Buying a baseball or softball glove: how to choose the right one

A baseball or softball glove is a key investment that should last your child for years. Buying the wrong type of glove can make it difficult for your child to play the game and probably require you to replace the glove, wasting money if you can’t return the first one you purchased.

It’s not a difficult task to choose the right glove if you know a few basics before going shopping.

1. It’s mainly about the position played

While ball gloves comes in different sizes and materials, their main difference is the position for which they are made. Gloves come in five types: catcher’s mitt and pitcher, outfielder, infielder and first base gloves.

The main difference is the depth of the pocket – some players need glove pockets that are shallower, while other players need gloves with deep pockets. Pockets either make it easy to get the ball out quickly or secure a catch. Talk to your child’s coach to determine what position he’ll play before you buy a glove. If your child is a beginner and doesn’t know what position he’ll eventually play full-time, consider buying an infielder’s glove, which is the most versatile.

2. There are two choices of materials

Your two choices for material when buying a glove are leather and synthetic. Leather is the choice of top players. It’s softer, more pliable and lasts longer. It’s also more expensive and needs to be broken in before game day. Here are some key tips on how to break in a glove.

Synthetic materials are fine for new and intermediate players or families on a budget. They also hold up better if they’re left out in the rain.

3. Size matters

A glove that’s too tight can cause your child to sweat and develop skin problems. It can also be uncomfortable, especially during a long game. Don’t buy a large glove for a growing child, hoping they will grow into it and you’ll get an extra year or two out of it. A loose glove can make it more difficult to make tough catches and get the ball out quickly.

You might find that your child can’t find a glove that seems like a perfect fit. If you have to choose between a glove that seems tight and one that’s too loose, try having your child wear a batting glove with the larger glove. This might help make the larger glove a good fit.

Start with a sizing chart that guides buyers when purchasing youth baseball and softball gloves. The website, HomeRunMonkey.com, provides helpful tips for choosing the right size glove for a child. The chart provides guidance by age, position played and sport (baseball, slow-pitch and fast-pitch).

4. There's a big price difference between new and used gloves

New baseball gloves can cost more than $200, depending on the position. If price is a deciding factor, you can find quality used gloves on Craigslist or eBay, or at used sporting goods stores for a fraction of that cost. Used gloves can be good choices, especially if you’re on a budget and want a leather glove. Used leather gloves will also be broken in for your child.

If you buy a new glove, consider purchasing a glove mallet to help break in the glove (they typically cost under $20).

Steve Milano

Steve Milano has been writing and lecturing on youth sports for more than 25 years. He ... View Full Bio

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