At all levels in the game of softball there are specific regulations considering gloves. From youth softball to professional fastpitch, players can be penalized for not wearing the correct type of glove on their hand when playing the field. If you are not totally sure what your league’s regulations are when it comes to gloves and other equipment, find the rulebook online or ask a league representative about what is and is not allowed. What about that old baseball glove – can you use it instead? If you still cannot figure out what you can or can not use, pay attention to the following rules and you can try to determine what your league most likely allows.

NSA Rules

The NSA (National Softball Association) “is a full service organization that offers a division of play and a level of competition that youth through adult can enjoy.” The NSA is a well-respected group that has a fair share of influence on softball around the world. Many different leagues and tournaments are a direct result of the NSA’s hard work.

Their regulations for softball gloves state that the glove cannot be entirely white, gray, or “optic in color”. Also, the glove must meet a couple of different size requirements. The height of a glove (from the bottom edge to the very top of the glove) must be in between 8 and 15 inches.

softball glove sizing diagram
How to measure a softball glove’s length (in inches)

The width must be 8 inches “from the bottom edge of the webbing farthest from the thumb in a horizontal line to the outside edge of the little finger”. The webbing on the glove must be measured at 5 and ¾ inches from the top of the webbing down parallel to the very bottom of it. If a glove does not meet any of these specifications, it is deemed illegal.

NCAA Rules

The NCAA (National Collegiate Amateur Association) is a countrywide organization which runs just about everything that involves American collegiate athletics. The athletes are some of the most talented young softball players in the country. The rules are more specific for NCAA, which means that if you follow the specifications that they set out for their players, you will most likely be okay in whatever league you play in.

The NCAA actually has similar rules to the NSA when it comes to illegal fielding gloves. The palm width has to be 8 inches, the height can not exceed 14 inches, (NSA allows 15 inches) and the web cannot exceed 7 ¾ inches tall. Aside from those stipulations, the NCAA actually has more specifications than the NSA. The thumb height cannot exceed 9 ¾ inches. Also, catchers must use catcher’s mitts only.

Catchers cannot wear position players’ gloves because of the injury they could sustain on their hand, as well as any unfair advantages they might be able to glean. Adding any adhesives to the glove that may give the glove more stickiness will deem the glove illegal as well. If any of these specifications are not met, an umpire can tell the collegiate player to remove the glove.

If a warning is issued and the glove is found being used in the field of play again (where it is not supposed to be) the umpire can eject the player from the ballgame. If a play is made with an illegal glove it can be nullified at the umpire’s and opposing coach’s discretion. The umpire should give the coach the opportunity to stick with the result of the play, or completely nullify the play due to the illegal glove. The player will then be given a warning, and will be told to take the glove off.

There are many different types of softball. You could find yourself in a competitive fastpitch tournament, or an over-40 slowpitch league. No matter the case, you have to play by the rules. Illegal gloves are against the rules. Make sure to do your research on the league before joining or before purchasing a glove that is not allowed. Every adaptation of the game is different, so be aware of that before you make any big decisions. The fact of the matter is that if you purchase a standard-issue Rawlings, Wilson, Nokona, or a glove from any leading brand, it will most likely meet the requirements of a standard softball league. Just make sure to check before taking the field. You don’t want to be the one who costs your team an inning-ending double play because you used a glove that was too big.

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