Softball, like many other sports, is a game where inches count. Whether it is a runner beating a tag, or a pitcher painting the corner, those inches can make the difference. That is why choosing the right pair of shoes is so important to help young players do their best. Here is how to decide whether you need turf shoes, metal cleats or molded cleats:
If you are going to do indoor practice, you will need to have turf shoes. In fact, most indoor facilities prohibit cleats because they tear up the practice surface. Turf shoes:
- Keep your feet close to the ground.
- Give good traction indoors.
Another time that turf shoes might be worn is on artificial turf since spikes can't grip on that surface.
Cleats are generally the choice for outdoor practice and play. By being able to dig into soft dirt infields and grass, metal cleats can give you the best traction and grip you need to either take off or slow down. In addition, they are terrific for helping a batter to dig a toe hold so they can hit without slipping. Professional and collegiate players generally use metal softball cleats because they provide:
- Better grip on soft surfaces.
- Lighter weight shoes.
- Greater durability.
However, metal cleats may not be the best choice for younger players to put in their equipment bag. Why? Metal cleats work best only on fields kept in perfect condition, which might not be the case where younger players practice and compete. Additionally, metal cleats can wear down if you aren't careful to only wear them on grass or dirt. Most importantly, before you buy metal cleats, be sure to check your league rules, since many youth leagues don't allow them.
Molded cleats are a good all-around shoe for the entire season because they are stable, strong, and suitable for many surfaces. The primary advantage of molded cleats are:
- Better gripping on hard surfaces.
- Less expensive.
- More durable than metal cleats on a variety of surfaces.
While molded cleats won't help you to grip and turn as quickly as metal, they will work better on very hard or dry surfaces. For a reliable shoe that will serve you well in most circumstances, molded softball cleats are an excellent choice.
The Bottom Line