Tips for Glove Selection
Updated Wednesday December 3, 2014 by Chesapeake City Little League.
Selecting the right glove is simple as long as you understand the fundamentals.
- Hand Orientation: Gloves are designed to be worn on a player’s non-dominant hand, so that the dominant hand can throw the ball. A right-handed player wears a glove on their left hand, described as a ‘Right-Hand Throw’ glove. A left-handed player wears a glove on their right hand, called a ‘Left-Hand Throw’ glove.
- Sizing: Gloves come in different sizes, and the optimal size depends on a player’s position. Sizes refer to the length of the glove, measured from the top of the index finger of the glove, through the inside of the palm, to the heel. Most gloves range from 9 inches to 13 inches.
- Player Position: Gloves are made differently to suit the needs of specific positions in the field and player ability. Be sure to pick a glove that is designed for the player’s field position and skill level.
Anatomy of a Glove
Each part of the glove is designed to help optimize your defensive game.
- Webbing: The preferred webbing pattern is determined by field position and player preference. Open webbing helps infielders quickly retrieve the ball, tightly woven webbing gives outfielders and third basemen extra support, and closed webbing allows pitchers to hide the ball from the batter.
- Pocket: The pocket is the center portion of the glove and the primary catching area. Pocket depth is determined by player position, with shallower pockets helping infielders quickly retrieve and throw the ball, and deeper pockets helping outfielders capture balls on the fly. Softball players also need deeper pockets to catch the larger ball.
- Back: The back of a glove can either be open or closed. Some infielders find an open back to be more flexible and forgiving, while outfielders may like a closed back with a finger hole for added support.
- Wrist Adjustment: Some gloves include wrist fit adjustments to help keep the glove snug on the player’s hand. The most popular closures are buckles, D-rings, laces, and Velcro.
- Padding: How padded a glove’s pocket is depends on position, with catcher’s mitts being the most padded. Many manufacturers add padding to all gloves to reduce palm shock.
Baseball and softball gloves for older players are specifically designed to suit the needs of a given field position and enhance a player’s performance.
- A Catcher’s Mitt has no finger channels, with heavy palm padding and reinforcements to reduce the sting of repeatedly catching pitches.
- A First Baseman’s Mitt also lacks finger channels, with added glove length to help catch infield throws. Features a shallow pocket for quick ball retrieval.
- An Infielder’s Glove has a shallow pocket for quick ball retrieval. Second base players require a smaller glove to make quick throws, while shortstops use a mid-sized glove to grab ground balls. Third base players need a larger glove for maximum catching power.
- An Outfielder’s Glove This glove is longer to provide extended reach, with a deep pocket to catch high balls.
- A Softball Glove is similar to its baseball counterparts by position, with softball gloves having more length and deeper pockets to handle the larger ball.
The majority of gloves are constructed using leather, treated leather, or synthetic materials, with the differences relating to feel and durability.
- Leather: Most high-end gloves are made of leather, which offers optimal feel and durability. Many leather gloves have to be broken-in to meet a player’s desired fit and feel.
- Treated Leather: Leather material is softened and strengthened during production for quicker break-in, better durability, and lower maintenance.
- Synthetic: A lower-cost alternative to leather that offers reduced durability and responsiveness, and is a good option for beginning players.
Breaking in a glove is the process of softening the leather so that it fits to a player’s hand and can easily and comfortably catch the ball. Below are some tips for breaking in a glove.
- Work the Padding: Using both hands, grab the heel of the glove on each side and twist it back and forth. This will ease the tension of the fibers in the padding.
- Soften the Leather: Condition the glove with a light coating of leather treatment oil, which will soften the leather. Do note, some oils will darken the glove leather.
- Wrap Your Glove: Place a baseball or softball in the pocket of your glove and fold it closed the way you want your glove to close in the game. Secure the ball in the glove with rubber bands and let it rest in a cool, dry place. This will shape your glove to easily conform to a ball.
- Play Catch: The more you play with your glove, the better it will fit to your hand.