When buying kids’ cleats you will find that soccer, football, and baseball have dramatically different styles of cleats.
Since the beginning of the athletic competition, we’ve tried to use superior equipment to gain an advantage. For any sport played on your feet outdoors, a huge advantage belongs to the player who can accelerate without slipping. Cleats provide this advantage by creating extra friction between the player who is accelerating and the ground which is not.
So why do cleats come in such a variety? Mainly because different surfaces require different types and directions of movement.
We want to clear the air for you, to explain what you need to know about the difference between cleats, and which kids’ cleats are best for every sport and every playing surface.
Kids Soccer Cleats
Soccer cleats are your most basic, lightest cleats. This sport demands that the player can run quickly, change direction sharply, and also handle the ball with their feet.
The field, or pitch, is generally a soft grass or turf. Large studs are most suitable for gaining traction on these surfaces. For ball handling, soccer cleats are narrower to provide a good feel for the ball.
This style comes with a very low ankle top for maximum maneuverability but does sacrifice some ankle support. Metal cleats are generally illegal or discouraged. Many soccer cleats instead have molded plastic (or vulcanized rubber) cleats with screws to make them replaceable. However, most youth cleats are fully molded and not replaceable, but your kid will probably outgrow them before they wear down too far. Just be sure that they don’t walk on the sidewalk or other pavement with the plastic cleats and they should be fine.
For ball handling, soccer cleats are narrower to provide a good feel for the ball. The Adidas Performance Conquisto is an all-around quality kid’s soccer cleat, but there are certainly flashier options out there if you want to have fun with it. For indoor soccer or turf, where traction is less of an issue, very light cleats, turf shoes, or sambas will work just fine.
Adidas makes a popular samba for kids. These turf shoes are the lightest and most comfortable, so many kids and adults use them as their day-to-day shoes.
Other open-field, continuous-play sports have very similar footwear demands to that of soccer. Soccer cleats are good for flag football, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, and many others.
Young football or baseball players also use soccer cleats; they push off and cut much better than sneakers and possibly provide all you need at an entry level. However, soccer players generally cannot use cleats designed for other sports. This avoids injuries from high kicks and slide tackles.
Kids Football Cleats
Football quickly rose to popularity in America in the twentieth century. Football grabbed attention so quickly because of how much action happens in just a few seconds of each play.
The various positions have various mobility requirements. The best football cleats focus on ankle support and explosive movement. Receivers and defensive backs may need to sprint and cut on a dime like a soccer or lacrosse players. These players generally prefer the cleats described above or low-ankle football cleats.
Many also consider light football cleats to be the best cleats for Ultimate Frisbee. However, most of the players are moving predominantly forward and backward, and less than ten yards at a time.
With this in mind, football cleats have actually longer cleats for short accelerations. Deep cleats are especially important where mud or snow is possible. Football cleats have much thicker padding or material all around the foot.
Also, down on the line of scrimmage a lot of body parts get tangled and twisted. Therefore the cleats for football are designed for maximum push off of the ground and high ankle support.
Under Armour has gained popularity in cleats like the Highlight RM Jr., known for their best-in-class ankle support, tight fit, and comfortable rubber sole.
Kids Baseball Cleats
One way to spot baseball cleats is the front or toe cleat. This is the foremost stud on the cleat is designed to dig into the dirt and get that extra traction when stealing a base or chasing down a fly ball.
At the older level, baseball cleats have removable metal studs, but this does not make enough difference before high school to justify the cost.
Something simple and well-priced like the New Balance Youth Baseball Shoe is all your kid will need to get started. Better yet, see if a neighbor or family member can pass along some hand-me-downs because youth cleats will only fit for one or two seasons at the most.
This baseball cleat description also applies to softball. This guide should have your kid up and running, and not slipping too much this season. Check back for our review of the best cleats for ultimate Frisbee, flag football, lacrosse, and other sports. Please let us know your experience in the comments below!