There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing baseball or softball footwear. The level of your game, the league you play in (you won't need cleats if you're not playing in a league), the types of fields you play on, and how much you want to spend should all factor into your decision. Of course, you can't forget comfort. You (or the Little Leaguer you are buying for) will be spending lots of time in these boots. Most leagues require you to wear the proper cleats during play, so it is important to know this information before making a purchase.
Essentially, cleats are just like sneakers or other fitness shoes in design and fit, except for the cleats themselves. Remember that comfort is of the essence, so be sure to try on the shoes to see how they fit before buying. Note that you can choose from two types of material, either leather or synthetic. The pair you purchase will largely depend on your skill level and how serious you are about the sport.
: Leather offers the best feel and fit of any cleat, but they are generally more expensive. Since full-grain leather shoes are strong, durable, and breathable, they are what advanced players prefer. Don't forget that leather will stretch. If you want to spend the money on really good shoes for kids whose feet are still growing, allow no more than a finger length of space in the toe of the cleat for them to grow into.
: '''Synthetic Materials '''
: These are good for youth, entry- and mid-level players since they are generally less expensive than leather shoes. Note that these shoes are easier to clean and dry out than leather shoes.
Types of Cleats
There are two main types of cleats: plastic and metal. Not all cleats are made the same, nor meant for the same purpose. If you are buying for someone in Little League, the most important thing to know is that metal cleats are NOT allowed for safety reasons. Read on for more details about the different cleat types.
There are three styles of shoes with cleats determined by the height of the ankle. High tops have the highest ankle that hits right above the ankle bone, while mid tops are about average height. Both of these styles are good choices if you have weak ankles, or if you have ever experienced problems with your ankles (especially sprains or breaks). High tops also protect your ankle in the case that you are hit by a ball. Mid tops have the advantage when it comes to weight, as do low tops. However, low tops lack the support that mid and high tops provide. Ultimately, the choice is a matter of comfort and safety.