A Guide For Fast Pitch And Slow Pitch Players In Selecting The Best Softball Gloves
People from the United States are just some of the most enthusiastic sports fans in the planet. One of the most popular sports here is softball. Softball resembles baseball in so many ways, but it is played on a smaller field and it uses a larger ball. One of the basic equipment in softball is a glove. Players go to great lengths to find the best softball gloves.
Softball is known for several other names such as indoor baseball, kitten ball, mush ball, and ladies’ baseball. The three types of softball are slow pitch softball, fast pitch softball, and modified softball. Each type uses different kinds of gloves that will help the player secure the safety of their hand from the ball’s impact.
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Softball gloves are designed based on your position in the field and level of the game. It will be easy to find the top softball gloves by following these pointers.
How To Select A Softball Glove
Here are some of the factors you need to consider when choosing the top softball gloves. Below are the things you need to be familiar with before you put your money on a glove.
There are different types of materials for a softball glove. It may be made out of leather, treated leather, mesh, and synthetic materials. Most players prefer leather as the material of their gloves because of the comfort they provide and their durability.
Some players opt for gloves with treated leather as the material. This type of material is pre-treated with conditioning oils that will aid in speeding up the break in period of the glove. Mesh backed gloves are preferred for their light material. Most inexperienced players prefer gloves made out of synthetic materials as they are the lightest material and the most inexpensive option available today.
The size of the glove is usually etched in the glove’s thumb or pinky finger. The size of the gloves usually ranges from eight to fifteen inches. A catcher’s mitts can reach up to 35 inches in circumference. If your glove does not have a size, you can easily identify its size by using a tape measure.
Measure the glove starting at the top of the glove’s index finger, and straight down the bottom center of the glove. With each different type of glove, there are different types of pockets and webs. The choice of the best softball gloves depends on your position in the field.
A glove’s webbings may be identified as Basket web, I-web, Closed web, Two-Piece Closed web, Single Post web, Dual Post web, Trapeze Web, and Modified Trapeze Web. Infield players usually choose a glove that has looser webbing stitch. This allows them to have more control in quickly getting the ball out and it does not collect a lot of dirt during plays.
The back of the gloves can be identified as the glove’s wrist enclosure. Choosing a glove based on the back is basically based on personal preference and has nothing to do with the position you play. You can choose between an open and a closed back glove.
An open back glove allows greater mobility as it has a space in its material that lets the wrist move freely. It also aids in quickly turning the ball around and in hand mobility. Infield players usually choose an open back glove as it ensures quicker plays.
A closed back glove is more rigid but it may have a hole for the index finger so the finger can be positioned outside the glove. This glove is usually seen in the field as it gives the player more support when catching the ball especially with pop flys and deep power hits.
- Wrist Adjustment
Wrist adjustments allow players to snugly fit the gloves to their hands. This will allow them to easily put their gloves on and take them off without so much of an effort. Wrist adjustments can be a buckle system, Velcro, laced, or fastened with a D-ring.
Gloves made out of treated leather materials are supposedly easier to break in. however, there are several method to help break your gloves in and make them more comfortable to use.
Some players steam their gloves to help soften the leather and get it ready for the game. You first need to apply glove conditioner on your glove to help in opening the pores of the leather. Then steam it at around 150 degrees. Strike the glove with a mallet after steaming to help soften the leather.
You can also break in your gloves by pounding its pocket with a glove mallet. This will help in softening the leather and forming the pocket. You will need to put on your glove and then using your throwing hand, use the mallet to continuously strike your glove’s pocket. After doing this, you can take off your glove, lay it palm side down on a solid surface, and pound the back side of the glove.
By itself, oils and conditioners are not literally a break in method but they can be used to help soften the leather of your gloves. Use only oils and conditioners suggested by your glove manufacturer to help protect the material of your gloves. There are conditioners made specifically for the leather used in your gloves. Oils should be used sparingly. Over-applying is not recommended. Just apply a light coat of oil and rub it. Avoid using products that can dry out the materials of your glove.
However, the most effective way of breaking your gloves in is by actually using it. Get out and play catch with your friends using your new gloves. This is a true and tried tested way to get your gloves to soften and get the form of your hands. While it may be time consuming, you can greatly reduce the potential risk of damaging your gloves by using other break in methods.
Gloves By Position
There are different types of gloves based on the position you play in the field. Below are just some of the common types of gloves.
- Infield Gloves
Infield gloves are smaller gloves made for quick plays in the middle field. They have a shallower pocket and are shorter as compared with other types of gloves. Infield players will typically choose an open pocket glove that will allow them to quickly get the ball out. The webbing is usually a Post web, Dual Post web, an I-web, or a Modified Trapeze web.
A closed pocket is only preferred if the player is in the third base as he usually gets harder hits in this position. A closed pocket can help the player handle hard hits as compared with an open one. An infield glove has a standard size of 11.25 to 12 inches for baseball and 11.5 to 12.5 inches for softball. There are limited choices based on the web for a softball glove because it is used to catch a larger ball.
- Outfield Gloves
Outfield gloves are larger gloves that are made specifically to catch fly balls and for diving catches. The gloves are longer and have deeper pockets with added support for the fingers. They can have closed web pockets to account for the large size of the ball. The standard size of an outfield glove is 9 to 15 inches.
- First Base Gloves
First base gloves are long and do not have much padding. It is designed to have the ability to handle fastballs and is flexible enough to scoop throws out the dirt. First base gloves are strong and they support the fingers by not allowing your fingers to flop back just as how a regular glove would.
They are designed to have open webs to make the pocket deeper but lighter as opposed with a closed pocket design. This glove is typically worn by players ten years and older. It will be difficult to close this glove if worn by younger players. The standard size for first base gloves is 11.5 to 13 inches.
- Catcher’s Mitts
A catcher’s mitt can be referred to as a catcher’s glove. This glove does not have cuts that will separate each finger, thus the name. It has deep pockets and thin walls to help accommodate the big ball. It is designed to catch fastballs so it is very stiff and may take some time to break in. The reason for the stiffness is that it is supposed to support the hand from wearing down quickly from catching fastballs and from the pain of catching the ball.
For this reason, most catchers purchase replacement mitt months before their current mitt will wear out so they can have enough time to break in their new glove. Catcher’s mitts have closed pockets as they can take a lot of abuse without easily breaking down. It is also measured differently as compared with other types of gloves. The measurement is taken by measuring the glove’s circumference so you can determine the mitt’s catching area. The standard size of a catcher’s mitt is 29.5 to 35 inches.
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Benefit of Customers When They Use Softball Gloves
The different designs of the gloves allow you to play different position in the field and offers different support. Your glove should match the game and the strategies being played. Depending on the ball’s impact and how it is thrown, using the top softball glove will help you level up your game.
Gloves are a requirement when playing softball. You will not be allowed to play softball without the proper equipment. One of the most obvious reasons for using softball gloves is that they protect your hand from injury during play.
How to Pick the Best Softball Gloves – Step By Step
1. Choose the Right-Sized Glove That Fits You.
When choosing a glove, sizing charts can help you identify the size that you will generally fall under. There should be plenty of room inside your glove that will allow you to wear a batting glove inside. A glove that is too tight will not allow movement during plays. When trying on gloves, wear your batting gloves with it.
A batting glove will protect your hand and your glove from dirt and salt from your hands when you play. Choose a glove with enough padding to protect your palm from the impact of catching the ball. Your glove should be easy to adjust so it will fit snugly on your hand.
2. Your Glove Should Match the Position That You Play In the Field.
The different types of gloves based on your position have been discussed previously in this article. Different position calls for different gloves. But you can also choose the top softball glove that is versatile and can be used both infield and out.
3. Choose Quality Leather for Durability.
Inspect your glove to ensure that it is made with genuine leather. Avoid those that indicate that not all parts are made with leather. You also need to watch out for plastic gloves that are made to look like leather.
4. Shop Around Within Your Price Range.
Find a glove that meets quality and your price range. Shop around and compare prices. Do not settle for a versatile goal when you play a specific position and steer away from gloves made out of artificial materials, just to save some money.
5. Ensure That Your Glove Meets the Specifications That You Need.
The webbing, pocket, back, and wrist adjustment should be some of your consideration when choosing a glove. Do not hastily buy a glove without doing enough research. Find great value by using the right information and some practical knowledge.
Tips for Using Softball Gloves
You can maintain the quality of your softball gloves by ensuring that you do not use products that are not approved by its manufacturers. Use oils and conditioners that are specifically made for softball gloves. Apply oils or conditioners inside and outside of the glove. Applying these products on the inside of your glove will help protect it from your perspiration that can cause the deterioration of the leather.
If you are buying a glove for your kid, it may be best not to write his name on it if you intend to sell it when he outgrows it. As most excited parents write their child’s name on the glove, this can virtually eliminate your chances of selling your child’s glove in the future.
Frequently Asked Question (F.A.Q)
What size should I get?
There are several sizing charts available depending on the type of glove you want. You can generally get your size by following these charts or you can simply try some gloves on before actually buying one.
How to break in my glove?
Some methods to breaking your glove in are mentioned above. But the key is time. It may take some time to break in quality leather as compared with other materials.
Can I get a custom-made glove?
Several brands offer custom gloves. You can check out Rawlings, Mizuno, and Wilson.
Do I need to get a specially-designed glove if I am left-handed?
There are several gloves designed for left-hand catchers. But if you cannot find one that can suit your standards, you can opt for a custom-made glove.
Buying the best softball gloves can be tricky. But having the right information and using all the practical knowledge that you have should help you find the best value for your money.