A glove is the second most expensive piece of equipment most players will buy. Thankfully, if you get the right glove, it will last for a very long time!
Generally speaking, gloves are like cars. You can get a Chevy, a Buick or a Cadillac. What makes one better than the others?
Breaking in your Glove? Be Careful!!
“Breaking in” your glove is the process of softening the leather to make the glove easier to play with.
There are as many opinions about how to break in a glove as there are people buying gloves. The sad reality is, a lot of them are wrong. Really Wrong!
Some of the old school types think that the only way to break in a glove is to use it. To play catch! There is a great deal of validity to this, but with many of the high end gloves the leather is is so heavy that catching the ball is nearly impossible because the glove can’t be squeezed.
So what do you do? You have to help the process along. Elbow grease, no that isn’t some sort of crazy glove oil product, is th first place to start.
There is no shortcut to the best ways of breaking in a glove. Whether you purchase one of the ball mallets that are on the market or use an old fashioned rubber mallet, you’ll need a tool to pound the glove with.
Each time you strike the pocket with the mallet, the glove leather reacts just as it would if you caught a hard thrown ball. Of course, with out stinging the hands!
You should focus your efforts on the palm, pocket and hinge of the glove. The hinge is the seam at the heel of the glove where the glove “wants’ to fold. The place where the glove is meant to fold is where the leather is the thickest. This area needs to be folded against itself again and again to soften it. You can also wiggle the seam by putting pressure in both directions as you work the leather back and forth.
The faster and better the heel and hinge break in will determine how quickly this glove will be comfortable to play with. Steaming a glove can make this part of the glove slightly more pliable for you as your work the hinge back and forth. Steaming is not a one stop solution to glove break in though!
Do not use any harsh chemicals. Using a lot of glove oil is also a very bad idea! These products usually lead to rotten laces and torn leather. You should use a little leather conditioner to protect the glove as you break it in but you should never soak the leather with liquid oil. It will speed up the break in process but will also break down the leather itself and shorten the life of the glove.
There are no shortcuts to breaking in a glove well. Shaving cream, ovens and microwaves are always a very bad idea. If you choose to use a shortcut in breaking in your glove you are likely shortening it’s life. We want our gloves to grow old gracefully, treat them with respect throughout the break in process!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.
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