One of the most important types of gear a softball player owns is a good pair of shoes. The right pair of softball shoes can improve a player’s stability, traction, agility, speed, and overall performance on the field. The main types of softball shoes include molded cleats, metal cleats, and turf shoes. Each type of softball shoe offers advantages and disadvantages depending on the position one is playing and one’s personal preference. Understanding the unique qualities of the different types of softball shoes will help you choose the pair that is right for you.
Molded cleats are made out of plastic and have molded rubber or TPU studs formed on the outside of the shoe. Typically, molded cleats will have wider, shorter studs with deep groves. Such a design provides the wearer with more traction—especially on grass or wet ground where metal spikes sink in too far. Because molded cleats are generally considered safer and more comfortable than other types of softball cleats, molded cleats are especially popular among younger players. However, the downside to molded cleats is that they may wear down quicker and don’t grip as much dirt as metal cleats.
Metal cleats have blade-shaped metal studs that are slightly rounded at the edges, which also may be pointed in different directions for optimal traction. These cleats provide the best traction on the field and are typically lighter than other types of softball cleats, which helps improve a player’s agility.
While metal cleats are extremely popular for professional players, many recreation, youth, and amateur leagues don’t allow players to wear them. The reason for this ban is largely due to safety concerns as the metal spikes could injure fielders if a player slides into a base feet-first and accidentally spikes them. In addition, they are also generally deemed less comfortable than other types of softball shoes.
Turf shoes feature rubber soles and are becoming an increasingly popular footwear option for softball players. Because they offer optimal comfort, they are commonly worn during practice or field training on hard surfaces. However, turf shoes don’t offer as much traction as molded or metal cleats and, as a result, typically aren’t worn during completions.