If you’re looking to play baseball for the first time, the first thing you probably bought is a baseball glove. Now that you have it, you may wonder how to break in a baseball glove. After all, using a stiff baseball glove will not make your first experience very enjoyable. It's hard to catch a ball with a stiff glove.
Before you even begin to practice, you need to learn how to break in a baseball glove. Playing with a glove that's still stiff because you haven’t used it much will cause you to have issues during the game. However, if you’re even more of a beginner, you may need to know more about baseball gloves.
What You Need to Know About Baseball Gloves
A baseball glove, also known as a mitt, is the most crucial piece of equipment for a player on the defending team. It’s made of leather and is worn on one hand to help with catching the ball. You wear the baseball glove on your non-dominant hand. So, if you're a lefty, it goes on your right hand.
A baseball glove should fit onto your hand snuggly, and you should be able to open and close it with ease. Since the glove is wider and longer than your hand, it makes it easier to catch the ball. Although there used to be just one type of baseball glove, there are now several to choose from. But, we'll get to that in a bit.
The History of Baseball and the Baseball Glove
There are traces of a game that is like baseball that is over 2,000 years old. As a result, it’s believed that baseball and cricket developed from the same game and branched off from each other.
The modern game of baseball started to hit its stride in the mid-1800s with the establishment of the National Association of Baseball Players in 1850. However, it was in 1876 that the National League was born, a league that exists in Major League Baseball to this day.
Since the formation of the National League, the baseball glove existed to serve as protection for the hands of the players when they catch a ball. The design of the first baseball gloves wasn't for catching at all; instead, they were intended to knock the ball to the ground.
The first baseball gloves looked like working gloves with the fingers cut out. However, it wasn’t until the 1900s that players began to wear gloves en masse. Over time, the gloves became more padded and, therefore, more helpful in catching the ball.
Around the middle of the 1900s, the fingers were laced together, and a pocket was added between the index finger and thumb. These days, there are many different types and more specialized baseball gloves for the various positions on the field.
The Different Types of Baseball Gloves
Since the inception of the baseball glove, they have become more and more specialized. Now there are five main types of baseball gloves. These types are the infielder’s glove, pitcher’s glove, catcher’s mitt, first baseman’s glove, and outfielder’s glove.
1. Infielder’s glove
Infielders use small and light gloves so the players can move quickly while using them. They need to be light because the players in the infield need to have fast reflexes, and they can’t be slowed down by their glove. Usually, the second baseman will have the smallest glove.
Smaller gloves allow players to transfer the ball to their throwing hand quicker. As a result, infielders can make double plays more consistently.
2. Pitcher’s glove
Pitcher’s gloves are usually very similar to infielder’s glove. This means that their gloves are small, light, and made for quick movements.
However, since the pitcher is trying to deceive the batter, pitchers usually prefer gloves with a closed web. This allows the pitcher to hide the ball and handgrip from the batter.
3. First baseman’s glove
A first baseman has a different glove from the rest of the infielders. They usually have a glove that is larger and doesn’t have finger holes. Additionally, it will have a unique edge that makes it easier to scoop up balls thrown into the dirt.
Since the first baseman is one of the players that get the ball thrown to them the most, the larger glove is helpful. Having a larger glove gives your teammates a more significant target at which to toss.
4. Catcher’s mitt
The catcher’s mitt is the most unique glove of all the different types. The catcher needs to catch balls thrown at speeds sometimes exceeding 100 miles per hour. As a result, they need a lot of padding to protect their hands.
Additionally, catcher’s mitts are the largest of all the gloves. This gives the pitcher a more significant area to aim the ball.
5. Outfielder’s glove
Outfielders have the most prolonged gloves of any players on the field. They need long gloves because they need to track fly balls, often needing to run long distances to catch the ball. The longer gloves give them an increased range and a little more of a margin for error.
Furthermore, outfielder’s gloves have a deep pocket. The deep pocket helps prevent balls from popping out of the glove.
How to Break in a Baseball Glove
Now that you know the basics about baseball gloves, it’s time to learn how to break in a baseball glove. There are a lot of methods for how to break in a baseball glove, and we’ll cover several of them. All are viable, so choose whichever way of how to break in a baseball glove that you feel most comfortable with.
If you aren’t interested in any advanced methods of how to break in a baseball glove, you can certainly turn to this classic method. Get a couple of friends together or get your parents to play catch with you. The more you use the glove, the more it will loosen up and get broken in.
This method of how to break in a baseball glove is the most time consuming, but it’s also the most fun. Additionally, it’s the most recommended method.
This method also has the lowest possible risk of damaging your glove. After all, you're literally using it the way it's meant to be used.
Glove steaming is considered the next best method after playing catch for how to break in a baseball glove. By steaming the glove, you relax the leather and get it loosened up for games.
For this method of how to break in a baseball glove, you need to apply glove conditioner to the glove. This will help open the pores in the leather, making it more susceptible to the steam. Then you need to steam the glove to roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the glove in the steam for around two to five minutes.
Once enough time has passed, you can remove the glove. Then you should break in the glove using a glove mallet. A glove mallet is a tool used specifically for breaking in a baseball glove.
In this method of how to break in a baseball glove, all you'll be doing is hitting the glove repeatedly with a glove mallet. However, there are a few different techniques.
To start, you should put the glove on like you would typically wear the glove. Next, with your other hand, use the mallet to strike the pocket of the glove repeatedly. Once you have done this for enough time, you can remove the glove.
To further break in the glove, lay it on the floor palm side down. Then strike the backside repeatedly.
Other methods recommend wetting the glove and leaving it the sun before pounding the glove. However, this isn’t recommended as it could cause permanent damage to the glove.
Oils and conditioners
Although oils and conditioners will not break in gloves on their own, they can help quicken the process. For example, applying oils and conditioners to the glove before playing catch will accelerate the process. However, you need to be careful with what products you use.
You should never use products like Vaseline, petroleum jelly, olive oil, mink oil, and linseed oil. Instead, you should only use the products recommended by the manufacturer.
When you apply the oils, don’t add too much. You only need to use a small amount of oil or conditioner to loosen up the leather and help break in your glove.
Methods for How to Break in a Baseball Glove That You Should Avoid
There are some methods for how to break in a baseball glove that you may come across while doing your research that you should avoid.
The microwave or oven method
Many people believe that putting your baseball glove in the microwave or oven is an excellent way to break in a baseball glove. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as it can cause significant and permanent damage to your glove. Your leather will dry out, and the laces will become brittle.
Furthermore, this method is hazardous as gloves can catch fire relatively quickly.
Leaving gloves inside the car
Leaving your gloves in the car when it’s hot outside isn’t as dangerous as microwaving them, but it can be as damaging. The leather will dry out, and the laces will become brittle to the point where they could break off.
Catcher’s mitts and first base gloves
You should also note that you should not break in catcher’s mitts and first base gloves using methods other than playing with them. These gloves are the most susceptible to damage from excess heat or contact with foreign oils, so it’s best to stick with the old school method of playing catch.
Using Your Broken-in Baseball Glove
There are lots of advanced methods for pro players; however, for new players, you should stick with the basics. Put your entire non-dominant hand into the glove. You use the non-dominant hand for catching because you need your dominant hand for throwing.
Once your hand is in the glove, you can open and close the glove to catch the ball with ease once your baseball glove has been broken-in.
After Reading, Do You Understand How to Break in a Baseball Glove?
Now that you’ve read about several methods for how to break in a baseball glove, we hope you feel comfortable with each of the processes. As we mentioned, despite it being the most time-consuming, the best method is to play catch and use your glove regularly.
Playing catch to break in your glove shouldn’t be an issue for most people as you bought the glove so you could play baseball. However, if you’re limited for time, you can use any of the other methods that we mentioned. All the processes are reliable and will help you break in your baseball glove.
Are you a new or experienced baseball player? What method for how to break in a baseball glove are you planning on using? Let us know in the comments!