How to break in your glove
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How to break in your glove
Breaking in a baseball or softball glove is one of the most rewarding endeavors a baseball player can take part in, but it can be a tedious process. Your new glove or mitt will require hours upon hours of tinkering, pounding, and stretching to get it just right. Here at SSK, we take tremendous pride in our gloves and want to see every player succeed in breaking in their glove the way they want and need so they can achieve greatness on the diamond.
As glove experts, the most common question we run into is, what is the easiest and fastest way to break in a glove, and the simple answer is to play catch. There is no substitute for high-velocity impact to the pocket of your glove to break it in correctly. Baseball and softball gloves are designed to mold themselves to the contours of your hand the more you use them, providing a custom fit and a pocket that is adapted to how you catch the ball. Some timesaving methods help expedite the break-in process, but none of them can produce the same quality results as playing catch, shagging flyballs, or taking ground balls.
Expedited processes like drenching your glove in hot water, baking, microwaving, leaving it in the car on a hot day, or putting it under your mattress have never been a suitable way to break in your leather, despite what you have been told or seen. Soaking your glove in hot water can compromise the materials on the inside of your glove, leaving it flimsy and mold possibly growing on the inside. Microwaving or baking your glove pulls moisture out of the leather, leaving it dry, brittle, and even more brutal to break in once it cools down. Leaving it in the car on a hot day will deliver similar results as baking or microwaving. The under your mattress method can overly compress your glove along the heel, leaving a crease that will produce a flattened glove resembling a leather pancake. We do not recommend any of these expedited processes to break in your glove.
Understanding a glove's features dramatically helps you break it in correctly. Gloves have four main elements; heel, palm/pocket, web, and fingers. The heel is located at the base of your glove (where you insert your hand), the palm/pocket is the area above the heel (where you should be catching the ball), the web is the space between your index finger and thumb, the fingers are self-explanatory. Some of the tightest spots of a glove are along the heel and around the base of the pinky and thumb. The key to a successful break-in is to work the heel! Stretching the heel of your glove helps to loosen the binding and leather to allow the glove to close around the ball. If this process is done correctly, you will hardly need to squeeze to catch a ball. Rather the force of the ball hitting the pocket will pull the glove into a closed position virtually on its own.
Some tips for loosening the heel of your glove include: pulling the thumb and pinky towards and away from each other along the heel, flipping your glove inside out, and beating it with your fist, a ball, or mallet along the base of the palm and heel. As a result, this should leave your glove semi-firm and will help the pocket hold its shape, even when no ball is in the pocket. Wooden mallets are one of the best tools to help you break your glove in quickly. They can simulate the impact of a baseball but do not require players to overuse their arms from throwing. Using a LIGHT LAYER of glove oil with either mink oil or lanolin in it can also help to expedite your break-in process.
- Excessive heat can damage the integrity of your glove, such as ovens, microwaves, or leaving it in a hot car.
- Excessive glove oil or conditioner can soak into the lining of your glove, leaving it heavy and shorten its lifespan.
- Do not use neat’s-foot oil, linseed oil, or a silicone spray. These products can close the pores on the leather, causing it to dry, harden, and make it heavy.
- Do not apply glove oil directly to your glove! Apply oils with a cloth to help decrease its concentration.
- Do not put your glove under a mattress or run it over with a car; this can damage the heel of your glove, leaving behind a pancaked piece of leather.
- Use a light layer of glove oil with either mink or lanolin in it to help the break-in process.
- Allow the oil to absorb for 24 hours at room temperature
- Store your glove in a dry, temperature-controlled room with a ball in the pocket to maintain shape.
- Play catch! It’s the best way to break your glove in.
- At the end of every season, apply a light layer of oil to your glove to prevent it from drying in the offseason.
- Use a mallet, a ball, or your fist to help develop the pocket of your glove.
- Work the heel of your glove for the perfect break-in.
- High-quality leather takes time to break in, be patient; it will be worth the time and effort.