How to Break in a New Baseball or Softball Glove

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Congratulations! You just bought a brand new glove. What next? What’s the best way to get your glove game ready?

In this guide, we cover the best and most effective methods to break in a baseball or softball glove.

Breaking in a brand new baseball or softball can be difficult. Everyone seems to have their own “best way”. And while there isn’t just one way to do it, these methods have varying degrees of success, with some being more effective than others.

Personally, I love the feel of a stiffer glove and replace it once it starts to get soft & flimsy.

Don’t do anything to your glove that you wouldn’t do to your best friend

Here, we list the best ways to break in a new baseball glove.

THE GOOD

1. Play catch with it. This is by far the best way to break in a baseball or softball glove. It allows your glove to be broken into your hand’s exact shape and forms it in the way you catch.

Depending on the brand/model, breaking in your baseball/softball glove may be difficult & may take time. At the same time, this will allow the glove to form exactly how you want it.

Many of the best baseball gloves or softball gloves will be difficult to break in. This is because they use the best quality of leather. Even so, this also means that they last longer.

2. Refer to #1. Play catch with it.

QUICK BREAK IN METHODS

THE BAD (SOMEWHAT)

Unnatural break-in methods aren’t for me, but you can try them out if you don’t mind taking the risk. The methods described below are best used:

  1. On a cheap glove (under $100)
  2. If you need your glove broken and ready for play immediately
  3. If after only a season or two, you don’t mind having to buy a new baseball glove.

However, if you’re buying a top of the range baseball or softball glove, there are no shortcuts. You have to use it. A glove that’s well taken care of can last a lifetime.

Remember, these methods may shorten your glove’s life.

1. Use a mallet – This method is for ideal for taking out some aggression on your glove by beating the crap out of it.  Using a mallet to hit the glove in key spots helps to soften the leather and form the pocket. Just don’t over-do it.

  1. Get yourself a glove mallet
  2. Wear our glove as you normally would
  3. Use your throwing hand to pound the glove pocket or the back of the glove as need be.

While using a mallet to break in your glove may speed up the break-in process, your glove is better off if the abuse is avoided. Play lots of catch to fully work in your glove. This is better for your glove in the long run.

2. Steaming – If you need to quickly break in a cheap glove, steaming could work. This method serves to soften the leather. Unfortunately, steaming isn’t a natural break in method and doesn’t form the glove in the shape of your hand.

  • Soak a towel/cloth in hot water. Wring out the excess water and thoroughly wipe down the glove.
  • Play catch with it while the glove is still damp to form the pocket. Do this for about a week or so.
  • After a week, while dry, oil the glove up.

3. Shaving Cream – Using lanolin-based shaving creams. These aren’t as bad for your glove as oils are. Unlike oils, lanolin-based shaving cream won’t soak into the leather and make it heavier.

For this method, apply the shaving cream to your glove with your bare hands, making sure to do it in moderation. Start off with the stiffer areas from the palm, working it evenly into other areas of the glove, like the inside.

This method is not as effective and is best used with an additional break-in method. After application, pound the glove using a mallet to break it in even further.

THE UGLY

What NOT to do. Below are some methods we would never think of trying on our precious gloves. We advise you to steer clear as well. While these have sometimes worked for others, they are far too risky to try on your precious brand new glove.

1. Microwave – Never put your glove in an oven or a microwave. Like Ever. While this is one of the more popular ways to break in your glove, it can do irreparable damage.

Putting your glove in a microwave or an oven will dry out the leather and cause the laces to dry out, causing them to break. Not to mention the risk of burning your house down if left unattended, or if the glove has metal bits.

2. Driving your car over your glove – Imagine spending a couple hundred dollars on one of the best baseball gloves money can buy, then running a 2000-pound car over it. Insanity!

Additionally, do not leave your glove inside your car. Much like nuking it in a microwave oven, leaving your baseball/softball glove in a hot car may dry out the leather and make the laces brittle & may cause them to snap.

3. Tying it up – Putting a ball in your glove, Tying it up with some string and putting it under your mattress is another method that we don’t recommend.

As much as this may help create a pocket, it is an unnatural way to break-in your glove and the glove might not close like you want it to.

4. Using Oils – Don’t douse it in oil. Although this isn’t a break-in method on its own, opinion varies as to whether oils and other lubricants should be used.

Some players are for it, while some are opposed to it because degrades your glove over time or causes it to become heavier as it soaks up the oil.

Inasmuch as oils and conditioners help soften leather baseball and softball gloves, Oil also sits in the glove making the glove heavy. Moreover, it may break down the leather over time and cause the laces to tear.

If you do choose an oil to break in your glove, use only manufacturer-suggested products. Steer clear of products such as petroleum jelly, olive oil or any other products that may damage the leather or dry it out. Additionally, don’t overdo it. Apply a light coat, and add if the need arises.

Used sparingly, glove oil helps to keep the leather on your glove “alive” and keeps it soft.

To apply oil to your glove, remove any dirt on your baseball glove using a clean, dry cloth. Use a sponge, cloth or your bare hands to rub a small amount of conditioner into your glove. Work it evenly into the laces, the web, the palm, or any other areas that are dry or starting to crack. Do not apply the conditioner to the glove directly, as there will be too much of it on your starting point. Ensure you get the laces as well so that they don’t dry out and crack.
Keep in mind that leather is no different from your skin, and should be treated as such. That means you should never excessively soak your glove in water. Additionally, keep your glove away from high temperatures like the oven, microwave, and hot water.

Important Points to Remember:

  • The best way to break in your glove is to play catch with it.
  • Putting too much glove conditioner/oil may ruin or shorten the life of your new glove
  • Do not use any oils or conditioners that may cause the leather to dry up and become brittle.
  • Water will dry out the leather on your glove, causing it to crack and making the laces brittle.
  • Gloves that take longer to break in have high-quality leather and last longer as a result.

The best gloves don’t come cheap, so if you want your glove to last a long time, you need to take good care of it. Looking for a glove?  Check out our guide on the best baseball gloves, or the best softball gloves here.

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