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Cleats for football, baseball or soccer

Updated on May 26, 2015

Cleats - What are they?

A cleat is an American term for a type of shoe designed especially for sports played on grass or dirt, like baseball, football, or soccer. It may also refer to a type of athletic performance shoe made for use in wet weather.

Cleats are not to be confused with metal spikes as the ones used in golf, the shoes generally have large studs on the bottom to assist in gripping the surface, this prevents sliding and helps with quick changes in direction. The stud itself is often called a cleat. A metal or plastic piece that attaches to the bottom of a shoe is also called a cleat, especially a cycling shoe that interfaces with a pedal system.

With soccer cleats in countries outside the United States, they are known as football boots. There are three different cleat types. There are soft ground cleats which are made for wet weather. The soft ground cleats are always replaceable, and are almost always metal, so when they wear down they are easy to replace. There are firm ground cleats which are made for firm natural surfaces. Also there are hard ground cleats which are made for hard natural surfaces.

Soccer cleats
Soccer cleats

Football Cleats and Soccer Cleats

In the United States, College football coach Joseph Pipal has been credited as one of the inventors of "mud cleats" for football shoes.

The term originated before the manufacture of dedicated sports shoes, as the athletes would nail little pieces of leather to the bottoms of their regular shoes to help get a better grip.

In choosing football cleats for my own son, I chose a nice pair of Nike made for football cleats with high ankles in order to prevent sprains. It may appear that there is not much difference in some of these shoes. Keep in mind that football and soccer both require good grip on a grass surface. The plastic studs on the bottom of the shoe are designed to do just that for the athlete. If is is a dry grass surface then a shorter cleat may be sufficient to get a good grip. If it is a rainy, wet and muddy surface then longer cleats would be needed to prevent slippage. A parent may want to consider to pairs of cleats if it is in their budget in order to best meet the playing field conditions of the day.

What Type of Cleats for Turf Fields?

The high school that my son plays football for recently had an expensive turf field installed to take the place of the old worn out grass field. Many schools are now converting their grass fields into turf fields now that the technology for the turf fields has been improved so much from in the past. Most athletes will find that the cleats that they have worn in the past for grass fields will work just as fine on the new turf fields. Most of the newer turf fields are made with tiny bits of old tires that are chopped up into pieces and form the playing surface in between the fake grass. This rubber foundation makes the playing surface gentle to play on though these fields can get incredibly hot during the heat of summer.

Here my son playing a game on the turf field in his yellow Nike cleats. He is at wide receiver in an early season freshman football game.
Here my son playing a game on the turf field in his yellow Nike cleats. He is at wide receiver in an early season freshman football game.
Steel cleats pictured above
Steel cleats pictured above

Baseball Cleats

Baseball cleats must be able to grip both the dirt surface of a baseball field and the grass outfield depending on what position the player plays. Most youth leagues have very strict rules about what type of cleats can be worn for safety purposes. Metal spikes for baseball cleats would be a safety issue and are generally not allowed. Check with your team's coach or league director for further instructions on what type of cleats are allowed.

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