UPDATED 12/20/2017: Some of the older items listed were no longer available so I have updated the article to reflect the latest available softball gloves.
Here is the original article:
I had no idea that there were so many different types of softball gloves. There is a glove for the players in infield, the player in the outfield, first base player, 3rd base player, catcher and pitcher.
Looks like the different positions require different set of skills to be a great player and the type of gloves just help the player achieve their full potential. First let’s look at the different parts of a standard glove.
In a standard glove the web or pocket is designed to be more flexible to catch the ball and when the player closes the fingers, to keep the ball inside the glove. It is important to have a correct fitting glove for the player’s hand so they are able to close the glove and keep the ball from coming out of it. When you see young players catch the ball but can’t hold on to it, it is mostly due to the glove being the wrong size.
The size of the glove is usually written on the thumb or pinky finger of the glove. This size usually represents the distance from the top of the index finger of the glove to the heel of the glove.
As the kids get a little older some coaches recommend holding the last 2 fingers (pinky and ring finger) like the Vulcan hand sign of Spock and put it into the last finger slot and then one finger each into the next two finger slots and then leave the slot for the index finger empty in order to catch the ball better. I am not sure how many people use this technique but not all gloves can accommodate this. I guess it is something your player can experiment with and see if it works out for them.
Now, let’s look at the difference between the different position gloves. The catcher and first base gloves are called mitts because these gloves don’t have distinct fingers in them.
Catcher’s mitt: The Catcher’s mitt is the most used mitt and takes a lot of fast pitch balls and so it is usually very stiff when it is new and has a lot of padding in order to protect the catcher’s hands. The softball catcher’s mitt is different from the ones used in base-ball because of the difference in the ball size. The pocket-size is larger in the softball catcher’s mitt to accommodate the bigger softball. The pockets are closed so it can have more lacing around it to make it durable to withstand the repeated catching. The sizing of the catcher’s mitt is also different as it is measures the circumference of the glove to show the catching area of the glove.
First base Mitt: First baseman’s mitt is very similar to Catcher’s mitt except the pocket is webbed to be more flexible and taller to scoop the ball as it comes rolling towards them and the glove is not as padded as the catcher’s mitt. Again there are no finger cuts so the glove is a little more stronger than the regular softball glove. Kids don’t really need this type of glove until they are old enough where they have developed enough strength to be able to close the glove as it is a little stiffer than the standard softball glove.
Pitcher’s glove: Pitcher’s glove is used to catch the ball back from the catcher or other players and is not as used as a catcher’s mitt. It is not padded. It should be more accommodating for comfort of the player. Again the young kids don’t necessarily need this till they develop as a pitcher. The web of the pocket is tightly knitted or closed mostly to hide the hand movement so they don’t give away clues to the batter as to the type of the pitch they are about to deliver.
Infield glove: Infielder’s gloves are designed for the quick play the infielders have to make. Their gloves are typically shorter and more open than the other gloves, because they are required to catch the ball quick and then be able to take it out with their other hand and throw it to get the opponent player out. If the pockets are too deep then they won’t be able to get the ball out of the glove quick enough. Every extra second helps as the players start playing higher level softball.
Outfielder’s gloves: Outfielder’s gloves are typically longer with softer deeper pockets so the outfield player can catch fly balls and other difficult diving catches and still keep the softball inside the gloves.
When you are buying a glove, always make sure you get the correct fitting glove and also make sure if your player is right-handed or left-handed. Go to different stores, try it on and compare prices online. That is what has worked best for us. Once you have bought your glove, make sure to oil it and steam it either at home or at the store to make sure the glove gets softer. You can also condition it and then place a softball inside and wrap it with a belt to shape the glove.
Good luck with the glove. I enjoyed learning about the different types of gloves and I hope you enjoy reading about it too.
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