Short answer: yes, you can undoubtedly wear soccer cleats to play baseball. Now for the longer answer.
Soccer cleats will keep baseball players comfortable during practice and exhibition games, but they’re going to need actual baseball cleats if they’re planning to stay for the long haul. Then you have to factor in what position you’ll be playing and what the field looks like. Even the weather is something you should consider.
Bottom line, soccer cleats will do for a while, but if you’re aiming for the big leagues, you will definitely need to invest in baseball cleats at some point.
Here’s what you need to know about the difference between soccer and baseball cleats.
Safety First – Toe Stud or No Toe Stud
The main difference between soccer cleats and baseball cleats is the toe stud.
Soccer cleats do not have a stud on the tip for safety reasons. Keep in mind baseball is a limited-contact sport in most states, so their safety measures are a little bit more relaxed than soccer, a full-contact sport with a higher risk of injury. That’s why soccer cleats feature at least one stud right under the ball of your foot and a pair of studs about an inch apart on the tip of the forefoot region of the soles, contrary to the toe stud found on baseball cleats.
There’s more to the toe stud than a matter of safety. It can also impact the way players perform, and depending on what position they’re on, soccer cleats may or may not be a suitable replacement.
That brings us to the next point.
Types of Cleats
Both baseball and soccer cleats are sorted more or less the same way, mostly based on the stud’s material and shape and the player’s position, and the surface they will be playing on.
Soccer cleats, for instance, are sorted into four main categories:
- Firm Ground
- Soft Ground
- Turf or Artificial Ground
Whereas baseball cleats are divided in:
- Molded plastic
- Artificial Turf
Already we can see a big difference between soccer and baseball footwear just on the way they’re categorized. You will notice baseball cleats are far more adaptable to different types of surfaces than soccer cleats, and that’s because soccer fields have only one type of surface while baseball fields have two.
Let’s take a closer look at both types of soccer and baseball cleats in each of their categories and see what features they share in common, as well as the benefits and setbacks a baseball player may have while playing with soccer cleats.
Soccer Cleats for Firm Ground (FG) vs. Metal Baseball Cleats
Playing in the diamond or out in the grass?
Let’s start with the soccer cleats for firm ground (FG) since they’re pretty similar to metal baseball cleats, one of the most common choices in this sport.
Cleats for firm ground (FG) come in two forms: molded and bladed. Molded studs are conical, while bladed are flat and shaped like an “L.” This type of cleat is all about prioritizing traction on natural grass, which makes sprinting and sharp turns easier in any direction. Pretty different from baseball metal cleats, which are bladed most of the time, and that’s because they’re supposed to help you run forward on dirt as fast as possible.
Like soccer cleats for firm ground, metal baseball cleats are also made for natural grass; the difference is that these can also dig in hard dirt; in other words, you won’t get dirt or gravel stuck on your cleats. For basemen, shortstops, and runners, this means more speed and maneuverability; for pitchers and batters, it means more stability.
With the soccer cleats for firm ground, it’s more of a one-or-the-other type of deal because they will excel on grass and underperform on dirt.
A word of warning, though: metal baseball cleats have such good traction that players can actually injure their ankles when making a sudden turn. Unless they’re in jeopardy, runners don’t have to worry much about drastic turns—same thing with infielders in defense positions.
With that in mind, we can safely say that soccer cleats for firm ground are a good fit for outfielders because of their excellent grip on natural grass and how lightweight they are. On the other hand, infielders should stick to metal baseball cleats for a better grip on dense, compact dirt or lush, firm grass. Ultimately, if you’re serious about your baseball career, you will find metal baseball cleats more versatile no matter what position you’re playing.
Here’s a downside you need to remember about these two.
Soccer cleats, in general –not just the ones for firm ground– are not as comfortable as baseball cleats. Remember, soccer players are always on the move; they don’t remain stationary nearly as much as baseball players, and so they don’t need all the cushion found in baseball cleats.
Why is this important? Comfortable footwear will let you forget about your sore feet and keep your head in the game. If that’s not reason enough, trust me when I say it will save you time and a pretty penny looking for a good fit to replace a pair of uncomfortable ones.
Soccer Cleats for Soft Ground (SG) vs. Baseball Molded Plastic Cleats
Footwear for wet season
Both of these soccer and baseball cleats are made for muddy fields; only the ones for soccer are purposely made for muddy grass. These are also known as metal soccer cleats because the studs are tipped with metal. That’s the first noticeable difference compared to the plastic or rubber baseball cleats, but the main difference is how they work.
SG soccer cleats are designed to dig down into the mud so you can push yourself off with ease, but the plastic baseball cleats are designed to bounce off the ground to keep you from getting stuck in the mud.
Then we have the studs, which in the case of SG soccer cleats are replaceable and somewhere between ½ and 3/5 inches long. The studs on molded cleats for baseball are about the same size, but they’re not detachable.
Something interesting about the molded cleats for baseball is that you can use them on concrete, asphalt, or pretty much any surface, and they won’t wear down. There’s just one issue: in average weather, they tend to pick up dirt, and so you lose traction, which is why most baseball players prefer to use these cleats at the beginning of the season when it’s pouring.
Spring comes, it’s pouring buckets out there, and the season starts with muddy fields. Once again, outfielders will do great with soccer cleats, namely soft ground cleats. Infielders? Not so much. They’ll need molded plastic baseball cleats during the wet season.
Soccer Cleats for Turf (TF) or Artificial Ground (AG) vs. Baseball Turf Cleats
Soccer and baseball Cleats for training
Alright, let’s talk about training cleats. Baseball players have a different set of cleats to practice on turf. Not only are those a whole lot more comfortable, but they’re also easier on the turf. Metal cleats would tear craters on artificial turf, and molded plastic cleats don’t get any grip on it; thus, causing your ankles to buckle and possibly suffer an injury.
Instead of the eight protruding spikes seen on metal and molded baseball cleats, the sole on baseball turf cleats is wholly filled with little studs. It almost looks like the inside of a beehive. Soccer turf cleats are pretty much the same, only the studs are fewer and larger, and they only cover the forefoot and the heel. That’s so players can use the arch or midfoot section of the cleat to control the ball.
So, can you wear soccer cleats to baseball practice? Absolutely. Your performance should not be hindered at all. They’ll work pretty much the same.
Now, if you wanted to use training soccer cleats to baseball practice, you wouldn’t be able to steer the ball very well with all those studs in the midfoot section of the cleat. As for the striking area –almost nonexistent on baseball cleats– it would not be as responsive as you would need it to, but we’ll get to that later.
Indoor Soccer (IN) Shoes
No use in baseball at all
Indoor soccer shoes are no good for baseball in any way. These are specifically designed to play futsal on wood or parquet. The soles are made of rubber and don’t feature spikes of any kind, so that they would have no traction on regular baseball fields, and their grip on turf would be minimal. That’s why we’re leaving them for last.
Cleats Material – The Right Material for Every Play Style
For the sake of argument, let’s say you want to try soccer and baseball before deciding which one to commit to. In that case, you’d be better off buying soccer cleats for firm ground. It’s a versatile piece of gear that you can use while trying both sports and learning the basics of whichever one you end up choosing. Of course, these would have to be resistant enough to get you through those exploring and formative stages.
That said, let’s go ahead and see what soccer cleats are made of and how they measure up to the needs of a baseball athlete; you know, in case you end up choosing baseball.
As a point of departure, you should know most baseball cleats are made of either: genuine leather or synthetic leather. However, you can also find some knitted models out there.
Genuine leather is flexible, breathable, and very resistant. Also expensive. Synthetic leather is more affordable, and while it may be less durable, it does offer more support, especially in the forefoot and midfoot sections of the cleat.
In comparison, the materials used in soccer cleats are way more specific. They come in:
- Kangaroo leather
Each of these materials is rated by “touch”; in other words, how responsive they are in the striking area of the cleat.
For soccer players, the touch rating is super important because it tells them how well they’ll be able to control the ball with their feet. Baseball players don’t need to worry about that, but if it’s a middle ground between both types of soccer and baseball cleats you’re looking for based on what they’re made of, here’s what you should know.
Synthetic Leather Soccer Cleats vs. Synthetic Leather Baseball Cleats
Soccer cleats of synthetic leather are affordable, lightweight, and reliable in most weather conditions, just like synthetic leather baseball cleats. However, they’re not as durable as cleats made of genuine leather, nor do they offer the same amount of support; also like the synthetic leather cleats for baseball compared to those of genuine leather.
So in most respects, synthetic leather soccer and baseball cleats are pretty similar. The thing is that synthetic soccer cleats have the lowest touch rating, and while that may be of no consequence should you end up playing baseball, it can certainly be a setback assuming you want to be a striker or a center forward in soccer instead. The verdict: synthetic soccer cleats are ok for baseball, but there are better options for soccer when playing offensive positions.
Knitted Soccer Cleats vs. Knitted Baseball Cleats
Next, there is the relatively recent knitted soccer cleat. Needless to say, it’s lightweight and comfortable, almost like playing barefoot. Because it’s so flexible, players have more control over the ball; hence, the high touch rating. They’re a bit of a pain to wash, though.
Compared to knitted baseball cleats, these are way thinner and therefore less durable. Baseball knitted cleats have more support and cushion too.
All in all, knitted cleats for soccer are excellent for the midfielder, winger, and forward positions in soccer. In baseball, they’re ok for outfielders and runners in training, but as they move their way up the league, they’ll need a set of baseball cleats with more support and cushion.
Genuine Leather Baseball Cleats vs. Calfskin Leather Soccer Cleats
Both of these cleats are very reliable, durable, and protective. Not only are calfskin leather cleats great for soccer players in defense positions, but they’re also handy to baseball players in the diamond.
Calfskin leather cleats have a very high touch rating, so they’re very responsive; plus, they’re also a bit hard to break in because of how sturdy they are. In other words, it may take a while to adjust and get used to these cleats. That’s good news for you, baseball players because it means you’ll get more support.
Who should wear calfskin leather cleats for soccer? The obvious answer would be soccer players, specifically those fielding center-back, full-back, wing-back, and sweeper positions.
Switching over to baseball, infielders will be ok with calfskin leather soccer cleats. Still, pitchers and batters, in particular, will miss the stability of the toe stud when throwing or batting. Also, and this is kind of a biggie, they’re not as comfortable as proper baseball cleats, so you may expect to be shifting your weight from one foot to the other during those slow-paced moments of the game. Runners may also experience a little bit of lag compared to those with baseball cleats due to the lack of the toe stud they use to push themselves forward.
In short, calfskin leather soccer cleats are the closest thing to genuine leather baseball cleats you’re going to find. Sure, you may have a couple of setbacks, but it shouldn’t matter that much while you’re learning the fundamentals.
Kangaroo Leather Cleats for Soccer
Soccer players will probably notice a bit of an improvement over the calfskin leather cleats due to a slightly higher-touch rating, but baseball players won’t be able to tell the difference in their performance. These are also crazy expensive and hard to find, not to mention they’re not as durable as other types of cleats. It’s not that k-leather cleats are flimsy or brittle, but they do require the most care.
In the end, this is a specialized piece of gear that is too specific to soccer, and it’s not worth the money if you’re going to commit to baseball. Definitely not the kind of cleat you would get just to try a sport. Soccer players on offensive positions, on the other hand, would probably see the most out of these shoes, particularly the striker.
Just one more thing about leather cleats
Calves and kangaroos are not particularly endangered species, and their hides are a byproduct of animals destined to the food industry, a byproduct that would otherwise go to waste.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a straight answer from officials on how many animals are actually harvested for food and at what point it becomes overexploitation for their hides while using the food industry as an excuse.
Granted, major brands in sports gear will openly say they use kangaroo or calfskin leather in their products, but even they are trying to find alternatives. Take Adidas, for example, the creators of the world’s first knitted soccer cleat. With that in mind, do what’s best for your performance as an athlete, but let’s be careful not to encourage overexploitation of animals.
Other differences and similarities
Here are a couple more differences and similarities for you to consider:
Baseball cleats are longer and heavier than soccer cleats
Baseball cleats weigh up to 13 ounces, while most soccer cleats weigh 8 ounces on average. That’s because of the toe stud and the midsole that soccer cleats don’t have one.
Ankle Support – Cleats for both sports come in high, mid, and low tops
High tops are hard to find for soccer, though. It’s all about maneuverability, keeping your ankles free.
In the end, it’s a matter of dedication. Those aiming for the major leagues will be ok with soccer cleats while learning the fundamentals and practice –especially outfielders– but they’ll need to upgrade to baseball-specific cleats many times along the way. If you just need a pair of cleats to play a friendly match with your friends during the weekend, soccer cleats will be A-Ok.