As a parent, there is nothing more exciting than helping equip your son or daughter with the right gear they need to have fun and perform on the field. With so many different brand and gear options, it pays to have a second opinion in examining a functional and high-performing pair of cleats.
As a result, the following breakdown will highlight some of the best youth cleat options, sizing FAQs, style options, material specifics, and brands to watch. First, let’s dive into sizing and fit specifics.
How Should a Baseball Cleat fit?
When it comes to finding the best fitting baseball cleat, the shoe should fit comfortably with enough support to avoid potential injury or unwanted pain. Since the shoe will undoubtedly be tested and used, it must be correctly sized right off the bat. It should fit snug but not be uncomfortably tight. Since baseball cleats will wear, aim for about a quarter-inch between the toe and the front of the cleat to be safe. This will allow youth players to perform to the best of their abilities while gaining the confidence to excel without any unnecessary pain.
Generally, baseball cleats fall into three distinct categories based on size and shape. These include High-Top, Low-Top, and Mid-Top options.
As the name indicates, high-top cleats have a higher ankle design offering more support in that area. Although high-top models can weigh slightly more, the added support and comfort may come in handy, especially with preexisting or past ankle issues. High-top cleats are never a bad option, although they are not the most popular option nowadays.
While lower-profile cleats may offer less overall ankle support, they do make up for it in terms of performance. Low-Top model cleats weigh less than others and tend to be faster and more agile when it matters. Low-top cleats have become increasingly popular in youth baseball because these skills are emphasized over others.
If you are looking for something in-between a low and high cut cleat mode for your player, mid-tops or hybrid cleats are never a bad option. Depending on personal preferences and appeal, going with a Mid-top cleat option offers both stability and speed support.
Getting the Right Type Of Material
Once you have reviewed which build of cleat best suits your physical style, next comes deciding which material is most comfortable and appropriate. There are some significant differences between metal and rubber cleats, so knowing which material will be most beneficial to you before you purchase is crucial.
While metal cleats have come and gone over the years due to danger from sharp spikes, they have dulled down and become more functional and safe as of late. While metal cleats are somewhat of a safety risk and could potentially slice a fielder’s hand or wrist while sliding into base, they do offer unmatched traction anywhere on the field. This is especially helpful for players looking to get a jump on base or track a fly ball under pressure.
As a safer and more durable option than most metal cleats, molded cleats are made from plastic or rubber that digs best into soft ground. While they may not dig into tuff dirt as well as metal cleats do, they do last longer and perform extremely well at a lower overall purchase price.
Turf & Training
Turf and Training cleats are vastly different than other molded or metal options because they exclusively are made for turf. The spikes on a turf cleat are significantly smaller, meaning they offer less than ideal traction on anything else but turf. In the same vein, a molded cleat won’t effectively grip indoor turf, while metal cleats might end up just ripping the turf up.
Matching Cleats to Positions
It’s not uncommon that younger players won’t receive or hold a set position. In this case, molded cleats are a great all-around option. If your player is older and has a set position, pay attention to the following factors.
Pitchers, Catchers, Infielders
As a general rule of thumb, pitchers, catchers, and infielders often prefer metal cleats over others because they dig into dirt more effectively and don’t collect grass under the bottom of the shoe. These positions require some of the most abrupt and quick changes of direction, so having cleats that can keep up and help you maintain balance is imperative.
On the other hand, outfielders often go with molded cleats because they don’t tear up the grass as much as metal cleats do. Given most of their work is done on the grass, it’s no surprise that molded cleats are the go-to option here, with enough gusto to grip but not tear the ground apart.
Best Baseball Cleat Brands
While there are a handful of trusted baseball brands like Rawlings, Easton, and Franklin, the footwear and cleat market is dominated by big players like Nike and Adidas. When it comes to the best options, especially for youth, look to the following brands.
Under Armour offers a great line of up cleat options in a variety of colors and styles. While they may not be the biggest and most popular, they do provide high-performance and elite options with a special Bryce Harper pro model.
While New Balance may not be the first name to come to mind, they do offer surprisingly well-designed footwear of high quality in the baseball niche.
Given Adidas' background in soccer, they do offer some solid low-top high-performance cleats with attractive design qualities.
Here, Nike is the brand to beat with years of experience perfecting high-performing baseball cleats. It's hard to find a better option on the market with so many top-of-the-line options seen on some of the biggest names in baseball, including Mike Trout.
Top 5 2021 Youth Cleat Models
Under Armour Leadoff RM Jr.
Nike Lunar Vapor Ultrafly
Mizuno Youth Franchise 7 Mid
New Balance Junior COMP v1
Adidas Unisex-Child Freak X Carbon Mid Baseball Shoe