Baseball / Softball Glove Buying Guide
Choosing an appropriate baseball glove or softball glove is not necessarily as difficult as it may seem at first. When selecting a glove, there are many factors to be considered. Field position, level of play and preferred features will all play an important role in your decision. Gloves differ in size, amount of padding, webbing, pocket depth and more. Below, we explain what each feature means to a player.
Brand may also be important to you. We offer a wide variety of gloves from top makers like Wilson, Nike, Easton, Rawlings, Mizuno, Diamond, Louisville Slugger, Worth, Verdero and Reebok. All of these manufacturers design gloves priced from budget to premium, and use a variety of materials, ranging from excellent quality to standard.
1. FIELD POSITIONS
Baseball and softball gloves made for catchers are heavily padded fingerless gloves (often called mitts) with heavy padding that are great for catching fastballs all game long. These mitts are built to reduce the sting that occurs from repetitively catching fast balls from pitchers. The closed webbing and smaller pocket on catcher's mitts make it easier to get the baseball out of the pocket.
Softball catcher's mitts have a larger pocket with less padding than a baseball catcher's mitt due to the larger ball size and slower pitching speeds. Catcher's mitts are exclusive to catchers and cannot be used by any other player on the field.
When selecting a catcher's mitt, you should know that they are measured by circumference rather than length. Youth catcher's gloves are typically 31" or less and adult catcher's gloves are usually 32" or larger.
Most pitchers want a glove with a closed webbing so they can hide and adjust their grip before throwing the next pitch. A pitcher's glove is typically the same size as a third baseman's glove (11 1/2" - 12"). The only difference is typically the webbing. The rest of the glove features, it is up to personal preference.
FIRST BASEMAN'S GLOVES
Just like the catcher's mitt, the first base softball and baseball gloves are also heavily padded (just not as much), but are longer since the first baseman must field balls all game long. First baseman's gloves are also fingerless but feature a open webbing style so players can trap the ball better than with a closed web glove.
Adult firstbase BASEBALL gloves are typically 12" - 12.5" in length and have a shallow pocket to allow the baseman to quickly retrieve the ball from the glove. Adult firstbase BASEBALL gloves are typically 13 - 14" in length.
Many infielders prefer an open webbing style glove so players can retrieve and throw the ball to base more quickly. Third basemen often prefer a closed web if they want extra support since balls tend to come harder and faster down the third base line. Infield gloves for SOFTBALL have a deeper pocket for catching the larger ball.
Infielder's gloves are generally smaller (10.5" - 12" in length) and shallower than outfielder's glove retrieving and throwing the ball to base more quickly.
Many infielders prefer a glove with a deeper pocket and usually have a closed web to trap the ball in the glove.
Outfielders gloves are larger and longer (12" or more for adults) since they need to be more suitable for catching fly balls.
2. GLOVE SIZES
Youth Baseball Gloves / Softball Gloves are made smaller to accommodate the smaller hand of youth players and give them more control. Use the following size chart to get a general idea of what size glove fits each age group and position.
3. GLOVE FEATURES
Baseball and softball glove come with either an open web or a closed web design. The style you choose will depend on your fielding position and personal preference. A closed web is standard on all catcher's mitts and often used by pitchers to hide the ball from the batter. A closed web also provides more support when catching. An open web helps players, especially middle infielders, get the ball out of the pocketquicker to make throws to bases.
Shallow pockets are ideal for positions that require fielders to quickly grab the ball and throw it to base after making a catch. Deeper pockets are designed to help players hold onto fly balls (usually outfielders).
SOFTBALL players also need a deeper pocket to catch the bigger softball.
Baseball and softball glove come with either an open or closed back. This choice is mostly personal preference. An open back glove features a space above the wrist adjustment on the glove whereas a closed backdoes not. Many infielders use an open backed glove because it gives them more flexibility while outfielders typically use a closed back with a finger hole for extra support.
4. GLOVE CARE TIPS
SOFTEN THE LEATHER
That stiff glove... straight from the store is nearly impossible to use at first. But once you get it just right, there was nothing better!
Depending on your preference, you can use shaving cream (foam, not gel), vaseline, mink oil or saddle soap to conform your glove to your hand. You can also use a specially made glove oil, but the other products listed here work as well. These solutions soften the leather to the more pliable state most players like. Avoid anything that contains silicone as this will cause the leather to dry out and will shorten the glove's lifespan.
Use the oil or cream sparingly though. You should only use enough product to create a light film on the glove.... Use too much and you'll just have a mess on your hands. Using your fingers, get a small amount and wipe it around around the entire surface of the glove. Add a little extra to the glove area where it bends.
MOLD THE POCKET
Simply place a baseball in the glove where the ball should be caught. Wrap the glove with a rubberband, shoelace or long piece of string. This will allow the pocket to take the shape of the ball. Keep the glove wrapped for 1 -2 days. After the specified amount of time, unwrap the glove and bend it to ensure that it is properly softened and to work it in a bit more. Throw the ball into the center of the glove's pocket several times. You can also beat the glove (but be careful not to smash your fingers). Re-wrap the glove and store it overnight. Your glove should be ready to use in the morning.
Quite honestly, the best way to break in a new glove is to use it. More than anything else, playing catch with it will help you form the glove to your hand.
A good glove should last many years, so use patience and dedication when breaking it in.
Now... find your perfect Baseball or Softball Glove