Few studies have examined the role of shoe height in the context of American football cleats. Eighteen adult males (28.4 ± 1.9 years, 182.3 ± 0.6 cm, 75.7 ± 1.6 kg) performed four football drills (60-yd dash, 54-yd cutting drill, 5-10-5 drill [pro agility drill], and ladder jumping drill) in low-top, mid-top, and high-top American football cleats. Drill-specific performance outcomes were measured after each drill, and the subjects’ ankle range-of-motion (dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, eversion, inversion) and perception of the footwear (comfort, heaviness, stability) were assessed before and after each drill sequence. Performance outcomes were not influenced by shoe height. The high-top cleat limited dorsiflexion and inversion, but not plantarflexion or eversion, compared to low-top and mid-top cleats. Athletes rated the high-top cleats as less comfortable and heavier than either the low-top or mid-top cleats, but perceived the mid-top and high-top cleats to be equally stable to each other, and both more stable than the low-top cleats. Range-of-motion and performance scores did not change as a result of acute exercise. These findings suggest that high-top cleats may limit ankle motions associated with injury without deleteriously influencing performance, though athletes may not perceive the high-top cleats as favorably as low- or mid-top cleats.
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