For players and parents of players who are gearing up for the start of another softball season, now is a good time to take inventory of all the equipment that you have on hand and what should be purchased new for the upcoming season. There’s a lot to factor into your decision before you find the right pair of softball cleats, as there are many different styles, designs, and builds that all cater to individual wants and preferences. Perhaps the most basic and fundamental thing we should address is why you should purchase a pair of softball cleats to begin with.
Why Choose Softball Cleats?
If you grew up playing softball using running shoes or sneakers, you’ll likely know that grip can be difficult to come by on the diamond and the outfield grass. Unless your shoes have some solid rubber traction, you may find yourself slipping and falling often. This is why the majority of softball players at higher levels started using softball cleats, and this trickled down to lower levels and even recreational leagues.
These days it would be uncommon to find someone on a softball diamond in a league game not sporting a pair of softball cleats, even in a basic recreational league.Using cleats for games and tournaments will prolong the life of your regular shoes, as these are meant to be worn for softball and withstand the wear and tear of what the game brings. In general softball cleats will have better durability than a regular pair of running shoes. They also offer better protection for your feet and ankle support to prevent injuries, especially when sliding. You’ll find the improved traction will help your responsiveness and ‘first start’ motion, and that you’re able to react quicker and faster to balls in play.
What Should You Look For In A Pair Of Softball Cleats?
One of the most important things to look for in a pair of softball cleats is the right fit. It can be difficult to decide between a low, medium, or high profile, and this really depends on the individual user. Some prefer the reinforced ankle support of a high-top cleat, while others may feel restricted and prefer the low-cut profile instead, as it more closely resembles a regular pair of sneakers.
Another consideration is the type of spikes for the softball cleats, and generally you can choose between metal, plastic or sometimes rubber. Metal spikes offer the best traction but they are not allowed in some leagues as they can be dangerous if you slide into a player with your cleats up. As such, some leagues only allow players to wear cleats with plastic or rubber spikes, in an attempt to avoid injuries. Before purchasing a pair of softball cleats be sure to check with your league to see what is and is not allowed for use.
Top 5 Softball Cleats
Below are 5 terrific options for softball cleats this season:
A very nice multi-purpose pair of softball cleats, the Mizuno Erupt features synthetic fabric construction with a synthetic sole as well. Obviously by the name you can tell that it has 9 spikes which are all made of rubber construction. These work especially great on grass fields as well as infields with soft dirt.
- Synthetic sole.
- Groundgrip stud design in Mizuno’s popular 9-spike pattern give improved traction and grip on most surfaces.
- ProFlex technology to give added comfort for the wearer.
- Midsole piece is full-length to help avoid injuries.
- Tongue and collar of shoe are padded.
- Light-weight and it almost feels like you’re wearing very light shoes.
- Synthetic construction, material is not real leather.
- Sizing is slightly off, go ½ size up to be safe.
- Not suitable for extremely wet weather; grip is not strong enough.
A good all-purpose, all-season pair of softball cleats that will most likely meet the needs of 90% of the players out there. Doesn’t break the bank on the cost side, and backed by Mizuno’s strong warranty and return processes.
New Balance’s 3000 v3 is a synthetic and textile constructed shoe with synthetic sole and revlite midsole. The toe cover offers additional protection and it fits fairly close to size with the Fantom fit technology. The comfort collar provides some more support in the heel so that users will not feel much strain on their ankle and back foot. Best of all it is fairly lightweight with additional stud support so overall the shoe feels quite light, all the while having reinforced support for the metal spikes.
- Comfort collar provides additional support and comfort in the heel and ankle area.
- Innovative upper material of the shoe provides improved breathability and air flow, eliminating unwanted odors.
- Fits close to size.
- 12 dual-color combinations to choose from.
- Lightweight sole is 30% lighter than previous versions.
- Metal studs may not be allowed in some leagues - check with your association’s rules (for those who don’t allow metal cleats, the PL4040V3 is a great alternate option with plastic studs).
New Balance is fairly new to the softball cleat market but the 3000 is a very nice middle-tier offering that should pave the way for more New Balance cleats in the future. It is reasonably priced and a solid choice for anyone looking for a new pair of softball cleats.
ASICS is next up on the list with their Base Burner softball shoes for men. Although likely better known for their running shoes, ASICS is showing it belongs in the softball cleats market as well with the Base Burner, a synthetic shoe that is very light and incredibly flexible. In fact, it may be one of the most flexible pair of cleats available today. Sizing may run slightly large, but overall fit fairly true to size.
- Synthetic construction means it is easy to clean.
- Toe protector offers not only added protection and stability, but also improves durability.
- Spikes are attached using a spike plate that maintains good flexibility.
- Four great color combinations to pick from, all quite stylish.
- Lightweight and comfortable.
- Priced very reasonable, affordable.
- Although toe guard offers additional support, heel does not have any added support or reinforcement.
A good choice for those looking for a straight and easy pair of softball cleats that does not blow your budget, the ASICS here will more than meet requirements for the average softball player. If you’re looking for something a bit more high performance you.
Quite likely the nicest designed softball cleats, the Harper One’s come in 5 different color combinations with the most stylish being gold and black. They fit very true to their advertised size, and the synthetic construction means they are easier to keep clean. They feature as a mid-profile shoe, with an additional ankle support strap to prevent rolls and sprains. This is a great feature for players who are looking for slightly more ankle protection, which is difficult to find in a lightweight shoe.
- All synthetic construction is fairly easy to clean.
- Good cushioning in the toe and midsole area.
- Tracts well in wet weather, minimal slipping.
- Fits true to size.
- Breathable and durable mesh tongue that provides for good ventilation.
- Ankle strap that provides additional upper ankle support to prevent injuries or ankle sprains.
- Rubber cleats will be allowable in all types of leagues.
- Missing some heel padding, which could aid in adding extra protection and comfort.
A good mid-priced softball cleat that is light, durable, and looks terrific. A must-buy for players who need more ankle support to prevent injuries. The Harper One’s are sure to turn eyes on the softball diamond this season.
The Vapor Strike 2 is a low-profile softball cleat with a Phylon midsole that is made up of foam pellets that are first compressed, then heat expanded to form into a mold. This is one of the most durable and dense materials available, which results in a very stable midsole. It does weigh in slightly heavier than other shoes on this list, though you likely will not be able to tell as it is only a marginal increase. The 12-spike cleat pattern gives a lot of grip and traction, especially on wet outfield grasses where other cleats may falter. The low profile design also gives the player a lot more mobility and does not restrict any movement.
- Available in six sleek color combinations.
- A combination of leather and synthetic construction, finished with Nubuck leather.
- Collar and tongue are mesh to provide added breathability and ventilation.
- Lower-profile gives the wearer added mobility.
- Fairly good grip in wet surfaces, especially good on dirt fields.
- Good shock absorption on midsole.
- 12-cleat pattern for added traction.
- Heavier than others on this list.
- Low-profile design means more mobility but less ankle support.
A very nice pair of softball cleats that are low priced and good for the entry level player. They may not be as durable as others on the list, but will still be able to give you several good seasons. The one-piece molded sole is very nice as it is durable and comfortable. Will take a few games to break-in before they really start feeling comfortable, but overall a very nice option.
Any of the choices on our list above are great options for a new pair of softball cleats, and all will certainly find play on the diamonds this summer. Overall I would recommend the Harper One from UA as the ankle support strap is really designed to prevent ankle injuries, which is something that happens all too often in the game of softball. Best of all they look terrific so you’ll be taking the field in style every game this year.