Even the most high-tech soccer cleats on the market take some breaking in. It’s really important to select the right size to start out with. Assuming you’ve selected a size that allows for a little toe wiggle room, you’ll just need to get your cleats to stretch in a few places, and you’ll have that comfortable yet snug “second skin” fit. Wearing your cleats for short periods of time, heating them, and soaking them in warm water are all effective stretching methods.

Whether you’re an amateur who plays on weekends, an all-star on your school’s varsity team, or a superstar with a $20 million contract, a long list of endorsement deals, and adoring fans all over the globe, you need your cleats to fit right if you’re going to reach your potential on game day. High-quality soccer shoes are a great place to start since they feature the latest state-of-the-art tech and are designed to fit your feet like a glove. You generally can’t go wrong with Nike® soccer cleats, adidas® soccer cleats, or PUMA® soccer cleats, but there’s always a chance that some further stretching will be required. Here are some tips from The Instep:

Wear Them for Short Periods of Time

Whether you have synthetic, leather, or hybrid uppers, your first step (pun unintended) should be to simply wear your cleats for a short period of time. Fifteen minutes here and there spent walking around your backyard, maybe doing some light jogging or easy ball-handling drills. If you’re prone to blisters, make sure to rub a little petroleum jelly on possible trouble spots. Hopefully, after a few days, you’ll notice your cleats start to relax in areas that were once uncomfortable.

More Extreme Measures–Turn Up the Heat

If your soccer shoes don’t seem to be responding to light wear, you might need to turn up the heat. Synthetic uppers don’t really have that much give to them, but sometimes hitting them with a hairdryer for a few minutes, then stretching them by hand or putting them on your feet and going for a jog can loosen up the fit a little. Another popular option is to soak them (with your feet in them) in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Ideally, you want the water to be standard hot tub temperature; hot, but not hot enough to burn you. While your feet soak, make sure to move your feet around, which puts extra pressure on tight spots. When you’re done soaking, stuff your cleats with newspaper and put them out to air dry, preferably in a breezy place away from direct sunlight. This will help them hold their form as they dry.

Finding the Right Size is Key

As mentioned above, starting out with the right size is of paramount importance. Too small, and they’ll never feel comfortable, no matter what you do to break them in. Too big and your foot will slide around, leading to blistering — plus, you’ll have a less responsive touch on the ball and may even end up tripping over your own feet. When ordering online, make sure returns are easy so that if they don’t feel right, you can send them back and have another pair sent to you.