Softball Glove Buying Guide
The softball glove may be the most beloved piece of equipment a ballplayer ever has. It is with you for every game and is right by your side every time you take the field. And with so many color choices, web types, and sizes, the softball glove has become an extension of a player’s personality and style. But all of these choices can make choosing the right glove feel a little overwhelming. If you’re not sure what you need or not even sure where to start, check out our glove buying guide to help you through the process.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A GLOVE
Here are three key factors to consider when looking for a new ball glove:
- Age of the player
- Level of play
- Fielding position
The younger the player is, the less important it is to consider what position they are playing as they will most likely be playing all positions as they learn the game. However, as players get older and progress to higher levels of play, positions become more specialized and that should be taken into consideration.
All players are different and have different needs, but here are charts that break down a player's age, playing level, and position with suggested glove sizes. Use these as a jumping-off point to start your glove purchase.
GLOVE SIZING CHARTS
FIND THE RIGHT FIT
While the size of a glove is definitely important, how a glove fits on your hand also needs to be heavily considered. Gloves are typically manufactured with one of the following fits:
This fit, as the name suggests, is meant for younger players. The finger stalls are usually shorter and the wrist openings tighter.
This type of fit is what a large majority of gloves come with. Usually called a "regular" fit, this glove is meant for adult players.
Called the “Pedroia Fit” by some manufacturers (named after former MLB player, Dustin Pedroia) this is a glove that is meant for an adult level player that has a smaller hand. The finger stalls are traditionally a standard adult size, but the wrist opening will have a tighter fit. This fit is primarily used by baseball players.
GLOVE WEB TYPES
Other than glove color, a glove’s web may be its most defining feature. While web type ultimately comes down to player preference, we do recommend specific web types for certain positions. Here is a breakdown of each web type along with the recommended position for use.
So named because of the “I” shape the leather makes, an I-web glove has a singular leather strip to create the pocket. I-webs have shallower pockets, making for faster transitions.
PRIMARY POSITIONS: 2B, SS
H-Webs are noted by two vertical strips and one horizontal strip. H-webs form deeper pockets making it easier to catch fly balls, snag hot grounders, and make diving plays.
PRIMARY POSITIONS: OF, 3B
Modified trap webs are similar to traditional trapeze webs but with one significant change: It has a section of leather added to the top of the web to help bring more stability to the glove. This web type is a popular choice among both infielders and outfielders, and even some pitchers, making it a good choice if you play different positions.
PRIMARY POSITIONS: IF, OF, P
Closed webs are exactly as they sound, webs that either nearly or completely close off the glove. Closed webs come in different forms, primarily in a woven basket form or two solid pieces of leather. Since the glove is closed off, it makes it difficult, if not impossible to see the ball inside the glove if it isn’t facing you, making this the preferred web type for pitchers, but can be used in all areas of the field.
PRIMARY POSITION: P
This web is formed by one horizontal and one vertical strip of leather worn together. The single post offers both visibility and flexibility and is primarily found on infield gloves.
PRIMARY POSITION: IF
After choosing the correct web, anything else to consider comes down to personal preference, primarily glove color and either an open back or closed back glove. An open back leaves space open across the back near your wrist. A closed back will not have this opening, but instead will have a smaller opening to stick your pointer finger through to provide a better grip on your glove.
CLOSED BACK GLOVE
OPEN BACK GLOVE
POSITION SPECIFIC GLOVES
Just about all gloves have the same shape, but two positions on the field have their own special designs: First Base and Catcher,
FIRST BASE MITTS
First base mitts are noted by a large, deep pocket to better secure balls that come the player’s way. But the most unique feature is there are no finger stalls to separate the fingers. This allows a first baseman to easily scoop up grounders or low-thrown balls.
Like a first base mitt, catcher’s mitts have a deep pocket to better secure pitched balls and have significantly more padding than any other glove on the field to better protect the hand as it takes a beating from multiple high velocity pitches. Catcher’s mitts are also much larger than regular gloves, coming in sizes of 31” for youth and 32” or more for adult players.
BREAKING IN A GLOVE
If you ask ten people how to properly break in a glove you will probably get ten different answers as everyone has their own methodology. Check out this video from Rawlings on their preferred way to break in a glove, along with some tips on how to do it if you have preferences for wear you want the pocket to develop, rolled or straight fingers, and even how you want the glove to close.
Breaking a glove in properly can take time and we advise patience over trying ways to speed up the process. Avoid soaking your glove in water. While many professional players will do this to break in their glove faster, this significantly breaks down the leather of your glove and limits the amount of life it will have. Professional players get a new glove every year so they can afford to do this, but if you want your glove to last for multiple seasons, take the time to break it in properly and avoid taking shortcuts.
We carry gloves from every major brand and have over 200 styles. But if you are looking for something more unique and specific to your style, why not design your very own glove with the Rawlings Custom Glove Builder? Design everything from the style of leather, all the way down to custom embroidery. Click the button below and start designing your dream glove!