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Even though it seems like you can play softball in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and some sneakers, it is certainly not recommended. Wearing proper softball gear can make a big difference in whether or not you stay free of injuries.
You can get away with wearing shorts, as long as you have sliding shorts on underneath and t-shirts are appropriate for practice, but you should not wear regular sneakers while out on the field. Proper footwear, especially softball cleats, will make the game easier for you to play.
Difference Between Softball and Other Sports’ Cleats
Softball cleats are designed specifically for the game and the field. They are different than football and soccer cleats simply because of the way the game is played. However, if you cannot get your hands on softball cleats, soccer cleats will work for a softball game. (But you cannot wear softball cleats on the soccer field). The big difference between softball and soccer cleats is that the softball cleats have a cleat under the toes to grab onto the dirt to help with running. Soccer cleats do not have the toe cleat because it would injure other players. Football cleats have longer cleats than softball cleats do, because football cleats need to dig into the grassy fields.
Know the Rules for Cleats in Your League
When you buy softball cleats, it is important to know what is allowed in the league and age. Younger players are not allowed to wear metal cleats or spikes on the field. In most cases, only molded or plastic cleats are allowed prior to playing in high school. There are also cleats that are designed for pitchers who tend to wear out the toes of their cleats faster than other players. The best softball cleats are lightweight, durable, and comfortable.
Buy Cheap Cleats for Growing Feet
Young softball players with growing feet can usually get away with inexpensive cleats that are available in local sporting good stores and big-box stores. The best thing about buying cleats for young players is that the male and female versions look quite similar, so it is easy to buy inexpensive ones. Cleats for softball should fit snug so they do not come off while the player is running. The should stay on while the player is at the plate. Most people will want to double-knot them so the game does not have to be paused while the player stops to tie his or her cleats. It is best to try them on with the thick socks that will be worn during the game. Softball cleats come in the same sizes as regular shoes do, so if you wear an 8.5 in shoes, you will wear the same size in cleats.
Lightweight Cleats Help with Speed on the Bases
As players move through the levels, it becomes important to find cleats that are lightweight and durable. Cleats, especially the molded plastic options, can be heavy, which can slow down a runner. Molded cleats are generally safer for players because of the fact that it is difficult to “cleat” a player on the bases. With metal cleats, it is much easier to injure a player with the bottoms of the cleats.
Look for Specialty Companies
When shopping for cleats, the best ones are often made by companies that specialize in softball and baseball gear. Companies that make cleats for all sports do not always pay attention to the nuances that players like. So, if you are a dedicated softball player, check out the brands that make your favorite gear and try out their cleats. You might end up spending more on softball-specific cleats, but they will last longer than the ones purchased in big-box stores. Because companies that know softball and baseball know how cleats get worn out, they make those areas more durable.
Turf Shoes are Useful
Another consideration when buying cleats for softball is where the games will be played. If they are on traditional dirt and grass fields, traditional molded cleats or spikes are perfect. But, when the games are held on artificial turf, spikes and molded cleats are not appropriate. Spikes especially can damage expensive turf. So, many companies that make softball gear also make turf shoes. Of course, players can wear sneakers on artificial turf, but turf shoes are more durable and designed for the stop and go running that comes with the game.
Pitchers Need Special Cleats
Fastpitch softball pitchers need to have special cleats. Because they are supposed to drag the toes of their back foot, it is easy to wear out the toes of one cleat. Fortunately, there are some softball gear companies that make specialized cleats. The only problem with pitching cleats is that they are heavier than non-pitching cleats. This type of cleat does come with spikes or molded bottoms. There are also turf shoes that come with a fortified pitching toe, too.