How to Select & Break in a New Baseball or Softball Glove

Coach Kelly Coons' Glove

Coach Kelly Coons' Glove

It  is very frustrating to see a young player that is trying extremely hard at practice or in a game, but is struggling because he/she is using a glove that has been poorly broken in or not at all.  The player hustles all over the yard, attempts to use good technique, but when the ball comes to him/her, it either bounces out or off of their glove. 

A properly broken in piece of leather, not only increases a player’s opportunities to succeed defensively, but it’s also a safety issue.  When the player catches more balls, confidence goes through the roof.  We’ve all seen skilled players that fail due to issues related to self-esteem and confidence.  Safety for the youngest players is key.  Many parents go out and buy the cheapest, biggest, hardest glove possible.  Then they sit in the stands and shout, “Catch the Ball!” when their son or daughter misses every ball that comes at them.  Or even worse young players begin to get out of the way of oncoming pop-ups and grounders because they lack confidence in their ability to catch anything with the ginormous monstrosity of hard leather hanging from their arm. Avoidance and fear will increase the chance of injury.

Here are some recommendations for buying a glove:

  1. Size matters.  Players  8 and under should have a pattern no bigger than 10.5″. Players 9-12 no bigger than 12″. And with older players, it depends on the position. Outfielders may have a 13″ pattern, pitchers an middle infielders 11-11.5″, and 3rd basemen 12″- 12.5″.  
  2. Type of leather.  Make sure the glove is leather. If the glove costs less that $15. It probably isn’t.  It’s probably vinyl and stiff as a board.  Although, some more recent models have portions of neoprene or nylon on them in order to make them more flexible.  In turn, I believe it was the Cooper company  that came out with gloves that had a softer “pre-broken in” feel to it about 12-15 years ago.  Now, almost every company has something similar.  I’ve have had a good amount of success with Rawlings.  Rawlings has a wide variety of quality gloves for all ages.  I’m especially impressed with their “Players” series and “Triple Play” series for kids 10 and under. These series are usually under $35.  They have huge pockets and a very flexible leather.  The “Gold Glove” series is mainstay for teens and beyond.  Most gloves in this series are between $65-110.  They have a thicker, stiffer leather, but are built to last. I found a great deal on one on eBay for $50. It has lasted 7 years and is still going.
  3. The Fit. Take the player using the glove with you when buying the glove. Even if you don’t buy it there, get one on the hands that are going to be using it and then buy it on the Internet if you want.  Don’t buy the pink one for your daughter, because it’s prettier than the others.  After a week, the coolness of the pink glove will wear off and it will come down to how it feels. There are a few factors that come into the actual fit of a glove:
  • Index finger hole
  • Straps for tightness
  • Palm pad on the inside
  • Thumb and pinky placement
  • Overall weight

Now that you’ve purchased a glove, let’s break it in. First and foremost, DO NOT BUY THE GLOVE A WEEK BEFORE THE SEASON STARTS!!!  It is very difficult to break it in properly in time for it to be used correctly. For older players, I recommend buying it a year before it will actually be used. Then it can be used during pre-game warm-ups to get it broken in. There are many different methods. I’m going to share what has worked for me.

Here are the steps:

  1. Buy either a typical glove oil ($2.99 at any store that carries gloves), or I really like Hot Glove ($4.99). Hot Glove is a foam that looks like shaving cream, you actually rub it on the glove and bake it (low temperature) for about 4 minutes.
  2. Spend 10-15 minutes bending the glove in many directions.
  3. Place a ball in the pocket (not the web). For high school and beyond baseball & softball gloves, I recommend using a 12″ softball. It will create a larger pocket.
  4. Tightly tie some twine around the glove so the ball in stationary in the pocket. I typically use an 18″ bungee strap.  It’s cheap, reusable, and easier to get on and off.
  5. Let it sit for one month.
  6. Untie the glove and play catch or sit and firmly toss a ball into the pocket 200-300 times.
  7. Repeat if necessary steps 1-6, if necessary.
  8. For annual maintenance, I use Edge shaving gel (purple or orange lid).  The ingredients that protect the skin on your face will also protect the leather. Rub it into the entire outside of the glove. I like to do this before and after the season. Make sure to get all of the laces. The laces will break as the glove gets older if not cared for properly. If you don’t want to use the shaving gel, a regular glove oil will do.

Here’s are  some  videos on breaking in gloves:

Any other methods or ideas, please feel free to comment.  I look forward to some new ideas.


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