Selecting a Baseball & Softball Glove
Athletes looking for the perfect glove can find it at Dick's Sporting Goods. We've put together a practical guide to help you understand the fundamentals and navigate through the process of buying your glove. Different gloves suit different types of players and positions, so understanding the position you play is important.
Covering the Fundamentals
Gloves are measured by starting at the top of the index finger of the glove and measuring down the finger, along the inside of the pocket and then out to the heel of the glove. Most gloves have the pre-measured size stamped inside where the pocket is. Typical fielding sizes range from 9" - 13".
Choosing a Right Handed or Left Handed Glove
A glove is typically worn on the non-dominant hand so the dominant hand is ready to throw the ball. Purchasing a glove to fit on the left hand is called a "Right Hand Throw" while a glove that fits on the right hand is called a "Left Hand Throw", sometimes referred to as "Full Right". So a right-handed player would wear a glove on the left hand.
Understanding Glove Construction
Glove construction can appear overwhelming, but understanding the basic elements is an important step in getting the right glove for your game. Here are the key features in the craftsmanship of a glove to help you perform at your best:
Web/Pocket: connects the fingers and the thumb allowing for secure control of the ball upon impact, features a tightly woven piece of leather that will allow the fielder to close his hand on the ball and easily maintain possession. This is where you want to catch most fly balls, pop ups and line drives. See the selecting a glove by position section for recommended web by position.
Palm: often features padding under the leather to give the palm protection.
Heel: the lower portion of the glove, palm side, which provides protection and determines the break of your glove.
Lacing: provides shape to the glove, leather is the preferred lacing material allowing the laces to break in as the glove breaks in.
Hinge: allows the glove to open and close easily.
Wrist adjustment: an optional feature in some gloves that allows an adjustment for the player who likes a snug fit. This is common in youth baseball, women's and girl's Fastpitch / Slow Pitch. Special features of the most popular types of wrist adjustments:
D-ring fastener: allows you to pull on the lacing and make the glove tighter or looser.
Velcro fastener: offers convenience of pulling and adjusting to fit your comfort level.
Lacing adjustment: allows you to loosen or tighten the wrist fastener with leather laces.
Buckle system: adjusts the glove with a buckle similar to an adjustable hat.
Gloves are crafted from a variety of materials, the difference being in the quality, feel and durability. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Synthetic leather: easy to close with no "break in" required and lighter for younger players.
Softened, oil-treated leather: easy "break-in" and game-ready feel featuring synthetic finger stall lining.
Premium leather: offers enhanced feel and durability with a more specific break in and fit.
Pro Series leather: the highest quality leather, offering the elite player unparalleled, craftsmanship, durability and comfort.
Fit, Feel & Style
Although selecting the correct glove for your specific needs depends on two critical factors, your age and field position, it also depends on your personal preferences. The following are simple guidelines to follow:
Fit: choose a glove that fits fairly snug. Be careful not to purchase a glove a glove too big for your hand, as it could hinder player performance.
Feel: your glove should be stiff enough to give strength, yet offer the flexibility to provide control and agility.
Style: choose a look and color that fits you while making sure the web pattern is right for your position.
Selecting a Glove by Position
To achieve your ultimate potential, choose a glove that's appropriate for your position on the field. Here are a few things to look for:
Catcher: a fingerless mitt featuring heavy padding to reduce the sting from the pitcher's throw and a claw-like shape to properly catch the pitch. The special design also helps to provide a target for the pitcher.
Pitcher: often has closed webbing to allow pitchers to conceal their grip on the ball.
First Base: very long and wide, specifically designed for those balls thrown in the dirt to scoop up. It is longer to help the first baseman field throws from infielders and a shallow pocket allows the first baseman to quickly retrieve the ball.
Infield: five-fingered glove with a shallow pocket for a quick throw to the necessary base, offering open webbing so the player throws only the ball, not the dirt that was locked in the glove.
Outfield: deeper pocket to catch fly balls and longer glove length for more reach.
Breaking In Your Ball Glove
Here are tips for softening your glove from Wilson's® renowned master glove maker, Shigeaki Aso, who designs gloves for Major League Baseball's top pros:
- Moisten the leather. Pour a small amount of hot water (150 -170 degrees) over any area of your new glove you want to make softer. IMPORTANT: DO NOT PUT YOUR GLOVE IN THE MICROWAVE OR USE DETERGENTS TO SOFTEN YOUR GLOVE. THIS CAN DO PERMANENT DAMAGE TO THE LEATHER.
- Work the most rigid parts of your glove. Bend the thumb and pinky back and forth towards each other and away from each other. Squeeze the thumb and pinky together. Push the back fingers down and squeeze the palm liner. Pull the web top to stretch a little. Repeat this process 6-8 times before your glove is completely dry.
- Pound the glove. Using a wooden mallet or 5 lb neoprene dumbbell, and WITH THE GLOVE OFF OF YOUR HAND, pound your glove at the pocket where you would catch the ball and the area that folds when you catch the ball. Pound the web as well, creating a fold to be where you want your glove to break. Be sure to pound both the back and the palm side to speed things up. Finally, throw a baseball into the pocket 30-40 times before the glove is dry. This will further break in the pocket, while also allowing your glove to begin conforming to your hand.
- Shape the glove. Put a ball in the pocket and wrap your glove with 2-3 rubber bands. The bands should be very snug, but not tight. Allow to set for 4-5 hours then repeat step 3. This will ensure your glove will begin to take the shape you want when it dries, and not revert back to its natural shape.
- Condition the glove. Once completely dry, rub the entire glove with a high quality glove conditioner. Repeat the process of conditioning your glove 3-4 times each season and before storing for the off-season. Remember to store your glove in your house as opposed to in your garage for longer life and maintaining better condition.
Properly caring for your baseball glove can make an enormous difference in the lifespan of your glove. Here are some helpful hints:
- Keep your glove in a cool, dry place when it is not in use.
- If your glove gets wet, dry it with a towel and let it air-dry.
- Do not over oil your glove, a couple times each season is appropriate.
- Keep the glove laces tight.
Glove Steamer Machines
Available in select Dick's Sporting Goods stores, glove steamer machines can break in your new glove into game-ready condition within minutes. Your newly purchased glove can be steamed to soften the leather and relax the seams for a precise fit to your hand and playing style. Click here for the list of stores currently offering this service.
For superior performance and success, the size of your glove matters. This is also an important step for promoting player safety. Avoid buying an oversized glove. Beginners should stick to a smaller glove for additional control. Youth glove construction provides shorter, narrower finger stalls, and tighter wrist closure for enhanced control.
Shop our great selection of Youth Gloves
Dick's Sporting Goods carries a vast assortment of premium leather gloves, each with their own technologies, unique styling and advantages for today's players. Adult glove construction offers full-size finger stalls, wrist closure and pockets. The web designs differ based on field position.
Adult League Regulations
Pitcher, infield and outfield players cannot use a glove size that exceeds 12.75".
Shop our great selection of Adult Gloves
WOMEN'S & GIRL'S FASTPITCH / SLOW PITCH GLOVES
The right Fastpitch glove comes down to proper fit. While there are many styles and sizes to choose from, knowing your field position is a great way to narrow down the search. The special design of these gloves offers larger pockets to accommodate a softball and shorter, narrow finger stalls to better fit a woman's hand.
Shop our great selection of Fastpitch Gloves
SLOW PITCH GLOVES
The Slow Pitch softball game requires a larger pocket and an overall longer glove to accommodate a softball.
Shop our great selection of Slow Pitch Gloves
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What type of glove is recommended for a beginner? Gloves should be chosen carefully. Start by selecting the correct size and webbing for the position you intend to play. Next, choose a glove that is easy to close, fits comfortably and has a game ready feel.
2. What is the difference between gloves and mitts? Catcher's and first basemen's gloves are classified as mitts whereas all other positions are classified as gloves.
3. What is the significance of the web pattern and having so many choices? Webs are designed to be position specific. Each different web option allows that player an advantage at their position.
4. What's the difference between youth, adult, women's & girl's Fastpitch / Slow Pitch and men's Slow Pitch gloves? As you can see explained throughout the guide, each level/division of sport has gloves designed specifically for the position/size of player.
5. What's the difference between youth and adult gloves? Each level and division of sport has gloves designed specifically enhance your skill level based on your position and size/age. This guide is intended to help you choose get the right glove that is best for you.
6. Do they make gloves specifically for left-hand throwers? Yes. Most all gloves come in a left or right hand option.
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