There is nothing more frustrating than a season spent struggling with ill-suited equipment. A bat that’s too long, cleats that are too tight, etc., ruin the fun of softball. A softball glove should be a bit clumsy at first, but should become buttery smooth as it is worn and used. The following are some simple but common errors to avoid for a fun season and a rewarding experience.
Spending Too Much
In sporting goods, the price tag will often tell you much about the construction of the product. This is as true in softball as any other sport. Just as composite bats can cost more than aluminum, higher grades of leather usually cost more than synthetics, for example. But problems arise when well-meaning parents blow large amounts of money on gloves for their young daughters.
Fastpitch gloves utilizing exotic leathers can cost in the hundreds of dollars, but the feel and longevity these gloves offer are often lost on the youngest of players. Bear in mind, too, that these young players will outgrow their first gloves in no time. Save the expensive, pro-quality gloves for a later time, when players can use them, appreciate them and care for them.
Spending Too Little
The flipside of the cost coin is when parents decide to save money and buy a cheap glove for their player. Of course, for many of us, the cost of even a cheap glove can be bankrupting. The key is to purchase the best glove you can afford for your player’s skill level. If your daughter is showing prodigy-like form, she deserves the best equipment her parents can provide.
In truth, buying a more expensive glove can save money in the long run. When properly cleaned and oiled, a quality leather glove can last for years. Rather than replacing and breaking in a new glove every season, a player with a top-tier glove becomes accustomed to it, and she will not want to part with it, even for a more expensive glove.
Looking for Bells and Whistles
We are all human, and we are all susceptible to the allure of advertising. Companies will often tout some gimmick or another as the next big thing in softball gloves, but these add-ons are typically useless — at best. At worst, gloves that offer assisted closing and other user aids mask problems that could be addressed, or cause problems that would otherwise not exist.
That is not to say that you should ignore innovation. Just be sure that any such extras address some issue, and that they are needed. Also, make certain the advertising isn’t simply spinning a shortcoming. High-tech, synthetic lacing, for example, may be shorthand for cheap plastic. And all-leather lacing isn’t a selling point. You should accept nothing less. Manufacturers reached relative perfection in leather softball gloves years ago. Innovation from here on out should be slow and steady. Beware the next big thing.
Getting the Wrong Size
This common error encompasses more than just the usual advertised sizes of softball gloves. Finding the right measurement of glove for a certain position is easy enough with the use of a sizing chart, and many models are suitable at various positions. This is especially true in slow pitch softball. The crucial error, though, lies in purchasing a glove that does not fit the hand.
The size of the hand space is relative to the size of the finger wells. Manufacturers do not give a measurement for the finger wells or the hand openings of their gloves, but they usually give clues to help approximate a proper fit in the model names and descriptions.
Slow-pitch gloves are usually designed for men, for example, with larger finger wells and hand openings. Fastpitch gloves are made with smaller hand openings and finger wells, because females tend to have smaller hands. There is no rule that says one cannot be used for the other game, though.
Buying the Name
Herein lies the most insidious of buying mistakes: getting what’s cool. It is not uncommon to watch youth players on a team go through an entire lineup with each player using the same brand name of bat. There is no way that bat suits every player on the team, but the urge to conform often outweighs our better judgement — especially when we’re young. The same peer pressure exists on the defensive side of the ball, in the form of overpriced gloves.
Purchasing a glove just to be seen with the correct embroidered emblem on the back is a sure way to struggle, and no one looks cool making errors in the field. Often, the correct glove is more affordable than the cool-for-the-moment brand, but players and parents pass it up. The result is wasted money, time and effort. Purchasing quality, appropriate equipment is more important than who makes it.
The Take Away
When searching for your next glove or mitt, try not to look at the manufacturer’s name at all. Players need to have confidence in their equipment. Focus on what suits a player’s eye, and narrow down the search from there. There will always be compromises, but choosing the best glove that you can afford, which requires the fewest compromises, is always a good route to take.
For tips on what you should consider, check out the video below and read the guide on our home page.