The month of March brings about the feeling of another upcoming baseball/softball season. Aside from bats, fielding mits, batting gloves, and pants, there is another crucial component of the equipment to consider…the cleats! Baseball cleats have improved tremendously over the years in regards to their durability and specific to the exact position on the field the player wearing them will be. Here we’ll offer some helpful tips to assist you, or perhaps your children, in preparing for the season the right way with the correct type of cleats.
Types of Cleats
Molded Cleats: Molded cleats tend to be made from a variety of materials and more designed for younger players who will quickly outgrow them. Therefore, they are not necessarily the most durable and long lasting of the types of cleats available. They also tend to have shorter cleats to be more forgiving for in-experienced players. For younger players, you probably want to stay away from metal cleats anyway as they potentially could be harmful to other players on the field.
The harder plastic materials that make up these are much lighter than rubber and metal cleats. They are also designed to give the most traction to a player before they transition to the heavier cleats with metal spikes. 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: The aforementioned metal cleats provide the most traction of any of the cleats. They tend to run thinner than others and penetrate the ground easier as well. These are excellent to use on both dirt and grass. However, they should be avoided when playing on turf surfaces.
Metal cleats are typically only allowed for higher competition (high school age and up). Always consult coaches or officials and get approval for them if you’re not sure. Some travel leagues and tournaments have been known to allow them though.
Turf Cleats: Turf cleats are more for practicing or those wanting more comfort instead of maximum performance. These cleats won’t ruin turf training facilities including leaving scuff marks.These shoes provide as much traction as basketball shoes would, even without that many cleats on the bottom. Turf cleats are a great option for slow pitch softball players as they offer a lot of comfort over long tournament days and can easily grip dirt and grass.
Interchangeable Cleats: 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.
Sizing and Care
Sizing a cleat is just like sizing a regular pair of sneakers. You do want them to fit a bit tighter than sneakers, as you’ll obviously be moving around in them quite a bit and want to avoid blisters that come with feet moving too much within the cleats. Remember when trying them on initially that you’ll most likely be wearing thicker socks to accompany them and your uniform.
Remember to 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. This also can prevent you from getting unnecessary dirt and mud buildup on the bottoms of them.
When you are done playing, let your cleats air dry to avoid moisture from building up, which can lead to mold. Finally, if you’re a pitcher, consider getting cleats that have a reinforced toe. This helps the cleat last longer for the unique toe drag of pitchers.
Whatever the need may be, stay on top of your cleat situation this spring and summer using these tips. From Little League, travel ball and high school to college and adult slow-pitch, there are cleats designed specifically for any occasion. So make sure you pick the pair that helps you knock one right out of the park!