From the big leagues all the way to the little league fields, one of the most important aspects of equipment that has flown under the radar for years but is now making more of a presence is youth softball cleats. It might not seem like it at face value, but cleats are often viewed as one of the most important pieces of equipment. Youth softball cleats have a wide range of options that we can look at from the main brands including Nike, Under Armour, Easton, and Mizuno.
Finding out what is most important
Before diving into the market, it is important to know what exactly you are looking for. Are you looking for a more comfortable cleat? Are you trying to not break the bank on a pair of cleats? How important is style? Is one pair of cleats safer than the other? How long do cleats last? These are just some examples of questions that you might have in mind when picking the right cleats for a youth softball player.
As a disclaimer, all these cleats will be TPU, or plastic, because metal cleats are not allowed to be worn until a later age.
Easton Softball Cleats
The youth softball cleats that are featured in this article range between $27 and $40, with most of the cleats sitting right at the $30 price point. Starting with the brand that is more known for its hard goods (bats and gloves), Easton’s youth softball cleats sit in the $27 to $30 price range on Dick’s Sporting Goods, as they are not featured on Eastbay. The Prowess Softball Cleat is the higher priced of the two Easton cleats on the market ($30), with the Instinct Softball Cleat being the other ($27). The Prowess cleat offers a synthetic leather upper and an abrasion resistant toe for durability. A key point that you should take away from this product feature is the abrasion resistant toe. If a cleat does not have a great toe cap, then it is going to wear down and tear pretty quickly. A strong durable toe cap is very important for extending the life of cleats. The toe cap is circled on the picture below
This provides durability and extends the life of the cleat possibly beyond just one season.
The Easton Prowess cleat also boasts comfort. The two areas circled in the pictures above show a thick midsole in the back and middle part of the foot. When you are standing around on a field for a decent amount of time, you want a thicker midsole like this in order to keep your feet comfortable. There are few worse feelings than sore feet during the third inning of a game. The “window” on the right again highlights the midsole extending from the foot through the plate. The window also provides a nice distribution of comfort throughout the heel. Thus, for a price of $30, this cleat delivers on comfort, style, and durability.
Similar to the Prowess, the Instinct provides durability and comfort, but lacks a little on style. The colors are not as prominent, but the toe cap, breathable upper, thick midsole, and the plate provide for comfort and durability.
Nike Softball Cleats
Perhaps the two more notable companies on this list, Nike and Under Armour both make a youth softball cleat between $30 and $33 respectively. Starting with Nike, their Hyperdiamond 2 Keystone cleat hits all the points. On Nike’s website, the Keystone has both a white and a black cleat, with hits of yellow through the upper and the plate, both looking stylish. The upper is constructed of both a synthetic leather and a TPU mesh for breathability, so this already begins to check off the comfort boxes. This cleat sacrifices some durability for more style and comfort in comparison to the Easton cleats. The toe cap is not as prominent, but the materials are a little stronger. Looking into the midsole, it does not look as thick as the Easton cleat, but again, Nike sacrifices a little bit of midsole in order to decrease the weight. So this is a trade-off: How much comfort are you willing to sacrifice to decrease the weight? When it comes to a slim margin like this case, it is pretty safe to go towards sacrificing some of the midsole for the decrease in weight. Nike also brings a more complex plate to the table, their 12 rubber spikes on the outsole provides for superior traction for on-field performance.
At $30, Nike’s Hyperdiamond 2 is a great purchase for softball players of all skill levels, as it provides comfort, weight, and style.
Under Armour Softball Cleats
Under Armour’s Glyde RM Cleat can be found on Eastbay for $33. The Glyde RM comes in two colors, black/pink and black/white. Under Armour’s cleat might be the least stylish, but if that is not important to you, that is okay because it has other great features to offer.
The plate that Under Armour has implemented on this cleat is fantastic, as the construction provides for maximum traction. The upper is constructed with synthetic materials that offers lightweight stability and support through the foot and in the ankle. The Glyde RM also provides something that the prior two cleats does not, it has a full foot midsole. This full foot midsole alleviates pressure points and increases comfort in the cleat. For a little higher price of $33, and if style is not as important to you, than this is the cleat for you.
Mizuno Softball Cleats
The complete cleat comes at a bit of a cost. The Mizuno 9-Spike Advanced Finch cleat comes in at the top of the price range, at $40. The upper is constructed of a synthetic leather that gives the player a great fit, support and stability in the ankle. Like the Under Armour cleat, the Mizuno cleat also offers a full-length midsole, which means it runs from heel to toe, distributing pressure points throughout the cleat and maximizing comfort. With cleats, white never looks bad, this cleat is primarily white with pink throughout. The plate also has a nine spike plate that provides comfort and traction. The Mizuno cleat provides a combination of all the important aspects of the cleats listed before this because of the toe cap. This cleat brings to the table all the features that a good softball cleat should have, it is stylish, it is durable, and it is comfortable. If you are willing to spend a few more dollars, you will get your money’s worth.
Hitting Vault Suggestions for Picking the Right Cleats
If you are willing to spend a little more money and buy the best that the market has to offer, the Mizuno cleat at the $40 price point is pretty hard to beat. It offers everything there is to offer in a good cleat. If you are looking to buy on a budget, the Nike Hyperdiamond 2 Keystone is a great buy because it is durable, light, good-looking, and it is at a great price point.
For more softball and baseball information, check out the different Hitting Vault membership offerings where Coach Lisle has all the tips and tricks to become a complete player and unlock your power at the plate.