Wearing Baseball Cleats for Softball: Is it a Good idea?
When you think of equipment needed for softball, your first instinct is probably going to be either a bat or glove. But something many don’t think of right away is the footwear required.
More specifically as a player gets older they will need to consider a pair of cleats over regular running shoes.
Depending where you shop or where you live, you might find that cleats more marketed towards baseball players. But can baseball cleats be used for softball as well?
It’s a common question that gets asked as they look the exact same! Let’s dig in.
Can you wear baseball cleats to play softball?
Yes – players can wear baseball cleats to play softball. In theory, baseball and softball cleats are the same. Both types of cleats are meant to do the same thing – run in the dirt or the grass.
The cleat design is meant to help baserunners grip the dirt better while they run so they don’t slip on the loose or dusty infield. This is done by one important feature they share – the toe spike. It’s important that when choosing a cleat the front spike is there as cleats for other sports, like soccer do not have them.
How to Choose a Cleat
While softball players can wear baseball cleats it’s important to look at a few other factors before players decide to buy baseball cleats.
The main difference is the shape of the cleat. Baseball cleats are meant for men, meaning they typically have wider cleats to fit their feet better than the female softball cleat counterpart. Also, baseball and softball cleats come in molded, metal, or interchangeable spikes.
Most younger age groups do not allow metal spikes for safety concerns, so make sure what type of spike players can wear before purchasing. Moreover, spike lengths change from baseball to softball. If purchasing a baseball cleat over a softball specific version make sure that it follows regulation before showing up to a game or practice.
Main differences between baseball and softball cleats
While baseball and softball cleats are similar in a lot of ways, they are different cleats from each other and it’s important to know the differences before purchasing any cleats.
While both have very similar cleat patterns — as the sports have many of the same rules, concepts, and actions from the athletes — there are differences in build, size, and style.
Built for the Game
The main difference between baseball and softball cleats are the build and fit of them. Baseball cleats are built wider than ones marketed towards softball players. This is because baseball cleats are made for male feet. This means that if a girl wanted to wear a baseball cleat, it’s possible that they would fit too wide for her feet. This could cause her feet to slide inside the shoe which can cause blisters, discomfort, and for the shoe to move around while playing which could cause other injuries like rolled ankles.
Fitting the Athlete
Vise versa, if a boy wanted to wear a softball cleat that’s made for girls, the shoe base is more narrow to fit most girls. This can cause the cleat to squeeze the young man’s foot which could cut circulation and also cause other problems and injuries. Moreover, it would be very uncomfortable to put it plainly.
The most important thing when wearing cleats is that they fit well. Cleats need to be worn tight so they do not slip, move, or fall off while playing. However, they also need not be too small. Players need to focus on the game so they need a shoe that fits well and is as comfortable as possible.
Besides the fit of the shoe, baseball cleats run in men’s sizes, while softball ones will run in women’s sizes. This can make it difficult for player’s to match sizes if they are looking at a shoe made for their opposite gender, as men’s sizes run bigger than women’s.
Appealing to the Audience
Another difference between baseball and softball cleats is style.
While more professional, larger-sized cleats can be indistinguishable from baseball to softball, youth cleats can have very different styles from boys to girls. Young girl’s cleats typically have pink options, which most boys would frown upon wearing. If they’re not pink, girls’ cleats could have more details on them to appeal to young girls, while boys baseball shoes have more simple designs. Also, while both cleats have high-top options, this is more common in baseball than softball.
Finally, availability is a big factor in baseball and softball cleats. Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. From Little League, to amateur travel teams, to high school and college, and the MLB, baseball is an extremely popular sport.
Softball is much less common. For this reason, there are much more baseball cleats out there than softball ones. Boys have a larger variety to choose from, whereas the most popular sporting goods store might only have two or three women’s softball cleats to choose from.
Similarities between baseball and softball cleats
Baseball and softball cleats are extremely similar.
While there are vast differences between the two sports, they both have the same premise of getting on base, hitting the ball, and scoring runs. Both sports have the same positions and for the most part the same rules as well. This means that their equipment and footwear are made to help their players in the same way.
The main similarity between baseball and softball cleats is the cleat pattern. They both have multiple spikes on the bottom of the shoe and follow a similar pattern. Most of the time, the cleat is in the shape of a rectangle or triangle. This is different from football or soccer cleats which can have round spikes in shape. This rectangular shape favors baseball and softball because it allows players to grip the dirt better and run straighter.
Other sports’ footwear is made for them to change directions, which isn’t as common in baseball and softball.
Furthermore, baseball and softball cleats have a cleat under the toe, which greatly improves player’s traction. This cleat is not seen in soccer cleats at all. While baseball and softball cleats differ from other sports, these two sports have the same cleat pattern because players do the same movements.
Cleat shape is another similarity between the baseball and softball cleats. While other sports such as football commonly have high tops to offer more support, baseball and softball cleats are built lighter and sleeker.
While high tops are available in both sports, low rise cleats are much more common. Players do not need the extra support because there is more down time in baseball and softball and there is not repeated contact and frequent, fast direction changes like in football. Instead, cleats are built for speed and traction above all else.
Color options and styles can be both similar and different in softball. At older age groups, baseball and softball cleats look extremely similar or nearly identical. In modern day, white cleats are extremely popular and are very common to find in both sports. While cleats brighten up a uniform and while they do fade and get dusty, they do not appear to be as dirty as other colors such as black.
Bright color options that match a player’s team are also very popular, like red, blue, or orange cleats. While youth cleat styles can be more gender-apparent, adult styles are more gender-neutral, although they are still built for only men or women.
Metal and Plastic Spikes
The final similarity is cleat material.
In both baseball and softball, younger players are prohibited from using metal spikes, and have to use plastic or rubber ones. Older players are allowed to use metal spikes, which exponentially increase the traction over the molded cleats.
However, they are more dangerous. They can cut players if they get cleated by sliding into one another, and the spike is much thinner than molded cleats, so rolled ankles are more likely.
Wearing softball cleats for baseball?
So far we’ve more focused on if baseball cleats can be used in softball.
But what about the reverse? Although less common – if you already own a pair of softball cleats – can you use them for baseball?
Yes! You can wear softball cleats to play baseball!
Baseball and softball cleats are both made to do the same thing, as the two sports are also very similar. However, it’s important to note that baseball cleats are made for boys, while softball cleats are built to fit girls.
If there is a pair of softball cleats you prefer even though you play baseball, it is okay to wear them. However, make sure that they fit comfortably. The last thing players want are ill-fitting cleats, especially when players can be wearing them all day at tournaments. Moreover, make sure that the cleat has the correct and legal type of spikes for the association or age group that that player is in.
It’s also important to factor in that some softball cleats have more plastic, or a more durable tow because pitchers drag their toes in softball. This, along with some designs may be a tell-tale sign that you are wearing a softball cleat instead of a baseball cleat. To a player’s peers this might be seen as “cool“, so keep that in mind when choosing a cleat.
However, most of the time baseball and softball cleats are indistinguishable from each other.
So if you already have a pair of baseball cleats but want to play softball – do you need to rush out to the store and purchase a new pair? We hope this article has shown you that this isn’t required but might be preferred by some players due to the subtle differences. These differences become more prevalent as a player gets older but especially in the beginning it is safe to use cleats for baseball at softball as well.