Treat this as my unscientific opinion on the subject, but I believe that punting is a cool life skill. As a five foot tall woman with fair skin and hair I don't look like much of a menace in a situation where punting is required, but the upside of that is people tend to underestimate my ability to propel a ball in the direction I would like it to be traveling. Few accomplishments are as supremely satisfying as a punt that sails over the heads of your opponents and lands precisely where it will be most advantageous for your team. You don't have to be big, strong, speedy, or even that athletic to execute a great punt, and if you're a fan of the spotlight, the majority of the eyes are on you when your foot prepares to greet the ball. 

Since I dislike wearing shoes on grass the barefoot punters have a special place in my heart, but as sportswriter Neil Devlin points out, punters that play football may need to tackle, and if you're punting during a soccer game, barefoot is not an option. Believe it or not, I like to punt in my wool clogs which is what I was wearing the first time I tried punting on my own. The advantage there is that the wool has no laces to interfere with your ability to feel the ball which is why I love cleats that channel lacing down the side. As a punter, you will be kicking a ball repeatedly so your footwear needs to be durable, yet soft enough that it won't injure the top of your foot.

Kangaroo leather is frequently used to manufacture exceptional punting footwear as its lightweight pliability holds up kick after kick. Periodically you may see a punter with two different shoes. I am not an advocate of this for several reasons, but if you only want one shoe, there are companies that will sell that to you as a way to save money. While some tout synthetics as being more durable and waterproof, my personal preference is leather as it breathes better. There is an unbelievable amount of waste generated in manufacturing footwear. If we treat resources as precious they tend to last longer than if we are more ego-centric. When searching for footwear keep in mind the environmental impact of your purchases so we can keep our playing fields green and our athletes healthy.

Value driven shopping will help you make a wise decision when you are purchasing any type of footwear. Nobody knows you and your foot like you do. If you are punting with the expectation of making a living with this skill some day consider the non-footwear factors that affect your foot. Things like nutrition, sleep, posture, a clear mind, and a willingness to serve others rather than wait for someone else to pick up litter you see lying on the ground are the less obvious ways you can use your body to make the sport you play one that people admire rather than one villified for employing vain and vapid players. If you are too busy to consider how what you do impacts others, you are too busy to play any sport.

Now that we've covered some social responsibilities let's move on to the actual footwear. Safety is my number one priority when I work with my clients. Outcome is beyond our control, but process is our playground. Your worth as a teammate is considerably lessened if you are sidelined with an injury that could have been prevented or lessened by better fitting footwear. Sadly the larger corporations that I reached out to provided very poor fitting advice which is strange when you consider that customers are happier and your employees work less when people purchase shoes that fit the first time around. Inefficient fitting is bad business sense, it's terrible customer service, and it's detrimental to the environment as well as being a time waster, so let's be efficient, shall we?

Get to know your foot. Study what others are wearing and learn how to determine whether something fits, or, if it does not fit, how footwear is failing its wearer. The wearer can also be failing footwear so being able to make that distinction will serve you well and give you an edge when your footwear performs optimally. Unless you are punting barefoot, you need socks that fit. There should be room to wiggle your toes and your heel needs to fit within the confines the manufacture knitted into it. Socks that do not fit are your first obstacle so make sure that you have the hosiery you will be wearing when you try on cleats. I recommend shopping for socks first and giving those a couple trial runs to guarantee that your foot is comfortable and protected without sacrificing ball feel.

Now that you have socks that fit, it's time to get measured for cleats. Each foot should be measured independently of each other. Sometimes stores have devices that require both feet to be parallel to each other which can produce inaccurate measurements. Technology is great, but most of the computer systems are averaging your feet, and what you really need to know is how long, wide, and what the arch length is for each foot as this can make or break footwear fit. The person measuring you should be able to give you three separate measurements for each foot. Whether they size you according to total foot length, or arch length; there's a time for each protocol, they should be able to explain and defend their decision. As a consumer you should understand that measurements are a place to start and may not be the size you end up tucking in at night. Fit is the goal and there are valid reasons for discounting a particular measurement which is a quirk of life in the footwear world.

You have socks, you have sizes, now it's time to try things on and determine if a particular cleat fits. Were I to fit punters I would set up shop outside because you really don't know how something is going to perform unless you actually punt with it. Ideally punters will be fitted after practice. The goal is to replicate a game situation as closely as possible and since blood flow to the feet increases during athletic activity we want feet to be measured when they are their largest. Measurements can vary quite a bit depending on time of day and activity level which is another thing to keep in mind when you are being measured. Compression hose should be measured and fitted at the beginning of the day while footwear should be measured and fitted at the end of the day when feet have had a chance to swell.

Developing a relationship with the people you purchase footwear from is a great idea because I've read return policies that state that footwear must be unworn and in perfect condition or your money is now theirs. It's unrealistic to expect a punter or a fitter to know how anything will perform in a store so ask if you can return a pair of cleats that have have light wear, and please be respectful of this if you are granted it as stores often eat the cost of footwear they can't sell. This is where having a good fitter saves both player and the store time and money as they will be able to provide general fit feedback, and share their observations based on what they see when you walk, run, and punt. 

Punting footwear should fit snugly without being tight. While punting, the leg becomes a rigid lever used to apply force to an object. Footwear that is too loose will give you a sloppy punt if it allows the ball to roll across the top of the foot while footwear that is too small prevents full extension of your foot and toes. Your kicking foot is useless without your plant foot which is why I recommend shoes that match even if they are two different sizes. Your plant foot is supporting your body weight while you are punting. At the end of the punt your kicking leg will be aloft while the rest of you balances on the flattened surfaces of your toes and the front part of the ball of your foot. This is where having cleats that are too short can really hurt a player as those toes will be jammed into the end of a shoe when they could be allowed to extend more naturally and freely.

Practicing with your non-dominant foot can be a good way to slow the sequence of a punt down, but avoid the tendency to overthink footwear. Ask for feedback while you familiarize yourself with something new beneath your feet. Always shop for fit. Be honest with yourself, and if it helps, close your eyes while you're walking to determine if your body trusts what's beneath your feet. While there are football punters who wear soccer cleats, there are disadvantages to this practice if your foot is wider as soccer cleats tend to run narrower. Cleat length differs, and the arrangement is also sport specific. What works for someone else may not work well for you and vice versa so practice footwear empathy. If you can't feel or visualize what might work for them, recommend footwear as working well for what makes you unique. Some football punters clip their cleats, again, this has to be your call as you are responsible for those results. 

Psychologically speaking, a new and different feel can trick you into thinking that footwear fits when facts point to the reverse being true. When you're interested in information on footwear, ask how it fits and whether someone thinks it will work well for you. Fit drives comfort. Comfort drives relaxation, and relaxation drives safe performance which is why I will reiterate this: Always shop for fit first. If you are accustomed to wearing footwear that does not fit well you will have to override the sense that the shoes that fit you seem too large. The inability to change your behavior when presented with evidence that supports the wisdom of a decision is one of the biggest factors preventing people from success in any area. You are responsible for you, and fortunately, you recognize that life is change, learning is change, and mistakes often teach you more than doing something right will.

By observing footwear mistakes others are making, educating yourself, and taking calculated risks when purchasing footwear your margin of success increases substantially. Rarely does someone walk in without knowing anything, and get away with not being measured and fitted properly. Imagine heading into a game without a strategy. That's what people do whenever they walk into a store or go online to shop without their measurements. They're pitting their health and safety against the benevolence of brands like Nike, Under Armour, and adidas. When I used the online chat service adidas offered I was told to stand on a tape measure to figure out what size I need. Measuring is a dying skill, a lost art, and fitting is becoming that way too. Your feet need to serve you well beyond your sporting days so keep them healthy before you hang up your cleats for good. 

The great news is that we are all experts. You can use what you know and have learned to help others, and hopefully you will do this despite their objections, and if you go anywhere in life, there will be objections such as the following: "It costs too much", "It takes too much time", "No one else does it", "It's too hard", "My feet don't hurt so why do I need them measured?", "The NFL is a billion dollar organization, don't you think they know how to get their punters footwear that fits?". Let's reflect on that for a moment. You have eyes and a mind. Can you confidently state that every punter in the NFL is wearing footwear that fits well? This is not meant to undermine them, merely to remind you that there is always room for improvement and the organization or person that refuses to change and adapt will become stagnant, wither, and be left behind. 

In the grand scheme of things, footwear isn't nearly as important as the legacy each of us will leave behind. Football scares me so writing this took a lot of resolve on my part. We've seen a lot of unhealthy and unwholesome things emerge from recent scandals involving NFL players, and it's not easy for me as an author whose life has been intertwined with violent and abusive people to forgive those who choose to use their strength, power, and celebrity status to avoid doing the right thing. The NFL employs a lot of people, but as far as I can tell, no one is measuring feet. There are many ways to cheat the system that don't involve lifting a finger against anyone else, but there is always a way to do what is right. Safe footwear exists for everyone, could you be part of a revolution that starts with taking that first small step towards greater punter safety? 


Wizard Kicking

Soccer Shoe Guide

Kicking World 

Celebrity endorsements 

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.