Congratulations! You’ve just bought a brand new softball glove. But you may be wondering, “What’s next?” “How do I actually get this thing ready to use?” No worries, Softball Ace can give you a hand in getting your glove broken in properly. Have a look at the visual guide below, then read on further to get more tips.
The first factor that goes into breaking in a new glove is the initial method. Some softball/baseball retailers will offer to beat the living crap out of your glove with a mallet. This method is not ideal after such an important purchase. Don’t put the fate of your glove into another man’s hands, just use a regular at-home mallet and hit the glove in key spots to stretch the leather out a bit. Don’t beat it up too badly though, you still want it to be pretty stiff when you first throw with it.
Some places have glove-steamers, and these can actually be useful. High-performance gloves can go without being steamed, (for a more traditional break-in). On the other hand, if you need something ready to go fast, a steaming isn’t a bad idea. This will soften up the leather on the glove a little bit, as well as loosen the feel of the glove. If you don’t have time to break your glove in all the way before a game, definitely consider getting it steamed. The only downside to steaming is that the leather is being worn down in a way that isn’t specifically conformed to your hand.
After giving the leather a good stretch with a mallet and/or steamer, you should start throwing. Make sure to emphasize catching the ball directly in the pocket, as this will make for a more efficient break-in. Try to mimic catching the ball the exact way that you would if you were in a game-situation. This will make for the best possible break-in.
Make sure to use effective and efficient break-in methods for your glove. Steaming, light-beating, and playing games of catch will do the job. Also remember to lather your glove up with some glove-conditioner. This will keep it from drying out. For more about conditioning your glove, you can read our guide on “Proper Care and Feeding of Your Glove.”
While there are plenty of good ways to work-in a new glove, there are easily just as many bad methods. Tying a glove up with some string or rope-material, placing a ball or two inside the pocket, and placing it under your mattress is not an efficient method. Why, you may ask? It’s not efficient because this is an unnatural break-in. Yes, the glove will be less stiff and maybe easier to close. On the other hand, it will not close like a glove is supposed to, because it was restrained in that one closed-position for such a long time. Plus, the glove wasn’t being opened-and-closed like it would be on the field, it was held closed. The chance of this method being the exact same way that you close your glove is quite slim. Keep the glove out from in between your mattress and comforter, and go play catch instead.
Another unnatural break-in method is putting your glove in the microwave or the oven. This seems pretty obvious, but some people may not be aware of the dangers of doing this. Leather has a tendency to expand when exposed to heat. Too much heat can make your glove floppy, or give it a weird feeling on your hand. Personally, I just would not feel safe putting my glove in the microwave.
Glove Quality Matters
Higher-end gloves take more breaking-in. On the same note, lower-end pieces require less break-in time due to the lower-quality leather. Plenty of slowpitch gloves will take a short time to break in. The same goes for fastpitch, but moreso slowpitch because a lot of retailers put an emphasis on recreational play. Many slowpitch players want a glove that will be ready to go on day-one, as well be relatively inexpensive. If it doesn’t take much to break the glove in, then you might as well use that to your advantage and just play catch. If playing catch is your only break-in method, then your glove is going to feel the best come game-time because it is fit directly to your hand.
No matter what level of slowpitch or fastpitch softball you play, you should still treat your glove like family. This is the aid that you bring out onto the field of battle with you. Considering this, you should take care when breaking it in. Make sure you treat it with plenty of love in the initial stages, and it will work out for you in the long run.
Still looking for a glove? Check out our guide on the best gloves here.
Aso from Wilson shows you how to use hot water and a mallet to loosen your glove up: