If you've ever tried to run around the bases wearing athletic shoes, you know that wearing softball cleats is essential to getting proper traction. Defensive players, too, benefit from the traction that softball cleats provide. Softball cleats come in various styles and spike options. The type most appropriate for you depends on your style preferences, league regulations and particular needs.
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Softball cleats are available in in low-top and high-top styles. Low-top cleats are less restrictive and may allow you to run faster. However, high-top cleats provide more ankle support. If you have a history of ankle injuries, high-top cleats might be your best choice. Choose cleats with sufficient interior padding to ensure comfort. Look for cleats that are made of water-resistant material to help keep your feet dry. Cleats come in a variety of colors, giving you the option of matching your uniform. If you prefer function over fashion, consider getting dark colored cleats, as they are less likely to show the mud and dirt that will inevitably accumulate on them.
Softball cleats can have plastic, rubber or metal spikes. Check your league regulations before buying cleats. Although they usually have the best traction, some leagues prohibit metal spikes due to their inherent risk of causing injury. In the past, the use of metal cleats was limited to collegiate and professional leagues. However, in 2008, the National Federation of State High School Associations permitted the use of metal cleats in high school softball, prompted in part by the fact that they are permitted in high school baseball and college softball.
Softball cleats are available in numerous brands. While it might be a good idea to buy cleats made by a reputable company, it is not necessary. More important than the brand name are the feel and fit. If you are looking to save money, consider buying cleats on sale at the end of the season. Or, look at a second-hand sporting goods store. Be sure, however, that the cleats are in good condition and the spikes are not too worn.
If you cannot decide what type of spikes you want or need, you might buy cleats with interchangeable spikes. This feature allows you to change spikes to adapt to a particular field or turf and to comply with league rules. Cleats with interchangeable spikes are more convenient and cost-effective than having several pairs of cleats. If the spikes wear out, you can buy replacement spikes as opposed to buying brand new cleats.