In 2018, at least 2.2 million kids regularly played soccer outdoors. It’s one of the top sports in terms of participation, along with basketball and baseball. So if your five-year-old is showing some interest in the sport, do you need to buy him or her a pair of soccer cleats?
Soccer cleats are usually not essential for a five-year-old to play soccer. However, they do have some benefits that will include a reduced risk of injury and maintaining foot health. But they are not a requirement in most instances.
Learn more about when and why your five-year-old might need a pair of soccer cleats to play the sport. And when you can get away with not buying soccer cleats.
Benefits of Wearing Soccer Cleats
There are several advantages to wearing cleats. It can protect your feet while you’re playing and helps to keep your feet healthy with all of the running involved in soccer (See How Far Do Youth Soccer Players Run In a Game).
It also provides the right amount of traction and grip, which is important as you run and change directions a lot. The cleats can dig and cut into the grass (or turf), so you don’t slide or slip too much.
If you play in bad weather, cleats will be extra useful because of the traction they provide. Some types of soccer cleats reduce the amount of grass and mud that sticks to your shoes so that you can run better. Are All Soccer Cleats Good for Indoor Soccer describes some of the differences of various types of soccer shoes.
Probably, the biggest benefit of wearing soccer cleats is that they give you the right support for your joints. Like running shoes and other footwear designed to make the impact less taxing on your feet, soccer cleats can help cushion the foot.
More than just the cushioning, the right pair of soccer cleats can also support the foot, helping it stay aligned as your feet touch the ground. It will also help you be more comfortable even after 90 minutes on your feet.
With the right soccer cleat, you can:
- Reduce the risk of injuries
- Avoid existing issues with your feet such as pain in the ankles or hips
- Help your feet absorb shock more effectively
Do Five-Year-Olds Need Soccer Cleats?
So if your five-year-old wants to play soccer over the summer, is it time to buy him or her a pair of cleats? Well, it largely depends on you.
They are Helpful
The best reason to buy soccer cleats is to keep your kid from slipping too much and hurting themselves while playing. Soccer cleats can help them stay on their feet as they run around or make sudden and sharp turns.
Soccer cleats may also help them move and run around comfortably while giving their feet the needed support.
Joining a League
One of the things that makes soccer fun is that it doubles as playtime for your little ones. You should contact local soccer leagues to see if they accept five-year-old kids. You should ask:
- If they play in the fall or spring, or both
- What gear is required
Most leagues will insist on a uniform, a soccer ball and shin guards (click over to Soccer Equipment Checklist for a more comprehensive list). Some leagues will require soccer cleats. However, some clubs allow kids to wear sneakers while playing. If the league does require soccer cleats, then you should buy them for your five-year-old.
The coaches and people running the league will know the terrain or the playing field more than anybody, so if they require the kids to wear soccer cleats, it might be because it’s really needed to keep them safe and play more comfortably.
They Are Not Going to Wear Them for a Long Time, Anyway
If you’re thinking of skipping buying your kids soccer cleats because they might outgrow them quickly anyway, that’s understandable, but they’ll still get a lot of use.
- For the first 15 months, a baby’s feet can grow half a size in two months.
- At three to five years, a toddler’s feet can grow half a size every four months.
After that, the growth tapers off, and you can get great fitting shoes for your kids that can last longer. Even if your kid only wears these soccer cleats to the games or practices over a single season, though, that’s still 12 or 13 weeks at once or twice per week.
What’s more, when your child does outgrow the cleats, you can help other kids by giving the shoes to charities that distribute shoes and other soccer gear to underserved communities. The charities will provide the shoes to a child who, like your son or daughter, loves soccer but doesn’t have the means to buy necessary equipment, such as:
They Can Use Them for Other Sports Too
If cost or your child’s interest in soccer is one of the reasons why you’re holding back on buying those soccer cleats, you should know that these are the most versatile type of cleats available. Some leagues allow kids to play football, lacrosse, or baseball wearing soccer cleats. But you usually cannot use baseball, lacrosse, or football cleats for soccer.
So if you’re not sure if your five-year-old will stick to soccer, or run off to another sport, then you might as well just buy the most versatile cleats you can.
Living in a Rainy Area
Remember how soccer cleats help to make things more stable and have more traction? Soccer cleats are even more important if you live in an area that receives a lot of rain.
The soccer cleats will help your kids avoid slipping and sliding when the field is wet and slippery. Unlike regular athletic shoes, they don’t have to worry too much about getting stuck in the mud when they don a pair of soccer cleats, either.
Look Like Mom or Dad
Kids love to imitate their parents. If you play soccer, I’d be willing to bet that you wear cleats when you play. Your child is going to want to look just like you.
Don’t underestimate the power of allowing your child to mirror the model you provide. They’ll see that you’re more invested in them, and they’ll be more invested in the game.
When Buying Cleats is a Bad Idea
While lowering the risk of getting injured on the field is a great motivation for getting soccer cleats for your five-year-old, there are times when you might decide on not buying a pair. For one, you might not need to, like when the league allows sneakers for playing. However, be sure that your kid’s shoes provide adequate support. Lateral support is key for soccer and not all shoes provide good lateral support (for instance, running shoes provide almost no lateral support).
If your child is playing indoor soccer or playing on a level ground such as a gym or a street, you might not need cleats (again, take a look at Are All Soccer Cleats Good For Indoor Soccer). What’s more, your kid’s interest in the sport might also change, and they might not even play soccer for a long time.
It’s a sad fact that parents’ income plays a huge role in sports participation. The Project Play report prepared by the Aspen Institute shows that only 21.6 percent of kids from households with less than $25,000 in income regularly play a sport. Contrast that to 42.7 percent for families with incomes breaching the $100,000 mark.
The data shows that the higher the household income, the more likely kids will participate in sports.
- Household income of $25,000 to $49,999: 30.7 percent
- Household income of $50,000 to $74,999: 39.4 percent
- Household income of $75,000 to $99,999: 41.0 percent
Your kids stand to gain a lot from being physically active, and getting into sports is one of the best ways to ensure that. You really don’t have to spend too much on soccer cleats. Here are some options that sell for under $20:
Sports professionals, coaches, podiatrists, and other professionals will recommend wearing proper sports gear when you play. These help keep your kids safer and less prone to injuries. Some leagues also insist on your kids wearing soccer cleats.
However, if you decide not to buy a pair, do not let it prevent your kid from enjoying soccer. You can let him wear sneakers that he already owns, find an indoor league, or some other way that will allow him or her to play the sport.