While you could definitely play lacrosse with soccer or baseball cleats on your feet – just like you could play lacrosse with basketball shoes, running shoes, and sandals on if you really wanted to – it’s probably not a great idea.
Sure, sports cleats all look pretty much the same the surface. A lot of nonathletes would have a tough time spotting the major differences between cleats because of how similar they look, even.
But anyone that plays competitively could tell you that there is a world of difference between cleats specifically designed for lacrosse as well as cleats specifically designed with soccer and baseball in mind – and it’s always a good idea to get the right footwear on your feet when you are playing a sport that relies so much on speed, control, and athleticism.
Below we dig a little deeper into the ins and outs of answering this key question, shining a light on why you can’t simply swap out lacrosse cleats for soccer or baseball cleats as easily as you might have thought.
Let’s get right into it!
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Lacrosse Vs Soccer Vs Baseball Cleats: What Are The Main Differences
There are a couple of huge differences between sports cleats available on the market today, differences that didn’t use to exist until around the 1950s in the 1960s. The main differences now lie in overall design, Ankle Support, Weight & Cleat Pattern
Up until then most cleats (or spikes) were pretty much universal across the board, athletic focused footwear options that had metal spikes attached inside the tread.
Our understanding of performance footwear wasn’t anywhere near as close to where it is today – and we definitely didn’t have access to the same technical fabrics or materials that we do today – and that’s why so many of the original cleats were pretty much interchangeable across all major sports.
Today, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only are the actual cleats themselves (the spikes designed to bite into the turf) on sports specific footwear options very different – sometimes radically different – the form factor of the shoes themselves are also often radically different as well.
Different sports place different demands on your lower body and your feet specifically when you are competing, even if to the casual observer you’re just really spending your time running around on the grass.
Soccer players will use their feet differently than lacrosse players who use their feet differently than baseball players. The footwear has to support these different movements while increasing performance while providing injury protection (at least as much as possible, anyway).
Let’s highlight a couple of the biggest differences between lacrosse cleats and soccer and baseball spikes.
Overall Design Differences
Straight out of the gate, there are some pretty big differences between the overall design and structure of the cross cleats versus baseball and soccer cleats that you’ll notice right away.
Soccer cleats look a lot more like a slipper than anything else, are usually made to be ridiculously lightweight, super low cut (with next to no extra shape around the ankle), and have very short cleats that are designed to bite lasts into the turf to improve speed and agility while running up and down the soccer pitch.
Baseball cleats are usually pretty big, pretty bulky, and have toe cleat configurations that are engineered to bite into the turf and the dirt to provide extra acceleration. They come in a bunch of different factors and sizes but are usually going to ride pretty high on the ankle, and they lack any specific design elements to protect other players since baseball is not a contact sport and contact is never anticipated.
Lacrosse cleats, on the other hand, usually have an almost extreme boot shape with cleats all along the sides of the sole of the shoe to provide better lateral movement, usually have a toe cleat for improved acceleration (but it’s usually quite a bit shorter than the baseball one), and have dramatically lighter weight bodies than baseball cleats will.
As we alluded to a little bit earlier, the ankle support on lacrosse cleats is always skyhigh thanks to that extra “boot cut” ankle padding that rides a decent way up your shins to protect your ankles (and your shins) as much as possible.
You get even more protection with lacrosse cleats than you would with football cleats, for example, and certainly way more ankle protection than you ever get out of baseball cleats and especially out of soccer cleats – cleats that offer next to no ankle protection whatsoever (for the most part).
Soccer cleats are specifically designed to be as lightweight as humanly possible, with engineers at all of the major footwear companies constantly on the hunt for ways to make their cleats even lighter than they ever have in the past.
If a big breakthrough happens in the future where these engineers find a way to attach cleats to thin socks or nylons the odds are pretty good that soccer players around the world will consider making the switch!
Baseball cleats are little bigger and bulkier (just because speed isn’t quite as much of a priority as it is in soccer or lacrosse), but they aren’t necessarily going to feel like you are running cement. They definitely have more weight to them than traditional lacrosse cleats, though – so much so that it’s almost always immediately noticeable.
Lacrosse cleats (for as big as they are and as high as they go up your ankle) are specifically engineered to be as lightweight as they can be, too. Rarely – if ever – are they as light as much smaller and more minimalist soccer cleats, but they try to get as close to that ideal as they can.
The cleat pattern on soccer spikes are 100% free of a toe cleat for a couple of reasons, one of which is the fact that you pose a big safety threat to other players if you have a spike down at the end of your foot the way you would in other sports.
The rules pretty explicitly state that you cannot wear spikes that have a toe cleat in them when you are playing soccer (even at younger amateur levels) for this exact reason.
Another reason soccer players abandon the toe cleat is because they need to be able to shift years on a dime one way or the other – sometimes even going backwards – in a way that baseball players and (to a lesser degree) lacrosse players may not have to as often.
Baseball cleats are almost always designed with straight-line speed in mind. When you’re running in baseball you are usually headed to the next base (when your team is at the plate) or are tracking down in trying to intercept the ball that’s been hit on the ground or on-the-fly. There’s not a lot of lateral movement, not a lot of cuts, and a lot of zigzags in the game of baseball – and the cleat pattern follows that logic.
Lacrosse is a bit of a mix between baseball cleats and soccer cleats when it comes to cleat patterns, with plenty of lateral movement, plenty of zigzags in the sport, and plenty of action running forwards and backwards. You do get to add in the toe cleat in the sport of lacrosse, though (so that’s a pretty big difference).
Do Any Other Sports Cleats Work Well for Lacrosse?
As you can tell from the inside information above, you’ll have a tough time swapping out soccer cleats or baseball cleats for your lacrosse spikes the next time that you want to play.
But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t ANY “multi-sport” cleats that you can get your hands on to save a little bit of money on sporting equipment.
Football cleats are designed very similarly to lacrosse spikes and you can (usually) getaway with getting pretty decent performance out of these cleats when you are playing lacrosse.
You get a lot of support with football cleats, you get a lot of ankle protection with football cleats, you get to take advantage of a toe spike/stud, and you also get to leverage a cleat pattern that helps you make all the moves in lacrosse that you need to dominate quickly, efficiently, and safely.
If you want to spring for a single pair of cleats that do double duty, cleats that can perform well on the lacrosse field and the football field where you’ll want to spend your money.