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It’s a new year and that means a new season of Ultimate is now underway. I kicked off 2011 with the indoor team and hat tournaments of First Nights of Flight. It was a lot of fun and it got me psyched to get out there as much as I can in this year’s “preseason”. However, the tournament did tell me something about my feet… they want new cleats. I’ve been putting this off for awhile, but it is finally time to get some new cleats for Ultimate. I will be going to the Huck all Night, Sleep All Day Hat tournament the first weekend of March, so I’d like to have them for this, but it might not happen. I’ve also signed up for Ultimate Rec’s Spring League on Randall’s Island, which starts in April, so that is my absolute deadline.

My Old PUMA Cleats

The last pair of cleats I purchased were PUMA V series or Powercats (I cannot remember, I threw them out once they were destroyed). I bought them late in the 2007 season while living in Denmark. After the initial break-in they fit pretty well. I didn’t care too much for the stud pattern and felt that they caked up with dirt too easily; when it was muddy I was constantly clacking them together. Ultimately (ha ha), though, they did the job. Toward the end of their life last summer both toes were torn from edge to edge — thanks to being cleated multiple times. I had Duck Tape holding them together, but after a wet North Shore verses South Shore game, they were done. So, it’s time to do some research.

In a recent post, the Ultimate Facebook page ran a “What Cleats Do You Wear” survey, which received around 235 comments. This gave me a rough idea about what is on the average Ultimate player’s foot, but not necessarily why. The first thing I did notice was comments advocating (I use this term loosely, because not many comments supplied even a minimal amount opinion) for Soccer over Football or LaX. And if they weren’t mentioning one of those they were touting a love for going barefoot, which is always a primary point of contention among Ultimate players. Do I go barefoot or where shoes? Do only hippies or those who play “Frisbee” go barefoot?  Personally, I do not go barefoot (unless I’m on the beach) because of the perceived and actual potential for injury (getting stepped on for one). However, other Ultimate athletes see the absence of cleats as a sign of not being a serious player, or that it doesn’t legitimize our sport. I do not buy that… entirely. I’ve played against some amazing players in sneakers, cleats and barefoot. I might be able to out cut barefoot players from time to time, or have a slightly quicker acceleration on loosely packed ground, but it doesn’t make them any less of an Ultimate player. It just isn’t for me.

Unlike other sports, Ultimate doesn’t have shoe companies designing boots specifically for Ultimate. As far as I know we’ve only had one company make an Ultimate cleat–Gaia’s Strike and Endura. I always wanted to purchase a pair of Gaia cleats, but I do not think they make them anymore. The still do jerseys, but I didn’t see anything about cleats. I found one independent website that sells them, but wasn’t too sure about its authenticity. So, that leaves me with finding another sport’s cleat, which brings me back to what players were saying on Facebook.

If the responder did mention specific footwear, they broke down mainly into two brands Nike and Adidas, though there were a couple mentions of Diadora, Umbro and Warrior. The big models were Mercurials, Speed TDs, AdiZero F50s, Copa Mundials, Scorchs, Burns and even one comment mentioning Vibram Five Fingers (speaking of Five Fingers, I think I am going to get a pair to try out, but that is off topic).

When choosing a cleat it is important to know what you want relating to Manufacture (Brand), Fit, Material, Stud Type and Cost. So in relation to that list, what is it I want out of a cleat? Primarily, it needs to fit really well. I’ve have a bad habit of getting blisters, and losing toenails, so I want a cleat that really molds to my foot, creating a comfortable, snug fit.  I am a cutter, so I also want a cleat that will be lightweight and allow me to make quick changes in direction. I am leaning toward K-Leather over synthetic materials, but might not entirely rule them out. And, I am looking to stay around the $100 mark. So, I am going to decide between these few options:

Adidas Copa Mundial (FG) (link) – these are a versatile cleat which can be used in all conditions… firm or soft ground. They are made from Kangaroo Leather and extremely durable. A couple of my teammates use these and I see them a lot on Ultimate players. I’ve always wanted a pair, but I really need to try them on before I set my mind on them.

Diadora Stile LT 10K MG (link) – I like the stud pattern on these and the reviews I’ve read rave about the durability of the cleat. Diadora wasn’t a popular brand on the Ultimate Facebook post, but I still want to check them out. I like the white and gold model. Maybe I should add aesthetics to the list?

Nike Speed TDs (link) – these are said to be really lightweight and great for cutting. I’m not a big fan of the heal stud pattern, but the rest of the boot looks solid and a lot of Ultimate players commented on liking them. The downside is that these are not leather.

Nike Tiempo Legend III FG (link) – I like the Tiempo line. I had a loaner pair of these, but they were a half size too big. Even with the foot damage I sustained I am interested in looking at them in the right size. They do come in K-Leather, so I know they will fit snugly and stand up to abuse on the field. I’ve also seen the lower and higher priced models on a lot of players recently.

Warrior Burn Speed 4.0 LT (link) – I’ve played with Ultimate players here and there that really enjoy LaX cleats; they say the movements of lacrosse are very similar to those of Ultimate. Like the Speed TDs I’m looking at, these are also not leather, but I’ll give them a try.

For more information about choosing a cleat that best fits your foot, check out articles relating to cleat selection by clicking on the following links: the Ultimate Handbook, Soccer Training Guide, Buying the Right Cleat, Selecting Soccer Cleats and an interesting article exploring knee injury as it relates to stud patterns found on the blog, Science of Soccer. I also found some helpful information on Soccer Cleats 101.

Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, I’d love to hear. I’m off to try on some cleats!