In addition to the baseball bat, the glove is the primary piece of equipment needed to play this great sport. A fielder should feel that his or her glove is an extension of the hand. Selecting the best glove is an essential part of that equation. Fit, utility, durability, and style are key considerations when making a choice of leatherware.
Today, we will be discussing the different types of baseball gloves, how to find the best fit, what brands and styles are available, and some tips to find the right baseball glove for a youth athlete.
Baseball Gloves by Position
Defensive baseball positions are highly specialized. This is reflected by the many different cuts of glove which are available. Here are the different types of baseball glove by position:
Infielder’s gloves are generally the smallest. This is to allow infielders the ability to quickly transfer the baseball from glove to throwing hand.
Outfielder’s gloves are larger and longer at the end, allowing for a greater catch radius and ability to catch fly balls. Getting the ball out of the glove is not as high of a priority as it would be for infielders.
Catcher’s gloves are unique in that they are heavily padded. Padding protects catchers’ hands from both the velocity of pitched balls and the many repetitions of catching of the course of a game.
First baseman’s gloves are large like an outfielders’ glove, with the added specialization used for picking balls out of the dirt on errant throws to first base. This is probably the least necessary specialized glove at the youth level.
Pitcher’s gloves are generally the same as infielders glove with the additional trait of having a “closed” web. This is to ensure that batter's cannot see pitchers grip the ball in the glove.
The Importance of Finding a Good Baseball Glove Fit
As mentioned in the introduction, a great fielder will use their glove as if it were their own hand. Gloves which are too large or too small will be either too loose or to constrictive. It is important to remember that each glove will have its own unique dimensions. A larger glove does not necessarily mean that a player must have a larger hand. There are four basic measurements for gloves:
The heel is the width of the base of the glove. This should approximately match the width of the player’s palm.
The palm is the area between the heel and the webbing where the player’s palm should rest.
The webbing is the “catching” area of the glove between the four fingers and the thumb. The size and width will be highly dependent on whether the glove is for infielders, outfielders, pitchers, etc.
The fingers are where the player’s fingers will reside, but not entirely. Again, the length of the fingers has more to do with the position of the player than the size of the hand.
Youth Baseball Glove Brands and Styles
So you are in the market for a youth baseball glove. Congratulations, you just entered one of the most diverse and saturated consumer markets out there. Companies which have a major stake in baseball gloves include Rawlings, Wilson, Mizuno, Franklin, Nokona, and many, many more. Gloves are often genuine leather or patent leather. Gloves for younger players may be entirely synthetic.
Additionally, there are a litany of different web designs from which to choose. Basket webs, H web, trapeze, I web, and so on. As long as your youth fielder has selected a glove which is both a good fit and an appropriate style for his or her position, the rest is just details. Once a player has reached physical maturity, they can then make a more permanent choice on their “forever glove”. As a young player: fit, comfort, and utility are king.
How to Break in a Baseball Glove
A final consideration when purchasing a glove is that store bought gloves are not yet “broken in”. For leather products, the breaking in process can drastically change the nature of the glove. Thankfully, this usually leads to a glove which has more or less molded to the players hand. There are a few ways to effectively break in a glove:
Oiling the glove: genuine leather gloves often need a bit of oil to truly come to life. Many sporting good stores sell glove oil. With a sponge or with your fingers, work the oil into the glove, wrap the glove into the desired shape with a baseball or softball, seal the glove shut with a rubber band, then let the glove sit overnight.
Pounding the glove: simply put, beating the heck out of a glove will break it in. This can be done with a fist, mallet, baseball, or whatever can be used to pound the pocket of the glove.
Playing catch: there is no replacement for good old use. Take the new glove to the yard or field and catch some balls.
Baseball Fielding Training with Hustle
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