How to Choose a Softball Pitcher's Glove
Success in the circle starts with the right equipment. Know what to look for in a pitcher's glove before you take the mound.
Just as your timing, step and release are all pivotal in pitching, so is your choice of glove. Having the right softball pitcher’s glove can greatly benefit a player. Generally, pitchers will look for a glove that they feel comfortable in, but the ability to hide the ball is one of the most desirable traits a glove can possess. When choosing your grip or making adjustments, you do not want to tip your pitch to the batter and give them an early advantage. In order to counter this, pitchers look for specific glove features, namely pocket depth, webbing and size.
Fastpitch gloves are designed with the player in mind. A softball is much larger than a baseball, so the gloves worn by fastpitch players need a deeper pocket. There are some variations among gloves by position, though, and pitchers should opt for a deeper pocket. This feature makes it easier to control your pitch grip, and also keeps the ball hidden from the opposing batter.
Another feature that aids in keeping pitchers hidden is a closed webbing. A one-piece closed or two-piece closed web design gives no viewing window to the batter, covering the ball and pitcher’s hand while in the glove. Not tipping your pitch can be the difference between a strike and a home run, so taking web design seriously is vital to a pitcher’s success.
KNOTLESS BACK DESIGN
Another feature that pitchers should look for, especially younger athletes, is a glove that features a knotless back (or less lacing). In pitching, pulling down your glove hand at the same speed as your throwing hand during a windup is a key component in timing. A typical technique taught to accomplish this is slapping your leg with your glove. This technique, if used with a knotted back however, can leave marks and sometimes bruising. Softball pitcher glove designs have taken this into consideration however, resulting in gloves with minimal lacing on the back as well as knotless designs to lessen the aftereffects of this drill.
Pitchers will want to look for a glove that they can comfortably control. Because they usually field less balls than other position players, they do not need to take range or ball transfer into major consideration. As with web design, though, hiding the ball and pitch selection is the main focus, and having a glove that is too small can hinder a pitcher’s ability to do so. In general, you want to look for a glove that will give you ample size to shield your pitch.
You should also take into consideration which league you play in: fastpitch, slow pitch or an adult rec league. The larger ball used in slow pitch calls for a larger glove, so be sure to pay attention to sizing.
Because the ball is 11" in fastpitch, youth pitcher’s gloves are typically sized between 11.5" and 12", while pitchers ages 13 and up should look for gloves sized between 12" and 12.5".
In slow pitch, the ball is 12", so players should look at gloves sized 12" and 13". In adult rec leagues, the softball is even bigger — about 14" — so, men’s slow pitch pitchers should stick to a glove ranging between 12.5" and 13".
When it comes to glove material, pitchers can choose from multiple types of leather including synthetic, cowhide, pigskin, full-grain and steerhide. Cowhide and pigskin will be more economically priced than others, but full-grain and steerhide gloves have been shown to last longer, which is why most premium and pro series gloves are made from these two leather types. Ultimately, however, the decision is up to player preference.
As with any piece of equipment, you should be sure that you are comfortable with using your pitcher’s glove. A snug, controllable fit is desirable, and players can use personal preference when deciding on material and color. Confidence is key in the circle, and your glove choice should help ensure you’ll play your best.