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Whether you’re a player or parent, learning how to break in a glove properly is an important part of preparing for the upcoming baseball or softball season. With a properly broken-in glove, the player will enjoy a more comfortable feel and better overall use while on the field. If you’re wondering how to break in a glove for either baseball and softball, follow these steps and suggestions from our SCHEELS experts.
The first step when breaking in a new glove is to play catch with a partner. By simply playing catch, the leather begins to stretch each time the ball hits the pocket. As you catch the ball, pay attention to how you close the glove so you can start to train the leather and foam padding to how you want it to close during a game or practice.
If you don’t have a buddy to play catch with or it’s cold outside, you can simply play “couch catch,” which is when you repeatedly throw the ball into your glove while sitting on the coach. When you use this method, you may want to look into using a weighted training ball for more pop to get the glove softened. However, since most weighted training balls are colored, you want to be careful when breaking in a lighter leather glove as you could potentially leave marks.
Although starting with this step can extend the amount of time it takes to break in your glove, you’ll be happier with the end result.
Continue the process of breaking in your glove by correctly applying a thin layer of glove oil. Some players don’t oil their glove until the end of the first season, but if you're looking for a softer glove at the start of the season, this is an important step.
First, spray the glove oil on a clean sponge or rag. You want to make sure to avoid using a colored sponge or rag as it can transfer the coloring to your light-colored glove. Next, move your sponge or rag back and forth over every portion of your glove, even the laces. By oiling the entire glove, it will maintain an even weight. Our experts recommend waiting a season or two before oiling the shell liner.
Most importantly, do not apply the oil directly to the glove as it will change the color and can make the glove feel heavier.
Only after you’ve played catch and oiled your glove is when you should use a glove mallet to continue to break down the fibers and soften up your glove. The first area to focus on is the heel padding, as this part is what restricts players from closing the glove. You want to hold the glove upright with the heel resting evenly on the surface. Then, begin hitting the mallet and hammer along the width of the heel.
The pocket is the second part of the glove to break in. Since you’ve spent plenty of time playing catch, you know exactly where you want your pocket to be. Knowing this helps prevent you from creating two pockets within the glove. To break in the pocket, lay the glove on its back, position the mallet at the same angle that the ball comes in contact with your glove, and hammer several times. Eventually, the welting loosens and the leather stretches to form a nice, deep bowl.
Be aware when using the glove mallet to not over-break-in your glove. Our experts recommend using the mallet a little bit to loosen up those restricted areas and then testing the glove’s feel by playing catch. You can continue to repeat this step until your glove fits and feels good for the best performance on the field.
It’s fair to say that breaking in a glove can be a process, but if you follow these three steps, you’ll be happy with the results and ultimately your glove’s performance on the field. For more information about how to break in a glove, contact your local SCHEELS store to speak with an expert. If you’re looking for ways to improve your skills prior to the season starting, read our Baseball and Softball Training Equipment Guide to improve batting, fielding, and hand-eye coordination.