Gloves are an essential piece of equipment for softball players, protecting your hand when you try to catch or throw a ball. If your glove doesn't fit correctly, however, it may slip during a catch and cause you to drop the ball. In some instances a glove that's the wrong size might even rip at the seams or come off of your hand during play. Selecting a glove that's the right size for your hand ensures that you are properly protected during a game and helps you to avoid unfortunate slips that cost you your grip on a ball.
Decide which hand you'll be wearing the glove on to determine whether you need a right-handed glove or a left-handed glove. If you aren't sure, try throwing a softball with both arms to see which arm you throw better with; your glove should go on your non-throwing hand.
Find out what position you'll be playing before selecting a glove. Players at first base often choose long mitts designed with a shallow pocket while players at other bases use five-fingered gloves. Infielders often use gloves with shallow pockets to make retrieval and throwing of the ball easier. Outfielders typically choose long gloves with deep pockets to assist in catching fly balls.
Consider the webbing of different gloves to choose the glove that's best for your position. Open webbing is best for positions such as first base and the infield where you are likely to have to retrieve balls from the ground since it allows some dirt and grass to pass through the webbing if you scoop it up. Closed webbing is more common for positions such as the outfield where you want more material to help grab the ball out of the air and hold it firmly. Pitchers also use closed webbing to conceal their grip on the ball.
Check the measurement of the glove, an indicator of how deep the glove's pocket is based on a measurement from the tip of the forefinger, through the pocket and up to the tip of the thumb. An infield glove should have a measurement of approximately 10 to 12.5 inches, depending on glove size while an outfield glove should measure between 11.5 and 14 inches, depending on size. Pitcher's gloves should measure between 11.5 and 12.5 inches.
Try on different gloves to see how well they fit once you've determined which gloves best suit your position. Check the fit of gloves with adjustable wrist support or other options and compare them to standard gloves. Your ideal glove should be snug around your hand and relatively stiff, though it should be flexible enough that you can bend your fingers and thumb as though you were gripping a softball.
- Break in your glove by pouring hot water on the portions of the glove that you wish to soften up and pounding it with a wooden mallet. Place a ball in the pocket of the glove and securing the glove around it with rubber bands for several hours and then pound the glove again. Be sure to rub the glove down with a leather or glove conditioner after it is dry to keep it soft and to prevent the leather from drying out as a result of breaking it in.
Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.