Hi I’m Ed Clinch, one of the sports podiatrists at Highett Podiatry here in Melbourne.
As both a podiatrist and footy player, I understand the importance of finding the right footy boot fit… not only to maximize comfort during your training and on game day, but also for injury prevention.
You can apply up to 5 times your body weight onto your feet & lower limbs when you play Australian Rules football.
If you are about to start your preseason training, now is a great time to review the latest boots and understand the key features you should look for.
GET PROFESSIONALLY FITTED
Kids and players often choose their footy boots based on how they look. It is really important the functional requirements such as the level of support the boot provides and the conditions in which you train and play should become your primary consideration, over and above the aesthetic appearance.
I think the most important piece of advice to footy players is to get your boots professionally fitted at the beginning of the footy season.
The best way to know if a boot is right for you is to try the boot on instore rather than purchasing online. You want someone who can guide you across the features of each boot and who understands your foot’s characteristics to find the right fit for you.
These should include your:
- Foot shape
- Foot function
- Gait pattern
- Injury history
- Your player position
UNDERSTANDING WHAT BOOTS ARE RIGHT FOR AFL
Different footy codes have different playing requirements as well as surfaces and conditions.
Aussie Rules footy boots are also designed for different player types.
Kangaroo leather is the top-of-the-line material used in the high-end footy boots, but the synthetic material also works great for kids, and is often more affordable.
The type of surface you train and play on is also a key consideration. In an ideal world, you would have two pairs of boots – one for hard and dry conditions and the other for wet and soft surfaces.
Manufacturers understand the cost implications on two pairs of boots and offer boots with multidisciplinary stud patterns to accommodate the varying playing surfaces and conditions.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT AFL FOOTY BOOT
Here are my tips or the main features we look for, beyond appearance in choosing the right boot for the right foot.
1. Overall Fit
There should always be a thumbs width vacant at the distal section of the boot from the player’s longest toe (slightly tighter than your runners). This will avoid jamming of the toes on the end of the boot. Wearing your playing socks when you go to buy your boots is also important.
When playing, the foot will generally swell as circulation is required to the intrinsic muscles in the foot. If the boot is too tight, this will cause the player discomfort and cramping in the foot. If it is too loose, it won’t provide the support to the ankle and knees.
Some brands such as Adidas are renowned for being a narrower fit type. The shape of your foot must be considered.
2. Support in the upper materials
The upper needs to be strong enough to support your foot during rapid changes in direction and when kicking. Kangaroo leather is becoming particularly popular due to its strength and ability to mould well to the foot, whilst remaining very light.
3. Lacing configuration
Most AFL boots have the lacing placed in the centre of the boot. Some football boots such as Puma will display the off-centered lacing configuration which is generally used for soccer players.
4. Stud configuration
You want the right configuration for the conditions you play in. You want the boot to be flexible in the forefoot to allow smooth contact with the ball. If the studs are in the wrong place, it can aggravate the foot leading to blisters & callous formation.
There are two main types of studs – moulded or screwin studs. Moulded are suited to the hard and dry conditions while the screwin option is suited to wet and soft conditions. Generally the screw in studs are slightly longer to allow greater grip from the surface.
5. Weight of the boot
The lighter the boot, the faster someone feels and more maneuverability it offers. Generally speaking, the lighter the boot, the less support the boot displays.
6. Does the innersole require greater support?
If orthotics are to be fitted, you must have a football boot which is reasonable deep in structure. Orthotics will provide additional structure & support which the football boot cannot provide.
My final pieces of advice for your Aussie Rules footy boots:
Gradually increase the amount of wear in your boots – never wear your new boots on game day. Ensure they are worn in for at least two training sessions.
Up to age 16, a child’s foot bones have not fully formed. A moulded or bladed football boot with a synthetic upper will better protect their feet & provide sufficient cushioning for the growing bones.
If in doubt, we welcome you to seek podiatric advice from Simon Adam or myself here at Highett Podiatry.
Call 9555 3044 or make an online appointment.
Good luck for the season!
Thanks to Rebel Sport Southland for supplying the footy boots for this guide and Bentleigh Football Club for footy training photographs.