youth softball

The differences between youth softball players and their older counterparts extends to more than just size. At the lower, beginning stages of a player’s development, the demands placed on them should be tempered. The same goes for their equipment. Youth softball gloves need not be sized-down versions of NCAA-level gloves.

At the earliest stages of a playing career, you may not even be sure your child will continue to play ball past that first season. Plunking down hundreds of dollars on a beginner’s glove would be a fool’s errand. After a players has a couple of softball seasons under her belt, and after she has begun to specialize in a position, it begins to make more sense to pay for quality equipment. After all, you often get what you pay for when purchasing softball gloves.

Until your player reaches that level of maturity in the sport, though, an entry-level glove will do just fine. However, the glove should still fit well, perform reasonably and remain structurally sound throughout at least one season. After that, she will likely have outgrown it anyway. So, here is our list of the best youth softball gloves. Each should serve their purpose and your player faithfully until it is outgrown.

Looking for adult Fastpitch and Slowpitch gloves?  Check out our overall softball glove reviews on the main page.

Our Top Pick: Mizuno Prospect Series GPL1200F1


mizuno prospect series gpl1200f1

If you need a quality, high-performing glove that doesn't require too much break in, but has the potential to last more than just a season, the Mizuno Prospect Series GPL1200F1 is a great choice.

Note: If you need information on how to figure out your glove size, please see our detailed article on how to measure your glove size and the differences for each position.

Rawlings Fastpitch WFP120

Features:

  • Synthetic leather glove material
  • Leather palm
  • Basket web
  • Easy break in
  • Adjustable closure

Advantages

Leather Palm

Advances in modern synthetics notwithstanding, no material has sbeen found that beats leather for softball gloves. The Rawlings Fastpitch has it where it counts, in the palm and web. These are the only areas that usually contact the ball, so it makes sense to at least use leather there. With natural leather in the palm, ball feel is improved, so the players transition to an all-leather glove should go smoothly.

Basket Web

The WFP120 utilizes the most versatile web in the game. In the circle, the basket web keeps the pitcher’s grip on the ball hidden. Whether infield or outfield, this style web will work fine. It’s tradeoff in a lack of visibility on fly balls is that it also blocks a blinding sun. At an age when your player could move to almost any position at any time, the basket web makes sense.

Disadvantages

Synthetic Lacing

As a manufacturer, if you are going to skimp on any area of a glove, the laces are a poor choice. The unheralded, silent warrior of glove components, your laces hold your entire glove together. Leather laces would have made it possible to at least hand this glove down to the next generation of softball player. With plastic laces, the only way that is happening is if the glove is babied, which is not likely for players so young.

One and Done

The name sewn into the WFP120 makes it attractive, and its cost compared to some others doesn’t make it any less so. However, gloves utilizing so much synthetic material rarely last more than a season, especially when using mixed materials. The leather ages differently from the synthetic, meaning it will take on a different shape after a few years.

Verdict

The leather pocket alone makes the Rawlings Fastpitch WFP120 a smart buy. Gloves in its price range rarely feature significant amounts of leather, and pocket feel is crucial for a player to learn to handle a softball in play. True, it may not be a multi-season glove, but neither is it supposed to be. As a transition to big-kid gloves, this one is hard to beat.

Wilson A200

Features:

  • Constructed with EVA materials
  • Dual Stall – ring and pinky fingers
  • Modified trapeze web

Advantages

Dual-Stall Closure

Wilson took notice that beginning youth softball players often lack the strength to close their gloves around the softball. To attack this issue, the A200 includes a dual finger stall, which places the pinky and ring fingers in the same stall. This increases the leverage a player can put on the glove and aids in closing it.

Trapeze Web

Like a basket web, the Wilson A200’s modified trapeze is a closed design that can be used at any position on the field except catcher. However, the modified trap has the advantage of forming a larger pocket. So, your player will have a bit more room for error with the larger catching area.

Disadvantages

Synthetic Lacing

Also like the Rawlings Fastpitch, the A200 is plagued by lackluster lacing. While it does a fine job of holding the glove together when new, this type of lacing does not age well. After just a couple of seasons of play, and without the proper care, the laces on the A200 will be subject to breakage.

Slick EVA

EVA is a synthetic material, with uses across many areas of sports equipment. It is strong and flexible, but it is also naturally slick. Wilson uses leather-like texturing, but this is more of a cosmetic thing. The EVA may keep costs down, but it will always play second fiddle to pure, natural leather.

Verdict

If your child is just beginning in softball, expensive leather gloves can be so much wasted money. Even if she takes to the game, she will soon outgrow whatever glove you purchase at this early stage. Lightweight gloves like the Wilson A200 pay for themselves as young players learn to enjoy the game with equipment they can handle.

Louisville Slugger 10.5-Inch FG Diva Softball Infielders Gloves

Features:

  • Soft pig-leather palm
  • Mesh back
  • Adjustable Velcro strap
  • Leather lacing
  • Closed “flash” web
  • Extra palm padding

Advantages

Leather Palm

Pig leather is one of the softest leathers available, and the Louisville Slugger FG Diva uses it for the entire palm. With this leather and its mesh backing, the Diva requires almost no breaking in. From the first practice to the first game, it is ready for play. The leather palm will stretch to form a true pocket, which synthetics will not do.

Leather Laces

Unlike some other gloves of this type, the Diva utilizes real leather lacing. As it ages, the leather will toughen and stretch, making the glove longer-lived and more useable over time. With a bit of care, the leather laces should last multiple seasons.

Disadvantages

Hybrid Materials

The only issue with mixing materials of such different types as leather and mesh is that they age in completely different ways. The leather will tend to stretch and thin, while mesh simply loosens over time. Separately, this isn’t an issue, but in relation to each other it can cause a glove to lose its shape.

Longevity

Pig leather has earned its reputation of the cheapest leather available for softball gloves. Soft and supple, it works great off the shelf. But it ages quickly and stretches easily. Gloves made from pig leather rarely last more than a couple seasons ­– and often only one. For younger players, though, longevity is less of an issue than it becomes later in a player’s development.

Verdict

Gloves like the Louisville Slugger FG Diva – mesh backed with leather palm – are a fine compromise between cost and feel. The pig leather and malleable mesh make up a glove that a young player can easily close, and mesh also keeps hands cooler than all-leather gloves on hot days. As a single-season glove, the FG Diva is hard to beat. If multiple seasons are an absolute must, then you will have to be diligent about glove care, but the Diva is worth the effort.

Mizuno Prospect Series GPL1200F1

Features:

  • Full-grain leather
  • Deep pocket
  • ParaShock palm padding
  • PowerClose technology
  • PowerLock adjustable wrist strap
  • Tartan web

Advantages

Quality Leather

The top-grain leather Mizuno uses for its Prospect Series gloves is soft and pliable right off the shelf. These gloves require very little in the way of breaking in – one or two practices before game time should suffice. Though they are sized for small hands, the Prospect Series gloves are made similarly to top-tier softball gloves.

High-Tech Help

Mizuno employed an arsenal of aids to help developing softball players make sure catches. The ParaShock palm pad protects young hands from stinging lined shots, which makes for more confident play. The PowerClose system, which utilizes a dual-hinged heel and a V-notch, helps the glove close around the ball easier, and the secure fit the PowerLock adjustable wrist strap provides keeps the glove from shifting while making a play on the ball.

Disadvantages

Longevity Issues

Soft leather is always a tradeoff between a quick break-in and a long life. Not that Prospect Series gloves are short-lived — far from it. The fact is these gloves required proper care if they are to last more than one season. Cleaning and oiling are essential for these gloves not to lose their form and become a detriment to a developing player.

Small Hand Size

Though the pattern on the Prospect Series gloves is what a high schooler would typically use, the finger stalls and hand opening are designed for players a bit younger. Players above 12 years of age may find their hands cramped after a few innings, which is always a deal breaker. For younger players with promise, or older players with small hands, these Mizuno’s should be a good fit.

Verdict

The Mizuno Prospect Series is perfect for players who have graduated to a more competitive level of play, such as travel ball, middle school or high school ball. It utilizes quality leather like an older player’s glove, but is loaded with technology to help a younger player secure the softball. It is one of the best performing gloves of its type, and is built to last through several seasons of hard play.

Easton Black Magic BX1300B

Features:

  • Top-grain steer hide
  • Open back
  • Basket web
  • VRS palm pad
  • Ideal fit system
  • Larger finger stalls and opening

Advantages

Quality Leather

Easton uses top-grain steer hide in the Black Magic series, which is the preferred glove material of seasoned softball players. Steer hide is soft, though a bit heavy, and requires very little breaking in. It is one of the tougher leathers, and gloves of this type can easily last for several seasons with just a bit of wear.

Split-Basket Web

Black Magic gloves utilize a unique, split-basket web. This webbing has the ability to stretch out to accommodate larger softballs, or they can remain compact when used for baseball or smaller softballs. This is an unusual feature that makes these Easton gloves great for recreational players who wear many hats.

Disadvantages

No Defined Purpose

The problem with trying to meet the needs of many is you inevitably leave the needs of the few unfulfilled. A baseball player will likely find the fit of the Black Magic series too cramped, while a softball player may find the pocket too small. The basket web works great for pitchers, but the small pocket doesn’t hide a ball as well as a bigger one.

Lack of Padding

Though it is not technically a slowpitch glove, the Black Magic series is padded like one. Fastpitch gloves are typically well-padded, because the players at higher levels of the sport can throw and hit hard. These Easton offerings do contain the company’s VRS padding, but a thin layer of it only. The Black Magic series is not suited for the hot corner.

Verdict

For younger softball players, the Easton Black Magic series will likely be a big step up from their previous equipment. High-quality leather and lacing can make a huge difference in feel, and players sometimes improve greatly when they get a chance to use top-notch equipment for the first time. It is not, however, the perfect glove for everyone. Hand size is the biggest catch. But for the player whose hand fits and who is ready to step up her game, the Black Magic Series may be the best choice available.

The Bottom Line

As your player grows in the great game of softball, her equipment needs will surely evolve. In her earliest days, all she needed was a basic softball glove, and materials were of secondary importance at best. Over time, though, she requires finer materials if she is to reach her potential.
One of the biggest issues parents incur when it comes to softball gloves is longevity. But, for the youngest of beginners, too much time and money are often spent in search of the best softball glove available, only for her to outgrow it at her next growth spurt. As she grows and improves, the world of better equipment will open.