Tips & Tricks to Breaking in Your Baseball or Softball Glove
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So you've bought a new glove. Congratulations. You've probably spent time comparing brands, leathers, prices, sizing and comfort levels before taking the plunge. You've also noticed that some gloves are more broken into than others – which probably affected the price points of the gloves. Either way, you're happy and can't wait to start breaking in this sucker. But now the question is, 'how should I break in my new glove?' Seeing that gloves are the most personal item any ball player owns, breaking in your glove can become a personal experience.
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Or maybe you haven't purchased a new glove at all. Maybe you're looking for some some tips and advice on how to do this properly without damaging your investment.
Breaking in a baseball glove is a tradition and rite of passage for all ball players. Although there are many opinions on the best method to do this, we have come up with some of the top recommendations that will soften the glove without compromising the leather and performance.
Just Use It
The easiest and cheapest and most enjoyable way to break in a new baseball glove is to use it as much as possible as soon as you get it. The more you use it, the more the leather in the mitt will loosen up, and the better it will fit to your hand. Playing catch with a teammate daily after the purchase of the glove is recommended, but you can also throw the ball into your glove repeatedly.
Beat It Up – Gently...
Using specific tools to apply force to the stiffest parts of the mitt is a great way to loosen the leather and ease the ability to open and close the glove. Specific areas that are usually the stiffest on the mitt are the heel cuff where your hand goes in, and the tip of the pocket. Your local Source For Sports ball retailer should have a wooden mallet with a large oval head, and a leather cushion that they will place your glove onto, and pound the palm and ridged surfaces. It is not recommended to use a hammer as the head is too small and will concentrate the force onto a small focused area of the leather, potentially leaving indentations.
Applying excessive force on a folded glove, such as running a car tire over it... is not recommended, as it will flatten the glove, folding the leather instead of retaining the round shape which is optimal for receiving the ball into the glove.
Oil It Up Baby
Oils can be a good tool to help soften the leather and shorten the amount of time it takes to fully work in a glove. Only a small amount of oil is required as you do not want to increase the weight of the glove, potentially creating a slower reaction time to field the ball. Massaging the oil into the glove will help the lubricant work into the leather.
We recommend leather oil specifically designed for gloves, although some players have tried other lubricants. Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks has been known to cover his mitt with a thin layer of shaving cream after every catching session.
Heat It Up
A combination of heat and moisture is effective in softening leather. An easy and way to do this at home is to place a baseball in the glove to hold the shape, close it, then put the glove in a plastic bag and leave it in your bathroom. The humidity and steam from your shower will create a warm, damp environment in the bag, safely molding the leather.
Never put your mitt in the microwave or oven, as intense, high heat will go beyond softening the leather, and actually break it down. It is also not a good idea to keep your glove in the trunk of your car as the extreme fluctuations of temperature will be detrimental to the leather.
Your local Source For Sports baseball dealer can offer you tips and advice on getting the best performance out of your glove. As well as suggestions on how to go about breaking in your glove beyond what we have mentioned – they know their stuff!