How to choose a baseball glove
Whether in Little League or College, one of the key factors of being a successful player is quality equipment. How a glove fits and feels on the player's hand is crucially important. Too big, and it will slip off mid-game. Too small and you won’t have the flexibility needed to catch the ball. Having a glove that fits will undoubtedly affect how you play.
Understanding Your Baseball Glove
Before heading to the stores, it’s important to understand the components of a baseball glove to make sure that you buy the glove that matches your needs. Here are the different components of a baseball glove and what they do:
- Web: The web is a tightly woven piece of leaver which connects the thumb with the index finger. This allows fielders to increase control of the ball on impact by enclosing it.
- Palm: The palm’s specialty is its protective padding which offers protection from ball impact. When choosing a glove, it’s important that you make sure there’s enough padding to avoid wrist or hand injury.
- Heel: The heel is the lower part of the glove at the bottom of the palm. It provides further protection and determines the break of your glove.
- Lacing: The lacing is located between the fingers and aids in providing shape to the glove. Leather is the preferred material as it allows the laces to break in as the glove does.
- Hinge: The hinge is located just below your little finger on the palm. It provides flexibility and ease when opening and closing the glove.
Fit and function are the two main priorities when choosing a glove. It must be easy to close, lightweight, and flexible enough to maneuver. It’s noteworthy to add that men and women can use the same glove sizing charts.
Baseball Glove Materials
When purchasing a baseball glove you will discover that, like baseball bats, they come in a variety of different materials. Leather gloves have advantages and disadvantages:
- Synthetic Leather: This is a lightweight option that can be good for young players as the glove is easy to close and does not require “break-in”.
- Softened Leather: As players get older, join new leagues, and move on from synthetic leather, a common material choice is softened, oil-treated leather. This offers easy break-in and flexibility for you to be instantly game-ready!
- Premium or Pro Series Leather: Though it requires a longer break-in period, once broken in, it will conform to your hand and provide the highest quality fit. This material offers durability, comfort, and unparalleled craftsmanship.
Baseball vs. Softball Gloves
The first step in choosing a glove is to determine what the appropriate sizing is. Baseball and softball gloves differ in many ways so be sure to look out for these differences:
- Teens 13+, as well as men and women, will be comfortable with a baseball glove between 10.75 and 12 inches, but a softball glove for this age is typically 2-4 inches bigger. For example, a slow-pitch softball glove for a utility position should be between 13 and 14 inches.
- Baseball gloves usually have a shallower pocket due to the ball being smaller and a taller profile depending on if it’s an infield or outfield glove.
- Fastpitch softball gloves typically have a deeper, rounder pocket due to the softball being bigger than a baseball.
- Fastpitch softball players typically like to have the Velcro adjustment straps on their gloves due to most players liking the tight firm feel when they put their glove on.
A Baseball Glove for Each Position
Once you’ve understood the components of the glove, its variations in materials, and differences between softballs, believe it or not, there are also variations in gloves depending on your position. Typically, these variations are related to web design, size, and shape.
These are typically the smallest gloves on the field. They have a shallower pocket which allows them to quickly transfer the ball from their glove to throw out baserunners. A common misconception is that catchers need bigger gloves to make it easier to catch the balls. A smaller glove, however, provides greater control and ease of transfer.
- The size should range between 10.5 and 11.5 inches in length for adults, and between 9 and 10 inches for youth.
- In terms of web design, closed webbing is preferred. Popular designs include a modified trap which adds a leather strip to the top of the web for more stability.
- Open webbing can also be used. These designs include H-Web or I-Web which allow dirt and debris to fall through whilst remaining sturdy enough to catch hard-hit balls and easy transfers.
These are typically larger gloves as they aim to provide extended reach to catch down fly balls. They are characterized by deeper pockets to secure the ball when caught. A small, but significant difference between outfielder and infielder gloves is the utilization of open webbing. Open webbing allows outfielders to block out the sun or stadium lights with the glove without disrupting the view.
- For baseball players, outfield gloves range in size from 10.75 to 12.5 inches in length for youth players and between 12.5 and 12.75 inches for adults.
- For web design, a trapeze is very common on outfielder gloves. It features a leather strap with interlaced lacing on either side. This creates a deeper pocket, allowing you to catch those fly balls.
- Some gloves may also incorporate the H-web or modified trap as they bolster stability.
These gloves tend to be closer to infield gloves, whilst also featuring a closed web design to conceal the player’s grip when throwing the pitch.
- For baseball pitchers, a glove between 10.75 and 12.5 inches in length for youth, and between 11.5 and 12.5 inches for adults is perfect.
- Glove size and pocket depth can range greatly and are generally left up to personal preference and comfort.
- Closed web designs used by pitchers commonly include the basket pattern which allows you to hide the ball whilst having a great amount of flexibility. Some pitchers, however, will use the modified trap.
Catcher’s mitts have the most unique design among baseball gloves. They are recognized as being very bulky because unlike other gloves, it’s a fingerless glove where the padding extends over the whole hand. They are designed to protect the hand from repetitive pitches which is why palm protection and padding is key when buying a catcher’s glove.
- A smaller, shallower pocket is ideal for fast transfers to throwing hands.
- The size of the glove is in circumference rather than length like other gloves. Therefore, youth gloves should be up to 31 inches whilst adult catcher gloves should be up to 32 inches.
- Unlike other gloves which share web designs, the catcher’s glove has two distinct patterns.
- Half Moon: Like a two-piece web pattern in fielder’s gloves, this pattern features two leather pieces laced together. This creates a tight pocket and can offer more flexibility than one-piece designs.
- One-Piece: Quite simply the web is one large piece of leather. This is a popular catcher’s glove style as the lacing around the outer edge helps form a tight, shallow pocket.
Utility gloves are designed for players who are in multiple positions and therefore need a glove which suits a variety of plays on the infield and outfield.
- They are typically larger than infield gloves to give you the reach of an outfield player.
- For baseball players, utility gloves range in size from 11 to 12 inches in length for youth and 11.75 to 12.5 inches for adults.
- Feature a closed-web design to accommodate players who also pitch.
- Utility gloves will typically have a modified trap web design.
Choosing the Right Baseball Glove
Baseball360 has over 300 baseball gloves to choose from, all suited to different players, sizes, materials, and more. When selecting a glove, personal preferences take precedence over your age and field position. Fit, feel, and style are the three guidelines you follow when choosing your glove.
- Fit: Choose a glove which fits snugly. It’s recommended to use a sizing chart to give you an idea on what size to look for! Baseball360 has glove options for both right, and left-hand use.
- Feel: Your glove needs to be stiff enough to give strength, yet flexible enough to provide control and stability. Your glove also needs to have enough padding to protect you from hard-hit balls.
- Style: Having a glove that you love can enhance your game tenfold. Make sure to choose a color and brand which you love! Typically glove colors will match your team uniforms, so be sure to keep that in mind. Custom baseball gloves are also a strong choice among those who have so much love for the game.
Perhaps you’re just getting into baseball and are unsure which glove brand is right for you. In that case, it‘s important to understand the different brands and what they can offer.
Of the 300 gloves that Baseball360 offers, their most popular brand with over 136 gloves is Rawlings. Rawlings gloves boast excellence in the field, consistency in high performance, and high-quality material. For over 120 years, Rawlings has dominated baseball and developed some of the highest quality gloves used by youth players and all-stars alike.
A popular Rawlings catchers’ glove for those getting into the game is the Player Preferred series which features quality, full-grain oiled leather shells for easy and quick break-in along with all-leather laces for durability and strength. With popular patterns and styling, the Player Preferred series seamlessly covers baseball, softball, and recreational leagues.
However, for those wanting to elevate their glove game, the Heart of the Hide glove series is a choice for those deemed “The Finest in the Field”. Constructed from Rawlings’ world-renowned Heart of the Hide steer hide leather, Heart of the Hide gloves feature the game-day patterns of the top Rawlings Advisory Staff players. These high-quality gloves have defined the careers of all-stars and are available to athletes looking to join the next class of defensive greats.
Second to Rawlings, Baseball360’s second most popular brand is Wilson, with over 94 gloves to choose from. The Wilson company has been in the baseball game for years. Their advanced technology, premium materials, and player-inspired styles have revolutionized the glove industry. Wilson is the Official Ball Glove of Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, and is the most trusted brand of gloves amongst college, high school, and youth players.
The Wilson A2000 is a very popular product among Wilson players. The A2000 has consistently changed the game for over 50 years and is still considered the best-of-the-best for performance, feel, and longevity. It’s the most popular and highest-performing pro-level baseball glove on the market today.
There are other brands available for you to explore which may complement you and your team uniforms better, but if you’re new to baseball then these are two popular brands to begin with. For more tips and products, head to Baseball360, or contact us for more information.