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Advice for Parents

Now that your son or daughter is signed up in a local tee ball league, it’s time to gear up. Most likely, the team will provide the uniform and a cap. Balls and bats will usually be team property as well. For the defensive side of things, your young ball player will need a glove. And to round out the equipment, your child needs adequate footwear for practice and to play.

Ideally, the shoe you choose will be a “baseball cleat.” However, at a young age, a shoe made for soccer, football or other sport activity will probably do well. Traction is very important — cleats will provide the most. If you choose a non-cleated shoe, make sure the outsole (underside) is textured with nubs or ridges. If the outsole is too flat or too smooth, your child will be slipping or sliding over the playing field.

Cost is another consideration, if not the first and most important. Your youngster isn’t a superstar (yet) and you definitely don’t have to sacrifice for these shoes. And it’s not always the best to buy the least expensive shoe. Quality is also an issue here. As you’ve often heard, you get what you pay for. You will find footwear in the $30 – $60 range. Keep in mind — as you go down in price you also give up durability, support, comfort and the likelihood that your child’s major league hero wears a similar shoe or brand (obviously, this is more important to some than to others.)

Regardless of the price, brand or cosmetics of the shoe, make sure you have proper fit for the sake of your child’s safety. Have a salesperson in the store measure your child’s foot to accurately determine the size. The shoe should lace up snugly around the top of the foot. If the fit is loose in the width and/or the foot is not well supported, try other models. As for the lengths, it is highly recommended to purchase shoes that fit your child now. Buying shoes a size or two large, so that the youngster can also wear them next season, is not a wise decision. First, you have no idea how much he or she will grow in a year’s time. Secondly, footwear that is a size or more too big is not safe or comfortable. The child’s foot will be sliding around inside the shoe and slamming into the front. This may cause blisters, black toe nails and other ailments.

Here is a good guideline to insure that you have the right length: with your child standing, have him or her gently kick the ground with the toe of the shoe. This will move the foot to the front. Next with the shoe flat on the ground, try to insert your little finger between the child’s heel and the inside of the shoe. If your finger slides easily into the gap, the shoe is too big. Then, have your child kick the ground with the heel of the shoe to move the foot to the rear. Press on the front of the shoe and have your child wiggle their big toes. If the big toe is pressed against the inside front, the shoe is too small. Ideally, you want the shoe to fit so that the child is able to easily wiggle all of the toes.

Overall comfort is crucial. Your child should try on both of the left and right shoes and walk around the store. The shoes need to be comfortable and feel good. They may be a bit stiff and need a little time to break in; if they rub, pinch or slip significantly, there may be a problem. If a player’s feet hurt during a practice or a game, the experience will not be a pleasant for him/her and you.

Take time to select the correct shoe. Be sure that the footwear works into your budget, fits properly and offers the comfort and support that your child needs. Don’t forget — this is all for fun. PLAY BALL!