How to Choose the Right Baseball or Softball Cleats
Having the right equipment is key to playing your best game. This is especially true when talking about proper footwear. Buying the right cleats will help prevent foot injuries, and ensure that you or your little leaguer has a safe and rewarding baseball or softball career.
What are Cleats?
Athletes wearing regular sneakers may slip or fall on muddy or wet playing surfaces. Cleats are characterized by a series of studs at the bottom, which "grip" the ground and help players move better on different surfaces, such as muddy grass.
Factors to Consider
There are several factors to consider when shopping for cleats. You or your baseball/softball player will be spending a lot of time in these shoes, so it is important to know this information before making a purchase:
The league you play in may have specific requirements
The types of fields you play on
The level of your game
This information will allow you to narrow down the field to the most appropriate choices. For instance, if you are buying for someone in Little League, the most important thing to know is that metal cleats are NOT allowed for safety reasons. In most cases metal is banned in softball as well.
Types of Cleats
There are two basic types of cleats, Plastic (also molded rubber) or Metal
Style of Cleats
Shoe style is determined by the height of the ankle.
High tops have the highest ankle. Hits right above the ankle bone. Good for weak ankles or one who has had a sprain or a break.
Mid tops are of basketball shoe height. Have a weight advantage over high tops.
Low tops lack mid ankle support but are the lightest choice.
In the end, player comfort should dictate the style.
Cleats, like most athletic shoes, are either made from leather or synthetic materials.
Leather, especially full-grain leather, offers more strength and durability and allows the foot to breath better. Leather is usually what more advanced players prefer and they are generally more expensive.
Synthetics are easier to clean and dry than leather. They are usually a good choice for youth, entry or mid-level players, and are generally less expensive
Finding the Right Cleat
When choosing any shoe, especially an athletic shoe, the right fit is paramount to safety and performance.
Cleats should wrap comfortably around your feet.
Your feet should fit firmly on the soles so that you can feel the traction and control your speed.
Velcro or buckled straps can be an advantage over shoelaces, because shoelaces tend to loosen after a while and may affect your game.
Remember that Leather stretches. If you are buying for a growing child, allow no more than a finger length of space in the toe of the cleat for them to grow into.
Since the difference between a cleat and an atheltic shoe are the cleat studs, stud length can be an important factor as well. The length of the studs are directly related to how stable you will be on the playing surface. Shorter studs are good for harder surfaces such as artificial turf or densely packed grass. Longer studs are preferrable for softer surfaces, like soft soil, since they allow for sinking into the ground. In general, half an inch is a good length for adult and intermediate players, and children's cleats should be shorter.
Caring for Cleats
Remove dirt and mud from your cleats after use. Some find it easier to let the mud dry and then chisel it off with a stick or fingers. The important thing is to make sure your cleats are clean before wearing them again. Should your cleats get wet, dry them naturally or by using a dehumidifier - don't put them over a heater or another artificial heat source. This will make your cleats stiff and could cause the leather or other materials to crack. It may also be a good idea to stuff your cleats with newspaper to help them maintain their shape.
Shoe Sizing Help & Information
Mens and Womens Sizing Conversions
Women's shoes are made on a narrower last (the foot-shaped form used in making shoes) than men's. In addition, the heel on a woman's shoe is narrower than the forefoot width. Men's shoes have the same width at the forefoot and heel. The medium width for women's shoes is B, while the medium width for men's shoes is D.
Women can wear men's shoes by converting their size to men's by subtracting 1.5 from their numeric size. For example, if you are a size 8 in women's, you would try a 6.5 in men's sizes. This is a loose conversion and doesn't change the difference in width and forefoot-to-heel ratios.
Women's converts to Men's Size Conversion Women's converts to Men's
5 3.5 10 8.5
5.5 4 10.5 9
6 4.5 11 9.5
6.5 5 11.5 10
7 5.5 12 10.5
7.5 6 12.5 11
8 6.5 13 11.5
8.5 7 13.5 12
9 7.5 14 12.5
9.5 8 14.5 13
Baseball / Softball Cleats
* How to * What to *
The most common cleat design.
Feature non-removable rubber or hard plastic cleats on the bottom of the shoe.
Simple construction makes them stable and strong.
Can be worn on and off the field.
Perfect for beginning and intermediate players and youth leagues.
Approved for play by most major baseball and softball organizations.
Required by most youth programs for safety.
Interchangeable cleats have studs on the bottom that can be screwed on and off and replaced easily.
Allows you to replace worn cleats instead of buying new shoes.
Two for the price of one. Wear the plastic cleats for Little League and the metal cleats for other terrains or types of games.
Cleats can be made of metal, PVC or rubber.
Metal cleats have a permanent metal spike configuration.
Usually not allowed in most youth and amateur softball organizations.
Typically more expensive, and offer better overall construction than many molded cleats.
Used at high school, college, and pro levels.
Baseball & Softball Cleats Buyer's Guide