A soccer player wearing indoor soccer shoes.

Indoor vs Turf Soccer Shoes – The Difference Explained

Both have a rubber sole. Both look pretty much the exact same. Both are marketed in the same ways.

But what exactly is the difference between indoor and turf soccer shoes?

Indoor soccer shoes

Soccer player wearing Nike indoor soccer shoes.
An indoor soccer shoe.

Indoor soccer shoes are designed to be used on indoor soccer pitches, as the name suggests.

This includes gym-style floors, concrete, and ceramic, as well as carpet turf.

Carpet turf is a type of artificial grass that’s super-short. Although it’s technically a type of turf, the blades aren’t deep enough for proper turf shoes to get a decent grip.

To accommodate indoor surfaces, indoor soccer shoes have a nearly-flat rubber outsole, with some small valleys/indentations.

This enables the shoe to grip on surfaces which have very little for the outsole to grab onto. For example, unlike long-bladed grass, a gym floor is completely flat. So indoor shoes have an outsole designed to maximize the amount of shoe in contact with the ground at any given moment.

Turf soccer shoes

A child playing soccer in turf shoes.
Youth player wearing turf soccer shoes.

Turf soccer shoes are designed to be used on outdoor turf soccer pitches.

This sort of artificial turf is normally called a “3G” or “4G” surface. It has longer individual blades, which look more like real grass. As a result, turf soccer shoes have a rubber outsole with short spikes (called studs) to dig into the surface a little better.

In comparison to a proper soccer cleat, there are more studs on a turf soccer shoe, and they’re also shorter in length.

But how do you tell the difference between indoor and outdoor turf? What if a pitch has the wrong type? We’ve seen outdoor pitches with cheap sorts of astroturf/carpet turf before, so this does happen.

To identify outdoor turf, the type suitable for turf soccer shoes, look for a number of small rubber pellets on the ground amongst the blades.

Remember, this type of turf is trying to imitate real grass. The pellets, which are each about the size of a grain of sand, are designed to act like real dirt.

What’s the difference?

A soccer player wearing indoor soccer shoes.
Soccer player wearing Nike indoor soccer shoes.

Here are the differences between turf and indoor soccer shoes:

  1. The outsole: on an indoor shoe, the outsole is almost completely flat, with some small indentations or tracks for grip. On the other hand, on a turf soccer shoe, the outsole has a number of rubber spikes which will dig into the surface a lot more.
  2. The upper: indoor soccer shoes are designed to only be used indoors. However, turf soccer shoes will almost always be used outdoors. Therefore, they will often have a tougher upper, designed to withstand wind and rain. This upper might be thicker, meaning your feel for the ball won’t quite be as good.
  3. The materials used: some indoor shoes can get away with using materials like suede on the upper. Turf soccer shoes don’t have this much freedom, because these “nicer” materials won’t withstand outdoor play. Also, leather is more popular on indoor shoes, because having a fantastic first touch is really important when playing small-sided games like futsal.
  4. The thickness of the sole: when playing indoors, especially on gym floors or concrete, you simply cannot afford to kick the ground when shooting. If you do, you’ll likely hurt your toes, and even potentially sprain your ankle. Therefore, most indoor shoes (good ones at least) will have the thinnest-possible midsole/outsole to enable you to point your toe down when shooting hard without kicking the floor. You don’t have this problem on turf surfaces, so turf soccer shoes don’t necessarily need to have such a thin sole.
  5. The weight: your average indoor shoe is going to be lighter than your average turf soccer shoe. There’s two reasons for this. Firstly, indoor shoes don’t need as much bulk in the upper to ensure that the shoe is durable. Secondly, when playing indoors, agility is absolutely crucial. Therefore, indoor soccer shoes are designed to be as light as possible. But this isn’t quite as important for turf soccer shoes – instead, these products will often prioritize durability, traction, the grippiness of the upper, and how well it shoots/passes.

Can you wear indoor soccer shoes on turf?

An outdoor artificial soccer pitch.

You can, but you probably shouldn’t.

Remember, proper turf soccer shoes have specially-designed spikes on the outside to grip on artificial turf. Indoor soccer shoes do not have these studs. Therefore, you’re highly likely to slip over, or at least have trouble stopping/turning, if you use indoor shoes on turf, especially if it rains.

If you’re just playing for fun, slipping over might not seem like a big deal. But you can get injured, and you can even injure others if you end up doing an accidental slide tackle. So we wouldn’t recommend using indoor soccer shoes on turf.

Can you wear turf soccer shoes on gym/indoor surfaces?

Indoor soccer players.

The short answer is no.

On hardwood, concrete, or ceramic gym floors, the surface is completely flat. At the same time, turf soccer shoes have a number of small studs on the underneath.

This means you’re going to have very little of your shoe in contact with the ground at any given moment. Essentially, it’s a recipe for slipping over.

Carpet turf isn’t so bad, but most indoor facilities will ban turf shoes because they can damage the surface. The material used is actually quite thin, and can be fragile.

Plus, since the blades of “grass” aren’t very long (normally just a few millimeters in length), turf shoes are still going to struggle to grip on carpet turf.

You’re also going to face other issues when using turf shoes indoors. As we discussed above, they’re normally heavier, have a thicker upper, and aren’t designed for shooting on a completely flat surface. Therefore, they might not be able to keep up with a really fast-paced indoor game.

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