This is the most important aspect of the site, so please follow along!
The fit of your boot makes or breaks your experience in the boot, bottom line: You can have a $400.00 boot (shoe) with every bell and whistle imaginable and if it doesn’t fit you correctly you are not going to get the most out of it or yourself. On the flip side to that you can have a much less expensive boot that fits you like it was bespoke or made to measure and enjoy the best experience of your career. So below are my fit guidelines.
Get your boots snug: Most people wear boots that are way too big and then think something that fits is too small. Your boots should be snug in all areas of your foot, but the most important areas of fit are the heel, forefoot, and toes. Your heel should be locked into place with no sliding, rubbing or popping out. The forefoot should wrap around the bones on the inside and outside of your feet, comfortably while also keeping you locked in place. Your toes should be as close to the end of the boot as possible while still providing comfort and freedom to make your foot into a fist like shape and to allow for some movement of the toes. (Personally I get my toes right to the end of my boot, but I now avoid crunching my toes as I had done when I was younger).
You should feel close to barefoot in your boots: Your boots should provide you with the ability to feel both the ball at your feet and the ground under your feet in a comfortable manner. If a boot feels exceptionally comfortable in the store, it will most likely only get better. If your boot feels stiff, and you feel like you are standing on a bed of nails because of the stud placement, chances are the boot won’t break in that well; you may adjust to the pain and eventually ignore it, but you will pay for it later.
Your insole should be comfortable and interact with your socks: This is the most underrated aspect of boot buying; your insole dictated a lot of the performance related to wearing the boot because the sole of your foot controls more of your action from the ground up than you realize. If you can’t move your foot in your shoe because it is too snug in the upper and the insole is one of the newer rubber-ish/faux leather numbers you are in a lot of trouble performance wise. Also you should pick a material that feels like it will not blister your feet after you break the rest of the shoe in. Finally the insole protects you from the lasting board, and the studs on the boots. Make sure it feels appropriate for your needs and expectations.
Buy what fits you best: Don’t be influence by what you see Messi, Falcao, Rooney, Ronaldo, and van Persie wearing. Despite the massive influence top players have on the buying public, almost all of them are not choosing their boots. They are being paid to wear custom fitted, custom-made models that usually only look like what is being sold to the public from a distance. Whatever they want on the boot, they get (the top players at least) and their skills are the reason they are stars, not their boots. So, if you fit into and feel comfortable in a boot that isn’t what your hero wears, so what? Buy what feels comfortable to you.
Try on as many shoes as you can: If you have the luxury of buying from a brick and mortar store, try on everything you can so you know what works for you and then go with your best option.
One size does not fit all: Chances are you will not be the same size in every brand; some brands may even have different silos of boots that require you to go up or down a half size or so in their own products. This is why you need to try on as many products as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for the size you think you are, and the next half size up to be sure. Also, despite popular misconceptions “X brand” is not always narrow or wide fitting. Most companies have several lasts (the plastic or wood foot model the shoe is build on) in rotation for their brand and each boot silo has a somewhat unique fit. Nearly every company offers narrow, medium, and wider fitting option these days. When exploring the world of fits also know that good quality leather shoes will stretch a bit in width and in the toe box over time, while a synthetic upper will most likely maintain it’s integrity for the life of the shoe -especially in the length- while shaping to the width foot (if the synthetic is one of the better types on the market).
Take your socks with you: I can’t stress this enough, you need to try on the boots with as close to a game like fit as possible. That means taking a few pairs of socks with you to replicate what you will be putting on your feet in training and matches. Take the type of socks you use for both situations, and the amount you wear when you play (I double sock personally, others do one sock, but I suggest stopping with two, any more and the shoe is surely too big). You would not believe the amount of people who came to the soccer stores where I have worked with only flip-flops. Also, you don’t want the stores “try on” socks, they are disgusting, take my word for it.
Wear a blindfold: Literally, this is not a joke; wear a blindfold or make your kid wear one. If you are still influenced more by marketing and less by comfort I suggest this…heck, I suggest it anyway to anyone. When I worked in retail I often made kids that only wanted the boot that their favorite player was using try on several pairs of boots, with their eyes closed. More often than not, they said the boot they liked the most when they came in was the least comfortable when they had it on without the visual “wow” factor.