First, allow me to begin by stating that there are no officially correct ways "how to break in a baseball glove," but some techniques have proven more effective than others. Essentially, your glove needs to break in to develop a broken-in pocket. After constant use, the porous nature of the leather will provide you with an effective glove that's soft, comfortable, and durable. The older baseball gloves that professional athletes wear today did not appear overnight; rather, they were developed through numerous playing hours.
Key Post Points for How to Break in a Baseball Glove:
A high-quality glove, like a great bat or good fitting cleats, is one of the most important purchases a baseball player can make for their game. Purchasing a brand-new baseball or softball glove might be compared to bringing on a new player for your squad. However, your glove requires some all-star training to arrive in top shape before it can officially be on the field.
Every player seems to have their method for breaking in softball or baseball gloves, similar to other sports customs. What one individual holds in high regard, another dismisses. But the question first stands, why do we even need to break in the baseball glove in the first place?
Durability is one factor that makes leather such a valued, valuable material. But freshly produced, new leather is frequently as stiff as a rock, and baseball glove producers employ no different leather.
Oddly, you know what we're talking about if you've ever attempted to catch a ball while wearing a brand-new glove. They are challenging to close, and the ball comes out as if tossed against a brick wall.
Gloves made of genuine cowhide or steerhide must be softened up before use. Still, gloves made of synthetic materials are intended to be game-ready right off the shelf. The break-in phase might last from days to weeks, depending on the quality of the leather.
Despite this, breaking in a genuine leather glove in some of the best baseball gloves is worthwhile because it will outperform synthetic materials in terms of form and functionality.
Nomar Garciaparra, a former shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, had one rule: no one else's hand was permitted in his glove. A frequent rule among professional baseball players is Nomar's rule.
Why? Because leather expands and adapts to fit your hand and your movements as you break in a glove. You want a glove that fits naturally on your hand and makes you forget it's there—almost like an extension of your arm.
If you're a purist, this is your favorite approach to breaking in your glove. Get a few friends and play catch. The glove will be fully broken in and prepared for the season the more times you squeeze it around a ball during practice. Even though this approach takes the longest, it is the most effective and suggested. Compared to alternative techniques some players might utilize, it significantly lowers any potential risk of harming your glove.
So always try to catch a ball with your gloved hand, whether you're throwing, taking ground balls, or shagging fly balls. Although it will take some time, it will be worthwhile.
See also: The Best Baseball Glove Repair Kit Options
You'll require the following:
When using this method, you can choose between two sorts of glove hammers: one forms the pocket with a ball-shaped end, while the other is more of a flat-ended weapon that you use just to hit the glove.
Using this technique, pour hot water into the cup and spill it onto the glove to break it in. The leather becomes more malleable and looser as a result. Avoid soaking the baseball glove because doing so will cause saturation and excessive drying.
You want to concentrate on applying as much pressure as possible to the region indicated by the yellow arrow in the image below when the glove is only slightly moist. This region has to be flexible.
The glove mallet can be used in this situation. Hammering the pocket with the mallet will loosen the crease and make it easier to fold the glove.
Putting your hand in the glove and using the mallet from here is another excellent approach to form the pocket. This can ensure that you receive the exact personalized fit you would receive from simply playing catch, but probably to a smaller level.
Let us explore some other methods you can try to break into your baseball glove.
Glove oils and conditioners are materials that you can use to aid in softening leather baseball and softball gloves. At the same time, they need to be more precisely a break-in procedure. First, you should know that items like Vaseline, petroleum jelly, olive oil, mink oil, and linseed oil shouldn't be used when using oils and conditioners to break in your glove.
Use the oils and conditioners that the maker of your gloves recommends if you intend to use them. The majority of the time, your glove comes with these instructions. Certain businesses utilize conditioners explicitly created for leather. Make sure to avoid overapplying oils when using them. The glove should be lightly coated, then rubbed.
Sparingly apply conditioners and oils. It can be harmful to over-care for your glove because the oils can make it heavier and reduce overall the leather's durability. Your equipment should only require three to four sessions per season to remain in excellent condition all year.
An excellent additional technique that aid break in your glove is glove wrapping. There are two viewpoints on the subject. One favors wrapping with a ball in the pocket; the other does not. The proper approach is only one of them—covering your glove with a ball stored in the web or pocket.
Touching the pinky and thumb together, close the glove (with a ball in the pocket). Wrap the glove in rubber bands, string, elastic, or any other material that will keep it firmly closed. After a few days, remove it and repeat the procedure.
Stretching the leather by wrapping the glove and holding it there for a while should make it simpler to work with.
Ovens and microwaves are used for cooking, and gloves are made of leather, which cannot be eaten. So let's avoid using the glove in the oven or microwave!
Some individuals believe that using an oven would soften the leather. That might be initially accurate, given that heat leaves leather more pliable. But hot air typically has a dry quality, and the hot air in an oven is no exception.
A glove's leather loses moisture when baked, implying that the glove will be dry after it cools down (and sometimes, brittle).
Obviously, if you leave a baseball glove in the car, it's likely to get very warm. Keeping a glove on a heated dashboard may be an excellent substitute for microwaving or baking it because they are similar to mobile ovens. Like a microwave, leaving a glove in a warm car will dry up the leather and make the laces brittle and break. Maintain your grip at 10 and 2, but remove your gloves from the automobile.
Barbasol shaving cream can be used as a conditioner and is one of the most popular methods for breaking in gloves. The natural oil from sheep called lanolin was once an ingredient in shaving cream.
It so happens that lanolin works well to condition leather. Today, however, lanolin is rarely used in shaving. Barbasol shaving cream contains a tiny quantity, but not much. All shaving cream does include a ton of synthetic and chemical ingredients that weren't made to treat leather.
So what occurs if shaving cream is employed during the glove break-in process?
You may have guessed by now that dryness is the enemy of a well-conditioned glove. Similar to how heat may remove moisture from leather, shaving cream's chemicals can do the same. Some substances also contain elements that might weaken and dissolve leather fibers.
The mattress technique works on the same principle as glove wrapping: by squeezing the glove shut, you stretch the leather and make it more malleable. The outcomes of these two methods, however, are substantially dissimilar.
To get a glove that folds properly, softly stretch the leather all along the crease by wrapping it in rubber bands or string. On the other hand, the glove made using the mattress approach will be flattened until it resembles a leather pancake.
When a glove is appropriately broken in, you virtually never need to grip it to catch the ball. This results from the power of the ball striking the pocket will almost immediately draw the glove into a closed position. However, if you make a crease in the heel, the mitt will be floppy and require significant pressure to prevent the ball from dropping out.
So how to break in a baseball glove? The answer to this question is that the general techniques you'd follow to break in a fielding glove apply equally to breaking in your catcher's or first baseman's glove. The greatest strategy will be to use the glove...a lot! This is especially true for catchers and first basemen. The greatest, possibly slower, methods for getting the job done include playing catch and conducting bullpen sessions.
Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.
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