first pair of soccer shoes for kids can often seem pretty daunting. You want to get a quality pair that fits comfortably without spending a fortune, especially when you are not sure if your little one will fully embrace the game or not. With so many brands on the market and a stream of endless new boots hitting shelves, there might be confusion as to where to even start.
And that is where we come in. This is our short guide to help parents find the right pair of boots for their aspiring player.
Step 1 – Comfort Is Key
Before anything else, comfort should be the number 1 focus when you are picking boots for any younger player. The goal is to ensure they fit properly and don’t offer any hot spots compared to their size and foot shape. This can prove challenging, but ask them to walk around in them to see if there are any areas of pressure. If all seems good, you are on your way to step #2.
Tip: Loosening laces right down to the bottom rung is an important tip for parents who’s kids are experiencing some problems. If issues persist even when the laces are loosened, then they are not the right boots.
Step 2 – Ensure You Have the Right Size
Since you want the boots to last longer than a few weeks, ensuring there is enough space to grow into is pretty important. In general, use your pinky finger as a guide to the max room they should have toward the front of the boot. If you press down on the upper with your pinky, there shouldn’t be any extra space left over between their toes and the front of the boot. Too much room, and you kid will feel clumsy in the boots and their feet will tend to slip. Too little room and you hit step #1 above!
Step 3 – Figuring Out the Right Balance
In order for your future star to develop, they need a boot that suits their style of play and aids their performance. This will regularly be a boot with more modern upgrades and a slightly higher price point. I’m not talking mega add-ons or miraculous shooting zones, instead it has a lot more to do with lightweight and added protection in the right areas. Don’t be immediately sucked in by the persuasive advertising machines that is Nike and Adidas – their boots are great, but there are also many other better value for money options out there.
Step 4 – Find Ways to Help Your Kid Develop
This is an important step, not just because of boots but also as a way to help your son or daughter develop as a player. Don’t try to evaluate what they should be wearing based off opponents, instead find the boot that fits their style of play.
For example, I received an email recently from a parent who wanted suggestions on a boot that would help protect her son against tackles from opposing players. She wanted something with extra padding across the front of the boot, for her son who played forward and liked to run really fast. My response to her was simple; why place a boot on your sons foot that will hamper his performance and cause him to become an easier target because he is not wearing the right boots? Instead, place him in a lightweight shoe that compliments and helps improve his confidence. Yes, he might get tackled pretty hard and suffer some injuries, but this is how you develop as a player. Next time he might not pull out of a challenge or maybe he will look to cut the other way, away from the tackle. The right boot can turn a players performance from an 8 to a 10, and that is how you get to the next level. Side note, this particular parent ended up buying him a $80, lightweight, speed boot.
Step 5 – Reach Out For Advice
There are not a great deal of reviews available for kid’s shoes online, and realistically it would be tough to get accurate reads from aspiring players that translated well in test. Instead, try to reach out to other parents or to coaches for advice and recommendations on boots that would be a good suit. Coaches, in particular, usually have an accurate gauge considering they see many players each season and are aware of the boots currently being worn by the same age-group.
I’m also always open to share my thoughts on boots, hit up the About page for my contact details!
Step 6 – Where to Buy
Your best bet to finding the right boot is finding a local soccer specialty store to find the right pair. I’m not talking about Dicks Sporting Goods on this one, I am talking about a store that only features soccer gear. This is where you will get the most specific boots and right advice from experienced professionals. Of course, getting to a store is not always possible, so it means finding somewhere online to pick up a pair. Here are the online stores that I recommend you check out, with links to the kids section of each.
As of posting, there are a few boots that I would recommend as top options for younger players. These are suggestions based on feedback I have received from parents through a recent survey.
Nike Junior Mercurial Vapor IX – This is a boot that sits higher on the price scale, but they are well worth the money performance wise. Nike know how to create a top boot and this is their leader at the moment. And, I am sure most of your aspiring players have heard of Cristiano Ronaldo, this is the same range of boot as he wears.
adidas Kids Nitrocharge 2.0 – A very affordable option from Adidas that will suit most player types. They come with some added padding on the forefoot and on the heel for extra protection without being heavy. Plus, they feature a bright look that kids will love!
adidas Predator LZ TRX FG Junior – Top of the Adidas options is the Predator LZ. They are designed with several “Lethal Zones” or rubber panel areas across the front of the boot that actually double as some extra protection. Added to that is the fact that they are decently lightweight, so you can consider them a hybrid.
Diadora Maracana MD JR – If there is a company that know how to create a very balanced, extremely durable boot it is Diadora. Although they look pretty boring, their boots can be considered as some of the safest bets on the market. This boot doesn’t feature flashy colors or crazy technology. What they do offer is consistency and reliability.