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The day a young player ditches their plastic cleats and wears his first pair of metal cleats is often a tough day for parents. It means their baby is growing up. Most players feel more official the day they get to wear metal spikes, and by the time they get to high school, pretty much all of them do.
Yes, wearing metal cleats in high school baseball is both allowed and encouraged. The reason they are not allowed in lower levels of youth baseball is for safety precautions, but those worries go out the window with high school athletes.
High school athletes are more than capable of playing safely in metal spikes and should wear metal spikes in order to increase performance.
Why You Should Wear Metal Cleats
Plastic cleats do have their advantages. They are safer, cheaper, and often times lighter than their metal counterparts. However, they pose a competitive disadvantage at higher levels of the game.
Metal spikes have the ability to dig into the ground to gain more traction than rubber and plastic spikes. This helps a player accelerate faster and even helps more in inclement weather.
Younger players typically don’t carry enough body weight for the metal spikes to make a huge difference, so they are often outlawed at those ages to keep the game safer. As they get older and stronger, their extra weight helps the spikes sink into the ground to create a better experience running bases, fielding ground balls, and chasing down fly balls in the outfield.
Metal spikes also help in pitching as they allow for a more stable base. Having a solid foundation when pitching is important for both performance and safety. Pitchers need a sound surface on which to land. Many plastic cleats don’t do as good a job of stabilizing the pitcher’s plant foot when he strides toward the plate, so high school pitchers should always wear metal spikes on a dirt mound.
According to whatproswear.com, some Major League players are starting to prefer plastic cleats over metal. The thought behind this is that they are lighter and easier on the feet than metal.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey switched to plastic cleats after his horrific injury in 2011. The website suggests that Posey actually switched to plastic because he wanted to downgrade in traction in order to limit the risk of reinjuring his knee.
Most big leaguers who have switched to plastic cleats have done so for health reasons. However, all typically recognize that they lose a little torque when running and changing direction with the plastic spikes, but they are prioritizing their longevity over performance.
Some college and high school athletes have opted to purchase a pair of plastic spikes for practice while still opting for the metal cleats for games. The thought process behind this is likely to limit injuries in practice and keep game cleats in good shape for as long as possible.
While there may be some advantages to plastic cleats, those advantages are not performance related.
New Balance is considered top of the line when it comes to baseball cleats thanks to their durability. Its newest cleat is the 4040 V4 metal spike. While New Balance cleats can sometimes run a bit small, this cleat is durable and comfortable.
For a quality pair of metal New Balance 4040 V4 cleats, expect to spend more than the average pair of cleats, but customers rarely feel as if they didn’t get their money’s worth with New Balance’s.
For players looking for a cheaper New Balance cleat, the 3000 V4 can run a bit cheaper and offer the same advantages of any other New Balance cleat.
Under Armour made its name in football before Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry helped them make a splash in basketball. Now, thanks to Bryce Harper, Under Armour is considered a high quality brand for baseball as well.
Harper has his own line of cleats through the popular brand, but they only come in rubber cleats. However, Under Armour does have the Highlight Yard DiamondTips metal spikes. While maybe not as high quality as New Balance, these Under Armour spikes are certainly good enough for a high school baseball player to wear and feel good about his performance.
The design of these cleats is more like a football cleat, which some players like and some don’t. This only comes in a high top version which provides more stability for the ankle. Players who don’t mind the look of the cleat and the fact that it is a high top will be more than happy with this shoe.
Believe it or not, Adidas is competent when it comes to making baseball cleats. More known for soccer, the Adizero Afterburner V is a quality set of spikes. It looks and fits more like the New Balance shoes.
Like the Under Armour cleat, the Adidas ones mimic the style of shoe worn in its original sport of soccer. Its appearance is more modest than the Under Armour one. High schoolers won’t go wrong with purchasing this cleat.
Nike is a juggernaut when it comes to shoes, and it comes as no surprise that they signed the game’s best player, Mike Trout, to a shoe deal. The Lunar Trout 2 cleats are the signature Nike cleats for 2021.
Like the Harper cleat, they are only offered in the high top variety. They are also considered to be one of the best baseball cleats for arch support.
While Nike is a top of the line brand for basketball shoes, their baseball cleats do not have as much clout. Still, many baseball players have found these cleats to be comfortable and of high enough quality to positively affect their performance.
Mizuno has been a trusted baseball brand for a while now. Their cleats may not be as popular among baseball players as New Balance, but teams across the country still prefer Mizuno because of its commitment to baseball and affordable prices.
The 9-Spike Ambition is available in low and mid top. Players looking for an even higher quality Mizuno cleat can look to the Pro Dominant Knit metal cleat. The biggest difference between the two cleats appears to be the sportier design in the Pro Dominant Knit. Either way, these Mizuno cleats are an affordable, trusted shoe for any high school baseball player.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are rubber and plastic spikes safer than metal?
Rubber and plastic spikes do not offer the same risk of injury as metal spikes. They are less likely to get stuck in the ground changing direction. Also, they do not pose the same risk to a defensive player applying a tag to a sliding runner.
Are metal spikes ever illegal in high school baseball?
Unfortunately, some facilities with artificial playing surfaces do not allow metal spikes on their fields. Players are either required to wear turf shoes or plastic cleats instead. While the metal cleats are a little rougher on the playing surface, this causes a lot of issues for teams and players at that level as the majority of facilities have natural dirt and grass and allow metal spikes. It is difficult for many players to go buy a special pair of turfs or plastic cleats to use for just one game or tournament.
When are players old enough to wear metal cleats?
A good benchmark age for players wanting to wear metal cleats is 13. This is usually a year before they get to high school, so they can get used to wearing them, and 13 year olds often carry enough body weight to make them worthwhile.