by Ed Yourdon
In the modern football world, more than ever before, minute details that enhance performance is key to success for professional players. The factors determining the difference between success and failure is so narrow that any advantage is taken. Performance enhancements in sport is often talked about as either an improvement of mental conditions and positive thinking or with physical improvements such as training techniques and diet, as well as general life style changes such as ensuring an adequate sleep pattern. However, performance can also be improved in football through having the best performing footwear. The essence of the performance of the football lies in the studs that determine speed from a standing start, grip on the surface and being able to twist and turn with ease.
From early into the life of association football there was a recognition that the varying surface quality o which the game was played meant that footwear that could cope with this was required. Initially studs were made of metal which, while performing it’s job adequately led to serious injury to opposing players if the came into contact with the sole of a players boots.
Metal was therefore replaced by a safer leather.
Football studs are now made of varying materials, but most are composed of either rubber or plastic. Plastic studs are easy to produce and are a low cost material while rubber is a softer material that can offer a greater degree of comfort to the user. It is for these reasons that plastic tend to be dominant on softer ground in the winter conditions and rubber when the ground is firmer in dryer climates. Rubber and plastic studs can be produced so that they are either fixed to the boot or are removable and replaceable.
Aluminium is a minor material for football boot studs and are nearly always removable so that different lengths can be utilised depending on the surface of the pitch. Recent designs of football boots have positioned the studs in such a way that the weight of the user is evenly spread across the sole of the foot which can make a player move quicker and more efficiently.
Each type of stud and material used is designed for different surfaces of play. Long aluminium studs are required on soft ground as their grip is deeper. In soft ground the user will not feel the effects of the reduced comfort found in aluminium studs. In soft ground plastic studs are fit for purpose as they are shorter in length so offer more comfort and speed with grip not causing such a degree of attention. Rubber studs are ideal for the hardest of surfaces and are oft used on false surfaces such as Astroturf and indoor facilities. On these surfaces the heel faces greater impact with the surface so the studs will be slightly longer on the heel than the front area of the foot and around the toes.
As football continues to evolve as a multi million pound industry the demand for any slight improvement that can be gained from footwear continues and so the technology in studs will continue to be explored so that players can maximise their grip, speed and ability to administer dynamic change in direction.
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