Now that you’ve decided to purchase your very own baseball glove, good for you! You’ve taken your very first steps into playing baseball. However, just because you bought the glove, that doesn’t mean it’s ready for play just yet.
Baseball gloves have to be broken in before you start using them for real play. What this means is you will be forming the pocket that the ball fits in and loosening up the leather so that your glove isn’t stiff as a board when you’re trying to catch that line drive that slices in your direction.
There are several tried and true ways on how to break a baseball glove – and a few not-so-proven ways of breaking in your glove, and we’re here to help you sort them out.
Here are a few ways to break in your glove so you can really get out there and start catching those easy fly balls, rolling grounders, and those powerful line drives.
Four methods On How To Break In A Baseball Glove
Method #1 – The Traditional Method
The traditional method of breaking in gloves is as old as the inception of baseball gloves themselves.
Just go out and play catch with some friends!
Now I know what you’re thinking, “that’s something that I could’ve found out myself!”
Well, we’re here to explain why this is one of the best ways to break in your glove in the first place.
Playing catch with your glove is the best way to simulate how it will feel for you to be catching balls when in a match. Repeated catches will naturally form the pocket in a way that fits your hand and at the same time will start loosening up the leather for you so it will become nice and pliable.
While we say that it’s one of the best and most effective methods of breaking in your glove, it has a downside in that it’s not the fastest way to break in your glove.
So if you need your glove broken in quickly, you might want to take a look at another method
That being said, breaking in your glove this way will help you get in some practice for throwing and catching, so besides breaking in your glove, your skills are most likely going to improve as well.
Method #2 -The Steam Method
If you’re in a pinch and you need to get your glove broken in within a short time, this method might be the one you’re looking for
This method employs heat in the form of steam to help soften the leather and loosen up the seams of your glove
The first thing you’ll want to do is get some glove conditioner. This shouldn’t be hard to find and probably is sold in most sporting goods shops around the country. Glove conditioner is important as it helps open up the pores in the leather and helps the breaking-in process.
Make sure that you apply the conditioner all over the glove before steaming and apply the conditioner with a sponge. Using it directly to the glove may cause it to absorb too much conditioner at once, making it soggy and heavy.
Next, place the glove in a steamer and control the temperature (keeping it around 150o F) as lower temperatures will not be as effective, and higher temperatures may damage the glove – which we do not want, of course.
After steaming the glove, you can take it out and start with the glove mallet. A glove mallet has a handle with a rounded tip. Y
ou can create a home-made version by attaching an old worn-out baseball to something that can act as a handle, or simply purchase one at your closest sporting goods store
Take your steamed glove, place it on your hand, and start pounding the glove’s pocket with your mallet, making sure to avoid your hand and focus your strikes at where you want the pocket to form. After 30-40 strikes, you can take it off.
Then, place the glove on a flat surface and start striking the backside of the glove.
Method #3: Manhandling Your Glove
So maybe you don’t have the time to break in your glove the old-fashioned way, and you don’t have a good way to steam your glove. That’s perfectly fine! All you need is your glove and a glove mallet to do this technique
A little aggression with this technique might help too, so if you need to let off a little steam, this technique might be more up your alley.
Like the steam technique, you may want to add a bit of glove conditioner or glove oil before you begin. Don’t forget to use a sponge; a little goes a long way when it comes to these fluids.
First, you place the glove on your catching hand.
Next, take your glove mallet, improvised or store-bought, and start pounding away at the pocket of your glove. If you don’t have a mallet, you can try using a 5-pound dumbbell as a substitute
If you have neither of them, just grab an old baseball and start repeatedly throwing the ball into the pocket to simulate a glove mallet.
After you’ve sufficiently softened the pocket, you can place the glove on a flat surface with the palm side facing downwards.
Take your glove mallet or glove mallet substitute and start pounding the back of the glove (about 30-40 times) and let it rest.
If you did it right, the glove should be considerably softer than it was at the beginning of the treatment. However, if you think it could use a little more breaking in, then there’s nothing stopping you from repeating the treatment until you get the desired consistency.
Method #4: Wrapping Your Glove
While not a stand-alone method like the previously mentioned ones, wrapping your glove will help you mold it into the shape you want your glove to be.
This method is best used in conjunction with the other techniques to finish up the process, so to speak.
Here is how to fold your glove:
First, fold your glove in half; the crease should form where you want the pocket to be situated.
Next, fold the glove in on itself along the crease and make sure the pinky is tucked in and touching the thumb part of the glove.
Thirdly, take a glove wrap (again, this is something that you can buy at your local store and is the best material to use for this process) and tie the glove so that it keeps its shape.
You can use an old shoelace if you’re in a pinch or several rubber bands. Make sure that the wrap is snug but not extremely tight, as this may damage the glove
Finally, place a baseball in the glove behind the wrap so that it helps form the glove’s pocket.
Leave the glove-like for about 4 to 5 hours so that the glove is in the shape that you want when you begin playing.
By adding this method, you’ll be finalizing the breaking of the leather, loosening the seams, and creating that pocket that you need to make the glove that fits your hand like a dream
The Low-Down On Oils And Conditioners
People may recommend oils and conditioners for the breaking in of gloves, and for a good reason. They help soften the leather faster than using these methods alone. They also help extend the lifespan of your glove when you treat them during the season.
However, it’s essential to note when working with these oils and conditioners to use only recommended products on your glove. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your glove and reducing its lifespan
Under absolutely no circumstances are you to use Vaseline, petroleum jelly, linseed oil, mink oil, or olive oil on your gloves – these products are not meant for your baseballs gloves and will ruin the leather.
If you are unsure of what to use on your gloves, don’t be afraid to contact the manufacturer or your local sporting goods shop about the recommended products to use for your glove.
There may also be instructions that come with the glove, so make sure to read the package insert that comes with it!
When it comes to conditioners and oils, be sure to apply them sparingly. You don’t want to soak your glove in it. Just get a light coat, and rub your glove; using a sponge to apply will help you achieve that.
Over applying oils and conditioners can make your glove heavy. You can get by with treating the glove about 3-4 times every season, and if you aren’t going to play for an extended period, then treat your glove right before you put it away.
How NOT To Break In Your Baseball Glove
We’ve talked about ways to break in your baseball glove, and these methods are tried and true methods of making sure your glove will not get damaged.
We will now talk about some of the sketchier methods and why you shouldn’t perform them
The first method that might be recommended is baking your glove in a microwave or an oven. The principle is similar to the steam method in that you’re heating the glove to soften the leather.
However, this method is not recommended due to the lack of control you have over your microwave and oven. This will leave you with higher temperatures than need causing damage to your glove leather and laces.
The result is an irrevocably damaged glove with brittle leather and fragile laces. The excessive heat may also cause the leather to tighten up and your glove to shrink, making it no longer fit your hand, akin to clothes shrinking when the water is too hot.
Baking your glove in the microwave or oven is also a fire hazard and thus may catch fire and burn. Some gloves have metal parts and therefore are even more dangerous in microwaves, which may cause arcing and damage to your microwave.
Another method that might be mentioned is leaving your glove to bake in the sun or in a car.
While this may not have the same fire hazard as the aforementioned oven/microwave combo, this is still not an excellent way to break your glove in as the temperatures are uncontrollable when it comes to the sun. This method may still lead to shrinkage, brittle leather, and brittle straps
So under no circumstances are you to use these methods as a way of breaking in your gloves. Do yourself a favor and save yourself the headache by performing the safer methods of breaking in your gloves.
No doubt, buying a glove is an exciting part of playing baseball, and almost nothing beats that new glove smell.
We recommended four methods of breaking in your glove. The traditional method is the one that we recommend the most as it simulates the kind of impact you’d expect in a real baseball game. Similarly, it naturally creates the pocket in the area that most fits your hand
The second method is the steam method is a quick and nifty way of breaking in the glove, and it uses controlled heat and a bit of brute force to help get that glove in working shape in a relatively quicker amount of time.
The third method is the manhandle method which will help create the pocket you need and soften the glove up, but it will take a little more time than the steam method and requires a decent amount of effort to perform.
The wrap method is best used in conjunction with one of the three methods to help get that glove shape down and continue the breaking in process
We’ve talked about oils and conditioners and how to pick the right ones and apply them properly, and that you should always use manufacturer recommended ones.
Finally, we’ve talked about why you shouldn’t use a microwave, oven, or the heat of the sun as reliable ways of breaking in your glove
We hope that the information we’ve given you has armed you with the knowledge to help you get into baseball quicker and with a better glove than before.
Now get out there and get to catching!