Buying a glove can be a somewhat daunting task. There are dozens of brands, sizes, webbings, types of leather, etc., making it challenging to find the right combination of comfort and usability. However, the arduous search is always worth it. There’s nothing like the fresh aroma of high-quality leather and the forging of a new player/glove relationship. Like with the bat, the player/glove dynamic can be complicated. Some days will be filled with web gems, while others plagued by errors.
Therefore, it is imperative that the player and glove have a steadfast, deep relationship rather than a superficial one. You shouldn’t love your glove just because it’s the shiniest, best smelling, most expensive Italian leather (although that does make it more tenable), but rather because it’s comfortable, fits your style of play, and inspires confidence. This is because the relationship will not always bee sunshine and rainbows, as you’ll likely want to cast your glove into a fiery inferno at one point or another. This is normal. The feeling will pass…probably. If your unsure about your current relationship maybe you two should seek some counseling by way of fielding drills, a proven method of discovering if the relationship is still salvageable. If it’s just not working out, then maybe it’s time you break up with your current glove and start looking for an upgrade. Here’s a good starting point.
Youth vs. Adult Gloves
Ok, so you’ve decided to move on to better things. Obviously, there’s a difference between youth and adult gloves. Youth gloves are often cheaper, made with lower quality materials/synthetics, easier to close, lighter, smaller, etc. While they are smaller, it’s still all relative to age and position. Infielders should still use smaller gloves than outfielders and the like. However, with gloves, a youth player can still use an adult glove if they can find one to fit their hand/are serious enough about the game to warrant to it. Young players are more likely to use youth/cheaper gloves for several reasons.
It might be because as a parent, you’re still unsure about your child’s seriousness about the game, therefore you don’t want to splash the cash on a fancy/adult glove. You (likely) wouldn’t buy your kid a Baby Grand Piano when they are just starting lessons would you? Also, they may just not be ready for adult-sized gloves, which is fine. My recommendation, however, is to get your kid an adult glove as soon as they are able to use one, that is, if their involvement in the sport warrants it. If it’s just another activity, then they probably don’t need the nicest gear. Of course, there still are some incredible expensive and high quality youth gloves out there if you want.
For pitchers, you’re probably going to want a webbing that prevents anyone from seeing what grip you have taken on the ball. You don’t want to give your opponent any real or perceived advantage, so just make sure your glove’s web isn’t too open, where your hand can be seen clearly on the ball. Using an infielders glove is an option. You don’t want to be fielding your position with a clunky outfielders mitt and make it more difficult on yourself. You probably don’t want to go for an 11.25″ though. 11.75-12.25″ is the most common range, with the 12.25″ being popularized by pitcher Mark Buehrle, who has won 4 Gold Gloves at the position. Just pick a size that obscures the view of your hand and that you feel comfortable fielding with.
For outfielders, probably the two most popular webbings are the trapeze and double post. There are others and it’s all about preference, but you’ll see most big leaguers using one or the other. From experience, both provide and excellent pocket and secure closing action on the ball, you can’t go wrong with either.They range in size from 12.25-12.75″ because there’s more straight up catching (like fly balls and diving plays) being done and less need of quick transfers, therefore they’re larger.
Infielders have an abundance of webbings to choose from. Baskets, modified trapeze, I-web, H-web, post-web, etc. Typically they range from 11.25-12″, which means a shallower pocket so you can quickly transfer the ball. Your style of play and how you wear the glove on your hand are important factors. You may barely stick your hand in the glove, leaving much of the palm exposed. Or, you may shove it all the way up in there. It’s all preference. Baseball players are quirky and superstitious when it comes to their equipment.
The first base glove has a unique shape that was designed specifically for the position, like a pancaked catcher’s glove. It makes it easier to scoop balls and receive throws from the other infield positions, as the pocket is deeper and it has a more open web to perform the task. There are several web styles to fit your desires and the sizes typically range from 11-13″, the smaller sizes being primarily for younger players, who may have trouble handling the bigger models.
Catcher’s gloves are designed to offer support and padding to guard against the constant pounding of receiving pitches. Typically very stiff when first purchased, it can take some time to break them in and keep the ball from popping out uncontrollably, so give yourself some time. Sizes range from 30.5-34.5″ with the smaller being for youth players.
How will you know if you found the right glove? The best glove, the glove that’s right for you, will be an extension of you and leave you cursing yourself for the error, not the other way around.