Baseball Cleats

Get a Grip with Baseball Cleats

When you've just hit a grounder deep into right field and you need to run like the proverbial wind, nothing's more important than firm footing. You need to be able to dig in and push off without whatever surface you're running on failing you, no matter how messy or loosely-packed. As generations of players have discovered, nothing works better for this than cleats, those specialty shoes with soles studded with metal or rubber points that dig down and grab like nobody's business.

Admittedly, baseball cleats have limited utility. Dancing shoes they're not, and you'll have to take care not to step on someone else's feet while wearing them: the pointy bits really hurt. You won't be wearing them around the house unless you want severely perforated linoleum, and clattering down the sidewalk in cleats of any kind is an exercise in balance. On the other hand, baseball cleats are great for aerating the lawn, and are excellent for their designed purpose -- playing baseball. While you're not likely to see them in the sandlot, all the pros wear them, along with many amateurs who are serious about the sport.

The skinny

Despite the fact that they're specialty shoes, baseball cleats tend to be less expensive than many sports shoes. While you can spend as much as you like, it's possible to find a very good pair in the $40-50 range. Once upon a time, it was difficult to find any baseball cleats at all if you weren't a man or boy; but as interest grows in the sport among all sectors of the population, the range of sizes, colors, types, and designs are increasing. They even make cleats for little kids, believe it or not -- they probably come in handy for those hotly-contested T-ball games. Women sometimes still have issues finding good cleats, though this shouldn't be a problem in a good sporting goods store; if you strike out nonetheless, try some of the smaller sizes in men's cleats. Nikes tend to be narrower than most brands, and fit women's feet better.

Aside from stylistic considerations, with baseball cleats you have two basic options: metal spikes or molded spikes. Most metal spikes are integral with the shoe, but some are interchangeable: they can be unscrewed and replaced if they become too dull or worn out. These types of spikes are generally limited to young adult and adult shoes, for safety reasons; in other words, Little Leaguers (and younger kids) are limited to molded spikes. This isn't a great loss: while metal spikes do dig into the ground better, those clever shoe manufacturers are getting better at developing high-performance molded cleats that work just as well.

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