Wednesday, February 21, 2018

History of Studs & Cleats

The ability to play on different surfaces was recognised early-on and hence the sole of the boot needed to offer resistance or ground traction. At first the metal tacks on engineer's boots were used, but Rule 13 meant greater care needed to be taken. Eventually leather cleats (or studs) replaced these.

By the twenties Adi Dassler had developed replaceable studs which firmly established his credentials as soccer boot specialist in Germany. The length of studs was governed for in 1951. When new polymers became available natural materials were replaced by synthetics. The idea for molded studs had been tried on hockey boots and when they were transferred to soccer boots a new revolution took place. Today plugs and cleats of variable length are used.

Soccer boots should afford confident contact with playing surfaces as well as adapt optimally to all types of surfaces and weather conditions. On hard surfaces, including hard natural turf, cleats of different configuration are recommended. On softer turf or wet ground surfaces shoes with detachable studs with varying length provide the best anchoring to the ground. On snowy surfaces other configurations are necessary and rubber studs preferred. Icy surfaces again demand a different sole configuration. Traditionally, Bootmen were retained by professional clubs and oversaw the maintenance of the football boots, usually via the apprentices.

One of the most famous soccer apprentices and bootboy was Rod Stewart (Bentford FC).

Using their previous experiences as players with a command for the game Bootmen advised the young players on the type of boot for the weather conditions. The Boot Room a place where the game strategy was worked out and the most famous Boot Room was at Liverpool FC under the direction of Bill Shankly. (Bootroom Boys: Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans, Bob Paisley, Tom Saunders, John Bennison & Joe Fagan)

Bt the beginning of the New Millenium tread patterns changed to incorporate curved cleats set into circular arrangements. The circular arrangement facilitates better grip in all directions and faster acceleration from the playing surfaces. Greater emphasis was given to the base area across the ball of the supporting foot, which reduces peak pressures on the soles of the feet over a long game. Cleat designs now allow the foot carrying the player's weight to pivot when the player twists or is struck by another player. This helps reduce injury form direct trauma. Further the anti-torque property offered by the circular configuration of compressible teeth (cleats) is thought by the designers to reduce rotational injuries to the knee and ankle.

As the game has improved and the demands of professionalism become a primary focus the number and types of injury recorded have increased. These in no short measure have been associated with boot design (Masson & Hess, 1989). Traditional conical cleats have been cited as the main cause of such injuries and lock into the turf. It was recognised as far back as 1948 that heel cleats were responsible for foot fixation and this contributed to knee damage in soccer players. The principle functions of cleats was to offer resistance next to the ground by holding the foot stable as the body's centre of mass passed over it. One major disadvantage is if the cleat fixed too firmly to the ground then damage to the musculo-tendonous, ligamentous, cartilaginous, or osseous structures of the joints may occur. When the foot was fixed by impact or rotation of the body, these corkscrew forces passed upwards to the knee and were thought to damage the joint and its peripheral attachments. Attempts were made to design a more useful sequence of cleats for heels and forefoot but in the absence of molded soles this meant few players were aware of them. According to Torq & Quedenfeld, there were two factors, which determined foot fixation and these are the number and the size of the cleats. The authors were able to show in a retrospective study of football injuries, players wearing cleats were less likely to suffer knee injury. (The shoes with molded soles containing fourteen, 3/8 inch cleats. Minimum cleat tip diameter of 1/2 inch and maximum cleat length of 3/8th inch.)

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