Softball is a game of speed, agility and adaptability. You’re constantly on your feet and need to be ready to perform inning after inning, so finding the right pair of cleats is key. The top features you need to think about include cleat type, league requirements and field position.
Always check with your local league for its specific requirements regarding cleat type. Most youth and amateur softball leagues prohibit metal cleats due to safety reasons, but some high school, college and professional leagues allow them for use.
- Metal: feature permanent metal spikes along the outsole of the shoe. These provide the most traction on the field. Metal cleats also have the thinnest spikes compared to other cleat styles, which help penetrate the ground more easily. These are often prohibited in certain leagues for safety reasons.
- Molded: designed with non-removable and shorter rubber or hard plastic studs. Harder plastic options are lighter than the rubberized or metal styles. Molded cleats have more studs along the outsole, which results in a more comfortable cleat. These are ideal for beginner players.
- Training/Turf: the best option for off-field practice. These are more comfortable than regular cleats, offer more traction than regular shoes/sneakers and won’t tear up the turf in training facilities.
If possible, players should choose a softball cleat optimized for their position. After all, different players have different needs on the field. Pitchers can benefit from a cleat with a reinforced toe. This is important due to most pitchers’ toe drag. Pitchers should also opt for a low-top style to accommodate their ankle movement. Metal cleats pick up less dirt and grass than molded ones, so they’re great for infielders and outfielders alike. They also make it easier for an outfielder to plant their toes in the ground and sprint to reach a ball.
- The cleat’s fit should be snug while still leaving some room in the toe. Remember to try on cleats with the kind of socks you’ll be playing in to get the best idea of fit. You don’t want your shoes to be too tight.
- A thick tongue helps prevent dirt from getting into your shoe. It also helps keep your laces from getting untied or in the way.
- Lightweight padding through the midsole can provide extra cushion and shock absorption.