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Plate shoes - what level/age group do they become a necessity?


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Hey all!

Brand new umpire here who plans on working games of various levels/age groups. 

I scored a pair of used plate shoes in my size at my local Play It Again for $20! They are old and heavy, but overall in decent condition.

My first game behind the plate was today, 13u travel ball, and I just felt like the plate shoes were a bit unnecessary since none of the pitchers threw very hard.

Since these shoes are kinda heavy and I want them to last as long as possible, I'm thinking about ditching the plate shoes for my base sneakers for any game 13-and-under.

That way I'm still protected when 16-year old Chad is slinging 70mph bbs all over the backstop, but I feel more energized wearing sneakers for back-to-back 9u plates.

 

What do you all think of my plan? Sneakers behind the plate for everything 13u, plate shoes for anything HS or 14+. 

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39 minutes ago, Four Base Award said:

I scored a pair of used plate shoes in my size at my local Play It Again for $20! They are old and heavy, but overall in decent condition.

My first game behind the plate was today, 13u travel ball, and I just felt like the plate shoes were a bit unnecessary since none of the pitchers threw very hard.

Since these shoes are kinda heavy and I want them to last as long as possible, I'm thinking about ditching the plate shoes for my base sneakers for any game 13-and-under.

That way I'm still protected when 16-year old Chad is slinging 70mph bbs all over the backstop, but I feel more energized wearing sneakers for back-to-back 9u plates.

 

What do you all think of my plan? Sneakers behind the plate for everything 13u, plate shoes for anything HS or 14+. 

Um... Well it's awesome that you got used plate shoes for 20 bucks, however I would definitely put them through the wash and seriously try to sanitize them. What you may not be aware of is that fungus from one foot can transfer to another very easily through used shoes.

Being said I would recommend plate shoes for everything for 10 and up. Just because you happen to have bad pitching at 13 doesn't mean that you're not going to run into really good pitching. I've umpired games for 13u where the pictures were in the high 60s in low 70s. Just depends on the skill level of the pictures not so much the age group.

If you can find them, look for Reebok magistrates, or Reebok zig-tech magistrates. In my opinion those are by far the best plate shoes you can get, fairly light and very mobile.  Otherwise you could go pentagon or three and twos if you're looking for a more sport type shoe. As the New Balances in my opinion are more of a stationary or small work area umpire's plate shoe.  

 

Would stay away from sneakers, as you never know when a foul ball is going to hit your toe the wrong way.

Recently was doing a 13U tournament for perfect game in Huntington Beach California, and I was wearing size 12s which are a very snug fit for my feet.   Doctor said that even though I was wearing steel toes that the foul ball bruised m the bone of my big toe.  He wanted me to stay off my feet for 2 to 3 weeks, but as I was working high school games I did not. I bandaged it up with the self-adhesive tape bandage as tight as I could, and I did this during the games. When I wasn't working games I would take it off and after a couple weeks the pain went away and so did the bruise that was on my big toe.

If you don't wear steel toe plate shoes, your toes let alone the arch of your foot could get completely demolished by errant foul ball.

My best advice though for real, don't skimp on plate shoes. The more comfortable the better, and some of the best ones are no longer available and hard to find

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Its not the pitchers you have to worry about at the lower levels as much as it is the catchers.

All it takes is one stray pitch/foul ball and you have a broken toe and you are out of commission for several weeks.  That results in lost games--> lost game fees -> hampers your ability to spring for the plate shoes you really want.

Just like any "workout," the more you work games in the plate shoes, the easier it will become.  If you go from a 9U (sneakers) to a 13/14U (plate shoes) the plate shoes will feel that much heavier.

My $0.02?  Don't stop wearing them.  Your muscles will adapt.

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I don't wear any different/less equipment for a 11-12 game than I would for a high school varsity.  I don't like taking the chance that I get hurt and have gear in my bag/trunk that could have avoided that.  Buy good gear, make sure it fits and it is comfortable.  Once you go a whole game without noticing it, you have found the sweet spot.      

In the lower levels you get hit more and it hurts less, in the higher levels you get hit less and it hurts more.     

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When to start wearing plate shoes? As soon as you go from "coach/machine pitch" to "kid pitch".

I wear my full compliment of "expensive gear" even if I'm working 9U

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Thank you for all of the honest answers! I will clean and sanitize my new-to-me plate shoes before my next game. If I lace them properly next time they will likely feel more comfortable. Hopefully, they will feel less heavy as I get used to wearing them. 

Based on your responses, I will wear my plate shoes every time I'm behind the dish.

Hopefully these used shoes can get me through the year and I can upgrade for '23!

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Don't forget, the ball isn't the only hazard coming at your feet.  I worked with a guy who broke a couple of bones in his foot when the catcher tossed off his hockey mask and it landed smack-dab on top of the umpire's foot (no plate shoes).

All it takes is something to hit just the right (wrong) spot just the right (wrong) way.  

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On 5/10/2022 at 1:05 PM, Four Base Award said:

Thank you for all of the honest answers! I will clean and sanitize my new-to-me plate shoes before my next game. If I lace them properly next time they will likely feel more comfortable. Hopefully, they will feel less heavy as I get used to wearing them. 

Based on your responses, I will wear my plate shoes every time I'm behind the dish.

Hopefully these used shoes can get me through the year and I can upgrade for '23!

 

Good find to get you through the season!  When you can upgrade, do it.  If those cheap-finds are working for you at the end of the season, keep using them.

I would guess plate shoes are one of the last pieces of equipment novice umpires pick up.  They are pricey and you don't realize the full need for the protection.

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