Baseball and softball cleats have been used for decades to help improve a player’s traction on the field. Cleats have come a long way and have become more durable and more position specific. There are many kinds of cleats and some suit your needs better than others depending on your level of play.
When it comes to buying baseball and softball cleats, it is important to understand the differences and advantages of each type of cleat. There are three main types; molded, metal, turf. The forth kind is interchangeable, which changes between metal and molded cleats.
Molded cleats can be made of varying materials, depending on the price point. The lower priced molded cleats are designed for younger players that quickly outgrow their cleats and do not need to have them for a long time. They also tend to have shorter cleats to be more forgiving for in-experienced players. The higher priced molded cleats are made of a stiffer rubberized plastic material that varies for different manufacturers and are designed to give the most traction to a player before going to a metal cleat. These harder plastic materials are much lighter than the rubber cleats and metal cleats. All molded cleats are designed to be the most comfortable cleated shoe, because they tend to have the highest number of cleats, spread out on the pressure points of the foot.
Metal cleats provide the most traction of any other cleat. The cleats are the thinnest in comparison and thus penetrate the ground the easiest. Metal cleats are great for both dirt and grass, but not the best for turf. Metal cleats are only used by players in high competition leagues that allow them. This includes high school and college baseball and softball. Some pony and travel ball leagues allow players to wear metal cleats though. Check with your league first to make sure it is okay to wear them. The reason not everyone can wear metal cleats are because they pose a danger to players involved in sliding plays.
Turf cleats are the training shoe that players wear when practicing or when they need more comfort and less performance. Every player should be wearing when they aren’t practicing on a field. The reasons for this are because turf shoes provide are much more comfortable and do not ruin turf training facilities. Additionally, turf trainers offer more traction than basketball shoes or sneakers. Turf shoes are also great options for slow pitch softball players since they offer the ability to grip dirt and grass but offer more comfort than a cleated shoe to help last a long day of tournament play.
Interchangeable cleats are the mix of metal and molded cleats. They offer an option to have one pair of cleats instead of two for players that play in different leagues. The cleats are attached with screws and can be easily changed with a provided tool. The only down side to interchangeable cleats is since there is extra hardware, interchangeable cleats tend to be heavier cleats.
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Sizing a cleat is very similar to sizing a sneaker. The only difference is that you want a pair of cleats to fit tighter than relaxed sneakers. This is to avoid the foot from sliding around in the cleat, which can cause blisters. For children, it is important to avoid over compensating for growing room. It is best to fit them for a correct size and then go up half a size, leaving no more than a fingers worth of room behind the ankle. A good tip for sizing metal cleats, is to look at woman’s metal cleats if you cannot find a men’s cleat in a small enough size. They usually fit the same, minus the sizing difference.
Here are some tips to extend the life of your cleats by keeping them in good condition:
- Always put your cleats on in the dug-out. Wear sandals or sneakers to the field and when walking around between games on asphalt and concrete. This will prevent the cleats from wearing out quickly and also prevent you from slipping on hard surfaces.
- Clean your cleats after each use. Get all the dirt and mud off of the bottom and side of the shoes. For mud, wait until it dries enough to use a stick to knock the dirt off. Keeping your cleats dirt free help make the leather and synthetic materials last longer.
- When you are done playing, let your cleats air dry to avoid moisture from building up, which can lead to mold.
- For pitchers, look for cleats that have a reinforced toe. This helps the cleat last longer for the unique toe drag of pitchers. If you can’t find any you like with reinforced toes, there are accessories that we carry that can be applied to the toe to avoid the cleat wearing out too soon.
- Pitchers should avoid high top cleats because they restrict the ankle movement while pitching.