A high-quality baseball glove is an indispensable tool for any baseball or softball player. Depending on your playing style and position, the right glove can significantly enhance your performance. However, a new, unused baseball glove can be stiff and challenging to maneuver, affecting your game. Therefore, properly breaking in your glove is essential for its longevity and performance.
How to Break in Your Glove
Step 1: Play Catch
The most natural and recommended way to break in a baseball glove is to play catch with it, ideally in hot weather. The heat makes the leather more malleable, while the act of catching helps shape the glove’s pocket according to your hand’s movements.
Step 2: Wear it Around
Another effective method is to wear the glove around the house. Casually punch the pocket with your fist, a baseball, or a wooden/baseball mallet. This helps to soften the glove and mold it to the shape of your hand.
Step 3: Consider Glove Steaming
Glove steaming is a popular method, especially for players in colder states or those who acquire a new glove during winter. This method replicates playing catch in hot weather. However, glove steaming can dry out the glove if a conditioner is not applied afterward.
Step 4: Wrap it Up
Outfielders can wrap their gloves tightly with 2-3 balls to form a large pocket. It’s important to use a material that won’t damage the leather when wrapping the glove. In contrast, it is not recommended for infielders to wrap a ball in the glove, as it may not form the shallower pocket needed for faster transfers.
Step 5: Shape the Leather
As you wear the glove, shape the leather often. If you prefer the glove flared, massage the leather to your ideal position and maintain it whenever the leather begins to reset.
Step 6: Use the Right Products
Manufacturer-approved glove conditioners and oils can be used during and after the break-in process to maintain and soften the leather. For instance, using shaving cream with low or no lanolin content can condition the glove. However, avoid using material not intended for glove break in, like glove cleaning products.
Step 7: Avoid Incorrect Methods
Avoid methods such as microwaving, baking, leaving it in a hot car, or putting it under a mattress. These can damage the leather or leave it dry, brittle, and deformed. Breaking in a glove overnight is also not recommended and can result in poor performance and reduced durability.
Break-in Differences by Position
Different positions may require different break-in methods. For example, outfielders need a deep pocket in their gloves. They can achieve this by using two fingers in the pinky slot and squeezing the glove from thumb to pinky. On the other hand, infielders require shallower pockets for faster transfers. They should store the glove flat to maintain a flat palm and pocket, and use all finger stalls and form a permanent crease at the break point.
How long does it typically take to break in a baseball glove?
The process varies depending on the glove’s material and the methods used. However, with regular use, most gloves start to break in after a few weeks of play.
Can I speed up the glove breaking-in process?
While there are methods to speed up the process, like glove steaming or using a mallet, these shortcuts may compromise the glove’s durability and performance. The best approach is to be patient and break in the glove naturally through consistent use.
Is it necessary to use glove conditioner or oils during the break-in process?
Using a manufacturer-approved glove conditioner can help soften the glove’s leather, making it more flexible. However, it’s important to avoid over-application as it can make the glove heavy and potentially discolor it.
Breaking in a baseball glove requires patience and consistency. The best approach is to gradually break in the glove by using it during practice and games. Remember, the goal is to shape the glove to your hand and playing style, ensuring maximum comfort and performance on the field.