Softball gloves are large than baseball gloves because softball is large than baseball. Softball gloves differ for different positions. Softball gloves include catchers’ mitt, first baseman mitt, pitcher gloves, infield glove, and outfield glove.
Catchers use catchers’ mitt while first base players use first baseman mitt. Second base, third base, and shortstop players use infield gloves while left, right, and center field players use outfield gloves. Also, pitchers use pitcher gloves.
During a match or practice, wear your softball glove on your non-dominant hand, i.e., for right-handed players, wear your glove on the left hand and for left-handed players, wear your glove on the right hand.
Materials for making softball gloves are leather and synthetic plastic. Synthetic plastic gloves are not as durable as leather gloves, but they are cheaper. However, leather gloves are stiff, and they need to be a break-in.
Break-in of softball gloves
Newly purchased gloves can be stiff, and this affects the glove’s performance. Before play, there should be a proper break-in of gloves. Break-in of gloves makes gloves comfortable and fit correctly. To know how to choose the right size of softball gloves, check How to determine softball glove size.
Glove break-in involves pressure application, heat application, and oil application methods. Pressure application methods include playing catch, glove striking, glove wrap, sleeping on the glove, and kneading. Heat application methods include glove steaming and microwave/ oven method. Oil application methods include the use of glove oils and conditioners.
- Playing Catch
Playing catch involves squeezing the glove around the ball during practice. Playing catch often increases the chances of glove break-in. This method gradually softens the glove, and it is the most time-consuming. This method doesn’t cause damage the gloves when compared with other methods, and it is the best.
- Glove Striking
Glove striking helps take out aggression from the glove. Glove striking involves pounding the glove’s pocket with a glove mallet to soften the leather and form the pocket. To carry out glove striking, there are three steps. These steps include putting the glove on as you would wear it normally. This next step is to take the mallet and continually hit the glove’s pocket. You can do this with your throwing hand. The last step is to take the glove off, lay it palm side down on the floor, and strike the backside. This final step helps to break the glove in more.
- Glove wrap
Glove wrap involves folding the glove in half and holding it with lace. The first step is to fold the glove in half till there is a crease. The crease indicates the position of the pocket. The next step is to fold the glove on itself from the pinky side of the glove. After folding the glove on itself, tie the glove with a shoelace or glove lace to hold it in its folded shape. To create large pockets, wrap your glove around a softball.
- Sleeping on the glove
Sleeping on the glove applies extended pressure from body weight. To apply enough pressure, wrap the glove around a softball. Place the wrapped glove under the mattress and sleep on it. The ball takes the shape of the ball and creates a pocket.
Kneading softball gloves include using the hands to bend, pull, squeeze, roll and stretch the glove. Kneading does not require much attention. Repetitive contact from kneading causes the glove to loosen up.
- Glove Steaming
Glove steaming is one of the best methods for breaking-in gloves. Steaming relaxes the leather and its seams to make it ready for games. There are three steps in glove steaming, and they include applying glove conditioner to the glove. The conditioner opens up pores in the leather. The next step is to glove steam to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring water in a stockpot to a boil and hold the glove above the pot to allow the steam to hit it. Keep turning the glove slowly to allow the steam to hit all parts of the glove. The last step is to break in the glove by using a glove mallet. Some softball brands have in-house glove steaming. Check this article to know more about Top Softball Glove Brands
- Microwaving or Oven Method
The microwave or oven method is very fast in breaking in a softball glove, but this method can damage the glove. To use the microwave method, submerge the glove in water, then wring out excess water and place it in a microwave. The glove should not be in the microwave for more than a minute.
For the oven method, preheat the oven to about 300 degrees. Before placing the glove in the oven, rub some oil on the glove. Place the glove in the oven for about three minutes. The heat allows the oil to soak into the glove and soften it. Both the microwave and oven method causes the leather to dry out and the laces brittle. Microwave or oven heating causes the breaking of the laces. It is also dangerous to leave gloves in a microwave as this can cause a fire.
- Using glove oils and conditioners
Applying oils and conditioners to gloves help soften the leather. There are specific oils and conditioners specified by the glove manufacturer. There are three things to take note of before using this method. The first is to use only manufacturer recommended oils and conditioners. The second thing is not to over-apply oils. Less is more. The last thing to note is that don’t use products that are not for leather. These products may dry out the leather or destroy it. These products include Vaseline, olive oil, linseed oil, mink oil, and petroleum jelly.
To know more about softening leather gloves, check out How to Soften Leather Softball Gloves
The most efficient way to break in gloves is continuous usage. However, this is time-consuming. Therefore, the next best method is glove steaming. Glove steaming breaks in the glove faster and preserves the leather. The ways of breaking in softball gloves are also applicable to baseball gloves.