As baseball season ended, we signed up our 8-year-old for flag football and our 6-year-old for both soccer and flag football (I know, too much, crazy. Please don’t judge our do-it-all-ness). I cringed in horror, but not about dinner-timing or practice rides or even multiple games at the same time – I cringed, because I know what’s coming: that dreaded moment when I have to figure out whether we have not only the correct size but also the correct kind of cleat.

I’m a mom that grew up on stage – in the theatre, in the choir, in the band. I know about singing in tune, dress rehearsals, and costumes (Tip: a uniform is not called a costume). But, I’m smart, I can handle a lot of things – certainly, I can handle (literally) being a soccer mom, right?

What I didn’t count on was the cleats. There are different cleats for every sport with the nuances completely incomprehensible to the untrained eye. However, I dedicated myself to the lesson at hand and tried hard to get it. Well, try, I should say, as I still mess it up in the pressure moments of a garage sale as I try to remember if it’s a size 3 soccer cleat or basketball shoe that I need.

So, for all you other moms with cleat confusion like me, here are my basic tips:

Baseball cleats:
These have a toe cleat. A what? Basically an additional cleat in the middle of the front like a middle finger cleat. Theoretically (I mean, certainly) this makes my kid accelerate faster.

Soccer Cleats
Cleats are shorter (shorter than what? Other cleats. Oh…right…). Overall, this is actually the easiest cleat for me to figure out. There is no middle finger cleat (it is dangerous in soccer. In fact, you can’t use a pair of cleats with a middle cleat in soccer. Though, in a pinch, you can use a soccer cleat in other sports #momsbestfriendcleat). The actual shoe part is short and they are lighter (so not a thicker/heavier material). Also, sometimes soccer cleats have a flap over the top of the laces. I’m not really sure why.

Football cleats
Cleats at the back of the shoe are a little longer than the other ones. No really, you can almost tell the insignificantly obvious difference. This way, your child can “dig and turn and make cuts.” Also, the actual shoe itself is sturdier since most likely your kid’s feet will be stepped on. Note: there is no middle cleat (this is very key for identification), however, there are often two cleats near to the top that are set just around where a middle cleat would go.

We have yet to experience this, but apparently there are also three heights of the material part of the shoe (not the cleat part/bottom) that correlates with the position your kid plays. We currently use any height of football shoe since we often change positions at this young age.

Lacrosse cleats
We don’t use these (yet, ha) but just as an FYI – the cleats are on the outside of the bottom of the cleat. They also have a middle cleat. The shoe part is usually a bit higher but not necessarily a full high-top. I think these look like a cross between mid-rise basketball shoes and strange football cleats since there are fewer actual cleats on the bottom of the shoe.

Basketball shoes
I’m adding these in because my first true sports shoe confusion started during basketball season. I mean, isn’t a basketball shoe a tennis shoe? No, my friend, it isn’t a basketball shoe – totally different (#sarcasm).

Basketball shoes have a bigger heel (think “wedge” that’s pretty much unnoticeable unless you are really looking then, yes, you can see a bit of a wedge at the heel) that’s supposed to be better for jumping up and down. Basketball shoes aren’t as flexible as a general running shoe and seem to be thicker and bulkier. Usually they are a mid or high top.

Basketball shoes do not have cleats, but rather a grippier tread. 

Cleat tip
Cleats are ridiculously expensive though I suppose if they make my kids better athletes, less likely to break ankles and other bones – worth it? With four boys, I keep a list of the cleats I have on my phone, so when I see cleats at a garage sale or swap site for a decent price, I buy them. I buy #allthecleats. I’ve found that size 2 of one brand will fit one boy, but two seasons later, won’t fit the other boy who wears a size 2 – he needs a 2.5 or a size 2 of a different brand.

I also put the word out to all my friends (and really anyone I know) with boys a little older that we will buy all the cleats (note: we also do this with bike helmets, because, seriously…we need them).

Good luck may the force be with you as you navigate this crazy cleat-filled world of the sporting mom.

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  1. Robb August 8, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    The flap for the soccer shoe is so that the ball doesn’t veer off at a crazy angle when you kick it. The top of the soccer shoe is usually as flat as possible to give a good kicking surface. Baseball shoes also often have an extra long tongue to flap over the laces. Not sure why. Until high school, mid high football shoe can probably cover them all.

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