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How To Choose Baseball Cleats Based on Type & Position

WriterAcademy Staff
10 min read
Close-up of baseball cleats being worn in the dugout

While the bat and ball are perhaps the biggest icons of baseball gear, no player is game-ready without a good pair of baseball cleats that keep you safe and ready for the field.

Baseball cleats do more than give you much-needed traction across the infield and outfield. When properly fitted, they also help keep you supported and comfortable, and can help you avoid ankle and foot injuries. So, if you’re interested in taking up America’s pastime, you’ll need to make sure you have a pair of cleats that keep you safe and ready for play. But, with so many types of baseball cleats, how do you know which pair is the right one for you?

Read on for everything you need to know about how to buy baseball cleats for yourself or the young players in your household.

Image demonstrating the anatomy of a baseball cleat
Anatomy of a baseball cleat

Anatomy of a Baseball Cleat

Baseball cleats are widely available, in numerous styles and functions, and it can be difficult to be able to tell the difference at a glance. The best way to learn how to choose baseball cleats is to understand the many parts that make up your cleat.

The first thing you may notice about baseball cleats is the upper. Referring to the outside part of your cleat, the upper is usually made of a durable material like synthetic leather or a super-breathable mesh for more comfort. Its cut length refers to the height of the upper. There are mainly two cut lengths when it comes to baseball cleats, low tops, and mid- and high-tops.

  • Low tops are the most common baseball cleats. These cleats are more lightweight and are ideal for speed and agility but lack ankle support.
  • Mid- and high-top baseball cleats provide more stability if you prefer a more secure feel — or less sand in your cleats.

On a low-top cleat, you may find a padded collar on the inside of your upper to add comfort and help protect the skin of your ankle and Achilles tendon from blistering. To further prevent injury, a heel counter is sewn into the upper to help stabilize your heel inside your cleat. The toe cap is an additional piece of durable material added to the external toe area of your upper, which helps reduce wear and tear and protects your foot.

Did you know that what most people think of as the sole of the shoe is only one part of its construction? There are three parts to the visible exterior of your sole, and the best baseball cleats will make sure each part is working hard to absorb shock and protect your feet for all seven innings.

The visible sole of your cleat — as in, the part that touches the ground — is technically known as the outsole. On a pair of cleats, the outsole will have studs (a.k.a. the “cleats” part of your baseball cleats), which dig into turf to help you maintain traction on the infield and outfield. The next layer inward is the midsole, which takes on the brunt of the shock absorption. Then, closest to your foot is the insole, which provides extra cushioning and support. Some cleats may feature additional heel cushioning for added comfort while standing and running.

Finally, lacing runs through the eyelets of your cleat to secure it around your foot and further immobilize it inside your cleat. It’s important that your foot stays stationary inside your cleat as you move to avoid sprains, twists, and other injuries. Baseball cleat lacing can be made from traditional fabric laces, like your everyday shoes, or out of high-performance, super-stretchy elastic for a snugger fit. The tongue flap underneath them helps reduce the pressure of the laces across your foot.

Different Types of Baseball Cleats

Your cleats, or studs, are one of the biggest factors in your traction, maneuverability, and speed on the field — which could make or break your run for that fly ball. Knowing the difference between the many types of available studs can help you get the most out of your baseball cleats.

What Are Metal Cleats?

Nike Men's React Vapor Ultrafly Elite 4 Baseball Cleats on display
Nike Men's React Vapor Ultrafly Elite 4 Baseball Cleats

These are the cleat of choice for pros all over the world for good reason – these are the option that will provide the most traction. Made with thin, metal spikes that easily puncture turf and dirt alike, these cleats provide superior grip as you run. Metal cleats are better known for their use in professional settings so there’s an associated safety awareness with their use. We advise you check with your league’s regulations to see if you can use these types of cleats before you purchase.

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What Are Molded Cleats?

Rawlings Men's Clubhouse II Baseball Cleats on display
Rawlings Men's Clubhouse II Baseball Cleats

Molded cleats, or molded rubber cleats, are made from a durable, flexible rubber. They’re a versatile option that work for a wide variety of terrain. They tend to be the perfect cleat for younger players by offering the safest and most comfortable cleat option.

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What Are TPU Cleats?

adidas Men's adizero Afterburner 8 Baseball Cleats on display
adidas Men's adizero Afterburner 8 Baseball Cleats

If you’re looking for a compromise between metal cleats’ grip and molded cleats’ comfort, TPU cleats might be the right choice. They often resemble molded cleats, but each spike is made with a hard plastic (TPU) for greater friction and durability, plus less weight overall.

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What Are Turf Shoes?

Under Armour Men's Yard Turf Baseball Cleats on display
Under Armour Men's Yard Turf Baseball Cleats

Made specifically for artificial turf, these cleats feature rounded or less sharp studs to avoid tearing up the field. If your training involves on- and off-field activity, you might want to look into turf trainers, which are even less aggressively studded and function similarly to regular athletic shoes.

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How to Choose Baseball Cleats by Position

baseball players engaged in a play on the diamond

The position you play most often is an important factor to consider when choosing a pair of baseball cleats.


If it’s something light and maneuverable, pretty much any cleat type works great if you’re playing the infield. If your infield is particularly packed or dry, and if your league allows it, you may find that metal cleats give you a little more traction.


The outfield is all grass and dirt and can sometimes clump up under denser or thicker molded studs. If your league allows it, well-spaced metal cleats might be a good choice for you. If not, look for TPU cleats that are well-spaced to avoid taking chunks of turf along with you as you run for that fly ball.


If you’re not on an artificial mound, it’s not so much a question of metal vs molded cleats — or stud type at all — as it is how comfortable and pivotable your cleat is. (Metal cleats are never allowed on artificial pitchers’ mounds). Because of the movement of your feet while pitching, you’ll want to take extra care that your shoes are snug, so they don’t create blisters

How to Choose Baseball Cleats for Kids

Nike Boys' Vapor Ultrafly 4 Keystone Baseball Cleats on display
Nike Boys' Vapor Ultrafly 4 Keystone Baseball Cleats

Youth leagues still play a big game — and they should have the cleats to match. There’s no special difference in how to buy baseball cleats between adults and kids, but you’ll still want to find an appropriate fit and function depending on the position your little slugger is playing, and check with the league for any regulations.

Metal cleats are harder to find in youth sizes since most youth leagues prohibit them until at least high school, if not entirely. We advise you to buy molded cleats for anyone below high school level as it will be the safest and most comfortable option.

Additionally, please, resist the urge to buy a too-big cleat for your kid to “grow into!” Baseball cleats should fit snugly to avoid injury and provide the best support possible. We’re proud to offer a variety of baseball cleats for kids across a range of prices, so you don’t have to break the bank to keep your kid comfortable and playing their best.

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You’ll find everything you need to have fun out there at Academy Sports + Outdoors. Explore our Baseball Shop online and in stores to score the best baseball equipment and cleats for men and kids.