Material & Fit
The upper material has a lot of influence on the overall feel and performance of your cleats. When it comes to construction of your cleats it is important to find a material and a fit that is comfortable and not distracting during games.
Softball cleats come with either leather or synthetic uppers. Leather upper gives your cleat a good combination of sturdy and lightweight. Leather is generally more flexible and more breathable than synthetic and is still a popular choice in baseball. Softball leans more toward synthetic. However, you should keep in mind that synthetic does not allow sweat to evaporate as easily as leather does and can be less durable, but that greatly depends on the quality. Synthetic allows for the use of more advanced technology, like the reinforcement in the forefoot or midfoot, and additional ankle support.
When trying on cleats for the first time, you should wear your game socks. This way you will get the idea how they will fit with during game time. Make sure they have some flexibility, but when you first buy them, look for a snug fit. The cleats shouldn’t slip on your foot as this can cause instability. Even with a tighter fit you should leave room in the toe. This helps to avoid injuries when you’re changing direction.
What More to Look for in Softball Cleats
There are a lot of factors that are often overlooked when choosing fastpitch cleats, especially when buying them online. These six, seemingly small aspects, can make a big difference on the field, so read them carefully.
WEIGHT OR STABILITY
The weight of your cleat depends on the outsole and the ankle height. The lighter and faster your cleat is, the less stable it can be. If you’re playing in a low-cut cleat, look for a weight around 10-11 ounces. For a mid-cut, aim for 12 to 13 ounces. For a lightweight cleat with extra stability look for studs placed along the edge of the outsole. You can also get extra ankle protection from an ankle strap, or even just a higher cut. Mid-cut cleats are less common in softball than in baseball, but not impossible to see.
When choosing the stud length that’s right for you, you should consider that the harder the surface, the shorter the stud is. Longer studs are best for muddy terrain and wet dirt. These studs have a stronger grip and they can help avoid slipping and sliding by keeping the athlete’s feet firmly on the ground. Make sure to pick the length of cleat appropriate field position.
Dragging the toe is a common movement in softball,especially for the pitcher. The cleats take a lot of beating during the course of the season, and that is why extra reinforcement is very important, so you should always look for something durable.
Cleats are different from many other sports shoes as they have to be made with a stronger outsole so they can hold the studs, and they can put a lot of pressure on your feet. Always look for shoes that have a comfortable sole that keeps you from feeling the impact of your studs. Extra insole padding is always a good thing.
If you need extra support in your ankles, or have problem with overpronation, you should go for a mid-cut or 5/8 height cleat. Higher tops will extend up the ankle for added support, especially during lateral movements. A mid-cut cleat is a middle ground style, with a higher level of support that doesn’t sacrifice mobility. With a low-cut style, you will get full freedom to move during cuts, but little to no ankle support.
A good general rule is to stick with the brands you know, and do not buy cheap! If you are on a budget, take a look online or at outlet stores, but do not go to Walmart and expect to get a good quality pair of shoes for a couple of bucks.