What is one of the most important things you need to be able to do in the game of softball? Catch a ball! If you can’t catch those balls, you will never get the other team out. Because catching is such an important part of softball, if you play the game, softball gloves are one of the most important pieces of equipment you are going to own.
You want to purchase a high quality softball glove; one that is durable, offers you plenty of room to catch the ball, is easy to maneuver and one that is comfortable. With such high demands, finding a glove that will meet your specific needs can be a bit challenging. There are so many options to choose from, so how do you know where to start? By reading this guide, of course!
This article will introduce you to everything you need to know about softball gloves. We’ve taken the time to fill the pages of this guide with all of the pertinent information that you will need to purchase a glove, and to help make the process of buying a softball glove as convenient as possible.
After you read this comprehensive buyer’s guide, you will have all of the information that you need to purchase the best possible softball glove.
The Types Of Softball Gloves
It’s important to remember that though the term ‘glove’ and ‘mitt’ is often interchanged; there is a very distinct difference between the two: Gloves have more defined separations for the fingers, while mitts do not. Only catchers and first basemen use mitts, while the softball players in all other positions use gloves.
With that being said, different positions require different catching needs, which is why there are different types of softball gloves and mitts. Each type of softball glove and mitt is specifically designed to meet the catching needs that are required in each position that is played on the diamond. There are four main types of softball gloves and mitts, which include:
- The catcher’s mitt
- The first basemen’s mitt
- The infield glove
- The outfield glove
Below, we will take a detailed look at each of these four types of softball gloves and mitts so that you can have a better understanding of each one.
The Catcher’s Mitt
In the game of softball, the catcher must be able to grab, handle and keep a grip on balls that are moving at high speeds. In order to ensure that the catcher can do all of these things, the mitt that is designed for this position is the largest of all four types of softball gloves. In fact, its circumference ranges anywhere from 31 and 34 ½ inches.
The catcher’s mitt also has the deepest pocket, which allows the catcher to properly handle and hold onto the ball. The circumference of the catcher’s mitt is surrounded with heavy padding that protects the hand from those fast moving balls.
This type of softball glove can only be worn by the person who is in the catcher’s position. Because time is of the essences when passing the ball from the mitt to the hand, a lightweight glove is ideal; if the glove is too heavy, it could slow down the rate of speed at which the catcher can make a transfer.
The First Baseman’s Mitt
As the name indicates, the first baseman’s mitt is designed specifically for the player who is standing covering first base. It resembles a mixture of a catcher’s mitt and a field glove; however, unlike the catcher’s mitt, the first baseman’s mitt does not have extra padding around its circumference. Additionally, the pocket of this type of mitt is not as deep as the catcher’s mitt, which allows for a faster transfer of the ball from the mitt to the hand.
The first baseman’s miss is the longest of all softball gloves. It can actually be as long as 14 inches. This extra length provides extra space for the first baseman to secure the balls that are thrown from the infield. The first basemen’s mitt can only be used when standing guard over first base.
The Infield Glove
Players on the infield need to be prepared for constant action, and the infield glove is designed to handle the level of action that infielders experience. Infield gloves range in size from 11 ¼ inches to 12 inches long, and they have smaller pockets than catcher’s mitts and first basemen mitts.
The shorter size of the glove allows for quicker turnaround times, as it allows the player to transfer the ball from the glove to the hand more quickly, which is important for making the play (throwing the ball from the infield to a base in order to get a player out.)
There are also special infield gloves that are designed for utility players who play both the infield and the outfield. The size of these gloves ranges from 12 ¼ inches to 13 ¼ inches. The length of these gloves makes it possible for utility players makes it possible for these players to use the same glove, whether they are playing the infield or the outfield.
Pitchers also use infield gloves. Though there isn’t any specified size that is recommended for these key players, they do need to use a glove that is comfortable and short enough to allow for the quick transfer of the ball to the hand; however, they also need to use a glove that is long enough to hide the ball so that they can conceal the pitch they are going to make from the batter before they actually throw the ball.
The Outfield Glove
The objective of an outfield player is much different than an infield player. An infielder needs shorter gloves to allow for a faster transfer of the ball from the glove to the hand, which increases their ability to make necessary plays; however, the objective of the outfielder is to catch balls that are moving at rapid speeds, such as in the hold grounder throws and fly balls.
As such, those who play the outfield need a glove that is longer to properly handle the speed of the ball.
Outfield gloves usually range in size from 13 to 14 inches. Often, an outfielder will need to dive for the ball, and the extra length of this glove gives these players a better opportunity to catch the ball in these intense situations.
The Different Styles Of Softball Gloves
In addition to different types of softball gloves (and mitts,) there are also different styles, which is important to know when you are looking for the right glove for your needs. Aside from different lengths, there are additional options that will allow you to customize your glove to better suit your needs so that you can get the best glove possible.
Softball gloves come in six different styles:
- Open back - The open back style keeps the top portion of the wrist exposed, increasing flexibility. This is usually the preferred style for infielders.
- Closed back - With the closed back style, the glove completely encloses the hand. Often, there is a hole for the index fingers, which will allow you to position this finger outside of the glove, allowing for extra support. The closed back style is often the choice of outfield players.
- Velcro adjustment - This softball glove style is the most convenient. The Velcro strap allows the player to loosen or tighten the glove in a matter of seconds so that they can get the best and most secure fit so that they can adjust the glove on a moment’s and still be prepared to catch the ball.
- Lace adjustment - The lace adjustment style softball glove has laces along the wrist. To tighten the glove, the player pulls on the laces. This type of adjustment can allow for a more secure fit, but it takes more time to make adjustments.
- D-ring adjustment - This style of softball glove also has laces around the wrist; however, only one lace needs to be pulled to make the glove fit tighter around the wrist. This allows for a quicker adjustment.
- Buckle adjustment - A buckle is located on the back of the wrist with this style of softball glove. A flap fits through the buckle and can be pulled to tighten it or let out to loosen it, and the clasp is closed to secure it in place.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Softball Glove
There are several factors that should be taken into consideration while shopping for a softball glove (or mitt.) Some of the most important factors to keep in mind include the fit of the glove, the web design and the cost. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best glove or mitt for your specific needs, which will enhance your ability to catch the ball and improve your game.
To learn more about the above mentioned factors, and others, that we think are the most important to keep in mind when you are looking for a softball glove or mitt, please keep on reading.
The Web Design Of The Glove
One of the most important factors to consider is the web design of the softball glove. There are two types of web designs available: The open web design or the closed web design. The web design impacts the support that the glove offers while catching the ball.
With a closed web design, the ball is completely concealed inside the glove or mitt. This design also increases the support that the glove offers. Pitchers often opt for a closed web design because it keeps the ball out of sight so that the player can hide the pitch that he or she is going to throw. Outfield players also often opt for a closed web design because of the increased support, which can be valuable when catching those fast moving balls.
An open web design allows for better handling of the ball. For that reason, infielders often prefer this type of web design, as it allows them to transfer the ball from the glove to the hand quicker.
The Position You Play
As the ‘types’ section of this buyer’s guide indicates, softball gloves and mitts are designed to be used for different positions. You want to make sure that you keep the position that you play in mind when you are shopping for your softball glove or mitt; should you choose an option that isn’t designed for the position that you play, you will not have as much control over the ball, which will impact your ability to retrieve and transfer the ball.
The Fit Of The Softball Glove
In order to properly use it, a softball glove needs to be comfortable. If it is uncomfortable, the player will have a difficult time handling the glove, and therefore will have a difficult time catching the ball and making plays.
With that said, you want to make sure that the softball glove or mitt that you choose properly fits your hand. When you are shopping, make sure you try on the glove and maneuver it so that you can get a really good idea of how it fits and feels on your hand. In order to have the best possible control over the ball, you need to make sure that you can open and close the glove with ease.
This will allow you to grab – and keep – a hold of the ball, and will also allow you to open it quickly so that you can transfer it from the ball from the glove to your hand, improving the speed at which you can make your plays.
The age and the position of the player is also important when considering the fit. Typically, for youth players, the glove should not be any further than one inch past the tips of the fingers. This is a general rule of thumb for all positions. If it is any longer than this, the youth player will have a difficult time catching the ball.
For older infield players, the glove should not extend any more than 1 ½ inches past the tips of the fingers, and for outfield players, the glove should not be any more than 3 inches past the ends of the fingers. For catchers and first basemen, the ideal fit of the mitt is no longer than 1 inch beyond the tips of the fingers. These dimensions will allow players in each position to maintain maximum control over the ball.
You should also keep in mind that there are gloves that are specifically designed for left hand and right hand players. The softball glove should be worn on the non-dominant hand; if you are left-handed, the glove should be worn on your right hand, and if you are right-handed, the glove should be worn on your left hand.
No matter what position you play, the age of the player, or whether the player is right-handed or left-handed, the softball glove should fit snuggly. It should also be stiff enough so that it can stop the ball, yet flexible so that the player can make catches and throws as quickly as possible.
Softball Glove Materials
Softball gloves are usually made of leather, though they can also be made of synthetic materials, or a combination of leather and synthetic materials.
Softball gloves that are made only of synthetic materials are the least durable. They should only be used by youth players, as they will not last as long. Since the hands of a youth player will grow, longevity is not of paramount concern, as the glove will need to be replaced.
Pigskin And Cowhide
An upgrade from synthetic materials, softball gloves that are constructed of pigskin and cowhide are more durable and more comfortable. Cowhide is more durable than pigskin, but not as flexible as pigskin. While gloves that are constructed of pigskin are more flexible, they do not last as long as cowhide gloves.
Full-grain leather is the most common material used for adult softball gloves. Stiff and heavy, full-grain leather lasts a long time and is comfortable, once broken in; however, do keep in mind that because full-grain leather is stiff and heavy, it will require a bit of time to break in to get the right fit and comfort level.
Steer Hide Leather
Steer hide is another type of leather that is used for softball gloves. This material is the heaviest and most durable of all the materials used for softball glove construction. Though these gloves will last the longest, they do need to be broken in to ensure that they fit properly.
If you opt for steer hide leather, make sure you pay careful attention to the quality of the leather because there aren’t any guidelines set forth that indicate the quality of the steer hide that is used. On that note, gloves that say they are constructed of premium steer hide may, in fact, not be as high quality as is indicated.
The Cost Of The Softball Glove
When you buy any product, the cost is always an important factor to bear in mind. Softball gloves and mitts come in a wide range of prices, and you want to make sure that you are spending an amount that is within your means.
Keep in mind that the cost doesn’t always reflect the quality of the glove. In other words, a higher price does not necessarily mean a better glove, and lower priced gloves can be just as – if not more – durable and comfortable than gloves that have a higher price tag.
The materials that the glove or mitt is constructed out of will impact the cost of the glove. The higher the quality of the material, the more expensive the glove or mitt will be. Prices for softball gloves and mitts can range from as low as $20 to as high as more than $300.
How To Break In A Softball Glove
Once you purchase a new softball glove, you will have to break it in. Even gloves that are constructed of more flexible materials are a bit stiff when purchased. To ensure the proper fit and that the glove is as comfortable and as flexible as possible, you need to make sure that you break it in.
While there are several suggested methods for breaking in a softball glove or mitt, the only truly effective way to get the proper fit s to wear it and use it. Wear it to your practices and play catch with it on a daily basis. You can also apply olive oil to the glove, which will help soften the material and help to break it in quicker.
When you are breaking in your clove, make sure you pay special attention to the pocket. If the pocket becomes too loose, you will lose control of the ball. To keep the preserve the structure of the pocket, place a ball inside of it when you aren’t using it.
If you play softball, a glove or a mitt is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you will use. By using the information presented in this buyer’s guide, you will be able to find the right softball glove for your needs, including the position that you play, one that will properly fit your hand, and one that will overall enhance your ability to handle the ball.