There is an argument that the modern football boot has increased the chance of injury for star players. These arguments are based in the belief that lighter boots, while fashionable, are not suitable for the pace and the strength of the modern game, and offer little protection from tackles. At the same time, evidence shows that players that do wear these lighter weight boots are more prone to injury. Figures from within football have also spoken out against the trend for wearing lighter boots, and have particularly criticized the poor matching of blades, rather than studs to grass. However, there are some counter arguments most notably that injuries result more from poor training regimes, and from the general pace of the modern game.
1 – Metatarsal Injuries
Lighter boots became a key part of Nike and Adidas brands in the 1990s and 2000s, with the boot moving from a purely practical role to becoming an advertisement for player endorsements, However, the lighter covering of the boot, while more aerodynamic, particularly exposes the ankles of players to damage. Players that have suffered metatarsal injuries to their ankles include David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.
2 – Injury Patterns
Studies into football injuries frequently identify how players that tend to wear lighter boots have been some of the most injured in the past few years. Frequent injury sufferers like Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen might, in some respects, link their ankle and metatarsal problems to their choice of sponsor boots.
3 – Selecting the Wrong Boot
One major argument against the modern football boot is that they are not suitable for the heavier pitches and longer grass that Premiership football players experience during the course of a longer season. In particular, boots that use blades over studs can become caught in long grass, leading players moving at high speeds to be caught up. Lighter boots with thinner studs can also lead to vulnerability from sliding tackles and balance for players.
4 – Internal Criticisms within the Game
Some notable figures from within the game have criticized the use of lighter boots and blades over studs. Manager Steve Bruce has particularly called out the problems caused by using blades on grass, and has pointed to the long-term injury of player Frazier Campbell while he was at Sunderland as an example. Campbell suffered a serious knee injury after his blades became caught in grass. Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia suffered a similar injury in 2010.
5 – Levels of Caution
Some caution can, however, be made over the responsibility of lighter boots and blades for injuries. Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include the intensity of preseason training, and how unfit players can suffer injuries on hard pitches. Moreover, the sheer pace of the game and the amount of fixtures and training sessions that players have to put their bodies through during the year raises the chance of injury by sheer number of games and repetitive strain. Players entering into the European Championships this year will surely have to deal with these problems, regardless of the boots they wear.