Baseball is a demanding sport and requires the right equipment from its players to be satisfied. Your helmet is important, your gloves are necessary, comfortable clothing is strongly encouraged. Last but not least, your cleats are extremely crucial. Unless you plan on walking around on the field all day, you’ll need a great pair of cleats that fit you well so you can play at your best. But what exactly makes a great pair of baseball cleats? That’s what we’ll be teaching you right now. A couple of important factors must coalesce harmoniously in order to perform to your standards. The most highly prioritized of these should be traction, stability, weight, support, and of course, comfort. The key is finding the right balance between the qualities you want most. So with that said, let’s learn how to choose baseball cleats! What are you waiting for?
How to Choose Baseball Cleats
Cleat Studs: Types & Length
Now, every pair of baseball cleats will have studs attached to the bottom. They’re also called spikes or just plain ol’ cleats. They are there to provide proper traction as you’re running, catching, or whatever else you might be doing on the field. The three major types of studs include metal, plastic, and turf. There are also interchangeable cleats, which provide the best of both worlds between metal and molded studs.
Metal – Metal studs come attached to the sole of the shoe permanently. They provide amazing traction on hard dirt or compact grass since the studs are the thinnest compared to the other types and can penetrate ground the easiest. They are only used in high competition leagues such as high school or college baseball, but are not allowed in youth leagues or artificial turf due to the potential for injury or ruining the field.
Molded plastic – Molded plastic studs are cheaper and more durable than metal ones, but don’t provide as much traction. Most molded studs are also permanently affixed to the soles of shoes. They are often used in soft or muddy conditions.
Turf – Turf shoes are often used for practice or training as they are more comfortable and won’t wear out the field. That’s because turf shoes have small rubber studs which aren’t as prominent. They are also used on artificial turf.
Interchangeable – Interchangeable shoes can use either metal or molded plastic cleats for the player who plays in different leagues or changing weather conditions. This makes them really convenient. You can easily swap studs in and out as they utilize screw-in technology.
When learning how to choose baseball cleats, you’ll want to think about stud length as well. The length of the stud is important depending on what type of field you’re playing on as well as weather conditions. Typically, shorter studs work on hard surfaces as they don’t dig into the ground as much. On the other hand, longer studs work well in softer fields although they aren’t as stable. Some cleats have interchangeable studs where you can swap out the studs for different lengths.
Low-tops, Mid-tops, & High-tops
Baseball cleats come in three popular lengths: low-tops, mid-tops, and high-tops. The length you choose will determine how much mobility or ankle support you’ll have on the field.
Low-tops – Allows the most mobility at the cost of ankle support. Best for pitchers and players who will run a lot.
Mid-tops – Provides a bit of both worlds. A good amount of ankle support without restricting mobility too much. A very popular style.
High-tops – Extend up the ankle and provides tons of ankle and lateral support at the trade-off of mobility. Best for players who want to avoid ankle injuries and sprains.
Another important factor to consider is what position you’ll be playing on the field. That’s because certain positions will require cleats with specific qualities in order to perform well.
Baseball cleats for infielders – If you’ll be playing in the infield, you’ll have your choice between metal and plastic cleats. Metal cleats are best for dense and compact ground, while plastic studs are better for the opposite, as sand and mud can build up on the bottom of plastic sole fairly easily.
Baseball cleats for outfielders – Outfielders often use metal cleats, as grass is soft compared to the dirt infield, and metal provides better traction in this case.
Baseball cleats for pitchers – Pitchers require cleats that have great traction and stability. That means metal studs are optimal as they stick into the ground really well.
Most baseball cleats are authentic or synthetic leather. Each has its own pros and cons. Genuine leather is often the most popular choice for cleats as they are more traditional. They are durable, flexible, breathable, and fairly lightweight, although often more expensive. On the other hand, synthetic cleats are a bit more supportive, cheaper, and more water-resistant.
How to Size Baseball Cleats
Fit and comfort will be your top priorities when learning how to choose baseball cleats. Having comfortable shoes to work with ups your game exponentially. Can you imagine playing with cleats that hurt when you run or rub against your Achilles heel? Most people can’t. So, how exactly should you size baseball cleats? First off, you’ll want to try on baseball cleats with socks you intend to play with. Although they don’t seem like much, socks can make shoes either too big or too small. Your cleats should have no more than a finger width of space between your toes and the end of the shoes. We recommend a small amount of space so that they don’t hurt when you run, change directions, or pivot in them.
You’ll also want to walk in them, run in them (running in place works fine), and do several stretches in them, such as squats and turning on your toes. Cleats should not irritate your foot in any way as you wear them. Your heel should feet snugly with no movement or slipping. Cleats should have the right amount of ankle support you desire, some flexibility for dynamic movements, and good cushioning for comfort. You’ll also want to note the closure system used. Velcro straps are quick and easy and allow some adjustments in tension, while laces allow the most customization in tension.
- Budget – Buy the best cleats your budget allows. Comfort and performance are exponentially more useful than saving a few bucks. Just make sure you’re getting the best value and aren’t overspending.
- Traction – How well do the cleats grip the playing field? Obviously, the stud type and length will play a big role in traction so you’ll want to choose the right ones. You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll be playing on wet fields, dry fields, or both. Having good traction on the field will decrease your chances of injury and you’ll also play a lot better.
- Support – Ankle and lateral support are necessary in order to prevent ankle injuries. Mid-tops and high-tops provide excellent ankle support, and stiffer materials will hug your ankles better.
- Stability – Stability equates to how solid you feel on your feet. Cleats should provide great traction when digging into the ground so you can feel confident in your movements.
- Comfort – Several factors work together to make a comfortable shoe. Cushioning, ankle and heel support, tension customization, and type of material are just a few.
- Weight – Weight is important if you want to be light on your feet. Most cleats will weigh anywhere from 10 to 15 ounces. The important decision you must make is balancing weight and stability. Very lightweight cleats lack stability while stable cleats are often made of heavier materials.
- Durability – The majority of baseball cleats use very durable materials. Authentic and synthetic leather hold up very well when abused, and the soles tend to last a long time since most players go with metal or molded cleats. Of course, durability is highly dependent with how often you play. You’ll also want to look for toe reinforcement if you drag your toes often.
*** Tips on How to Choose Baseball Cleats ***
- Understand what the different parts of a baseball cleat are for first
- Consider what type of field and weather conditions you’ll be playing on most often. Choose type of studs accordingly.
- Consider what position you’ll be playing on the field when choosing cleats. What infielders need will differ from what outfielders and pitchers need.
- What do you prioritize most, mobility or ankle support? Low-tops provide the former while high-tops provide the latter. And of course, mid-tops give you some of both.
- Pick the best cleats you can get within your budget. Quality and performance trump saving money.
- Metal studs work best on hard and compact ground.
- Molded plastic studs work best on soft, loose ground such as grass.
- Use turf shoes for training, practice, and on artificial turf.
- There should be no more than a finger width of space between your toes and the end of your cleats.
- Walk, run, and stretch in cleats to see how they’ll perform when you’re active.
- There should be no pain or irritation when wearing cleats.
- Wear socks when sizing cleats for a more accurate fit.
- Lightweight shoes make you more agile at the cost of stability.
- Genuine leather is breathable, flexible, and more durable.
- Synthetic leather is more water-resistant, supportive, and typically cost less.
- Make sure you check your league’s cleat regulations so that your cleats are in compliance with them.
- More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more durable but they certainly are higher performing.
- Baseball players often drag their toes on the ground, so toe reinforcement will up the durability in that regard.
- Look for breathable cleats if your feet overheat easily.