If you’ve ever seen a pair of soccer cleats sitting right next to baseball cleats in your local sports equipment shop, you’ll notice that they look almost identical.
Almost, but not exactly.
What’s the difference between a soccer cleat and a baseball cleat? Can you wear baseball cleats for playing soccer, or wear soccer cleats for a baseball game?
Can you simply buy one pair of cleats and use the same cleats for different sports?
These are some of the most common questions when it comes to baseball cleats.
Well, they don’t feel the same.
There are also some more important technical differences. Just take a look at the bottom of each cleat to see the biggest difference, or at least a main difference, between soccer and baseball cleats.
It’s fine to wear soccer cleats for a quick informal baseball game or baseball practice, but these two types of shoes aren’t considered interchangeable. Bowling shoes wouldn’t give you the upper hand at playing cricket, and soccer shoes are meant for running on a soccer field and kicking a soccer ball.
Baseball cleats are designed for comfort, grip, and different positions and playing conditions. Soccer cleats provide grip on the artificial ground of soccer fields, but lack certain features (such as the extra toe stud) found on baseball cleats.
Soccer Cleats vs Baseball Cleats: Spot the Differences
Let’s go over some of the main differences between cleats.
Baseball cleats are designed to provide grip on the firm ground of different fields (hopefully without getting gravel stuck in the soles), but soccer cleats are mainly designed for speed. The soles, the fit, and the material are the most crucial differences that set them apart.
#1: The Spur
The first difference between baseball and soccer cleats can be found on the front tip. Just turn them around and have a look, or look up images of both to compare.
Cleats for playing baseball contain a spur (also called a toe stud or toe cleat) close to the toe end of the cleat. Soccer cleats do not. The toe stud is meant to provide baseball players with firm grip during a game that soccer players don’t need — in fact, it can even cause injury for soccer players.
The spur is removable, which can make baseball shoes suitable for soccer practice if you don’t have anything else.
Why don’t soccer cleats need the spur? Soccer is close-contact, making the spur potentially dangerous in the event that it nicks another soccer player while you’re attempting to kick the ball.
The spur is removable for most types of baseball cleats, including metal and molded plastic cleats. Remember this if you decide to play a quick soccer game!
#2: The Soles
The next difference between soccer and baseball cleats you’ll notice are the soles.
Baseball cleats are made specifically for baseball fields. Having the correct cleats is important because baseball shoes’ main job is to provide grip.
The amount of running soccer players do in soccer games means that the soles are designed to offer speed in addition to grip. The right cleats have soles that are specifically designed to offer better traction on the artificial turf found in many soccer stadiums.
While baseball and soccer cleats both contain studs on their soles, the depth and distribution of the cleat pattern is different.
That’s because the requirements of each game are just different!
#3: The Fit
While both a baseball cleat and a soccer cleat should have a cushioned midsole, soccer cleats and baseball cleats each have a unique feel because they’re each made to be a different fit. See, baseball cleats provide players with more ankle support than soccer cleats.
Football cleats provide even more ankle support, while soccer cleats feature the least amount of support. This lack of support, however, allows for a great range of ankle motion.
Wearing soccer cleats instead of wearing baseball cleats for practice can lead to ankle injury, especially if you aren’t used to wearing them to play baseball. It’s fine for one of those random just-for-fun games, but for safety reasons we wouldn’t recommend it for more than a handful of games in a lifetime.
#4: The Material
Soccer and baseball cleats are both available in different material types. The choice of material type depends largely on the surface which the player intends to play most of their games on.
Soccer cleats are divided into types, like molded (for firm ground), multi-ground (for harder ground), and turf (ideal for practice).
Baseball cleats are the same, and available in metal, plastic, or turf. In baseball, molded plastic cleats are a common choice.
However, many baseball players have come to prefer metal cleats. Simply, they might be priced at a higher-end, but they also provide far better traction.
Some soccer cleats are available in synthetic leather or genuine leather. These softer, and sometimes synthetic, materials can be great for ball handling.
Fine for Practice (Not for Everything Else)
Baseball cleats are for baseball, and soccer cleats are for soccer — that’s the simple answer.
If you’re only playing a practice game, it’s okay to use the ‘wrong’ shoes. However, interchangeable shoes are not recommended for the long haul, and aren’t allowed for serious games in either sport.
Even youth soccer leagues don’t allow the use of baseball cleats for soccer. Soccer and baseball molded cleats must be specific to the game being played.
Advanced playing requires competition legal gear. Proper practice favors the closest to professional gear you can afford.
Proper baseball cleats are meant for practice in various weather conditions, and designed for grip and speed. If you’re playing in anything else, you’re at an automatic disadvantage.
The toe stud is one of the most characteristic features that distinguishes baseball cleats from others. For baseball, the stud provides additional grip for the player’s foot.
Weather conditions and different playing fields make the toe stud an especially important feature for comfortable playing.
But since soccer is a game where close player contact and kicking a ball is involved, a spur could be dangerous. Luckily, the spur can be removed if you want to wear baseball cleats for practice.
The other thing a toe spur is important for?
Traction. In baseball, it’s important that players can come to a quick stop.
If you are wearing soccer cleats, the lack of spur causes a movement ‘drag’ that makes it harder for the average baseball player to stop. That’s how people end up hurting themselves.
Baseball cleats are further designed to reduce strain on the ankles by providing ankle support. Soccer cleats have a completely different design, with advantages for speed over grip.
How do you choose the right baseball cleats for your needs?
Easy: try out several types. We’ll consider more information on the different types of baseball cleats in the next section.
There are 4 main factors to consider when shopping for new cleats for baseball:
• Budget: Always buy the best cleats you can afford. If you don’t have the budget right now, it pays off to save up.
• Comfort: Comfort is important for performance. Make sure you like the way that a pair feels first.
• Brand: Stick to buying reliable, certified brands to guarantee that you’re buying quality products. Never fall for knock-off brands!
• Grip: It’s important to make sure the shoes you’re choosing have proper, solid grip (on several types of playing fields).
Do Knock-off Cleats Exist?
An unfortunate fact in baseball and soccer is that yes, knock-off cleats exist. In fact, they’re available all over the internet — for soccer, baseball, and a variety of other sports.
Many have made this mistake before and came to regret their purchase the moment it arrived. To avoid a similar disaster when buying soccer cleats or baseball cleats, try following the simple steps below.
If you want to guarantee that you’re buying an authentic product…
• Buy from reputable retailers.
• Choose only reputable brands.
• Verify your ideal buy against the actual manufacturer’s guidelines. Do the specifications match up?
The Different Types
Baseball cleats are not all created equal.
There are different types, just like there are different varieties of soccer cleats made for various conditions.
If you’re in the market to buy, make sure you understand the different types first.
There are 3 different types of cleats available:
It’s important to think about the various surfaces you might encounter during a game.
Turf Cleats are best utilized for practice and are also known as soft ground cleats. The pattern on the soles is traditionally softer than the ones found on plastic or metal cleats.
Plastic Cleats are considered best for wetter, muddier fields or rougher playing environments. Plastic is durable, and the soles (and spur) of plastic cleats are made to increase the player’s grip on the field.
Plastic wears out slower, but can be harder to clean and can scuff easily.
Metal is the most versatile choice, often preferred by semi-professional and more serious players. Many prefer metal cleats because of their superior performance in any kind of weather.
They offer far more grip, and we’d say that it’s worth the money every time.
All 3 are acceptable for baseball, though professional players tend to lean more toward metal cleats — especially for playing safely in various types of weather.
Can You Use Soccer Cleats Instead?
You can wear soccer cleats during practice, but serious baseball players will want to wear baseball cleats for more serious games and especially for any tournaments, small-scale or otherwise. Using soccer cleats for baseball can increase your likelihood of injury, especially to the ankles.
Wearing baseball cleats for soccer can likewise lead to more player injuries, just because of the different playing environments and cleat design!
Playing is about a 60/40 divide between excellent ability and superior gear.
For baseball cleats, we recommend buying the best you can afford (and trying out more than one variety) to find your chosen fit.