Are you or your child thinking about playing softball? Do you know what kind of equipment you need to play this sport? Footwear is one of the most important considerations for any sport. You are probably wondering if you need cleats for softball. Look no further because we researched whether cleats are necessary for softball so you can lace-up the right shoes for the game.
Cleats are essential equipment for anyone who wants to play softball. Regular sneakers won't suffice when trying to run the bases through sand and playing the outfield. Cleats are built to withstand the surface changes on various softball fields (from sand to grass to turf) while maintaining traction for players as regular sneakers cannot.
Now that you know cleats are needed to play the game of softball, other questions regarding types of cleats, sizing, and so forth are rapidly coming to mind. Please keep reading as we answer these common questions to help you select the best cleats for softball.
Is there a difference between softball cleats and baseball cleats?
There is no difference between today's softball and baseball cleats. However, baseball cleats are designed for men. If you are a woman buying cleats for softball, you want to make sure to account for shoe size for the right fit if you purchase baseball cleats. As with regular sneakers, you want to have a little bit of room between the front edge and your big toe. Sizing cleats designed for baseball can cause some issues for women. If your size isn't available, it won't do you any good to go bigger because you don't want a lot of extra space in your cleats.
Are metal cleats allowed in softball?
Previously, softball did not allow wearing metal cleats, but in 2010 that rule changed. So, metal cleats can now be in the running when it comes to types of cleat materials. Although permitted for softball, please note two essential guidelines for selecting and wearing metal cleats that:
- spikes cannot be longer than 3/4-inches, and
- spikes must be rectangular shaped.
If your metal cleats don't adhere to these guidelines, then you won't be able to wear them. Different leagues have different rules and regulations, so it is vital to know the legalities for your league before lacing up your footwear.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the group that governs college-level teams, allows metal and rubber, both soft and hard, cleats in games. The college league follows the spike guidelines for size and shape that we've just mentioned.
Nationwide, the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations makes the rules for high school softball leagues. In 2008, they lifted the ban on metal cleats and now follow the same regulations for spikes as college leagues.
The Amateur Softball Association also allows metal cleats for certain groups within this league. For fast-pitch softball teams, the same regulations stated previously apply, regarding shape and size. Co-ed and senior slow-pitch softball teams banned metal cleats.
Until recently, a professional softball league had not existed, nor was softball included as an Olympic sport. According to ESPN back in March of this year, there is currently the talk of a pro league developing for softball. This league would be called the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF). In terms of regulations, the league has nothing set, but chances are it would closely follow college league regulations.
Are metal or plastic cleats better for softball?
Ultimately, each position doesn't have a specific cleat designed for it. The main thing you want to consider when buying cleats and thinking about the position you play is spike length and material. Both of these factors can affect your movement on the field.
Regarding materials, metal cleats pick up less dirt and grass than molded cleats. Metal cleats are ideal for outfielders and infielders because they won't compromise speed and won't trip-up players while fielding.
People who play speedy positions (middle infield, second base, and shortstop) or faster runners should consider shorter-spiked cleats that won't dig into the ground as much. On the other hand, players who focus less on speed like catchers who play a position that strains their ankles, should consider purchasing cleats with longer spikes.
Is it OK to wear cleats on turf?
For official game-play, it is okay to wear cleats on turf. Specifically, turf cleats have a rubber tread pattern to help players increase traction while preventing field damage. Turf cleats are the safest option to wear on artificial surfaces. These cleats mimic the look of regular soled sneakers because they do not have long, protruding spikes.
Ideally, players should not wear molded or metal cleats on turf during practice. Turf isn't as deep as grass-covered dirt, so cleats can ruin the turf and slightly affect the players' abilities. Overall speed and maneuverability on turf won't be as efficient as during play while wearing cleats on a standard field.
What are the most comfortable softball cleats (for women)?
Ultimately, comfort is a personal choice when selecting softball cleats just as when selecting any shoe. Look for a secure fit, without crunching any of your toes, heels, or sides of the feet. Below, we've shared some of the most popular softball cleats for comfort -give them a try!
New Balance offers three colors of women's cleats equipped with metal spikes. Players with wide feet highly recommend New Balance for the best fit. The mid-foot support cradle adds comfort. Click here to see on Amazon.
With six color options, Mizuno women's 9-spike cleats are true to size and designed for fast-pitch leagues. The built-in toe protector, which reduces the weight placed on that area to provide durability, is a comfort feature. Click here to see on Amazon.
Under Armour's Glyde cleats for women are made durably from synthetic leather. This material proves lightweight and comfortable. Molded rubber soles help with shock absorption capabilities. Click here to see on Amazon.
Now that you know cleats are essential for the game of softball, good luck shopping. Take a look at the samples posted in the section above for a place to start and go from there. Shopping for cleats doesn't have to be daunting, and comfort is key. Be smart when buying.