Best soccer cleats for youth 2024: The latest options from Nike, Adidas and Puma

Best soccer cleats for youth
(Image credit: Future)

If your kid has outgrown their soccer cleats and are in desperate need of a new pair, then you're in luck as we've detailed all of the best soccer cleats for youth players.

Having the right cleats can make a huge difference to a player's game, especially if they don't fit correctly or have been worn into the ground. FFT has been dedicating itself to categorizing designs to make cleat shopping easier for you. If you're simply looking for the best soccer cleats out right now, be sure to check out our other reviews.

But here you'll find the best cleats specifically for youth players looking to take their game to the next level and emerge a world-beater.


Nike Kids Air Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 Pro

Nike Kids Air Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 Pro (Image credit: Nike)

Nike Kids Air Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 Pro

Insanely lightweight and perfect for speedsters, the latest Mercurial boots are ideal for future world beaters

Specifications

Colorways available: 7
Sizes: 2Y - 5.5Y
Studs: Firm Ground
As worn by: Cristiano Ronaldo, Sam Kerr

Reasons to buy

+
New Air Zoom insert
+
Pull tabs and straps for easy entry
+
Super lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared to other options

The Nike Kids Air Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 Pro is a cleat tailor-made for all those budding Kylian Mbappes out there.  

The pull tabs on the dynamic collar and straps on the midfoot make the Kids Superfly 9 super easy for your little one to put on – removing the hassle of laces but without some of the problems that can come with other laceless cleats. 

Once on, don’t be surprised to see your child gliding across the pitch with the thin, lightweight Nike skin upper providing a great one-to-one sensation between foot and ball, with there being no excess bulk at all weighing them down. Perfect for strikers to speed away from opposition players, or defenders to fly up and down the wing. 

Nike’s speed cage lining in the upper means this lightweight feeling does not come at the expense of stability, providing the perfect level of structure so they can feel supported when they take off. The new soccer-specific Air Zoom insert introduced by Nike for the latest generation also means there will be an extra spring in their step when pushing off.

Twisting, turning, cutting at speed and side-to-side movements are enhanced through the mixture of bladed, tristar and conical studs on the soleplate, too, while the cushioned insole adds to the comfort of the boot. 

There's a wonderful balance between speed and cutting-edge technology in the Mercurial Superfly 9, with a degree of comfort that any parent will want for their child’s cleats.


Nike Kids Phantom GX Academy DF

Nike Kids Phantom GX Academy DF (Image credit: Nike)

Nike Kids Phantom GX Academy DF FG/MG

A versatile option that benefit all aspects of a player's game - without compromising on quality

Specifications

Colorways: 7
Sizes: 2Y - 5.5Y
Studs: Firm Ground
As worn by: Erling Haaland, Alex Morgan

Reasons to buy

+
Multi-ground soleplate can be worn on grass and artificial surfaces
+
Great traction

Reasons to avoid

-
Older version means they're not absolutely up-to-date

The Nike Phantom GX was one of the standout releases of 2023 and perhaps the best new cleat of the year. Therefore, the Nike Kids Phantom GX Academy DF FG/MG is one of the best options if you are looking for a pair of cleats for a young star in the making. 

With the dynamic fit collar extending into a ghost lace system that covers the laces, the Phantoms are geared towards a clearer striking surface. Plus, there's the added advantage that the laces won't come untied during a game, meaning you won't have to redo them for your child mid-match. Let's go! 

The multi-ground soleplate is a welcome feature to these cleats, allowing them to be worn safely on both turf pitches and artificial ground – saving the need for multiple pairs for different surfaces. 

A mixture of chevron and conical studs provides a balance between aggression and
stability when pushing off at speed, as well as ease when twisting and cutting. Indeed, the agility line that runs through the soleplate gives these cleats the stability that is important under foot, while there's plenty of flexibility in the outsole to improve comfort. 

Your child won't have to spend weeks breaking in their new cleats, either, with the Nike Skin material that forms the upper: a super a soft, pliable mesh that offers a good degree of comfort straight out the box.

The Phantom GX in all of its versions is a great option for a new cleat, and with the recent release of the Nike Phantom GX 2, it won’t be hard to find a great deal on these cleats to get even more bang for your buck.


Adidas X Crazyfast.1 Kids Laceless

Adidas X Crazyfast.1 Kids Laceless  (Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas X Crazyfast.1 Kids Laceless

Implementing the same technologies as the adult version, at a fraction of the price

Specifications

Colorways: 5
Sizes: 1Y - 5.5Y
Studs: Firm Ground
As worn by: Lionel Messi, Son Heung-Min, Rachel Daly

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely lightweight
+
Snappy, responsive soleplate

Reasons to avoid

-
Only suitable for turf

Cleats for kids are quite often much lower tech versions of their adult counterparts. Kids feet grow quickly and the merits of splurging the kind of money that elite adult cleats cost are limited.

With the Adidas X Crazyfast.1 Kids, though, we have something of a rarity: a junior’s cleat loaded with much of the cutting-edge technology available to the world’s best players at a price that, while not insignificant, is in keeping with the other kid’s cleats on the market.

The Adidas X Crazyfast.1 Kids Laceless is built with the brand’s super lightweight Aerocage skeleton and the thin, semi-translucent Aeropacity upper, ensuring these cleats are lightweight but with adequate structure. So don't be surprised to see your young star flying away at speed with very little weighing them down - without sacrificing any support. 

A laceless option means that once they're on feet, they're ready to go. All that time redoing laces is thankfully eliminated, all while giving the cleats a sleek, streamlined look. 

But if you'd prefer to be lacing your child's feet up, for your own peace of mind, then Adidas do of course also offer a laced version of the X Crazyfast.1 These have the exact same fit and feel, boasting all of the same technology but just with laces.

What's more, the soleplate is the snappy, ultra responsive one that Adidas use across the X range. A  plastic insert through the midfoot gives it great energy return and a mix of bladed and chevron cleats provides significant traction and aggression. 

However, due to this cleat pattern, these are only suitable for use on turf, and should not be worn on artificial surfaces.

The Adidas X Crazyfast.1 is one of the best ‘speed’ cleats available on the market. Its stripped back design and approach gets out of its own way and allow its wearer to concentrate on accelerating away from opposition players.


Puma Kids Ultra Pro soccer cleats

Puma Kids Ultra Pro (Image credit: Puma)

Puma Kids Ultra Pro

A strong competitor to Nike and Adidas - but at a much more affordable price point

Specifications

Colorways: 9
Sizes: 3.5Y – 5.5Y
Studs: Firm Ground/Artificial Ground
As worn by: Kingsley Coman, Antoine Griezmann, Nikita Parris

Reasons to buy

+
Array of color options
+
Lightweight
+
Cheaper alternative to Nike and Adidas

Reasons to avoid

-
Gimmicky texturing on the upper

The Puma Ultra is the brand’s answer to the ‘speed’ cleats offered by Nike (Mercurial) and Adidas (X), and in recent years has developed into a more than viable alternative to these more established models from the two biggest brands. 

With the latest Ultra generation yet another significant step in the right direction, these cleats should definitely be high on your list if you're looking for a junior option.

Constructed using Puma's superlight ‘Ultraweave’ material, a thin, light and remarkably stretchy woven fabric, the upper is highly adaptable to foot movements. Puma also utilise Ultraweave in some of their team uniforms – a testament to how breathable and stretchy of a material it is. 

Featuring 'Grip Control Pro' skin, the upper is also textured and is aimed at enhancing control and touch on the ball. However, this feature will likely not make a significant difference in these areas.

The soleplate is Puma’s ‘Speedplate’ outsole and is in keeping with the rest of the cleat’s emphasis on speed. Its springy design provides good energy return when pushing off from a standing start, while the mixture of chevron and tristar cleats add significant traction. 

Puma advertises this plate as FG/AG, meaning that these can be worn on either turf pitches or artificial surfaces. However, due to the aggression of the cleat pattern we would recommend caution before using these on artificial ground to prevent injury.

A major plus in the column of the Puma Kids Ultra Pro and much of Puma’s selection is in the price point. These cleats offer comparable level of tech and quality to the offerings from Nike and Adidas but with a significant saving. 

The array of colorways means you are spoilt for choice, but also that it is usually possible to find a pair at a discounted price with the frequent release of newer colors.

How we test soccer cleats

We put each pair through its paces for several sessions across all surfaces to determine their true level of performance across key factors including comfort, stability, fit and feel. This also allows us to balance them against the claims from brands about new features and technology. 

If a brand says that a new aspect of its soleplate means you will be able to push off faster or a new synthetic upper is just as comfortable as leather – we will test to see how accurate this really is.

Each pair is tested by an expert member of the team who lives and breathes soccer cleats, and are therefore able to cut through the marketing minefield and provide simple yet detailed advice for all players regardless of level.

In depth knowledge of the market means that factors that are important to consumers like value for money will always be flagged.

How to choose the best soccer cleats

The soccer cleat market can be a bit of a minefield at the best of times, with an array of options available and brands championing the latest tech that will have you jumping higher, running faster and never miscontrolling a ball ever again. 

Ultimately, your choice should come down to what best suits you and your game. Below are some factors to consider when looking for your next pair...

Leather or synthetic

When trying to work out what pair of cleats suits you best the material of the upper is a vitally important factor to consider. There was a time when virtually all cleats were made from natural leather but these materials are slowly being phased out by many brands in favour of man-made options.

However, ample leather options remain. Leather offers a traditional fit, moulding to the shape of your feet. It is also soft, pliable and durable. 

Most synthetic uppers will be slightly thinner and offer less padding than their natural leather counterparts. They will, though, offer a much closer connection to the ball with the thinnest synthetics providing a close to barefoot feel. 

There is also the option of leather-imitating synthetics that represent a nice in between. These are often more lightweight than natural leather but come with much of the same comfort and pliability.

Styling

This is the area where there is perhaps the greatest range with something for everyone. Most brands will offer pairs that are simpler and more traditional in look and also ones that are flashy and colourful. 

Whatever your personality or preference, there are likely many pairs that complement it perfectly.

Soleplate

The soleplate is where the bulk of the technology of a cleat lives, so it is very important to consider this when choosing a pair.

‘Speed’ cleats, such as the Nike Mercurial range, feature responsive, aggressive outsoles with high levels of traction, but more traditional pairs, such as the Copa Mundial or the Nike Tiempo, are slightly lower tech and the soleplates concentrate more on comfort under foot than raw speed. 

There is also surface to consider. If you play exclusively on artificial ground then an Artificial Ground (AG) specific soleplate is the best option, whereas if you are playing on turf every week then a Firm Ground (FG) pair is the best bet when it is relatively dry and a Soft Ground (SG) when it is wet or slippery.

Getting the right fit

We would always recommend trying a pair before buying because making sure your cleats are the perfect length and width is key. 

Pairs of the same size often vary slightly in length between brands and across models, so it important to try a pair on in order to know whether it is better to go a half size up or down for a particular pair or brand. 

Foot shape is highly personal so consider the shape of your feet when looking for a pair. Some cleats are very narrow so will not suit anyone with wide feet and likewise very wide fitting pairs can sometimes feel slightly awkward for those with especially narrow feet. 

This is especially important if considering a pair of laceless cleats as the lack of laces means there is very little adaptability – they will either work for your feet or they won’t.

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