How Can I tell if my Child's Athletic Cleats Fit Properly?

Are you hoping to pick out summer sporting footwear for your kid, but you're not sure how to tell if the fit is right? The fit of an athletic shoe is crucial to your child's foot health. It’s very important to pick a properly designed, well fitted shoe for your child in order to avoid sports injuries. If you find the footwear they've received to be lacking, now's the time to return and start fresh. Here's how you ensure a good fit:

Cleats

If the soccer or baseball league your child plays in requires cleats to be worn, it’s very important to pick out a pair that won’t harm your young athlete’s foot. The first thing to note is the height of the cleat—for players under 13 years of age, cleats should be no higher than half an inch in order to avoid ankle injuries like sprains and fractures.

Once you’ve found cleats that are short enough, you need to focus on the concentration of the cleats. Younger players need shoes that have lots of cleats on the heel of the shoe—without that support, the impact of the sport can cause heel pain.

Even with cleat height and distribution selected, your task isn’t done. Don’t assume that your child will wear the same size cleat as they do for other shoes. You should have your child fitted separately for athletic shoes, because cleats just fit differently than other shoes.

Fitting

When it comes to fitting cleats, some of the basic rules apply, but some are a little different. Here they are:

  • Shop at the end of the day: That’s when your child’s feet will be the largest, mimicking the swelling that will occur during a sporting event
  • Take a stand: Measure both your child's feet when they are standing up in case one is bigger than the other (which is quite common). Fit the cleat to the bigger foot.  
  • Bring the right socks. Have your child come wearing the socks he or she will wear with the cleats; many sport-specific socks will be thinner or thicker than regular ones, which can make a big difference in fit.
  • Wiggle those piggies: A properly fitted cleat should leave half an inch from the end of the big toe to the end of the shoe. Pressing on a cleat won’t give you a good idea of fit, since they’re firm, so ask your son or daughter to make sure every toe can wiggle.
  • Lace up: For added support, use the cleat’s top eyelet. Don't tie the laces too tightly, though, as that can damage delicate nerves on the top of your child’s feet.
  • Look for instant gratification: Have your child walk around the shoes in the store. They should feel comfortable right away. Check for any red spots on your child’s feet when the shoes come off, as they could indicate a bad fit due to rubbing.

Even with the proper cleats, children playing soccer or baseball this spring may experience foot or ankle pain. At the first sign of discomfort, schedule an appointment with your Houston podiatrist to avoid serious injury to your child’s developing feet. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.