Fastpitch softball is often played as a more competitive version of softball, with slowpitch being more recreational. The two slightly vary in rules, as traditional slowpitch softball regulations disallow bunting and base stealing. For the most part, the two versions are quite similar.
There are some minor differences between fastpitch gloves and slowpitch gloves, but nothing too critical to really take away from one glove’s ability to play either adaptation of softball.
The biggest differences in mitts come for pitchers and catchers. First off, fastpitch pitchers must make sure they get a glove with a closed web so the hitter can’t see the pitch grip through the glove. In slowpitch, this doesn’t make as big of a difference because no pitch is fast enough to really fool a hitter. Probably the most obvious difference between fast and slowpitch is the speed of the pitch coming towards home plate.
Fastpitch catchers must make sure they have a fastpitch catcher’s mitt. Pitchers throw with more velocity so the catcher will want a mitt to soften the impact. If you do not use a mitt behind the plate in fastpitch you are risking injury – if your coach even lets you go out there without the proper mitt.
First-basemen should look to acquire a first-base mitt if they play fastpitch. They come in all different sizes, qualities, and models. For slowpitch, it may not be efficient to purchase a first-base mitt due to the fact that a lot of players serve as utility players. Similarly to catcher’s mitts, it’s not a necessity for slowpitch.
Traditionally, outfielders use bigger gloves with a deeper pocket to allow for some leeway when catching the ball. These sizes usually start at a 12”, and go up. Infielders usually use smaller gloves, (especially second-basemen and shortstops) for quicker, more efficient transfers. These sizes sit around 11.5”-12”.
All softball gloves are designed to catch the same sized ball. Slowpitch glove pockets are usually a little deeper than fastpitch because there are more fly balls hit. A deeper pocket makes it easier to trap balls in the web and make catches. On the other hand, fastpitch gloves usually have shallower webs.
Do you know which glove is for slowpitch, and which is for fastpitch? Look closely. The first Wilson A2000 has a deeper pocket to make fly balls easier to handle. The second A2000’s pocket is not as deep, allowing for quicker transfers. Note the depth of the pocket on each by seeing how much room there is between the top-right of the A2000 logo on the palm, and the beginning of the webbing.
Let’s take a closer look.
The difference here is not huge. Pockets will vary on every brand, model, and even the specific glove you try on. Sometimes when you are making a purchase, a glove can feel completely different from another that is listed as being the same size and model.
Cost will always be a big factor when choosing which glove to buy. You can find relatively expensive (and inexpensive) gloves anywhere on the market nowadays, and quality will vary from model to model. If you are trying to make a purchase based on price, sometimes a slowpitch glove is the right decision if you are satisfied with surrendering a little bit of performance for a better price. Some softpitch players may be fine with this, and can opt for a lower-quality leather that requires less breaking in instead of a higher-quality leather.
When it comes to putting these gloves to the test, one thing to take into consideration is break in time. If you have a game tomorrow, it probably is not the most sensible idea to go out and purchase an expensive, high-quality leather fastpitch glove. For the time being, look for something that is a bit cheaper in price, but will be ready to go for your game. If you do in fact opt for the lesser-quality leather, be aware that it may not fit your hand perfectly. Make sure to try on all of the available gloves to pick out the best feeling one.
For younger players, it’s be smart to keep tabs on a glove’s hand size. You would not want to buy your daughter a very nice, high-quality piece just to have her grow right out of it. On the other hand, if the player plays at a competitive level of fastpitch, you want to make sure the glove you are purchasing is going to put them at a disadvantage on the field. For older players that compete on a more recreational level, it is more reasonable to make a purchase based on expected usage.
Now that you have a better idea of whether to get a fastpitch or softpitch glove, check out our recommended list of the best softball gloves.