Don’t Make These 13 Common Softball Glove Buying Mistakes

Last updated on January 24, 2024

Woman with a softball glove in front of her face

Believe it or not, selecting the appropriate softball glove is a critical decision that greatly impacts your performance and comfort on the field. Glove size, fit, and specialized features contribute to your ability to catch and control the ball effectively. The right glove acts as an extension of your hand and can enhance their confidence and agility during play.

When shopping for softball equipment, it’s too easy to get swayed by brand names or the allure of additional features that may not necessarily benefit you. The key lies in understanding the specific criteria that make a glove the best for you. Let’s dive in and see what those criteria and top mistakes are!

Choosing the Wrong Size or Fit

A glove that is too large can slip and affect catching ability, while one that is too small may be uncomfortable and restrict movement. Manufacturers typically use a numerical scale to denote glove size, with the measurement in inches from the top of the index finger down to the heel of the glove.

For adults, sizes generally range from 12 to 14 inches, with differences in circumference and hand openings to accommodate various hand sizes. A snug fit is important, as it allows for better control and a more natural feel when handling the ball.

For youth players, comfort is key, and often a more lightweight glove is used. These gloves may be made with softer, more flexible materials to make it easier for smaller hands to close the glove.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Measure Correctly: Use the right method to measure the glove, from tip to heel.
  • Consider Hand Openings: Look for adjustable straps if needed to ensure a snug fit around the wrist.
  • Age Appropriateness: Smaller, more forgiving gloves for youth; sturdier, snug ones for adults.
  • Test for Comfort: The glove should feel comfortable from the first wear, without the need for extensive breaking in.

Forgetting the Glove’s Position Design

Catcher catching a softball

When selecting a softball glove, you’ve got to consider your specific position too. Each position has design features tailored to enhance performance and meet the demands of that role.

Infielders, for example, typically use gloves with a shallower pocket to facilitate quick transfers to their throwing hand. The web design is crucial here, with many infielders preferring I-Webs or H-Webs which offer a balance of flexibility and support.

Pitchers may choose a closed web pattern to hide the ball from batters, while catchers utilize specialized catcher’s mitts. These mitts come with extra padding and a robust structure to withstand repeated impact. First base mitts are similar but designed with a longer shape to scoop up ground balls.

  • Outfielders need gloves with a deeper pocket and longer length to catch fly balls. Among the popular web styles for outfielders are the Trapeze and H-Web.

A utility player who plays multiple positions might opt for a more versatile infield glove or a glove with an adjustable fit to switch between roles comfortably.

Here’s a quick rundown of the various glove features by position:

  • Infielders: Shallow pockets, I-Web or H-Web
  • Pitchers: Closed web styles for ball concealment
  • Catchers: Specialized mitt with extra padding, closed web
  • First Base: Longer mitts, sometimes open webs for visibility
  • Outfielders: Deep pockets, trapeze or H-Web designs for reach and control

Skimping on Material and Quality

Don’t be cheap! Leather gloves, made from various types of animal hides, offer different levels of durability and comfort.

CowhideMost common and provides a good balance between durability, break-in time, and cost.Moderate
PigskinSofter and more flexible, making it easier to break in, but less durable than other types.Lower
SteerhideHeavier and more robust, thus offering more durability at the expense of a longer break-in time.High
Kip leatherLightweight and soft, often used in high-end gloves, perfect for younger players.Moderate to High
Full-grainLeather taken from the entire hide, more durable but requires longer to break in.High

Synthetic materials, while generally more cost-effective, don’t offer the same lifespan as their leather counterparts. A synthetic glove may be suitable for a beginner or casual player due to its ease of use right off the shelf, but frequent players should consider investing in a leather glove for better performance and longevity.

Gloves made from full-grain hide leather or kip leather represent a higher quality choice due to their strong and pliable characteristics. They mold better to the player’s hand over time and withstand the rigors of the game. On the other hand, steerhide leather gloves are exceptionally durable, making them a preferred option for players seeking long-term use despite a potentially stiffer feel initially.

Investing in a high-quality leather glove is not only about immediate comfort but also about long-term performance and durability. A well-constructed glove from dependable materials can elevate a player’s game and prove to be a worthy investment over time.

Not Considering the Player’s Age and Skill Level

It’s too easy to overlook the age of the player and the corresponding skill level. Both factors significantly influence the type, size, and features of a glove that will best support the player’s performance and development.

For younger players, a glove that fits the hand properly is essential. A glove too large can discourage proper catching technique and hinder the development of skills. Typically, gloves are designed with age-appropriate features, such as smaller finger stalls and wrist adjustments to provide a snug fit. For example:

  • Youth Fit: Smaller wrist openings and finger stalls for a secure fit
  • Standard Fit: For adolescent and adult players with no special adjustments
  • Tapered Fit: For players preferring a snugger wrist fit

The skill level of the softball players is another critical consideration. Beginners may require a more forgiving glove with a larger pocket to assist in catching the ball, while advanced players often prefer a stiffer glove that offers more control for quicker plays.

Buyers can utilize charts that recommend glove sizes correlating to both age and position. For instance, a chart may suggest a size range for infielders, outfielders, pitchers, and catchers across different age brackets. This information is invaluable for matching a player with the appropriate glove size to enhance their game.

Overlooking Wrist Adjustment Features

Another critical element to consider is the wrist adjustment. This feature isn’t just about comfort; it’s essential for the glove’s overall functionality and the player’s performance. Different gloves come with various wrist adjustment mechanisms, such as D-ring fasteners, buckles, straps, or Velcro closures.

  • D-ring adjustments provide a secure fit with a single lace that can be quickly tightened or loosened. This type of adjustment is particularly user-friendly, as it allows one to make quick changes on the field.
  • The buckle system, on the other hand, offers a robust solution which can be a bit more durable than other types of fasteners. Buckles can handle the wear and tear of frequent play with less risk of coming undone.

For those who prioritize ease of movement, gloves featuring an open back with a strap can offer increased flexibility and breathability. In contrast, a closed back provides a snugger fit, giving the player a sense of added support, which might be preferred by those seeking stability in their glove.

Velcro fasteners are commonly found in youth and women’s softball gloves. They ensure that gloves can be easily adjusted to fit smaller hands, providing a custom fit that isn’t too tight or too loose.

Neglecting the Break-in Time and Maintenance

A new glove typically requires a period of use to soften and conform to your hand. This break-in period is crucial for optimal performance and comfort on the field.

Break-in Time:

  • Steaming: Softens the leather, making it more pliable. However, excessive steaming may damage the glove.
  • Conditioning: Using oils or conditioners helps in loosening the leather. But caution is necessary; over-conditioning can make the leather too flexible and decrease its lifespan.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Regular Cleaning: Dirt and debris can degrade the leather. A clean, damp cloth will do for wiping off the glove after use.
  • Lace Adjustment: Laces should be checked and tightened as they can loosen over time, affecting the glove’s fit.
  • Conditioning: Light conditioning keeps the leather supple. It should be done sparingly to prevent the glove from becoming overly soft.

Ignoring the break-in process can lead to an uncomfortable and stiff mitt, while poor maintenance can significantly shorten the glove’s lifespan.

Opting for Style Over Functionality and Comfort

Don’t get distracted by flashy designs or a glove that aligns well with their personal style. However, choosing a glove should primarily focus on functionality and comfort. A glove that looks great but does not fit well or perform on the field can hinder gameplay and even lead to injuries.

  • Functionality: The glove’s primary role is to assist in catching and controlling the ball efficiently. Players should seek a utility glove that offers the right balance between flexibility and stability, with appropriate webbing and padding for their position.
  • Comfort: A comfortable glove is one that fits well and does not cause any discomfort during the game. The glove should not be too tight or too loose, and the material should allow for breathability and flexibility.

It’s important for players to remember that a stylish glove may draw attention, but a well-chosen glove based on functionality and comfort can significantly enhance their performance on the diamond. They should consider elements like:

  • The glove’s fit: Make sure it’s snug but not restrictive.
  • The leather quality: Higher quality leather tends to be more durable and comfortable.
  • The glove’s padding: Adequate padding can absorb impact and protect the hand while allowing the player to feel the ball.

Not Testing the Glove’s Feel and Grip Before Buying

The feel of the glove pertains to how it conforms to the hand, providing a comfortable fit that doesn’t impede movement.

The grip is equally essential, impacting a player’s ability to secure and release the ball quickly. It’s important for players to try on various gloves and simulate catching to ensure the glove has a snug fit without slipping.

Considering the palm area of the glove, one must look for an appropriate level of padding. Adequate padding can absorb the shock of the ball, yet too much may reduce the sensitivity needed to control the ball within the glove.

Webbing is another area to assess, as it affects how the ball is caught and secured. A trapeze web, for example, is desired by many outfielders for its flexible, deep pocket, allowing for better ball control upon impact.

A glove’s pocket size will influence catching ability. Players need to ensure the pocket is not too deep or shallow for their playing style and position.

the frustration of poor performance due to improper fit and function.

Forgetting About the Return Policy and Warranty

Returning a softball glove

It’s really easy to forget about importance of understanding the return policy and warranty details. A return policy can determine whether a buyer can return an unwanted or unsuitable glove for a refund or exchange. Warranties may offer protection against defects and provide peace of mind.

Return Policy:

  • Time Frame: Typically, return policies outline a specific period during which returns are accepted.
  • Condition: Gloves often need to be in unused condition, with original packaging.
  • Restocking Fee: Some sellers may charge a fee for processing a return.

Example of a return policy concern: A buyer might realize they need a different size after purchasing. Without knowledge of the return policy, they risk missing the return window and being stuck with an ill-fitting glove.


  • Coverage: Warranties cover manufacturing defects for a set duration.
  • Exceptions: Regular wear and tear is usually not included in warranty protections.

Example of a warranty issue: A defect such as unraveled stitching within the warranty period could be fixed at no cost, provided the buyer is aware of the warranty terms.

Purchase Protection & Customer Service:

  • Communication: Excellent customer service can guide customers through the return or warranty process.
  • Documentation: Keeping a copy of the receipt and warranty information is crucial for making claims.

Overlooking Durability Based on Frequency of Use

Durability is a critical factor, particularly for players who are on the field frequently. A glove that can withstand heavy use without significant wear and tear is essential for these high-use players.

For someone who plays softball regularly, investing in a high-quality leather glove is advisable. Leather is known for its durability and the ability to maintain its shape and integrity over time. On the other hand, synthetic gloves, while often cheaper and lighter, may not offer the same level of durability. They might be suitable for casual players who participate in games less often.

  • Durability Tiers:
    • Synthetic: Best for occasional play; less durable.
    • Leather: Better for regular to frequent play; enhances durability.

Frequent players should note that a durable glove, while possibly more costly upfront, often ends up being more cost-effective in the long run. A durable glove withstands the rigors of regular practice and games, therefore not needing to be replaced as often as its less durable counterparts.

Not Considering Your Climate and Playing Conditions

A glove that excels in dry climates might deteriorate quickly in more humid regions.

In Wet Conditions: A glove’s material can become saturated and heavy, impairing a player’s ability to field the ball. Moisture can also lead to faster material breakdown and increased requirements for maintenance.

  • Recommendation: Opt for gloves with water-resistant treatments or consider using a waterproofing spray to provide an additional protective layer against moisture.

Exposure to Heat: High temperatures can dry out leather, causing it to crack. Continual exposure to direct sunlight can weaken the glove’s structure.

  • Care Tip: Regular conditioning is key. Use conditioners specifically designed for leather to maintain pliability and extend the glove’s life.

Dirt and Dust: These can work their way into the crevices of a glove, causing abrasion and reducing its lifespan.

  • Cleaning: Incorporate routine brushing and wiping to remove dirt. It prevents the buildup from compromising the glove’s integrity.

Playing Surface: The type of field players commonly use should inform their choice. A glove subjected to rugged, abrasive surfaces necessitates sturdier construction.

Failing to Check for Deals and Discounts

Don’t forget you can significantly reduce your expenses, especially for if you’re on a tight budget.

Seasonal sales often bring substantial savings, with retailers clearing out inventory to make room for new models. Black Friday, back-to-school periods, and end-of-season clearances are prime times to find gloves at reduced prices.

To maximize savings, one should keep an eye on the following:

  • Email Newsletters: Sign up for retailer newsletters, as they frequently offer exclusive discounts and early access to sales.
  • Promotional Events: Retailers may have specific promotions, such as “Buy One, Get One” deals, which can be ideal when outfitting multiple players.
  • Online Coupons: Before completing any purchase, a quick online search for coupons can lead to instant savings.
  • Loyalty Programs: Participation in store loyalty programs can yield points or credits towards future purchases.

Choosing a Glove Based on Brand Alone

When selecting a softball glove, it’s tempting to gravitate towards well-known brands. Popular brands have established reputations that suggest reliability and quality. However, it’s important to remember that brand doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best fit for an individual player’s needs.

  • Brand Reputation: Recognizable brands often signify trust and a proven track record. Consumers sometimes associate these brands with superior craftsmanship.
  • Models: Each brand offers a variety of models. Not all models will fit every player’s specific requirements, such as their position, skill level, or hand size.
  • Specialized Needs: Some players might require specialized gloves tailored to their position or playing style. Certain high-quality brands may not offer the specialized features needed.
  • High-Quality Brands: While high-quality brands are often a safe choice, they can come with a premium price tag. Assessing whether the extra cost translates to tangible benefits on the field is crucial.

Players should evaluate gloves on their merits, such as fit, comfort, and suitability for their playing position. A lesser-known brand might offer a glove that fits better and meets the player’s needs more effectively than a more expensive option from a prestigious brand. They must also consider the model’s specific features and how well it aligns with the player’s requirements.

Remember, the right glove enhances performance and complements the player’s skills, irrespective of the brand name stamped on it.

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