Why Do Football Players Tape Their Cleats?

Find out the reason behind those tape jobs and learn the benefits of “spatting.”

August 15, 2017
Player taping football cleat

There’s a lot of gear needed to play on the gridiron. And while most football equipment may have obvious uses, there are others that may leave you scratching your head.


One such instance is taping football cleats.


Taping your cleats, or “spatting,” isn’t necessarily a new concept in football, but many fans, and even players, don’t understand why it’s done. Does spatting support your ankles? Is it just a cool ritual or tradition? Well, it’s really a combination of both.


Spatting is mainly performed to help players lessen the risk of rolling or twisting their ankles during gameplay. In fact, a player or an athletic trainer might even use so much tape that it looks like a small leg cast! This can also help support a player’s ankle for better body movement and coordination when running and making tight, pinpoint turns on the gridiron.


While injury prevention and improved mobility are two major benefits of spatting, some players simply like the feeling of knowing that their cleats are more secure and less likely to come off during a play.


If you’re interested in spatting your cleats, first ask a trainer or a coach if they can help you the first time around. You want to make sure the tape isn’t too tight or you may restrict your ankle movement, while tape that’s too loose has no little or no effect.


So, what sort of football tape should you use? Stretch tape, or elastic adhesive tape, is the preferred spatting tape. It’s lighter and much easier to put on and take off by yourself, without the need for a scissor-like tool. You can also apply it in one continuous motion so you don’t have to constantly tear off pieces. Elastic adhesive tape stretches to form around your foot so you not only get a cleaner result, but also more comfort and less bulk.


If you’re looking for similar benefits and support without actually using tape, there are cleat sleeves you can get that resemble tape jobs.


Remember to always check your league’s rules beforehand to make sure spatting is allowed.  You don’t want to encase your ankles just to be asked to remove them by an official once you hit the field. With that in mind, good luck and happy spatting!