Metal cleats in high school

In case you haven’t heard by now, the National High School Federation (Federation for short) has ruled that metal cleats will be allowed in high school softball beginning this year. The Federation is the ruling body for HS sports, not to be confused with ruling body for a large group of planets on Star Trek.

I haven’t heard the particulars on why the rule was changed. Maybe someone who reads this blog has the actual answer. A few of us were talking tonight and I speculated that this was sort of a Title IX issue. Metal cleats have been allowed in HS baseball at least since the days I was playing, so maybe this is just a way of making things more even. Then again, do the boys have to wear face cages on their helmets?

In any case, I think that metal cleats are a bad idea. First there’s the safety issue for fielders. As I’ve mentioned before, some are taught to block access to the base with their legs. Having a baserunner coming into a leg with metal cleats is not exactly a good idea.

That’s not the worst of it, though. The big risk is catching a cleat and spraining an ankle — or possibly popping a knee or breaking a leg. Before you think I’m a total wimp about this, I just heard a story about a male youth player in metal cleats breaking his ankle trying to stop and go back to the previous base.

The parent telling the story said she’s heard that metal cleats are fine on a well-manicured field. But how many of us get to play on those? I’ve watched high school games on fields that were a risk no matter what kind of shoes you wore, much less high-grip cleats. My teams have certainly competed on fields that were even worse. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Especially when you consider that the #1 injury among young female athletes is a torn ACL. So now you’re going to add in equipment that makes it even easier to pop that ACL. It just doesn’t make sense.


It’ll be interesting to see whether the number of injuries goes up this year. And if so, whether the Federation gives any thought to going back to a ban on metal cleats. Stay tuned.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on January 15, 2008, in Rules and Umpires. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. This past week-end my worst fears of allowing girls High School Fast pitch to wear metal cleats came true. Before the season began we were told of this “rule” change and I was adamant about my concern of the increased possibilities for injury then and after seeing the affects of being spiked I am more so now. I have played over 40 years of baseball/softball and have used both plastic and steel spikes and can tell you there is not much of a difference when running. My daughter sustained 40 stitches in her shin due to metal cleats this past week-end and I can assure you as a parent there is nothing more horrible than seeing your child suffer from the “gash” that is caused by the use of metal cleats. A few weeks ago she had been slid into and took a blow off her knee from plastic cleats which caused a severe bruise in which she was able to play a few days later, if the girl had been wearing metal cleats I cringe to think of what damage may have been done. I think the administration needs to take a good hard look at the severity of injuries caused by the use of metal cleats and reconsider this ruling. I pray that no other parent nor child has to experience what we did this past week-end by the use of metal cleats.

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  2. Sorry to hear about the injury. Hope your daughter has a speedy recovery. No question that 40 stitches is a serious injury. Glad nothing vital was hit.As a high school baseball player I remember wearing metal cleats. Of course we also used wood bats, not because we were trying to be trendy but because that’s all there was. It was a bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now. The game already is dangerous enough, especially with the ball jumping off of $300 bats toward players standing 30-40 feet away. Why add to the danger? Hopefully the Federation will come to its senses and outlaw metal cleats for both the boys and the girls. With all the high-tech materials available today there’s simply no need to go to metal.

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  3. I am so sorry. My daughter too was seriously hurt. Her cleats hung and she broke her bones in two places. We never knew we needed to warn her about the differences in traction and sticking when uses metal vs plastic cleats. Quite honestly when the coach had the booster club buy them for the entire team , he didnt know to teach them how they were different either.

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  4. Sorry to hear that. What a shame for her, especially so early in the season. Likely that this will take out her summer too.Hopefully there will be enough complaints that the Federation will re-think their decision, or at least put out some information to coaches warning them that there are some additional risks involved. I wonder if that would’ve swayed your coach’s decision on acquiring them?It’s too late for your daughter, but thanks for sharing the story with others. The more people learn about this the better of a decision they can make. A little extra traction v. a couple of broken bones is not a good trade-off.

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  5. plastic vs metal,slide and get your hand stepped on bruised sore hand vs stiches and out of game. get cleated in the calf bruised and some pain vs 40 stitches torn socks and out for several weeks. catcher has a foot stick turning to block a wild pitch falls down misses ball vs falls down breaks ankle may never play again. coach teaches girls to sharpen metal cleats creates more severe injuries potential to sever large arteries in catchers legs possibly causing death plastic zero metal it could happen. with the newer designs of composite cleats if you slip with them you will slip with metal the biggest advantage is in a hard infield or outfield as the will penetrate better which can also be a disadvantage.

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  6. John, you make some great points. The difference in consequences is significant. I’m not sure what the Federation thinks it gained in approving them. Perhaps they’re trying to make things equal between the boys and girls. If that’s the case they should go the other way as far as I’m concerned. They’re concerned enough about safety to require face cages on helmets and to yell at warm-up catchers for not wearing masks, but they’re ok with metal cleats. Go figure. By the way, I saw a muddy, rough field over the weekend. It was just primed for a serious injury. Fortunately, either no one had metal cleats or caught them if they did. But it was definitely a risk.

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  7. I would love to find out if a petition has been filed on this issue. My daughter is a catcher and was injured because of a runner sliding into home. She received 12 stitches to her inner thigh.

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  8. Coleman, sorry to hear about your daughter getting hurt. Unfortunately she won’t be the last. Hope she’s recovered OK. I have not heard about any petitions. Maybe you can start one!

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  9. my 17year old daughter on April 18 was steeling home after a triple, slid into home and the steel cleats that was strongly suggested by the varsity coach caught the plate and she had a dislocation fracture, she now has a plate and 9 screws on the outside of her ankle and pins on the inside.

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  10. Dottie, so sorry to hear that. I hate to hear of any player getting hurt, but especially something like this. I can’t help but wonder how many more players have to get hurt like your daughter before the National Federation rethinks its decision. I wish your daughter a speedy and relatively pain-free recovery.

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  11. On May 6 2011 my daughter was playing her final game as a senior in High school, while covering the bag at second a girl slid into her ripping her ankle open and causing her to have over 50 stitches in her leg.This is unacceptable for someone to allow these cleats to be worn .Perhaps if they had to set by and watch their child being sewed up their opinion of the cleats would be changed.I am just thankful it wasent her femural artery .

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  12. Denise, glad to hear she was ok. Hope it was after Prom, not before!I really think this is something that needs to be watched closely. I wonder how many players end up with stitches or serious injuries due to metal cleats v. getting hit in the face?

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  13. Hello my son experienced a horrific metal cleat injury to the back of the leg and almost ruined his baseball career ayt the age of 10. Please check out our New Product called CLEATOFF at http://www.cleatoff.com I made these specifically for my son and ended up in the local newspaper. Headlines read Inventive Mom has son back in the game. This was the best I could come up with for him. All the kids wear them now. I was shocked of the amount of travel ball teams who use them. Especially if you are exposed to metal cleats or worse, opponents using metal cleats as weapons.Our HYB banned metal cleats until pony due to what happened to my son. Please read our article at my web page. I make these for all ages including motorcycle riders who dont want to burn their legs on the pipes. I just got the Patent Pending and if there is one thing that really bugs me, is seeing uncovered ankles. Cleatoff’s also provide amazing protection and support while running and sliding. Please feel free to contact me. I custom make for all teams. Thanx for hearing my son’s story about metal cleats and what I did about it.. Shannon Combs shannon@cleatoff.com please tell a friend. My product is new as of this year 2011.

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  14. I have heard story after story of girls getting cleated and very seriously. My daughter being one of them on November 19, 2012 at a showcase tournament in Savannah, GA. I had to rush her to the emergency room and spend the entire day there for the doctors to try and assess the damage. Now I will have $5000+ of medical costs that could have been completely avoided and now she has to possibly have reconstructive surgery on her hand because the metal cleats tore through her finger to the bone when she was stepped on. My cousin, last year at Nationals in California was cleated in the face and was 1/10 of an inch from losing her eye. Really …. regular cleats should do the job just fine and if the girl who stepped on my daughters hand had on regular rubber cleats, it would have hurt, but there would not have been any damage at least not to this extent. This is the second injury she has received from metal cleats. They are very dangerous!!!!! Bats are needed, gloves are needed, catchers protective gear are needed, but metal cleats are not. Sports are dangerous and there is certain risk that comes with playing any sport, but why add to it with something that is completely unnecessary to play the game and to be successful at the game. It was also her right hand which is her dominate hand and she may have permanent damage! Something needs to be done and now!

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  15. Sharon, sounds like you’ve seen more than your share of trouble with metal cleats. Sorry to hear your daughter had those injuries. Hope she doesn’t lose any capabilities permanently. Not sure what it will take to get it changed, or how many more kids have to get hurt before they wise up.

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