Softball is a much loved sport. Whether you are young or old, whether you are a man or woman, boy or girl, softball is one sport that will always hold your interest. For the uninitiated, softball is of two types: fast pitch and slow pitch, the former played mostly by women. Ball, bat and gloves are an integral part of the game along with nine players in the field. All defensive players in softball are supposed to wear gloves to catch a ball when it is hit or is thrown. Usually these are leather gloves or similar material ones. Depending on the position of the player, you might need to choose different type of gloves or mitts that are specific to softball. Here we’re discussing the tips to choosing the ideal glove, how
to take care of your softball glove along with a review of some of the best gloves in the market, suitable for beginners, intermediates as well as professionals.
Best Softball Gloves – The Basics
Just as in baseball, the softball positions will determine the type of glove that should be used by the player. Open web gloves that allow easier transfer to the throwing hand is used by middle infielders, first base fielders and some outfielders. Pitchers, third base fielders and certain outfielders use closed web which gives more support and shields the ball in the glove.
There are four major components to gloves- fingers, webbing, palm and heel. Before you buy a glove, there are three basic things that should be understood.
• Type of throw: refers to the hand the player uses to throw the ball, which could be right
• Right hand thrower: means the player throws with right hand and wears the glove in the
• Left hand thrower: means the player throws with the left hand and wears the glove in the
Types of Softball Gloves
Softball players require different types of gloves depending on their position in the sport. Catcher and first base players have gloves that don’t have distinct fingers; hence these gloves are called Mitts. The rest of the players, like the pitcher, infielder and outfielder wear distinct gloves.
This is the mostly used mitt and it is used to take fast pitched balls. Hence these gloves will be very stiff when they’re bought new. Also these come attached with lots of padding to protect the
catchers hand from fast balls. The pocket size of a softball catcher’s mitt is bigger compared to baseball mitt due to the bigger size of the ball. These have closed pockets to have more lacing which gives the gloves better durability.
First Base Mitt
This is similar to catcher’s mitt except that its pocket is webbed. This allows more flexibility and provides a taller scoop as the ball comes rolling. The first base mitt has comparatively lesser padding than the catcher’s mitt. It lacks distinct finger cuts which makes it stronger and stiffer than the regular softball glove.
These are used in catching the ball from a catcher or from other players. These are not used as much as the Catcher’s mitt and lacks padding. Pitchers glove provides more comfort to the player and is not recommended for young players till they reach pitchers level. These come with closely knitted web pockets in order to hide the pitchers hand movements, else it will give away the type of pitch he/she is about to deliver.
These gloves are designed for quick play that the Infielder’s usually make. These are shorter and are more open than other types of gloves. These are meant to catch the ball at a fast pace, let the infielder transfer the ball to the other hand and throw the ball to take the opponent out. Each second counts and this glove plays an integral part in determining the efficiency of the player.
The outfielder is supposed to catch flying balls and keep it secured within his glove. Hence these gloves are typically longer and much softer with deep pockets to aide in better catching and holding of the balls without injuring the player’s hands.
It is important that you understand the players favorable side i.e., if the player is right handed or left handed. Try different retailers and online stores, compare quality, price etc. and decide on your best choice. In order to condition your glove and make it softer, it is best to oil the glove either at home or at the store. To get the shape, you could wrap a ball inside and strap it with a belt after conditioning. This even applies to storing after each use.
Choosing The Right Softball Glove
Whether you are a novice or an expert in softball, your success is determined by your glove to a great extent. Hence, a good choice of glove is most important especially if you are serious about this sport. This is a guide that helps you analyze your needs and consider the factors in choosing the most ideal glove for you.
You should choose a glove that suits your position. Refer to our guide on the Types of Softball Gloves for better understanding.
Pocket size is the area where you catch hold of the ball. It will be bigger for an outfielder than an infielder, allowing the outfielder to catch the flying ball with ease. Shortstops and second basemen usually use gloves with small pocket to allow easy transfer of ball to the other hand.
There are different types of webbing, some of which are I-web, closed web, basket web, single post web, dual post web, trapeze web, modified trapeze web etc. Infielders usually choose webbing with loose stitches that allow more control in getting the ball out of the pocket.
Padding might vary and depends on the position you play. A Catcher’s mitt will have more
padding to protect the players hand from fast balls. The first and third base might also have better padding. Of late, there is a trend of adding extra wrist padding especially for the players in corner infield position.
Certain gloves come with wrist adjustments using Velcro, buckle lace or D-string fastener which allows them to make the glove fit perfectly to their hand. This feature offers additional comfort to some players; it’s especially useful for beginners.
Leather is the most preferred material for softball gloves since these are more comfortable and durable. But there are also gloves available in synthetic mesh or treated leather materials. Treated leather is chosen by some since it comes pre-conditioned with oils which considerably reduce the glove break-in period. Mesh backed gloves are much lighter and synthetic gloves are best suited for young players since these are lighter and comparatively inexpensive.
Age and Size of the Glove
Age is one of the determining factors while choosing gloves. Girls from 4-11 might use a
maximum of 11 inch glove while those above 12 should preferably be using 12-inch ones. This also depends on the expertise level of the player.
Favored Side of player If you throw using your right hand, you need a right hand throw glove which is worn on the left hand and vice versa. This concept might be confusing for beginners.
Based on the expertise level, if you want to check out softball gloves, you should be looking for the ones mentioned below.
There aren’t any set positions in this level. Just ensure that the glove is soft and fits the player well. These gloves come in a variety of colors to attract little players.
This is where the player enters into positions. This is a good time to get a first or catching glove, if you are playing in that position. These come in soft leather material. Choose one that fits your size and is easy to break-in.
These are for serious players and come even with small hand openings, giving a tight fit glove. These are more durable and mostly last for 3-4 years. These gloves are typically bigger sized softball gloves and are worth the money spent.
These are top notch gloves that take some time to break in, but stay longer than the other two gloves mentioned above. These will be priced more than others too, but you could use them for longer period. Make sure you get the right size and something that you like on your hand and that pleases your eyes too. This is the stage where the player transitions to adult model gloves.
These are the top of the line gloves that can last a lifetime, if handled with care. These are much harder in texture and take a fair amount of time to break-in. These gloves should be properly oiled and cared for to make them soft for use. These are ideal gloves for travelling players who do tournaments more at a high school or college level.
Caring Tips For Softball Glove
Softball gloves are mostly made of leather material. Gloves are part of your body while you are playing and are integral in determining your efficiency on the field when playing the sport. Hence proper caring is essential. Here are a few tips to maintain your gloves so that you can extend its lifespan and efficiency.
• Never let your glove soak in water.
• Never heat your glove in the microwave.
• There is an optimum level of oil required for conditioning. Never overdo it.
• Never store your glove for over twelve months covered in plastic bag.
• In order to avoid accumulation of dirt and sweat inside the glove, wear a normal batting
glove before wearing the softball glove.
• Make a habit of cleaning the glove after each use.
• Do periodic checking of fingers and in between areas to see if there are any broken laces. If any, replace it as soon as possible to avoid further spoiling and mishaps.
• Avoid throwing around your glove in the field.
• Try keeping your glove dry all the time. Use a dry cloth to wipe off dirt.
• Keep a softball or similar object in your glove pocket while it is stored.
• While conditioning, put it over the glove pocket and on the back side of the glove fingers and leave it for 24 hours. Then wipe with a dry cloth.
• Use treated or non-treated petroleum jelly to condition. Some oils can close pores and make the material dry and heavy.
• As soon as you start practicing, play catch to form your glove pocket the way you are most comfortable with.
• Leather is after al derived from skin and so it needs the same level of attention and care
devoted to your own skin.
A Quick Review On The Best Softball Gloves
#1 Nokona BKF-1200C Fast pitch Buckaroo Softball Glove
The Nokona Fast pitch Buckaroo glove is a lose web closed back glove. This is best suited if you are looking for a lightweight, firm glove. It does not take much time to break in like the
traditional cow hide gloves.
The glove is a good 12-inch classic looking pitcher, infield or utility glove. It is made of top
grade steer hide leather and kangaroo leather which is extremely strong and at the same time lightweight. The sandstone used in this will add some body, details and form that will help maintain a solid pocket and better overall fit.
This glove is highly durable and weighs about 660 grams. It makes a snug fit with Ristankor adjustable Velcro wrist strap to give proper support. This is a sturdy glove and requires some amount of breaking in.
This glove is made in USA with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. Though it is a tad pricey, it is made to stay for quite a while and provides adequate comfort and excellent performance. It is available with online retailers like Amazon where you could avail further discounts.
#2 Nokona Walnut Softball Glove
Nokona’s walnut softball glove is an 11.5 inch glove made of walnut HHH leather. The leather is beefed up for getting sturdier performance and is highly preferred by some baseball players as well. It is characterized with a modified trap web which makes it a perfect infield position glove.
The Triple H leather is characterized with a weight of 5.2 to 6 ounces and is one of Nokona’s stiffest ranges of leathers. This leather will maintain its character, look and feel of the classic walnut by Nokona, but is stiffer.
This glove is highly durable and provides optimal comfort which is required for delivering good performance. The product is handcrafted in USA and makes for a soft, supple glove once broken in. Yet it gives adequate sturdiness and strength that will remain season after season. This glove has an open back with Shearling and index finger platform.
Walnut glove is ideal for second base, shortstop, third base or pitcher positions. This is a
lightweight glove weighing around 675 grams and makes a conventional open back glove. You could buy this glove from online retailers like Amazon.
#3 Miken KO Series Slow-pitch Modified Trap Web Pattern Fielding Glove
Miken has come up with the new Koalition series gloves that give ultimate comfort to the user.
These gloves are for those who have taken the sport seriously. These gloves are characterized by 13.5 inch pattern modified Trap-Eze web USA tanned leather laces that give extra durability.
The Miken KO web pattern fielding glove is extremely lightweight and soft which gives a game ready feel with the full grain leather shell. The comfort factor is evident with the Poron XRD Palm pads which greatly reduces the impact of the ball, giving you a virtually sting-free experience.
This glove will suit both infield and outfield players. This product can be bought from Amazon at a discounted rate. It is one of the more affordable, high quality gloves that offers professional level performance.
#4 Louisville Slugger 13-Inch FG M2 Softball First Baseman’s Mitts
Louisville Slugger has come up with the 13 inch softball mitts which suits first base men. These mittens are pre-treated with oil so as to make breaking in easier. This design by Louisville is a gold medal winner. The glove weighs around 1.8 pounds.The M2 series gloves have been designed with special inputs from Jessica Mendoza. She is a popular figure in this sport, has been All-American champion 4 times and has also won an
Olympic god medal This product comes with 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. It is made
available at offline retailers as well as online retailers like Amazon. This is one of the most
affordable mitts with high quality and comfort, delivering excellent performance.
#5 Wilson A360 Series 14 Inch Slow-pitch Softball Glove
Wilson is one of the most affordable softball glove manufacturer, now giving the A360 series 14 inch slow pitch glove that are imported. The gloves are made using leather material and have closed back containing hook and loop strap. It carries full leather palm and web. This glove permits use from all positions and is highly versatile. It holds split hinge web and this 360 glove is designed to be used for recreational league players. These gloves carry a big or oversized pocket to give a deeper and bigger catching area. It will give you a snug fit and allows for necessary adjustments.
It makes an ideal, comfortable, budget glove that is manufactured without compromise on
quality. It definitely need some patience to break in, but is worth the wait. This product comes at a highly affordable rate and can be bought from Amazon or other online of offline retailers.
#6 Mizuno Franchise 13″ Fast Pitch Softball Glove
Mizuno Franchise 13 inch fast pitch glove incorporates ParaShock and PalmSoft technology
which help protect your hand while taking catches. ParaShock technology is suitable in
absorbing shock to give outstanding protection and comfort while PalmSoft has padded pig skin in the gloves palm area for improving comfort while catching.
These gloves have pre oiled, tumbled and conditioned Java leather which makes it game ready as well as adds to its durability. In order to deliver maximum performance, it has power lock wrist closure for simple, secure and easy closure. The glove holds a hand based pattern with HiLo lacing characterized by alternate lacing pattern which help retain the integrity of fully laced web.
The product comes with 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. The SureFit foam provides comfortable cushioning on the back of the glove fingers, thus allowing a customized fit. This glove is available at various retailers and can be also bought on offer from Amazon.
#7 Louisville Slugger 10.5 Inch FG Diva Softball Infielders Glove
Good news for beginners! Louisville has introduced the Diva series softball gloves. These are designed specifically for young fast pitch players who are beginning their softball encounters.
The glove features leather Palm area with mesh back side. These gloves are quite durable and are well worth each and every penny spent for it. Another advantage is that these gloves don’t need any breaking in. The design is lightweight and the mesh back gives better and easy closure. The Palm lining is extra soft which gives the young player an extremely comfortable feeling and good control as well.
This 10.5 inch softball glove comes game ready right off the shelf. This infielder’s glove holds a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty and is available with offline retailers like Wal-Mart as well as online retailers like Amazon. The pricing of this glove makes it quite budget friendly and you could avail great discounts on purchase via Amazon.
Read More: How To Choose Best Softball Pants.
The requirement for a softball glove mainly depends on the position you play or the age group you fall into. We have discussed gloves that suit beginners as well as professionals. The right choice of glove also depends on your expertise in the sport. Choose the glove that fits your hand best and gives you adequate comfort which is vital during performance.
Check out the reviews and choose the perfect glove that will help get the best out of you. We have mentioned gloves that are priced within $50 to over $200. There’s plenty of variety to choose from, with regard to quality, performance as well as price. A good choice can go a great way in assisting your softball gameplay. Now trust your glove and play on!