Buying a Softball Glove Guide
Picking out a softball glove is ultimately going to prove to be very similar to picking out a baseball glove, but there are a few very specific differences between the two. In order to ensure you come up with a glove that meets your needs as a player, you will probably want to ask yourself some of the following questions in order to make sure you get the right glove.
Of course, even asking and answering the following questions, it won’t hurt to go to a few shops and try out some gloves or have an experienced friend or teammate show you the ropes. Experience is a better teacher even than analysis, and checking off boxes will only get you so far. Sooner or later, you’ll have to get in the field and try some gloves out for yourself.
Either way, this is a great place to start. Ask yourself these questions and see what you come up with, and then you can check out our collection of softball gloves right here on our website before you settle on one. Remember, we’re never more than a call away, and you can always get in touch with us for more help!
Looking for a baseball glove instead? Check out our guide to baseball gloves!
Is this glove for slowpitch or fastpitch softball?
The first thing you should get out of the way before you even start looking at actual gloves is to figure out whether you are going to play fastpitch or slowpitch softball. This is a question that you can easily answer if you are already a player, but if you’re new to the sport or just breaking in, it’s an important question to get out of the way.
Slowpitch games tend not to be as fast-paced (for lack of a better term) than fastpitch games, and also, slow pitch softball leagues sometimes use larger balls. It’s not entirely uncommon for slow pitch leagues to use a 12-inch ball, whereas most fastpitch leagues use an 11-inch ball. It might not sound like much, since a 1-inch increase in circumference is minimal, but that’s something you’re going to feel in the performance of your glove over time.
If you play slow pitch, you might otherwise want a glove or a mitt with a deeper pocket that will enable you to rein in those larger balls and maintain control over them. By the same token, fastpitch tends to be a little more aggressive. If you play fastpitch, it might be beneficial for you to get a tougher glove that will take a little more break-in so that it will last better longer down the line.
What position do I play?
After answering the question about and determining the style of play you will pursue, probably the next most important question you can ask is one about the position you play. More than anything else, more even than your own personal preferences, the position you play will impact the softball glove you need. To put this in perspective, a catcher’s mitt for fastpitch and slowpitch will still have more in common with each other than either of them has in common with any fielder’s glove. That is to say, position is important.
Catcher’s Mitts - Catchers sit behind home plate for most of the game and need to rein in pitches that come at them hard and fast all day long. In order to do that without injuring their catching hands or becoming excessively fatigued, they need special gloves which are for the most part the most recognizable gloves in the game.
Catcher’s mitts are some of the most heavily padded mitts in the game. They are also the largest mitts on the field, with very deep pockets so that catchers can pull in pitches and maintain control of the ball. It’s important to note that while catcher’s mitts are heavily padded, they are also designed to be as lightweight as possible so that catchers can easily maneuver them.
Pitcher’s Gloves - One of the defining features of pitchers’ gloves is that they tend to have a closed web design. This is one of the most important features they can offer since pitchers don’t spend a lot of time fielding. Rather, what matters is that the batter can’t see the ball within the mitt and so the pitch can remain a surprise.
Infielder’s Gloves - While infielders do need occasionally need to put the brakes on a line drive, they also need to make quick transfers. In fact, they often have to make some of the quickest transfers in the game. When the ball is in the infield and the runners are rounding the bases, a fast transfer can be the difference between a run for the batting team and an out for the pitching team. Because of that, infielders’ gloves often have relatively shallow pockets.
Outfielder’s Gloves - Outfielders are often responsible for making critical plays with errant balls and serious hard hits. When a ball gets to the outfield, whether it’s a grounder or a fly ball, it’s going to be bringing with it a lot of energy. Therefore, most outfielders like gloves with deep pockets so they can catch, secure, and control any balls that make it to them. Transfers are important, but for an outfielder, ball control is critical - especially when it means making an out on a fly ball.
Do I want a deeper or a shallower pocket?
As you can see, the position you play is going to impact the type of softball glove you need, probably more than anything else. However, once you get familiar with the types of gloves that are popular with specific positions, you can start to let your personal preferences dictate the remainder of the course.
For example, do you want the glove to have a deeper or a shallower pocket? This question is important because it will entail a tradeoff between the security you have over the ball and the speed with which you can make a transfer. You might be an outfielder and want a shallower pocket simply because you are confident in your ability to control the balls that come to you. It isn’t common for an outfielder to have a shallower pocket, but each player is unique and has specific strengths and weaknesses. Figure them out, and then determine from there how deep you need the pocket to be. Of course, you can’t replace the value of experience that comes with play and practice!
What material or materials do I want the glove to be made out of?
This is another important question to ask, if only because the materials that the glove is made from will impact its performance. For example, high-quality leather gloves are extremely tough and will break in beautifully over time, but leather is heavy and requires routine attentive maintenance in order to stay healthy and supple.
You can get a secure fit from some synthetics along with a number of other benefits. There are synthetic materials out there that claim to be not only lighter than leather but also stronger. Some of them have enhanced technological features that make them quick-drying and more comfortable as well. Either way, this is another thing you’ll need to get familiar with before you can make a really well-informed decision.
What style of webbing do I want?
The style of webbing you end up with is really a matter of personal preference, although there are some situations in which it will have functional implications. For example, even though gloves with open webbing are lighter and therefore more maneuverable it’s rarely a good idea for a pitcher to have a glove with an open web. It’s in the pitcher’s best interest to keep the ball well hidden.
Webs like basket weaves allow for a lot of flexibility and control when they are broken in, whereas it takes more work to break in a glove that has a cross, an H-web, or an I-web. These latter options, however, can be lighter and sometimes allow for better visibility. Again, as with the matter of what you want the glove to be made out of, this is largely going to be about personal preference and will require you to become familiar with the many types of webs that are out there!
How do I want the glove to fit?
A secure fit in a softball glove is important, whether you need a first base mitt or a fastpitch glove for an outfielder. One way or the other, you need a secure fit, but that is subject to a little bit of investigation.
Some players will like a glove that is not too tight on their hand whereas others will want a more secure fit right out of the gate. At the same time, there are some mitts out there that can easily be adjusted to fit your hand more or less tightly via the aid of a wrist strap. Also keep in mind that as you wear and use a glove, it’s going to form to the contours of your hand. It will become looser over time as it stretches (especially natural leathers) but it will also be more comfortable as well.
How much do I want to spend?
Another important question you will need to answer is how much you will want to spend on the glove. Keep in mind that while sometimes you get what you pay for if you are a smart shopper you just might be able to get a steal.
There are some really high-quality gloves and mitts out there that offer a really affordable price to the savvy shopper. A lot of the gloves on our website are in the mid-200’s price range, but we also offer some really great quality Miken gloves for much less.
Also, keep in mind that all of the gloves on our website are designed to stand the test of time, so paying a lot upfront might not matter in the long run since all of our gloves will last you for many seasons with proper care.
How much time do I want to spend on break-in?
This is another important question that you’ll have to ask yourself. Some gloves are already partly broken in for purchase, which is done at the factory at which they are produced. In fact, some synthetics come nearly ready to play in.
You can’t believe everything you read about factory break-in, as all gloves will require some degree of break-in before they really fit you “like a glove,” but this is something you can get used to. Figure out if you need the glove right away or you can invest some time in breaking it in before you actually get to play with it, and remember, it’s always a good idea to keep a softball stored in the pocket when you are not using the glove, to ensure that it keeps its shape.
Do I care about the brand?
Finally, you will have to determine if you have any brand preferences at all, as well as what they are. The good news is that we offer so many of the major national brands here at HB Sports in our online store.
Whether you’re looking for a Miken, a Louisville Slugger, a Rawlings, or a Wilson, we have plenty of them right here. Check out our collection of softball gloves and get to shopping for your first (or next) glove today.
Lucky for you, you’ve come to just the right place for a new softball glove, whether you are a seasoned player or this will be your first year up to bat. With so many gloves designed for high-end performance from the best manufacturers in the country, you’re going to have a lot of digging to do before you find your perfect glove.
Don’t feel like you have to do it alone, either. You can always reach out to our team for more information on our products or for our professional opinion. Get in touch with us any time at 1-888-540-BATS and we’d be glad to help you out!
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