Choose cleats that feel ultra-snug around your foot and allow for a little wiggle room in your toes. It’s not uncommon for pros to wear cleats a half-size smaller than their standard casual footwear to get that “second skin” feel. As long as you can wiggle your toes a little, you should have enough room to ensure full circulation. Of course, everyone’s feet are different, and if your cleats are super painful to wear (especially after they’re broken in), you need to select a different size.

Under Armour SpeedForm toe

At the end of the day, victory on the pitch comes down to your footwork. For this reason, cleats are the most important gear that any soccer player owns. The best soccer cleats provide improved traction on the field and are designed to give you a responsive and consistent touch, whether you’re ball-handling, shooting, or passing. A premium pair of soccer boots should also feel lightweight and breathable, which will help limit fatigue as the game drags on under a hot sun. Though every top-of-the-line cleat is designed to have the above attributes, not every model is going to fit your feet correctly. So how exactly should cleats fit, ideally? How much toe room in soccer cleats is too much?

Are Cleats Supposed to be Tight?

In general, your cleats are supposed to be tight. Well, maybe “snug” is a better term. You don’t want boots that are so tight that they cut off circulation to your feet, but you want them to feel responsive, which means they should be very snug. If they’re too big, you won’t have that “second-skin” feel, as if your cleats are part of your body. Instead, you’ll have cleats that may cause you to trip, or allow your foot to slide around, which can produce blisters.

Different Brands Fit Differently

To make matters a little more complicated, different brands are sized a little differently. Generally, adidas® soccer cleats tend to run wide, PUMA® tends to run tight through the midfoot area, and Nike® cleats are somewhere in the average-to-tight ballpark. Even within a brand there can be a sizing discrepancy. Most manufacturers make several unique lines, or “silos” (the Nike Mercurial Vapor silo, for example), and each one of them will have a slightly different fit. Remember, cleats that feature leather uppers will have a little more give once they are broken in than boots made from exclusively synthetic materials.