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.
When choosing a glove, it is always best to try it on first. If you prefer to buy online, you should still shop around to find the brand, size, style and options that fit your needs and comfort level. Once you have played around with several models, you can safely order your glove online. A glove relies so much on feel that you just don’t want to order blindly.
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.
CHOOSING A GLOVE BY POSITION
Catcher’s mitts are unique because, while some gloves can be used in multiple positions, catcher’s mitts are exclusive to catchers. Catcher’s mitts (or catcher’s gloves) are fingerless and heavily padded to allow for catching fastballs all game long. Baseball catcher’s mitts also feature a smaller pocket that fielder’s gloves to make it easier to get the ball out quickly while softball catcher’s mitts have a larger pocket with less padding to accomodate the larger ball and slower pitching speeds. Some mitts include a finger hole for the catcher to place the index finger outside the glove. This is a preference option and the catcher should try different types of mitts on in their local baseball shop to see if this style is comfortable.
Fitting: Catcher’s mitts are measured by circumference rather than length. Youth catcher’s gloves measure 31″ or less and adult catcher’s gloves measure 32″ or larger. To get your correct size,
As a pitcher, you’ll want a glove with a closed webbing so they can hide and adjust their grip without the batter seeing what he’s doing. A pitcher’s glove is typically the same size as a third baseman’s glove (11 1/2″ – 12″). The only major difference is the webbing. In many leagues, the pitcher’s glove must be all one color (either all black or all brown).
Some pitcher’s gloves offer a finger hole to keep your index finger on the outside of the glove. If you prefer this style and your glove doesn’t come with it standard (some Rawlings models offer this), we recommend that you go to a leather shop and have a piece of leather attached to cover your finger. While this is for safety as well, the real reason is that pitchers will subconsciously tip off the speed of their pitches. The leather prevents this.
Most importantly, make sure the glove is comfortable on your hand. The size doesn’t really matter as long as you can focus on your pitches. If you’re a softball player, look for a glove that is a little larger in the pocket and longer in length for betting ball handling.
FIRST BASEMAN’S MITTS
First baseman’s mitts have the same basic look of a catchers mitt, but they are much longer and have less padding in the palm area. 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. These gloves feature a deeper pocket and more padding along the thumb.
Like catcher’s mitts, first baseman’s mitts can only be worn at first base. However, for very young children who play multiple positions, it may be more cost effective to buy a multi-use glove. Wait until they’re established in the position to get a first baseman’s mitt.
Adult firstbase BASEBALL gloves are typically 12″ – 12.5″ in length and have a deeper pocket and more padding along the thumb.
Adult firstbase BASEBALL gloves are typically 13 – 14″ in length.
When playing second base, third base or shortstop, keep in mind that you will spend most of your time fielding ground balls and throwing to first and you will want a glove that accommodates this role. If you play infield, you will want a smaller glove that allows you to catch and grab very quickly. You will also want a glove with squared fingers. Rounded fingers may hinder your ability to quickly grab a ground ball. The squared fingers will spread out widely with all fingers on the ground, which will allow for more of a barrier to keep the ball from going right past you.
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.
Fitting: Infielder’s gloves generally measure 10.5″ – 12″ in length and have a shallow pocket.
Outfielder’s gloves are designed much deeper than infielder’s gloves. Outfield gloves are larger, heavier and more thickly padded than those of infielders. While this makes fielding ground balls a little more difficult, the size greatly improves the ability to catch fly balls.
Many outfielders prefer a closed web to trap the ball more easily. However, there is a case to be made for open web. Outfielders are often hit with the sun in their eyes while looking up to catch a fly ball. With an open web, you can still see through while shielding your eyes. Really, there is no right or wrong on this feature. It’s completely by personal preference.
Outfielders gloves are larger and longer (12″ or more for adults) since these positions spend much of the game catching fly balls.
BREAKING IN YOUR GLOVE
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!
Quite honestly, the best way to break in a new glove is to use it. This can take more time than you have or want, so you can quicken the process with some tried and true methods. You’re likely to get a number of different methods depending on who you ask. It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s suggested method since glove leather can vary widely.
First things first… When buying a new glove, remember that fit is of the utmost importance. Like shoes, you want the glove to fit properly right from the start. Don’t choose a glove hoping it will stretch.
There are many ways to break in your new glove. Most are very similar and involve some sort of oil or cream. Depending on your preference, you can use shaving cream (foam, not gel), vaseline, mink oil or saddle soap. Sporting goods stores also carry a variety of specially made glove oils, 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.
Now you’ll need to create a pocket in the glove. 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.
Please note: While some swear by the “heating” method… I would avoid this at all cost. Common sense tells you that when you heat leather… even for 20 minutes, it’s bound to dry out.
|Print article||This entry was posted by HomerunMonkey on May 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm, and is filed under Articles. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|