How To Choose The Right Cleat
Baseball, like many sports, is a game of inches, from a pitcher painting the corner to a runner beating out a tag. Those inches often represent the difference between winning and losing. With stakes that high, it’s no wonder players look for every possible advantage, including making sure they lace up the right pair of cleats. You want cleats that give you the flexibility to make quick, explosive movements in the base path. Cleats that provide you with superior traction based on the condition of your field. Cleats that give you the support you need to avoid injury. BaseballSavings has cleats that can do all these things. It's just a matter of choosing the right pair.
Baseball cleats are typically made of genuine or synthetic leather. Genuine leather is more breathable, supple, and durable than synthetic leather but its superior quality also carries a heavier price tag. On the other hand, synthetic leather gives the wearer extra support at the front and middle of the foot and ankle, often at a more affordable price. You should purchase the best cleats you can afford, but also remember inexpensive cleats that don't feel comfortable are no bargain.
Baseball shoes can be broken down into three categories: high tops, mid tops, and low tops. High tops extend up the ankle and provide extra support, particularly when moving laterally. They might restrict movement but remain critical to keeping oft-injured ankles healthy. If speed, not stability, is the priority, then opt for a pair of low tops, which allow you to make quicker lateral movements and their minimalist style helps you sprint across the field or down the base path as fast as possible. The last category of baseball shoes, mid tops, are for the ball player looking for easy movement while still having moderate ankle reinforcement.
When you begin your search for that perfect pair of baseball shoes at BaseballSavings.com, you will find three major categories: metal cleats, molded plastic cleats, and turf/fitness shoes. Here’s a closer look at each type:
Metal cleats provide the best traction because they can effectively dig into hard dirt infields and grass. They give you the grip you need to take off and slow down. They are also great for helping a batter dig a toe hold in the batter’s box so you can hit without slipping. Because metal cleats grip the ground so effectively, they have been known to cause injuries when athletes suddenly change direction. Metal spikes also wear down when worn on surfaces other than grass or dirt.
Molded Plastic Cleats:
Most plastic or rubber cleats are permanently affixed to the sole of the shoe. Stable and strong, they can be worn on most surfaces, including concrete and asphalt, without wearing down. Plastic cleats are typically less expensive than metal cleats and last much longer but fail to grip the ground with the same effectiveness. However, this makes them the preferred cleat in soft or muddy conditions; they will bounce off the ground so you can keep going rather than dig down deep and get you stuck in the mud.
Baseball players usually wear turf shoes during practice or training. If you aren’t practicing on a field you should be wearing turfs because they are more comfortable and won’t tear up the training facilities like metal would. Turfs should also be worn on artificial turf as it provides the right amount of grip for this harder surface. Turf shoes will keep your foot close to the ground while providing maximum traction and minimum risk of injury. Never wear plastic spikes on artificial turf. You will not get any traction as the spikes will be unable to grip the surface, leading to the likelihood of injury.
The position or role you play and the type of surface you play on dictates what kind of baseball cleats you should be wearing. If you’re a base stealer, a flexible cleat will allow you to explode from base to base. If you’re a defensive specialist, a cleat with multi-directional capability will best suit you. Also, is the field you play on well-maintained? These are all things to consider before lacing up.
When choosing between metal and plastic cleats, the upkeep and maintenance of the field on which you play should be considered. If the ground is compact and dense, infielders may find that plastic studs hold too much dirt. It could become problematic as the soles collect sand and gravel, making it difficult to move. For fields like this, metal cleats are the better option.
If the outfield you play on is well-maintained—lush and firm—then we recommend metal spikes because they won’t pick up large patches of grass the way molded cleats can. When outfielders plant their toes hard and deep into the grass when chasing fly balls, they can trust their cleats to dig in and out of the ground easily and effectively.
Part of what helps pitchers throw outstanding stuff is their push-off foot. They use it for power and support. If their cleat doesn’t stick properly, their base will not be stable, and they can be wild. When playing on densely packed ground, metal-studded baseball cleats will provide the stability all pitchers require. Also, for pitchers we suggest a low top because the side of the shoe travels below the ankle bone of the foot. A high top can sometimes cause rubbing.
Young baseball players are going to want baseball cleats for two reasons: they look cool and/or their friends have them. Obviously, these are not the best reasons to buy baseball cleats. For youth players, comfort and flexibility are the most important reasons because they positively affect performance. A bad-feeling pair of shoes will make the game seem long and less fun no matter how cool they might look, a lesson children are less likely to understand when they’re begging their parents for them, and more likely to understand during the game. If the “cool-looking” shoes fit properly however, their effect cannot be entirely dismissed. Sometimes children will play better because they’re wearing shoes they like.
Before you select size, know your toe should leave no more than one quarter inch from the end of the cleat, and the heel should fit snugly. If you feel like you’re in between sizes, go with the shoe that might be a little too tight rather than a little too loose. As you break them in, the shoes will expand and feel much more comfortable. A snug-fitting shoe will cling to your feet and provide the support you need when making quick twists and movements. Make sure your cleat has the right amount of cushion for your foot type.
Metal cleats are allowed in high school baseball and in college softball. This led the NFHS to make a rule change in 2008 that permits high school softball players to wear metal cleats as well. However, three states—Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts—still ban metal cleats for softball. The ASA has also declined to adopt the rule. Lastly, nearly all youth baseball leagues prohibit the use of metal cleats. It’s best to check with your league to find out which cleats are legal.