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Parents of children who play more than a single sport are apt to wonder whether the cleats bought for baseball can also be used for soccer play, or in other sports like football.
Broadly, baseball cleats cannot be used for soccer games, by rules of most soccer organizations and leagues. However, almost always soccer cleats can be used to play baseball.
The primary reason is at the very front tip under the athletic shoes. Baseball cleats, with either metal bottoms or molded rubber soles, have a single cleat at the very front. That is, right underneath the longest toes of the feet, or the furthest point forward.
Cleats approved for soccer play are missing this cleat, for safety reasons. Soccer is a game with much more body-to-body contact than baseball; and soccer players are more likely to swing their feet high and near faces and necks compared with baseball players.
Now, this does not mean baseball players can’t wear cleats designed for soccer, or other sports like football. In fact, I did just that, during my freshman year of high school.
In 9th grade, for the only time in my life, I played high school football. Because baseball was my primary sport, me and my father did not want to invest too much into the football gear, so for the gridiron we went with a white pair of Nikes made mostly of vinyl with soft rubber soles.
The soft rubber cleats underneath worked perfectly fine for football play. Months after that season, I decided to switch baseball leagues, from a PONY league that allowed metal cleats, to a Little League-affiliated organization that allowed only rubber cleats.
So I just chose to use the white Nike football cleats. It took some time, but eventually I learned a reason why you should stick with cleats specifically designed for the sport played.
During Little League all-star play that summer, I led off a game with a single, and for the next batter proceeded to get a lead off of first base on the sun-baked dirt.
The pitcher moved to throw to 1st base, and I stepped to lunge back to the base ~ but my lead foot did not dig in and it slipped. I plopped to my belly well short of the base, picked off for the first out of the game.
For the longest time, I blamed the rubber cleats, which is only partially true. If the shoes had a cleat in the very front, whether metal or rubber, the odds are very good that I wouldn’t have slipped. It is exactly at that point, the very front, that baseball players depend on to get fast jumps on the infield dirt.
Live and learn.
My example focuses on the performance aspect of cleats in terms of using a pair for multiple sports. However, the main reason baseball cleats cannot be used for soccer is player safety.
That extra cleat stud in the very front could hurt opposing soccer players. As stated earlier, soccer as a sport features much more bodily contact between players compared with baseball. There is a tremendous amount of contact below the waist in soccer, especially in the shins.
But injuries from cleats can occur much higher on the body, as players are known to kick at a flying ball well above the waist ~ in fact, all the way up to eye level!
Due to this difference in the style of play, with all the kicking of the feet at close quarters, soccer’s game rules just carefully regulate the type of cleats that can be worn in games.
Safety is paramount in this matter, but there are other reasons why baseball cleats cannot be used in soccer games, including:
- Baseball cleats are heavier and designed with more protection on the sides (both inside and out) from scrapes while sliding or diving, or even if a hard-thrown or -hit ball strikes a cleat. (In other words, performance-reasons).
- Cleats on the bottom of baseball shoes, even the molded rubber type, are sharper than the studs found under most soccer shoes. This does not bode well for the soccer ball itself, as the game often commands players to control the ball with the bottom of their feet. Baseball cleats are sharper for better grip, for the reason mentioned next.
- Soccer play is fluid, that is, constant and pretty consistent. Players are constantly in motion, whether jogging or sprinting (except for the goalies). Baseball is purely stop-and-go. Baseball players begin play in a stationary position, then instantly have to push the body into hard action to move or run from 1 point to another. The bottom of the feet are depended upon greatly for this purpose, to grip turf for muscles to be able to push off.
Along with forbidding that front toe cleat, soccer rules also outlaw metal or metal-tipped cleats, so those metals worn by players at the highest levels of baseball most definitely are out for soccer.
Soccer rules recommend that players wear “molded-sole soccer shoes,” or turf shoes. Now, turf shoes for soccer, football, and even lacrosse and field hockey, can be quite similar and probably can be used for more than a single sport.
If you’re into soccer long enough, you’re bound to see a game where referees ask to inspect the pattern of the cleats at the bottom of each player’s shoes prior to the game starting.
Insider’s tip: some parents or players resort to cutting or filing away that front-toe stud on baseball cleats, to try to sneak them into use in soccer games. Try this at your own peril, both in terms of being allowed to play, as well as for the durability of the cleats.
If parents are concerned with the costs of a kid playing both baseball and soccer, go with soccer cleats because then the shoes also can be used for baseball play.
Once a parent chooses to go this route, then they can pay attention to details and try to go with the soccer cleat model most likely to translate well into baseball play.
It’s much easier if the player is almost entirely an outfielder, where his or her feet will be on the grass a lot of the time ~ like being on a soccer field.
It’s the play on the dirt of baseball’s infield that poses challenges. Dirt does not grip as well as the roots of grass, which is a reason why baseball cleats are made of metal or hard rubber and are placed where they are on the bottom of the feet.
Baseball players cannot avoid the dirt entirely. It’s where all the hitting and baserunning occurs, and there’s no getting around that.
At a glance, some soccer shoes look like they would perform quite well for baseball. At younger ages, players probably can get away with using soccer cleats on baseball diamonds.
In fact, very many do, including some all the way into high school! Some baseball players just want shoes that let them run the fastest, and if that means soccer cleats, so be it.
However, at the older ages it becomes less a question of performance, and more of a matter of peer pressure. Eventually older baseball players will notice someone not wearing the day’s top cleat models, and a soccer shoe-wearing baseball player could get some ribbing for it.
On the other hand, not only are soccer cleats allowed for use in football, and vice versa, but some models are designed and marketed for just that. Multisport shoes are manufactured and sold by many athletic shoe-makers, particularly those to be used by younger players for soccer and football.