Shout out to Iain Harvey (@sixstud) on Instagram for the article suggestion!
It used to be that the majority of boots on the market came almost exclusively in soft grounds. As you all know, these days many boots are firm ground and artificial ground. I’ve argued before that hard ground boots you be more widely available in the market, but I also think we need to see some more traditional soft ground boots. When I am talking about soft ground boots, I am not talking about mixed-SG boots which are widely available now. This post will be discussing the more traditional 6 or 8 stud soft ground stud layout.
It can be argued that the mixed-stud layout covers pretty much everything these days when it comes to softer pitches. Nike even has their Anti-Clog tech on some of their boots (for a premium of course). It’s common that it is very hard to find any boots from the big three that have the more “old-school” soft ground layout. The issue is that on some of the softest pitches around, some people still prefer having that traditional layout. Wayne Rooney is a great example of this. If you’ve watched any of Derby’s since he joined (a stretch, I know) Rooney has been using a 6-stud SG layout on his boots.
The reasoning behind this is that the previously common 6-stud layout still provides more grip on softer pitches than a mixed sole. Mixed soleplates are great for firm-to soft ground pitches, but when you’re playing on a cold, wet, Tuesday night in Stoke (or Derby as it were) you’re going to want that 6-stud layout. When the pitch is a mudbath, a mixed soleplate won’t do it. There is still a tendency for them to get clogged up with mud. Having lived in the UK, there weren’t many times when I didn’t need a SG boot. Even the last time I played in the UK I needed an SG soleplate because in my FG boots I was sliding everywhere. In fact, pretty much everyone I was playing with was using 6-studded boots.
We’ve seen SG only boots slowly disappear over time. Of course, the brands would only do this if sales were down, which seems as if they were. But at the same time, people are so desperate for some boots that they are willing to buy boots with mixed soleplates just to get whatever they’re wanting. I have seen enough people use mixed soleplate boots on AG and HG surfaces it makes my head spin. This wasn’t a common occurrence when there was only FG and SG stud options. It still happened of course, but I’d argue that the mixed soleplates are causing people to pick up more injuries (from my experiences working in a football shop) because they are using them on surfaces they shouldn’t be. You can’t put in shorter studs to “make” a mixed boot more like a firm ground because the design of a mixed or SG boot won’t allow for it. This is because the part of the soleplate that the stud screws into isn’t dual density like the rest of the plate and the FG studs so it leads to more pressure on the bottom of your feet. Don’t wear mixed SG boots on non-SG surfaces.
Although it’s a shrinking market, brands would do well to service the people who want that more traditional soft ground configuration. Not every single colour needs to be made available, because again, there is far too much product on the market. But at least make one of the darker colourways come with this layout. Or don’t. Because other brands will step up to fill in the gap that the big three ignore
Have you ever used a 6 or 8 stud soft ground layout? Share this with your friends and make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.