The effect of football boot upper padding on dribbling and passing performance using a test–retest validated protocol

Touch/control football boots are reportedly designed for optimal passing and dribbling. Little research exists on the effect of boot design on touch/control performance and no validated protocol has been developed for assessing passing and dribbling from an equipment focus. This study aimed to assess the effect of upper padding on dribbling and passing performance using a test–retest reliable test setup. Eight university players performed a protocol of dribbling, short and long passing in football boots with 0 and 6 mm of upper padding (Poron foam). The protocol was completed twice; the 0-mm padding results were used for test–retest validation, while the 0-mm versus 6-mm padding results were used to investigate the effect of padding. Dribbling performance was assessed though completion time, number of touches applied and lateral deviation from cones and passing performance through ball velocity and offset from target. The protocol demonstrated good test–retest reliability and indicated no significant differences in any of the 12 performance variables between the 0- and 6-mm padded boots. These findings suggest an element of design freedom in the use of padding within football boot uppers without affecting dribbling or passing performance.