SOFTBALL GLOVE BUYING GUIDE

From professional all-stars to youngsters in their first summer league, softball gloves are a key piece of the game. There are a lot of options when trying to decide on the right softball glove. Differing materials, web types and intended playing positions can influence your pick. Knowing these factors from the start can help you better understand how to choose the right glove for your game this season.

GLOVE ANATOMY

WEBBING

Web styles are open or closed

Open: Preferred by fielders for a quicker ball-to-hand transfer. Styles include I-Web, H-Web, Cross, Trapeze or Modified Trap. Helpful for catching fly balls, allowing players to see through the webbing while still blocking out the sun

Closed: This web style can offer more support and is commonly used by pitchers to shield their hand and the ball to avoid tipping their pitch

POCKET

Connects the fingers and thumb for ball control on impact. Features a tightly woven leather piece allowing fielders to close their hand and maintain possession

Shallow: Preferred by infielders, shallow pockets can promote a quicker ball-to-hand transfer to gain split seconds when making a play

Deep: Preferred by outfielders, deep pockets can offer a larger catching area for improved ball security when making plays on the run

BACK

Also known as the "wrist closure" or "space" for the index finger. Some players prefer the flexibility of a traditional, open back design, while other athletes might opt for the tighter, more stable fit of a closed back

PALM

Padding beneath the leather for increased protection on impact

HEEL

This is the lower portion of the glove on the palm side. The heel helps provide protection and determines the break of your glove

HINGE

Allows the glove to open and close easily

WRIST

An adjustment feature is common in youth and fastpitch softball gloves to ensure an optimal fit on a smaller hand. This can come in the form of D-ring fasteners, Velcro, hook-and-loop fasteners and buckle systems.

FINGER STALLS

The finger openings on a glove. Youth and fastpitch glove finger stalls are generally tighter than baseball gloves to help smaller hands close the glove more easily.

FOR YOUR POSITION

DICK'S PRO TIP: You'll rarely find an adult slowpitch glove built specifically for catchers or first basemen - due to both the nature of the game itself and the fact that slowpitch gloves are already larger than fastpitch gloves. Most slowpitch gloves are deemed "utility" (or, built for any position)

DICK'S PRO TIP: All softball gloves are designed to catch an 11" or 12" softball (substantially larger than a 9" baseball). Adult slowpitch gloves typically come in larger sizes. Slowpitch glove pockets are, typically,deeper than fastpitch because there are more fly balls within the game itself. A deeper pocket can make it easier to trap balls in the web.

HAND

Type of throw: Refers to which hand a player uses to throw the ball (not which hand the glove is on), depending on if the player is right-handed or left-handed

Right Hand Throw (RHT). The player throws with his or her right hand and wears the glove on their left

Left Hand Throw (LHT): The player throws with his or her left hand and wears the glove on their right

WEB TYPES

BASKET: This pattern is a favorite among pitchers looking to hide the ball. Basket webs can also be easier to close due to the flexibility in the basket weave

TRAPEZE: This option is often seen on outfielder gloves. Featuring a leather strap with interlaced lacing on each side, the trapeze web type can create a deeper pocket for catching fly balls while also allowing for more visibility

MODIFIED TRAP: Pitchers, infielders and outfielders universally use the modified trap web pattern. Similar to the trapeze web type, this pattern adds a leather strip to the top of the web for more stability

H-WEB: H-Webs get their name from the “H” the leather posts create when sewn together. This web type is versatile - popular among outfielders and infielders, particularly third basemen. The open web allows dirt and debris to fall right through while remaining sturdy enough to field hard-hit balls

I-WEB: Like the H-Web, the I-Web features leather posts in a capital “I” shape. This pattern is popular with middle infielders, as dirt and debris falls right through for easier transfers and exchanges

SINGLE POST: Also known as a Cross Web, the single post pattern provides ample flexibility and visibility. This web style features a lone vertical leather strip paired with two horizontal bars

TWO-PIECE CLOSED: Like the basket web, two-piece web types can be great at concealing pitches, but tend to carry a little more weight due to the addition of two leather patches

WEB TYPES: FIRST BASE

SINGLE POST: Just like single post webs for fielder’s gloves, this web style can provide visibility and flexibility for athletes. The single post, or cross, pattern features two strips of leather across a vertical post

MODIFIED H-WEB: This web style modifies the classic H-Web pattern by featuring an added top leather strip. This can expand a first baseman’s catch radius and make for easier fielding

DUAL BAR: Dual-bar webs features two horizontal leather bars stitched together. This forms the pocket, which can aid first basemen in trapping and securing the ball

WEB TYPES: CATCHERS

HALF MOON: Similar to the two-piece web style found in fielder’s gloves, the half-moon pattern features two leather pieces laced together. This pattern creates a tight pocket and can offer more flexibility than other one-piece styles

ONE-PIECE: This web pattern features one large piece of leather and is a popular style for catcher’s mitts. The lacing around the outer edge helps form a tight, shallow pocket

DICK'S PRO TIP: For more information on Catcher's Mitts, visits our "Catcher's Gear" Buying Guide Here

FASTPITCH SOFTBALL GLOVE SIZE CHART

POSITON AGE GLOVE SIZE
INFIELD

8-11

12+

11"-12"

11.5"-12"

OUTFIELD

8-11

12+

11.5"-12"

12"-12"

PITCHER

8-11

12+

11.5"-12"

12"-12.5"

UTILITY/ALL POSITONS

8-11

12+

11.5"

12"

ADULT SLOWPITCH SOFTBALL GLOVE SIZE CHART

POSITON GLOVE SIZE
INFIELD 12.5"-13"
OUTFIELD 13"-14"
PITCHER 12.5"-14"
UTILITY/ALL POSITONS 13"-14"

DICK'S PRO TIP: A common misconception is that a small glove can make it harder for a player to catch the ball – but that’s not the case, especially for youth players! The more control a player has over their glove, the better. This can allow them to securely position themselves and handle the ball without added the added strain of a larger glove

MATERIALS

SYNTHETIC: When a player is first introduced to the game, synthetic materials can be a great choice. These gloves are made of softer man-made materials, making it easier to close, which helps players as they learn the concepts of catching, throwing and fielding. You also won’t have to go through a break-in period with synthetic gloves. Synthetic leather is on the lower end of the price scale, as well, so if a player grows out of their mitt, replacements can be easily afforded.

PIGSKIN OR COWHIDE: Cowhide and pigskin leathers offer a great mix of durability, feel, performance and cost-effectiveness. They offer a medium weight, with some break-in time required before use (but are often pre-oiled to speed up this process). Cowhide or pigskin leathers can be great for players 10 and up who may outgrow their glove quickly.

FULL-GRAIN LEATHER: Full-grain leather is steer or cowhide leather in which the entire natural grain remains visible on the glove. It is stiffer and requires more break-in time than other hides, but is also more durable - built to last season after season. Full-grain leather is commonly found on high end youth gloves, top tier adult gloves and catcher's mitts (which require extra strength and durability).

PREMIUM STEERHIDE: Premium steerhide is designed for serious baseball players and can be commonly seen at the high school, collegiate and pro level. "Pro Stock" steerhide, sourced from the back shoulder of a grown steer, offers a feel that is much heavier and stiffer than other leathers. Strong, high-quality leather also means that these gloves can take longer to break in (though some steer hides may come pre-oiled for a softer feel). Premium leather is more of an investment, but can make up for that expense in durability and lifespan.

KIP LEATHER: Kip leather, made from younger cattle, is softer and more lightweight when compared to cowhide leather. These gloves are tightly grained and very durable, but require significantly less break-in time compared to premium steerhide options. Kip (which is often described as having a "buttery" look and feel) is most popular among infielders who require quicker hands. Kip leather has also grown in popularity amongst college and professional players.

DICK'S PRO TIP: Glove technologies are constantly evolving. For example, select Wilson baseball and softball gloves come with Spin Control Technology, a dimpled pattern on the palm that helps reduce spin and increase control. 

Some premium softball gloves can also feature synthetic, mesh-like materials on the back-of-hand to reduce the overall weight without compromising that leather feel and performance in the pocket

DICK'S PRO TIP: What is a “Pro Series” or “Pro Stock” Glove? These terms help athletes identify which mitts offer the highest quality of leather and materials in the game today! These gloves, usually crafted by hand, deliver the same performance, durability, technologies and superior feel that pro athletes trust. Shop our lineup of Pro Series gloves.

BREAKING IN YOUR GLOVE

Players of all skill levels should break in their glove before play, but its important you break in your leather properly. Your glove should fit snug, and feel as if it is an extension of your hand. Breaking in your glove helps add to this cohesion and eliminate any unwanted stiffness or rigidity. It can also create a pocket that will more securely hold the ball.

DICK'S PRO TIP: The skilled Softball and Baseball PROS at DICK'S Sporting Goods can get your glove or mitt into game-day condition with our in-store Glove Steaming services and Relacing Services. Learn more HERE.

CARING FOR YOUR GLOVE ALL SEASON LONG

Every softball player has a special connection to their glove. Keep your glove in top condition all year with these simple tips

Store your glove in your house – as opposed to the trunk of your car or in your garage – for longer life and to help maintain better condition. If your glove gets wet, dry it off with a clean rag and let it naturally air dry. Using a dryer or furnace vent to speed up the drying process could crack the leather. Don’t forget to also care for your glove’s leather by applying a small amount of oil or glove conditioning cream every so often during the season. It’s also a good habit to treat your glove just before you store it away for the offseason.

  • Tighten any loose laces or knots that may appear
  • Wipe off dirt or other foregin substances with a soft cloth or brush after each
  • Sweat and dirt from your hands can damage the inside of your glove, too. Consider wearing a light batting glove or "under-mitt" glove to protect your mitt's interior
  • Use conditioners and oils sparingly. Over-caring for your glove can be detrimental, as the oils can make your glove heavier and actually shorten the leather’s lifespan. Roughly three to four treatments per season should be enough to keep your equipment in top-notch condition all year
  • DICK'S offers plenty of glove care accessories to help you re-soften and reshape your glove, to help you get the most life out of your mitt. Shop HERE

DICK'S PRO TIPS: Use conditioners and oils sparingly. Over-caring for your glove can be detrimental, as the oils can make your glove heavier and actually shorten the leather’s lifespan. Roughly three to four treatments per season should be enough to keep your equipment in top-notch condition

DICK'S PRO TIP: DICK'S offers glove re-lacing services at select stores. Visit our Store Locator page to find one near you!