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How To Spat Football Cleats (Guides & Tips for Beginners)

Football players will spat their ankles for various different reasons. In this article, we’re going to cover why and also how to spat football cleats.

Key Takeaways

  • Football players often spat their cleats to add ankle support, reducing the risk of injury during their play. The added layer of tape protects their feet (especially their ankle) against harsh contact with other players.

Why Do Football Players Spat Their Cleats?

Spats are tape-like shoe coverings that football players use to fasten their cleats to their feet and ankles. Football players mainly spat their cleats to protect their ankles, as spatting reduces the risk of rolling or twisting the ankle.

The adder layer of tape also provides added protection against other players, particularly when getting stepped on.

Some trainers also believe that restricting the movement of the ankle can aid in lateral movement and therefore help the player move and re-position with more speed.

How To Spat Football Cleats

Step #1: Pre-Wrap

Put your football socks on first before you do anything else. Then, start by wrapping around your ankle for extra support.

You can do this by first wrapping around the arch of the foot to secure the laces. Continue in an overlapping pattern until you work yourself toward the ankle.

From there, wrap one or two figure-eight patterns between the ankle and the arch. Break the pattern at the ankle and secure the tape around the heel.

Wrap under the heel and loop back across the front of the foot, then wrap across the front of the foot and loop around the back of the ankle.

Then, all you have to do is to loop around the ankle and continue wrapping upwards until you’re satisfied with how much the pre-wrap is covering.

Check out this Safe Sports video if you need a visual cue for any of these patterns.

Step #2: Apply Athletic Tape

Use athletic tape or stretch tape and wrap around the arch where you started spatting.

Overlap strips of tape as you work up the heel, then tape a horseshoe strip across the arch strips on the outer edge of the foot.

You should continue wrapping low around the heel unless you cross the inner edge of the foot, then you should place overlapping horseshoe tape around the ankle.

Tape an anchor strip around the lower leg and work up to the top of the pre-wrap.

Lastly, use tape to further secure the ankle. You can put as much tape as you need or want, there’s no correct answer here.

Tip For Beginners

Always have a trainer do your spats the first couple of times. If that is not possible for you, consider getting fabric shoe covers that can work as spats as well.

These can work similarly to tape, and can also prevent grass and mud from getting lodged in your cleats, which can help provide consistent traction force.

They also provide a small amount of lateral support for your ankles. Bonus: they’re really easy to put on.

Simply hook the cover over the heel of your cleat and stretch it taut over the shoe, pulling it up towards the knee.

The front of the spat should cover the area from the top of the cleat to where your toes meet your foot. 

Other Consideration

There is some degree of debate as to whether spatting actually works though. Check out this infographic by the University of Wisconsin which spotlighted the effects of spatting.

You may also like to read our buyer’s guide on the best football cleats.

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