How to Choose the Best High School Baseball Cleats

Okay, so you’ve got your own team and it’s your job to deck them out for the new season. You go to great lengths to customize everything: you’ve got the last name printed on each player’s uniforms, you’ve got arm sleeves with the team logo on, you’ve even gone to the trouble of branding the belts; but have you done anything to stop your players getting injured during the season?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to find equipment that makes players look the part, but too often this is done without due consideration for their safety. An often-overlooked part of the process is the cleats. Everybody needs them, but does everybody really understand them? Keep reading for our tips on choosing the right cleats.

With such fine margins in the game of baseball, footwear makes all the difference. Every game is full of those moments where the runners push themselves to the absolute limit, knowing that stretching that extra inch could be the difference between winning and losing. In short, if your cleats ain’t right, you might get injured, and you might be more likely to lose. Simple as! Here are some of the basics about cleats:

What they’re made of:
Normally they are made from some kind of leather; sometimes it’s real, sometimes it’s synthetic. Real leather is more expensive but it can often be worth it because it lasts longer, breathes better and generally feels that bit more malleable. Synthetic leather is not to be counted out though. Because there is less “give”, it can give better support overall and of course it is cheaper. Word of warning though, it’s NEVER worth buying cleats that don’t feel quite right, just because they’re cheap. Don’t even entertain it!

High top, mid top or low top?
These are the main categories. High tops go as high up as the ankle and which gives better support, especially for left-to-right movements. They feel kinda ‘slower’ but if you want to protect yourself against injury, these are normally the best bet.

Low tops are for the healthy sprinters out there. If you want quick movements up the base path, look no further.

Mid tops, as you might guess, are somewhere in between the highs and the lows. It’s worth experimenting with each type so you can truly understand what they offer, and of course certain surfaces may suit a different approach.

Cleats:
The choices you have are plastic molded, metal or turf shoes. Below is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each:

Metal:

These have the best grip because they can easily slice through dirt and grass. They help with generating the momentum you need for a quick getaway, but also for when you need to put the breaks on. For batting they help stop you sliding around too — you can really dig in and stand firm. But playing this kind of game can cause more injuries. It figures that something that can grip so well can also get stuck when you don’t want it to, so be wary when using them.

Plastic molded:

These are good all-rounders; suitable for almost any surface. And they come in to their own when the ground is really damp and soft because they won’t grip too much to get stuck in the mud. They are generally less expensive than metal, but the payback is that there isn’t the same amount of grip.

Turf shoes:
As most training happens on turf, these are generally used for training. You sure as hell don’t want to be hacking the place up with metal cleats! Even more so if it’s astro turf — it would cause permanent damage.

Where you play:
It’s not just the surface you have to consider — position on the field is all-important too. You might need a more flexible cleat if you’re playing base stealer, for example.

Infield:
The condition of the field is key here. If there is a lot of sand and gravel, you’re probably best off going down the metal cleat route because they’ll cut through the loose stuff on the surface rather than collect it.

Outfield:
If you’re on a good surface that has been well looked after, metal cleats are best because plastic will eventually pick up large clumps of grass. This is better for catching fly balls too.

Pitching:
This is all about supporting the push-off foot for a powerful throw. Maximum grip is needed for this, so metal-studded cleats are best for this. A low top boot is generally best here too, because you want to avoid the boot rubbing on the ankle bone.

Youth:
From a young age it’s important that players are not seduced by something that just looks good, or influenced by others into getting cleats that don’t work for them. The same rules apply for adult cleats: go on how they feel, not how they look.

The right size:
Make sure there is no more than a quarter of an inch between your toe and the front of the cleat. Sometimes that is easier said than done — a lot of people end up between two sizes — so if this happens you’re better off getting something that is on the tight side rather than the loose side. Remember that the material tends to expand after you wear it, so something that begins too tight might not always be.

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