The 10 Best Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee in 2020

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Cleats provide better grip and stability when playing ultimate frisbee on grass, sand, or other soft surfaces. However, there are so many different kinds of cleats and major manufacturers have yet to make cleats specific for ultimate frisbee, finding the best pair for your needs can be a challenge. Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide to help!

In it, we’ll talk about what factors matter most when choosing cleats for ultimate frisbee and give you our top five picks each for women’s ultimate frisbee cleats and men’s ultimate frisbee cleats.

How to Choose the Best Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee

For many of the considerations and decisions you’ll be making, your criteria will be the same as it would for any type of athletic shoe. You want the right size and the right amount of support. Once you know your needs for each of those standard athletic shoe requirements, you’ll have to consider the cleats themselves.

In this section, we’ll briefly discuss each of the factors that contribute to a good pair of cleats for ultimate frisbee. Later on in this guide, we’ll provide a more detailed discussion about how to decide on the specific type of cleat you should choose.

Size

It goes without saying that you want to get a pair of cleats in your size. But sizing on athletic shoes can vary, especially in terms of width. Always scan the customer reviews to find out if the brand you’re considering runs true to size. If it runs big or small, size up or down accordingly to get the right fit. If you have wide feet, look for a cleat with a wide or narrow option.

Proper fit is extremely important when playing a sport like ultimate frisbee where the risk for slipping or twisting an ankle is higher. If the fit is too tight, the discomfort will interfere with your performance. If the fit is too loose, the risk of injury is much higher.

Insole

The insole provides some cushioning to provide comfort and absorb some of the impact as you run and jump. If you do a lot of jumping or pivoting, you’ll likely want a thicker insole to prevent injuries to your heel and toe. That means handlers or throwers should be looking for a thicker insole or consider getting inserts to provide the added support they need.

If you do more running than jumping, you probably want a thinner sole unless you have a high arch or a previous foot injury. If the insole is too thick, it can restrict the natural movement and spreading of your foot as you run. This can lead to strains and soreness, especially in the arches of your feet.

High Top vs. Low Top

Your insole provides support (or flexibility) to your heel, toe, and arch. You’ll also need to think about what kind of ankle support you need. For cutters or runners, you again want to prioritize flexibility and range of motion over support. Low tops (generally in the form of a soccer cleat) are going to be your style of choice.

For handlers or throwers, it’s a little less clear cut. While you do need flexibility and range of motion to pivot and jump, you’re also at a higher risk of twisting or spraining your ankle. A high top can provide that needed bit of extra support to reduce your risk of injury, but it will constrain your movement. You’ll need to make a personal decision about whether performance or injury risk-reduction is your top priority.

Weight

No matter what position or style of play, an ultimate frisbee player needs a lightweight shoe that provides grip and stability but still allows them to jump, run, or pivot freely. If your shoe is too bulky, it might slow you down or restrain your movement. The lighter, the better.

Cleat

The cleat itself (that is, the plastic that actually digs into the ground) is by far the most important factor to consider. There are a wide variety of different types, including different materials, different stud shapes, different stud arrangements. Our guide below provides a more in-depth discussion of how to choose the right type of cleat for the surface you’re on and the style or position you play.

After taking some time to think about the right cleat type, size, and support for you, take a look at some of our favorite ultimate cleats on the market:

Top 5 Best Women’s Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee 2020

1. Best Overall Women’s Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee: Adidas Women’s Goletto VI FG W Soccer Shoe

Why we like it: The long-lasting rubber construction and the unique triangular studs make this a great cleat for any position in ultimate frisbee.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Soccer Cleat
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Ground Type: Firm Ground

The triangular shape of the studs allows you to get that outer foot support along the edges without sacrificing as much range of motion as you normally would with a more dense cleat pattern. This makes it a great all-around cleat for any position in ultimate frisbee. It’s an especially great choice for anyone who tends to play different positions from match to match.

Support

The low top design and thin insole are built for flexibility more than support. This allows for a full range of motion and gives your foot the freedom it needs to spread out, minimizing the risk of injuries for cutters.

However, the lack of support may be a deal-breaker for handlers, depending on your play style. If you need more support, you might prefer these Under Armour cleats.

Cleat Type

The unique cleat design makes this a much more versatile shoe for ultimate frisbee than most options on the market. The pattern most closely resembles a football or lacrosse cleat in that the studs are primarily arranged along the outer edges, adding grip and making it better suited for cutters.

However, the triangular shape of the studs expands the range of motion that’s possible to achieve while wearing these. This makes it suitable for handlers. While a dedicated handler or cutter would probably want a shoe that’s more specifically tailored to their needs, a more versatile player will benefit from a shoe that can change positions as frequently as the person wearing them does.

Fit

Adidas is known for offering a comfortable, true to size fit. They do this by using slightly wider toe boxes than other athletic shoes and including more flexible upper materials that can better conform to the shape of your foot.

They don’t offer wide width or narrow width options in any of their sizes but, unless your foot is significantly wider or narrower than the standard size, this shoe should still fit you just fine in your regular size.

Pros
  • Versatile cleat design compatible with all team positions
  • Comfortable, true to size design
  • Low top design offers maximum flexibility
Cons
  • Minimal support may be a deal-breaker for certain handlers or throwers

2. Best Premium Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee: Nike Women’s Footbal Shoe

Why we like it: These stylish and well-built football cleats use high-end materials to provide support and protection without sacrificing flexibility

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Football Cleat
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Ground Type: Firm Ground

With 18 different colors and styles to choose from, you can get the high-end functionality of this football shoe in the pattern that best matches your style. This Nike cleat offers a lot more than just fashion, though. It features a custom, high-tech design that helps to optimize performance, prevent injury, and remain comfortable throughout the entire game.

Support

The insole is low to allow for flexibility of movement, but it is made of a soft cushion material that allows for some shock absorption. The bulk of the shock absorption happens in the unique ‘podular’ plate system on the outer sole, though.

Rather than one long sole, as found in most athletic shoes, Nike has built in two distinct plates, one underneath your heel and one underneath your toes. The midsection is made of a soft plastic that is bendable. This creates a ton of flexibility without exposing your foot to excess shock or risk of injury.

Cleat Type

A mix of round studs and longer thin studs offers a unique balance of stability and agility. There are no thin studs on the edges, which means you still have your full range of motion to pivot and turn as needed.

The longer studs are, instead, positioned as toe studs and interior studs in a way that can help you charge down the field without slipping or plant your heels firmly in the ground for a powerful throw.

These are built for the kind of speed and instant changes of direction that are required of wide receivers in a football match but that design transfers well to both cutters and handlers in an ultimate frisbee game.

Fit

These fit true to size and come with wide fit options so you can get that precise fit. The soft upper features a firm knit design that provides support and protection where you need it without sacrificing flexibility and form-fitting comfort.

For all this unique design and great fit, the opening at the top of these cleats can be difficult to slide your foot into. You might even need to completely remove the laces in order to get them on. Also, if you wear above the ankle socks, the soft ankle band on the shoe may be a little too snug.

Once the cleats are on, they fit comfortably and securely. It’s just a matter of getting them on. If you’d prefer something easier to put on and take off, you might do better with a pair of these Adidas cleats.

Pros
  • Dual-plate outer sole for maximum flexibility and speed
  • Unique mix of round and long studs to provide full stability without sacrificing agility
  • Great quality and design that would suit all positions and playing styles
  • Fit true to size
Cons
  • Narrow opening makes it difficult to put on and take off

3. Best Ultimate Frisbee Cleats for Cutters: Under Armour Women’s Leadoff Low RM Running Shoe

Why we like it: The outer edge cleat pattern combined with the stabilizing toe stud make this the perfect shoe for charging down the field at maximum speed.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Lacrosse Cleats
  • Fit: Size Up
  • Ground Type: Firm Ground

These lacrosse cleats make a great pick for cutters in ultimate frisbee. They offer more support and stability than a lot of the other options that are suited to cutters but still provide flexibility and agility where you need it.

Support

These cleats give a lot of support where you want it but leave room for flexible motion and natural movement where you need it. Your ankles will be snuggly cased in a thick foam high top design. At the same time, your toes will be free to spread out as needed in the wider toe box. If your foot is feeling a little more constrained than you like, loosen the laces to adjust the support level.

Cleat Type

The cleat pattern features studs exclusively on the outer edges. This prevents your foot from slipping from side to side as you run. By not adding studs to the interior of the sole, this cleat frees you to run fast by minimizing grip without losing stability.

The toe stud is a nice bonus that will help you get more power in your back foot to launch you into your next stride. With these cleats, you’ll be able to propel yourself down the field at top speed with minimal risk of injury.

Fit

The design in the upper provides a secure and supportive fit that will help reduce injury and stabilize your heel as you run. However, these lacrosse cleats do run fairly narrow. For normal width feet, go up half a size. For a wide foot, go up a full size.

If you’d prefer a really precision fit that’s both wide enough and the right length for your foot, you might consider these Adidas, which offer both wide and narrow size options in many of their sizes. Just note that they are men’s shoes, so you will need to adjust your size accordingly.

Pros
  • Ideal cleat pattern for cutters
  • Offers great support in the ankle and heel
  • Toe stud provides added stability
Cons
  • Sizing runs small

4. Best Ultimate Frisbee Cleats for Handlers: Adidas Copa 19.4 Firm Ground

Why we like it: These firm ground soccer cleats with their triangular studs are perfect for agile playing styles in ultimate frisbee.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Soccer Cleats
  • Fit: Size Down
  • Ground Type: Flexible Ground

The Copa 19.4 cleats from Adidas work on a variety of surfaces so you’ll still have the advantage, even on rainy days when the field is muddier. It offers a great cleat design for providing stability without sacrificing any flexibility.

Support

The low top design, lightweight, and thinner insole make these ideal for cutters or for handlers who tend to do a lot of heel pivots, turns, and jumps. This cleat will enable explosive leaps and movements on any type of firm or soft ground. There’s great support around the heel, but if you want more arch support or shock absorption, you’ll likely need to get an insert.

Cleat Type

The cleat pattern includes both interior and outer edge studs in a triangular shape that can accommodate the kind of pivoting and movements that handlers rely on for defense as well as for getting maximum power behind their throws.

Fit

These are a great option for those with wide feet as the sizes are already meant to accommodate a wider foot. You’ll be able to actually order your normal size! That means those with normal or narrow feet do need to size down, though. For a normal foot, go half a size down. For a narrow foot, consider these baseball cleats which are built more narrow.

Pros
  • Design offers maximum flexibility
  • Great pick for players with wider feet
  • Cleat pattern and shape are ideal for handlers or agile playing styles
  • Cleats are the right length for either firm or soft ground
Cons
  • Size runs large

5. Best Budget Ultimate Frisbee Cleats: Under Armour Women’s Micro G Pursuit Baseball Shoe

Why we like it: With a great balance between support and flexibility, this is a nice all-purpose cleat with an equally nice price point.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Baseball Cleat
  • Fit: Size Up
  • Ground Type: Firm Ground

These cleats from Under Armour offer a durable construction that will last through multiple playing seasons, even if you’re a more aggressive player. They offer a good middle ground between supporting your foot and offering a flexible range of motion.

Support

The low top design offers good flexibility in the ankle, allowing for strong jumps and more agile movements. Meanwhile, the shoe’s upper offers extra padding and more arch support than most athletic shoes. This makes it an ideal pick for a cutter with a high arch or a previous foot injury that requires extra shock absorption and comfort.

However, it does restrict the natural movement of your foot somewhat, which can increase the risk of injury if you’re running a lot in these. For cutters without high arches, you might do better with a more flexible shoe like this one from Adidas.

Cleat Type

While the cleat pattern is a little more tailored to a cutter’s needs than a handler, the inclusion of a toe stud and some interior studs makes this a bit more versatile than it would be otherwise. It’s a better choice for someone who mainly plays as a cutter but occasionally fills in as a handler.

Fit

These cleats have a firm leather upper that provides great support and durability but offers little in the way of flexible fit. We recommend going up half a size to get a better fit. If you have a wider foot, you may need to go up a full size.

Pros
  • Larger insole provides great support for handlers or cutters with high arches
  • Includes a toe stud for added stability
  • Outer edge cleat pattern ideal for cutters
Cons
  • Insole may be too constraining if you don’t need the added support

Top 5 Best Men’s Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee 2020

1. Best Overall Men’s Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee: Adidas Performance Mundial Team Turf Soccer Cleat

Why we like it: This soccer cleat from Adidas offers strategically placed cushioning in a lightweight and durable design that accommodates a wide range of playing styles.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Soccer Cleat
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Ground Type: Hard or Firm Ground

These Adidas cleats are some of the best cleats you can get for ultimate frisbee due to their incredibly comfortable fit and their strategically located support and cushioning. You get full protection without losing too much flexibility.

Support

With a thick, padded upper and wedge outsole, you get a nice amount of support that keeps your heel stable without overly restricting your movements. It’s the right amount of cushioning and heel-stabilizing support players need to prevent injuries and minimize the discomfort of any existing injuries.

Meanwhile, there’s enough room in the toe box and around your arch to allow the front of your foot to spread out and move freely. This means you’ll still be capable of reaching high speeds and executing more agile movements.

Despite the strategic design of the support that’s built into this shoe, it does still add some bulk. This is the key tradeoff you deal with on these cleats. If you’re playing in muddy or otherwise soft ground, the added weight of these shoes could be enough to seriously slow you down.

For a similar balance of support and flexibility but in a lighter weight design, you might prefer these Under Armour football cleats.

Cleat Type

The short cleat length and the full coverage pattern make these best suited to either hard ground or dry firm ground. This design helps a lot in speed and agility, but as soon as you’re playing in wet conditions, the studs may not be long enough to keep you stable in softer or more slippery conditions.

Fit

These not only run true to size but also offer both wide and narrow options in many of the sizes. For the most precise fit you could ever get, these are going to be your best option. Best of all, they break in quickly. After one good game of ultimate frisbee, they’ll already be formed to the shape of your foot for the most comfortable fit possible.

Pros
  • One of the truest to size and most comfortable designs on the market
  • Great support for players with previous injuries
  • Ideal for both firm or hard ground
Cons
  • Heavier than most cleats
  • Not ideal for soft ground or wet conditions

2. Best Premium Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee: Adidas Unisex Copa Mundial Firm Ground Soccer Cleats

Why we like it: These classic soccer cleats allow for high speeds, quick pivots, and agile movements, all of which are just as essential in ultimate frisbee.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Soccer Cleat
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Ground Type: Firm Ground

With their quality leather upper, durable synthetic sole, and molded cleat design, these unisex soccer cleats are some of the most reliable shoes you can buy. They’ll definitely be an investment, but for the dedicated ultimate frisbee player, it’s an investment well worth making.

Support

The cushioned upper helps stabilize your foot without overly restricting its movement. You also have a sturdy heel design that helps add stability to your ankle without being a high top that limits the range of motion. Overall, you get enough support to play with confidence but not so much that it slows you down.

Cleat Type

These soccer cleats feature traditional round studs that are placed across the entire interior of the shoe. This pattern is designed for speed and agility, two key skills that are important to soccer players and frisbee players alike. Both cutters and handlers will be able to give their best performance while wearing these.

Fit

Adidas is one of the most popular brands in the cleat industry for a good reason. The fit is hard to beat. Even those with wide or narrow feet will find their true size comfortable here because the kangaroo leather upper is flexible enough to conform to the shape of your foot. So, after you break them in, these will be some of the most comfortable cleats you’ve ever worn.

For all these benefits, it’s no surprise that these cleats are closer to the high end of the price spectrum. If you’re up for making the investment, these will last you through multiple seasons of intense ultimate frisbee games.

However, if you’re new to the sport and not yet ready to make the investment in top of the line gear, you might want to start out with something a little more affordable like these football cleats.

Pros
  • Great true to size fit
  • Ideal for all positions and playing styles
  • Quality leather and synthetic materials for durability
  • Flexible yet supportive construction
Cons
  • Expensive

3. Best Ultimate Frisbee Cleats for Handlers: New Balance Men’s Freezelx 2.0 Box Lacrosse Shoe

Why we like it: For the handler that needs extra support and stability, these lacrosse cleats from New Balance are a great choice.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Lacrosse Cleat
  • Fit: Size Up
  • Ground Type: Firm or Soft Ground

These cleats offer top of the line support and a unique cleat bed for maximum stability and comfort. For what you lose in speed, you more than make up for in balance, power, and the decreased risk of injury.

Support

Between the cushioned upper and the high top design, these New Balance cleats offer a lot of support. There’s also a nice cushioned insole and added padding built-in around your heel to provide more stability. This makes them a great pick for players with previous injuries or for more agile players who need to reduce the risk of injury.

However, for players who need flexibility and speed above all else, all the support these cleats offer might be too bulky. In this case, you might prefer a more minimalist cleat option like these from Adidas.

Cleat Type

These unique cleats are long enough for both firm or soft ground. The studs are arranged all across the interior of the sole as well as around the outer edges. This will keep you balanced and firmly positioned for powerful throws or long-distance sprints.

Fit

As is common in lacrosse cleats, these run small. Fortunately, they do offer wide fit options for all sizes. If you have even slightly wider-than-average shoes, you’ll probably want to go for the wide width. You also may need to size up anywhere from half a size to a full size to get the right length. For a more accurate fit, consider these Copa Mundial cleats from Adidas.

Pros
  • Top of the line heel and ankle support
  • Unique cleat design to maximize stability
  • Great pick for players with previous injuries
Cons
  • Runs small and narrow
  • May be too bulky

4. Best Budget Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee: Dream Pairs Men’s Fashion Football Cleats

Why we like it: The sleek, sporty style and the comfortable design make this one of the best pairs of cleats you’ll find at such a low price point.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Soccer Cleat
  • Fit: True to Size
  • Ground Type: Firm or Soft Ground

This soft yet durable soccer cleat provides the optimal cleat design for quick and agile movements for both handlers and cutters. It’s a versatile and comfortable shoe for any player that values flexibility and speed.

Support

These cleats are built for speed and flexibility more than support. They are comfortable but they lack the kind of cushioning or padded uppers that you would want to see in a more supportive shoe. If you need greater heel, arch, or ankle support, you might do better with a lacrosse cleat like this one.

Cleat Type

This unique cleat pattern provides stability and full rotational functionality. Handlers can pivot on their heels or toes. Cutters can glide effortlessly down the field. The studs themselves are the right length for both firm or soft ground.

As an added bonus, there are holes in the toe and heel that provide the option to screw in additional studs if you want to add more stability or just customize them to better suit your needs.

Fit

The soft, textured upper is flexible enough to mold to the shape of your foot which allows for a precision fit at a surprisingly low cost. While this upper would be too soft for a soccer match, ultimate frisbee does not involve any kicking. So, the lightweight design means this is actually better as an ultimate frisbee cleat than it is as a soccer cleat!

Pros
  • Lightweight and comfortable fit
  • Rubber molded cleats are suited to both firm and soft ground
  • Optional holes for screwing in additional studs if desired
  • Flexible design works for all positions and playing styles
Cons
  • May not be enough support for some players

5. Best Ultimate Frisbee Cleats for Cutters: Under Armour Men’s Highlight RM Football Shoe

Why we like it: For the cutter who wants full heel and ankle support while preserving toe and arch flexibility, these football shoes from Under Armour are a great choice.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Cleat Type: Football Cleat
  • Fit: Size Up
  • Ground Type: Firm Ground

These supportive and beautifully designed football shoes are a great pick for any player who requires ankle and arch support. You get full support with the least amount of added bulk possible.

Support

The extra tall high top design fits snuggly around your heel and ankle to keep them stable and minimize the risk of twists or sprains. The cushioned upper adds additional stabilizing benefits and support to keep your foot fully protected while you play.

Despite all this support, these football cleats are surprisingly lightweight. This is possible because of the strategic use of textiles rather than harder synthetic materials. You’ve got durable protection around the edges and bottom of your foot but a lightweight and breathable textile around the ankle and top of your foot. This keeps the total weight of the shoe down without cutting back on support.

Cleat Type

The cleat length and pattern were created with stability in mind. They do restrict some of that side to side movement and quick turns but the streamlined design does allow cutters to build up some good speed when charging down the field.

Fit

These run narrow, and the high top design can make it a challenge to get wider feet into the shoes. For those who normally wear a standard width, go up half a size. If you tend to wear a wide width shoe, go up a full size. For a cleat offering similar support but a little better fit, you might prefer these lacrosse cleats.

Pros
  • Great support across your entire foot
  • Surprisingly lightweight design
  • Ideal for cautious players or those with previous injuries
  • Best suited to cutters or runners
Cons
  • Narrow opening make these difficult to put on and take off

Do You Need Cleats for Ultimate Frisbee?

While some players just wear normal sneakers, wearing cleats to play ultimate frisbee can give you a serious advantage. The improved grip and stability that a cleat can offer allow you to do a lot more during a game.

You can get more power behind your jumps and land them more securely. Once you get used to the cleat, you’ll be able to run faster because the increased grip allows for more power in each stride. You’ll be able to achieve more agile and complicated turns and moves.

The risk of injury is also a lot lower when wearing cleats since you’re much less likely to slip and fall or twist an ankle. So, even in casual games, it’s still a good idea to wear cleats, if only to give you that extra edge on your performance.

How to Decide Which Cleats Are Right for You

The two most important factors when choosing the cleat type and arrangement will be the surface you’re playing on and the style of play you’re most likely to use. Is the field grass, sand, or dirt? Are you a cutter or a handler? These questions will have the biggest impact on your decision. In this section, we’ll talk about how different surfaces and playing styles will influence your choice:

Know the Surface

As you shop for cleats, you’re going to see various labels that describe the type of surface they were designed to be worn on. The industry terms are hard ground, firm ground, and soft ground. Here’s a quick breakdown of what each of those terms describes and how cleats differ based on the surface they were designed for:

Hard Ground

Hard ground refers to manmade surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and indoor floors. For this type of surface, you don’t really need cleats. You would instead wear a standard athletic shoe.

While some cleats, like these Adidas are built to tolerate all surface types, including hard ground, you will shorten their lifespan if you regularly wear them on hard surfaces. So, weigh the benefits of that added slip resistance against the increased cost of needing more frequent replacements.

Firm Ground

Firm ground is the term used to describe dry grass, artificial grass, or dry dirt fields. These surfaces are softer than hard ground and require more grip than the standard traction on an athletic shoe.

This is the type of surface where cleats start to become important. In good weather, you might get away with wearing an athletic shoe with good traction but even so, you will lose a lot of stability and support if you aren’t wearing cleats.

Most cleats, especially soccer cleats like these are designed for firm ground. They use short to medium studs to provide grip without digging too deep into the dirt.
ultimate frisbee players in the sand

Soft Ground

When playing on soft ground, cleats are an absolute essential. No athletic shoe can hold up to the conditions, and you’ll just be slipping and sliding with every jump or sprint. Soft ground includes mud, flooded grass fields, and loose sand.

For these surfaces, you need longer studs on the bottom of your shoe because they need to dig deeper to create the stability you need. Shorter studs may not get down below the slippery surface layers of soft ground.

If you live in a damp climate where you often have to play in muddy or wet conditions, you’ll do best with a medium to long cleat length like the ones found on these lacrosse shoes by New Balance.

Determine Your Playing Style and Position

Your role on the team will be one of the biggest determining factors on the type of cleat that makes the most sense for you. Rounded or square cleat shapes are better for players who make lots of sudden turns or rotate on their heels. Linear cleat shapes, like thin rectangles, are better for those who do a lot of running up and down the field but less pivoting on their heels. Below, you’ll find a little more in-depth information on the types of cleats that suit each type of player:

Cutters

Cutters, also known as runners, need to run fast and find an opening on the field to gain as much ground as possible before receiving the frisbee. For all this downfield running, you’ll probably do better with a football cleat like this one with thinner cleats that are all streamlined and forward-facing.

Handlers

Handlers, sometimes called throwers, do a little less running. If you play this position, you’re more concerned with stability and maintaining a stance that allows you to put a lot of power behind your throw.

A soccer or lacrosse cleat like this one with its rounded cleats will provide that stability and ability to pivot on your heel or toe without needing to reposition your foot. The entire base of the heel and toe are studded, whereas football cleats tend to only have cleats along the outer edges.

Multi-Position Players

For more casual players who might jump around from position to position, a more transitional or versatile cleat like this one might be your best bet. The triangular cleat shape offers some of that streamlined, forward facing shape that you find in football cleats but also the stability offered by a wider stud.

You don’t want a full bed of studs across the entire sole of the shoe, but you do need some additional stability beyond what a standard football cleat would offer.

Ultimate Frisbee Cleats from Other Sports

As ultimate frisbee is a relatively young sport with a lot of strategy and skills crossover from other athletic disciplines, cleats come from a wide variety of sports as well. Some of the differences between major sports families of cleats can be found below.

  • Football Cleats: Football cleats lace up around the entire ankle, making them more supportive, especially for cutting movements. Their cleat pattern includes an extra front cleat that isn’t found on soccer cleats.
  • Soccer Cleats: As the most inexpensive and easiest-to-find variety of cleats on the market, soccer cleats are commonly used by beginner ultimate players.
  • Lacrosse Cleats: Lacrosse cleats are slightly less commonly used due to their relative difficulty to find, but they’re similar to football cleats in form and cleat pattern.

The Anatomy of a Cleat

At the most basic level, a pair of cleats is just a pair of shoes with studs in them so you don’t slip and fall when running on wet or soft ground. However, as the science of cleat engineering gets more advanced, the function and quality of different cleats become more noticeable. In this section, we’ll talk about what makes those studs on the bottom of your shoe so effective and how to decide what type and configuration will work best for your needs:

Material

The cleats themselves are generally made of the same rubber or foam material that the outer sole is made of. Both plastic or rubber will perform about the same. The key difference is in lifespan. Rubber cleats will last a little longer than plastic ones since they are less liable to snap off. However, there’s little to no difference in terms of how it affects your gameplay.

Length

The longer the stud, the softer the ground it’s intended for. Short studs are meant for grass or dry dirt. Longer studs are meant for muddy or sandy surfaces. If you play on grass, but it’s often damp and soft, opt for something in between like those found on this pair of cleats which are a little longer than most cleats for grass but not as long as a rugby cleat or other muddy ground cleats would be.

Cleat Position

As you shop for cleats, you’ll notice that every pair has its own unique pattern and arrangement. Some cleats position the studs around the outer edge only while others arrange them across the entire sole. Some cleats offer a toe stud at the very top while others leave this space open.

Generally, the more studs there are, the more stability the cleat offers. The tradeoff is that excess grip can slow you down if you’re running. How much stability you actually want or need depends on how you play.

For handlers, that toe stud is a must-have, so avoid soccer cleats in that position. You also want to opt for more studs in the middle of the shoe rather than along the outer edges. Those edge studs can minimize your ability to pivot or turn on your heel.

For cutters, the reverse is true. Those outer edge studs can provide the support and balance you need to avoid accidentally leaning too far on the edge of your foot or twisting your ankle. The toe stud is optional.

It can provide great toe support to the back foot, allowing you to get a little more power into your stride. But this advantage is not so noticeable as to make it a deciding factor in the cleats you buy. Those outer edge studs are far more important to you.

Permanent vs. Screw-In Cleats

Most cleats are built right into the sole of the shoe, making them a permanent feature of the shoe. This makes them much more secure and generally makes the shoe more comfortable. They also tend to last longer, especially with proper care.

However, there are some advantages to screw-in cleats. With this alternative, the actual studs can be removed and added as necessary. This gives you a few customization options as you can screw in as many or as few you need to play well.

It also allows you to wear the shoes on hard surfaces without damaging the cleats. You can simply unscrew the studs after the game and wear them like regular shoes. For that convenience and customizability, you do lose a lot of quality and stability. Screw-in studs can come loose during the game and they’re much easier to lose if they’re not attached to the shoe.

So, it’s generally recommended to stick to permanent cleats unless that kind of convenience is really important to you and you’re prepared to spend more on more frequent replacements.

How to Care for Your New Ultimate Frisbee Cleats

All shoes require proper care and maintenance to maintain their condition and comfort. However, with cleats, proper care is even more important. They’re regularly exposed to changing conditions in weather and moisture, which speeds up the breakdown process that all shoes go through.

More importantly, you’re playing a sport in these cleats which means you depend on them for performance. You might get away with walking around town in a pair of old sneakers, but you won’t be able to play your most competitive game of ultimate frisbee in a pair of broken-down cleats. So, take care of your cleats to make sure you can give your best performance in every game.

Take the Time to Break Them In

Gameday should not be your first day wearing your new cleats. Brand new shoes have not yet had time to stretch and form around the unique shape of your foot. While you will find some tricks and hacks around the internet for breaking in cleats more quickly, you shouldn’t use these.

Many of them, like the hot water trick, can shorten the lifespan of your cleats. Instead, get them a week or so before your game and take them out for a quick run, walk, or small practice session each day leading up to game day.

Give yourself the time to break them in naturally. Ideally, break them in by doing similar movements to what you use during a game. Wearing them to your practices is the best way to do this.

Don’t Walk on Hard Surfaces

Hard surfaces create friction that will slowly eat away at your cleats. With each step on a hard surface, your cleats are bending under the weight which will eventually lead to cracks and breaks.

Make sure to pack an extra pair of sneakers in your duffel bag. Switch to these after your game so that you aren’t forced to walk around on sidewalks or parking lots in your cleats.

Clean Them After Each Game

Regularly cleaning is key to keeping your cleats in good condition for as long as possible. Muddy cleats are wet cleats. And wet cleats that are left to air dry are liable to crack. On top of that, dry mud is much harder to remove than wet mud.

If you leave your cleats dirty and clean them when you get home, you’ll have to wet them all over again to soften the hardened mud. You also might have to brush them more vigorously than you would if you had cleaned them right away. Both of these will shorten the life of your cleats.

You don’t have to polish them to perfection after your game. Just use a soft brush or your fingers to get the mud out of your cleats and pat them dry with a towel. It’ll take no more than a few minutes and can make a huge difference.

Don’t Use Hot Water or Soap

Hot water can fast-track the cracking that happens when cleats get water-logged. The high temperature is too harsh for the soft rubber or leather that your shoes are likely made of. The same goes for soaps and detergents.

There’s no real reason to use a cleanser of any kind. The goal of cleaning your cleats is just to get the mud off and get them dry as quickly as possible. Grass stains and scuffs won’t affect your gameplay so don’t worry about scrubbing away every last spot.

Instead, just use cold or lukewarm water and gentle scrubbing action to soften and remove the dirt that builds up between the cleats.

Use a Soft-Bristled Brush

Soft bristles will help remove mud and dirt without damaging the surface of the cleats. You don’t have to get a fancy cleat brush. Just pick up a cheap soft-bristle toothbrush from the store and pack it in your duffel bag.

Even when you can’t get to a sink right away after a game, you can at least pull out the brush to scrape away most of the mud and dirt before it has a chance to harden around your cleats.

Dry Them with a Towel

Letting your cleats air dry is a recipe for deterioration. The longer moisture sits on your cleats, the more likely they are to breakdown. This could lead to cleats breaking in the middle of a game which is not fun. But even if that doesn’t happen, it will shorten the lifespan of your cleats which means buying replacements sooner.

Use Shoe Conditioner

The reason cleats breakdown from the repeated cycle of going from wet to dry is the constant expanding and contracting that happens. The more often this happens, the more likely they will crack.

By using a shoe conditioner after you dry your cleats, you can minimize the “contracting” that happens when cleats dry. This will prevent that cracking from happening and significantly extend the life of your cleats.

Tips for Improving Speed and Agility While Wearing Cleats

If this is your first time wearing cleats or you haven’t run in them since you were a kid, it can take some getting used to. Here are a few quick tips and exercises you can do to get comfortable in your new cleats and make sure you’re able to perform your best:

Do Practice Runs

Run around a field or other area with the same surface that you usually play ultimate frisbee on. This helps you get used to running in cleats. Alternate between sprinting and jogging and run in a zig-zag pattern across a field to get used to quick and sharp turns.

Do Leg-Ups

Stand in place and hop from foot to foot, raising your knees as high as you can. This will build the right muscle groups needed to run in cleats and retrain your legs to lift higher between strides, which is necessary since your cleat sticks to the ground more firmly than regular shoes. Concentrate on lighter landings rather than planting your foot hard into the ground as you likely did while wearing regular shoes.

Create an Obstacle Course

Use cones or natural features in the landscape as obstacles to jump over or dart around. Ultimate frisbee requires a lot of quick movements and sudden turns or leaps. The added grip on your new cleats can add a split-second delay to those turns and leaps if you don’t practice these maneuvers with cleats on.

The more you play in your cleats, the more intuitive the movements will be. That slight adjustment in how you balance your foot now that you aren’t avoiding the risk of slipping or sliding and how high you lift your foot between strides takes time. Just be patient and practice often.

Final Word

Choosing the best cleat for ultimate frisbee starts with knowing what kind of player you are. From there, you want to think about your own requirements for surface, budget, and cleat pattern. Do you need more support or more flexibility? More grip or more speed? After making a list of your own unique requirements, filtering through the options available will be a breeze!