Whether you’re suiting up for your first day of Little League or about to start your 12th season in the big leagues, having the right footwear is crucial to your success.
In this guide I’ll show you everything you need to know when making your decision so you get the best cleats for yourself.
Here’s a video that quickly explains everything:
Pretty simple, right?
What Are Cleats Made Of?
The price of cleats can vary widely, with some under $50 and others surpassing the $200 mark. Whichever style you choose, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Furthermore, the type of construction could change from manufacturer to manufacturer; Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and Mizuno all have different processes to create their cleats.
Typically, baseball cleats are either made from genuine leather or a synthetic leather that incorporates other materials as well. Genuine leather cleats breathe better and provide more flexibility – critical elements if you play in warmer weather – but will generally come with a heftier price tag. You get a higher quality cleat which should last longer, but the initial cost can be much higher.
Synthetic materials, on the other hand, will usually offer more support around the foot and ankle, and will also be substantially less expensive than genuine leather. Make sure you choose the cleat that best conforms to your feet and gives you the most stable base of support, otherwise you could end up spending a lot more in hospital bills and rehab due to turned ankles and torn ligaments.
How To Fit Your Cleats
As with most shoes, you should leave about a 1/4 inch from your toe to the end of the cleat, allowing you just enough room to move the ends of your feet freely without the fear of developing blisters. Your heel should fit firmly against the back of the shoe and the arch of your foot should be properly supported.
But what happens if you find yourself in between sizes? Always opt for the smaller of the two sizes. You want to buy a shoe that will stabilize your foot properly; if your foot slides around on the inside, there’s a higher risk of injury. Also, the more you play in your shoe, the more it will break in and expand to fit your foot. Don’t forget about comfort either: a comfortable shoe is second only to safety in terms of importance.
Which Type Of Cleats Should I Get?
Depending on the league that you play in, this question might be answered for you. Most youth programs, such as Little League and city leagues, don’t allow metal spikes at all, so it’s important to check with your governing board to see what you can and can’t use.
If every option of cleat is on the table, then check the playing surface that you or your child will be playing on. Below are the most common types of cleats and their most appropriate scenarios.
- Molded Cleats: These are the most popular form of cleats, especially among youth leagues, primarily because as the athletes grow physically, they may need to buy a new pair of cleats every one to two years. Instead of metal spikes on the bottom of the foot, molded cleats are made of a tough rubberized material that are usually shorter in spike length than the other ones, which allows more flexibility to someone learning the game and adjusting to their position. Higher priced molded cleats will substitute a plastic material instead of rubber, providing more flexibility and less weight to allow the athlete to move freer.
- Turf Cleats: Although these are not technically worn during game time, turf cleats still are included on this list due to their usage in other areas, such as slow and fast-pitch softball. Furthermore, athletes can also wear turf shoes in training sessions or when they value comfort over performance. Instead of long, stiff cleats, turf cleats have dozens of smaller and less-pointed spikes that still give traction but don’t tear up the surface they’re walking on.
- Metal Cleats: The #1 choice for high-schoolers all the way to the big leagues, metal cleats offer the most traction of all the different styles. They penetrate the ground easier, are thinner than the other types, and can be used on both dirt and grass. Because they can pose a safety hazard, particularly in sliding situations, they are not normally allowed in lower leagues. If your league allows them and the wearer is comfortable using them, they can provide a distinct advantage in speed and agility.
- Interchangeable Cleats: These are not nearly as popular as the standard cleats, but if the wearer is playing in multiple leagues or on different surfaces, interchangeable cleats might be the way to go. These allow the wearer to switch from metal to molded (and vice versa) by simply unscrewing the plates and slipping the new ones in. This comes at a distinct loss of speed, however, since the extra hardware makes them heavier.
How Do I Care For My Cleats?
With proper treatment, your cleats can last a long time no matter the abuse that you put them through. For starters, never wear your cleats outside of the dugout and field, or else the hard surface can damage the tips.
Also, always clean them after every use so that you remove the dirt and mud that can damage the materials. Leave them to air dry to reduce mold also.
How To Choose The Right Cleats For My Position
Every position on the field is different, and the type of cleats you wear should reflect this. Infield positions will need more grip and agility than outfield positions, while pitchers will need a shoe that has a reinforced toe.
Also, be aware of your own specific strengths as a player: if you love stealing bases, opt for a more flexible cleat, whereas if you are strong on defense, consider a cleat that allows you to move in multiple directions quickly. Below are some ideas to help match the right cleat with the right position.
- For Outfielders: Molded cleats have a tendency to pick up dirt and grass in the outfield, especially as the outfielder plants themselves to retrieve and throw in fly balls. If your league allows it, metal spikes are the way to go here, as they allow you to move quickly without picking up excess debris. High top cleats will also give you added support while running full-sprints through the outfield.
- For Infielders: Metal spikes again are the recommendation for infielders, since they deliver better traction, but molded cleats aren’t a bad option either. Speed and quick lateral movements are the focus of every infielder, so go for a low-top cleat with metal spikes in these positions.
- For Pitchers: Stability, rather than speed, is the primary focus for infielders, but you should still go for a low-top shoe to prevent rubbing along the ankles (unless you can find a comfortable high-top that doesn’t rub, of course). Metal spikes are even more important for pitchers than other positions since a pitchers’ power generates through a strong foundation of support by planting the foot strong into the ground. If the shoe is unstable, the pitch will be also, so sacrifice speed for the sake of stability.
Hope This Helped!
Cleats are an important part of baseball and you’ll want the perfect pair to help you play at your best. If you want to see my top picks for cleats this year, click below:
There’s a product on that list for all players and all budgets.
Hope this guide made sense and you find the right pair for your game!