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Men’s Baseball Cleats Buying Guide
That game-winning homerun or game-saving catch comes from hours of practice, but it doesn’t hurt to have the perfect pair of men’s baseball shoes on your feet to help. Playing baseball requires a pair of shoes designed for the sport for both your performance and your safety. Use our baseball cleats buying guide to find the perfect footwear the next time you play America’s favorite pastime.
Importance of Wearing Baseball Cleats
Why should you buy baseball shoes? Cleats are designed with the specific needs of baseball players in mind. They’re just as important as a properly fitting baseball glove or the perfect bat.
Reasons to choose a quality pair of baseball cleats for men include:
- Traction: You need to keep your footing on various surfaces and under various field conditions. Baseball cleats give you that necessary traction, thanks to the spikes, studs or protrusions on the soles. The traction helps you move quickly across the field, whether you’re heading toward home plate or trying to make a catch.
- Support: Baseball shoes for men feature a design aimed at supporting your feet during the game. This design and support considers the typical movements during a baseball game.
- Injury prevention: The proper support and foot protection minimizes your risk of injury while playing baseball, especially at the ankles.
- Flexibility and mobility: Baseball cleats often have a lightweight construction with a certain amount of flexibility. This keeps you agile on the field without slowing you down, so you can get where you need to be to make that game-saving play.
Features of Baseball Cleats
Baseball cleats look like many other types of athletic shoes, but the specific design features set them apart. These features affect the quality and the level of support of a particular pair of baseball cleats.
Material is one factor in the shoe design. Cleats typically consist of either genuine or synthetic leather. Some baseball cleats combine a mix of genuine and synthetic leather in one shoe to maximize performance.
Genuine leather tends to cost more and offer a breathable, durable design. The leather softens and stretches as it breaks in, giving you a comfortable fit that molds to your foot.
Synthetic leather isn’t as breathable, but it provides more support at a lower price. Synthetic leather starts out softer than genuine leather, so it doesn’t form to the foot as you break in the shoes. Shoes made of synthetic leather tend to absorb less water, which can be a bonus if you play in wet conditions frequently.
Baseball shoes come in low-top, mid-top and high-top styles. Each type offers certain advantages over the other styles. Those benefits include:
- Low-top baseball shoes: This style stops below the ankle, giving you greater speed, particularly on lateral movements. Because they have less material, low-top shoes keep you light on your feet.
- Mid-top baseball shoes: Coming in a little higher, mid-top shoes offer a balance of ankle support and flexible movement.
- High-top baseball shoes: This style hits the highest on the ankle, providing a great deal of ankle support. You have less flexibility in your movements with high-top shoes, but this sacrifice is worth it if you have a high risk of ankle injury.
Types of Baseball Cleats
The cleats themselves on the bottom of the baseball shoe differentiate the shoes from other styles. The four main types of cleats are:
- Molded cleats: This style of cleat comes molded to the sole of the shoe and offers a strong, stable base on most surfaces. Molded cleats are typically made of rubber or plastic with less grip than metal cleats. In wet, muddy conditions, this gives you an advantage, as they don’t get stuck in the mud like metal cleats do. In dry conditions with dense soil, metal cleats can give you better grip. The molded cleats tend to be shorter and cause less injury if they hit another player. With more cleats on the sole than other types, molded cleats better distribute weight, often making them more comfortable to wear. Once the cleats wear out, you need a new pair of shoes because they’re permanently attached to the shoe.
- Metal cleats: Shoes with metal cleats give you the greatest amount of traction because the thin cleats dig into the ground easily. They work well on dirt and grass, and they keep you stable while batting, since you can dig your toe into the ground. Unlike molded plastic cleats, metal cleats tend to wear down quickly if you walk on other surfaces. Metal cleats also tend to cause greater injury if you slide into another player. Personal injuries may be more likely if you change direction quickly with the metal cleats dug into the ground.
- Turf cleats: Turf cleats are also known as trainer shoes because they are most often used in training facilities that utilize turf. These cleats prevent damage to the turf while still providing traction. Turf cleats tend to offer greater comfort, which is ideal for non-competitive practice situations.
- Interchangeable cleats: This type of baseball cleat is a bit of a hybrid. They give you versatility with cleats attached by screws so you can use both metal and molded cleats. This is an ideal option if you play on different surfaces but don’t want to invest in multiple pairs of shoes. They tend to weigh more because of the hardware that holds the cleats into place.
The length of the studs is another factor in the performance of the shoes. Long studs give you less stability, but they provide better traction on soft surfaces. Short studs work best on hard surfaces to prevent your foot from becoming stuck in the dirt.
Before deciding on a type and length of cleat, check with the league regulations. Many leagues specify types of cleats that are allowed. Metal cleats often only work in older leagues, such as high school and above. Younger leagues and some rec leagues may require molded cleats for safety. The league may also regulate the length of allowed studs.
While personal preference and general playing conditions affect your choice in cleat styles, your position on the field also plays a role in the selection. Cleats that maximize your specific role on the field help your performance and minimize injury risks.
Consider these position-specific tips:
- Pitcher: When pitching, you need stability in your toes to support your push off. Opt for metal cleats, especially if you play on dense ground, to give yourself this stability. A lower cut reduces rubbing that can sometimes happen as you pitch. Look for cleats with reinforced toe caps to hold up to the drag that happens as you pitch.
- Outfielders: If you play in the outfield, you need traction to dig in for quick take-offs when chasing down a ball. Metal cleats give you that traction without picking up much grass, keeping your cleats clean.
- Infielders: Infielders have a little more flexibility, with the field conditions having a strong influence in the decision between molded and metal cleats. Metal cleats work well on dense fields, as molded cleats may become clogged with sand and gravel. In softer conditions, plastic cleats can give you better traction without getting stuck in the field.
- Youth players: Most youth players wear molded plastic cleats for safety reasons. Molded cleats are also more affordable, which is beneficial for growing feet that require frequent new pairs of shoes. Many youth leagues don’t allow metal cleats.
Securing the Proper Fit
No matter what type of cleat you choose, sizing and a proper fit are crucial on the field. Without a proper fit, your baseball cleats may rub, slip off your foot or fail to provide the protection and stability you need to play safely. Your general athletic shoe sizing helps you pick a pair of baseball shoes. One major difference is that baseball cleats should fit a little tighter than your casual shoes.
Follow these guidelines to ensure a good fit:
- Snug heel: A snug but not-too-tight fit at the heel keeps your foot securely in your baseball cleats. This is important to prevent trip ups on the field. Make sure the heel doesn’t rub or feel too tight.
- Minimal space in toe box: While some wiggle room is fine, you don’t want too much extra space beyond the end of your longest toe. Aim for a maximum of ¼-inch of extra space.
- Tighter fit overall: A secure, snug fit is essential in keeping the cleats in place. Keep in mind, as you wear the shoes they will stretch. If you buy your shoes loose, they may become too loose over time. Look for cleats that feel snug all over without feeling uncomfortably tight.
- Ankle support: When trying on the baseball cleats, note the level of ankle support and flexibility the shoe offers. Does it give you the range of motion you want? If you are concerned about ankle injuries, do the shoes protect and support your ankles?
- Pressure dispersal: The placement of the studs affects the pressure you feel on your foot. Some shoes may cause you to feel pressure points at the stud locations. While standing in the shoes, note if you feel particular pressure points or if the shoe seems to distribute the weight comfortably.
- Cushioning: Focus on how your foot feels in the shoe, particularly at the arch, heel and forefoot. Does it feel cushioned and supported? If the shoe feels uncomfortable when you try it on, it definitely won’t feel better in a game situation.
- Stability: Along with traction, stability is an important aspect of baseball cleats to keep your footing on the field. Lightweight shoes keep you moving quickly, but they may also offer less stability and protection. Look for studs placed along the outer edges of the shoes to give yourself more stability.
One way to test cleats while trying them on is to practice a few moves you use on the baseball field. If you’re a pitcher, throw a few pretend pitches while wearing the shoes. Get in your batting stance. Make some quick movements like the ones you make in a game. Try running in the shoes. If the shoe doesn’t work with these simple test movements, don’t expect it to do the trick during a game.
Baseball Cleat Brands
Many name brand athletic shoe companies manufacture high-quality baseball cleats. Start with your favorite brand of athletic shoe, but don’t discount other brands. You may find you like a particular baseball cleat model in a different brand than you normally choose.
The following baseball cleat brands are solid options for your search:
- Adidas: Adidas men’s baseball cleats sport the classic Adidas styling and quality, with molded, metal and turf options available. Many of the Adidas shoes incorporate technology to maximize performance while keeping the shoe lightweight.
- Nike: Another big name in the athletic shoe is Nike. A selection of Nike men’s baseball cleats give you a balance of style and function, including many colorful shoe options. Designed with speed and support in mind, Nike produces baseball shoes with various cleat types.
- Mizuno: The Mizuno brand offers both training and metal cleats. A unique anatomical design provides strong support.
- New Balance: For options ranging from low to high profiles with a classic black and white color scheme, consider New Balance baseball cleats. A turf option plus multiple metal cleat options let you find a shoe that fits your baseball style.
- Under Armour: Under Armour offers a range of both price and style in the baseball cleat field. In addition to technology designed with the baseball player in mind, Under Armour offers modern styles when you want something different.
Tips for Choosing Baseball Cleats
Understanding the basics of baseball cleats and the expected fit helps you narrow down your available options. If you’re still not sure what to buy, consider these tips for choosing the ideal baseball cleats:
- Always measure: It doesn’t matter how many pairs of shoes you’ve purchased over the years. It’s always a good idea to have your feet measured when you buy a new pair. You feet can change over time, causing a need for a different shoe size.
- Try them on: Reading the specs for a particular pair of baseball cleats helps you get an idea of how well they will work for you, but trying them on is the real test. If you order baseball cleats online, look for a vendor who offers merchandise returns in case the shoe doesn’t fit like you want.
- Base the decision on function: Getting noticed for your awesome baseball cleats makes you feel great momentarily, but choosing cleats based on function and fit rather than style keeps you feeling great long term.
- Assess extra technologies: Check out the special features of different pairs of baseball cleats to help make your final decision. For example, some shoes include moisture-wicking liners to keep your feet dry.
- Consider the budget: You can find baseball cleats at varying price points. While more expensive shoes tend to have more features and a higher quality, you can find a quality pair at lower price points. Determine how much you want to spend on the baseball cleats, keeping in mind that paying a little more for a better fit or higher quality is a solid investment for your comfort and safety.
With the help of our baseball shoes buying guide, you have the tools necessary to find a pair of high-quality cleats to support your game play. At Schuylkill Valley Sports, we offer a wide selection of baseball cleats available for purchase online or in one of our store locations. Start shopping now to get your winning edge the next time you take the field.