A Buying Guide
22 Dec 2009
How To Choose A New Fastpitch Softball Glove - A Buying Guide
There are many choices in Fastpitch Softball Gloves today. It can be very confusing to choose the best glove for you with all the sizes, styles, materials and models available today.
Fastpitch Softball Gloves generally have a larger pattern (length) than a baseball glove because the ball is larger. A deeper pocket is usually designed into a softball glove as well. Akadema, one of the most exciting new glove manufacturers; designed some Women's and Girls Fastpitch Softball gloves with smaller finger slots. The distance between the thumb and index finger is shorter to accommodate a smaller hand.
One important thing to know is that you should not buy a glove that your child can “grow into”. The glove needs to fit properly and be the proper length (this is usually called the Pattern size of the glove) to allow them to develop proper fielding mechanics and not cheat by having a longer glove. A proper fitting glove will also help the beginning player feel more confident because the glove is snug on the hand and easier to manage and won’t keep falling off.
Remember, a six or eight year old child has a pretty small hand and not as strong as those 14A level players on the next field over.
Let's start by deciding what Position you Normally play. This can help determine the size or pattern of the glove. Most kids will play several positions to start with so a Utility glove may be the best choice for beginners. Below is a quick view chart to get you started.
Glove Size ----- Softball Position
14.5 inch -------- Outfield - Men
14 inch ----------- Outfield - Men
13.5 inch -------- Outfield
13 inch ----------- Utility
12.75 inch ------- Utility
12.5 inch -------- Utility
12 inch ----------- Infield
11.75 inch ------- 2nd Base/Youth
11.5 inch -------- Youth
11 inch ----------- Youth
10.5 inch -------- Youth
9.5 inch ---------- Youth/6-8 yrs
How To Measure a Glove
Fastpitch Softball Gloves and First Base Mitts are measured from the top of the index finger of the glove down along the inside of the pocket and out to the heal of the glove. Fastpitch gloves will typically measure from 12 inches to 14.5 inches with youth sizes being smaller.
You should use a flexible tape measure or a length of lace or string. This is so while measuring it can lay in the palm of the glove as it measures giving you an accurate measurement. Measure from the highest point of the index finger.
Catchers Mitts are measured around the circumference of the mitt. All gloves and mitts are measured in inches typically. A Fastpitch Softball Catchers Mitt will measure in the 33 inch to 34.5 inch range. Youth sizes can be smaller.
I still don’t understand what size my kid is! Parents of a beginning player can ask your coach, or have your child try on some of the other kid's gloves to see how they fit. Measure those gloves using the techniques above then look at the chart and read the rest of this article for more tips. Most gloves have the size labeled somewhere on the glove.
Fastpitch Softball Gloves don’t have to be expensive. Good quality gloves that will help your child learn the game and play well are available under $40. Gloves for the serious competitive player to college player can range from under $100 to over $200. So there is a lot of choice out there.
Oufielders: Normally, Fastpitch Softball Outfielders like a larger glove in the 12.5" to 14" pattern. This gives them a deeper pocket and a longer glove to snag that ball from going over the fence or diving to catch one with an outstretched arm. A longer glove makes ball transfer a little slower but the extra catching area is usually a plus for outfielders.
There are designs with open webs in an "H", a "T" and other patterns. This allows you to see the ball as you hold the glove out for a high fly. Closed web designs are also available for outfield use. Some players prefer the closed web to help block the sun.
Infielders: Generally, Fastpitch Softball Infielders prefer a smaller pattern,in the 12" to 12.5" range. This smaller size allows a quicker grab and quicker transfer of the ball to the throwing hand.
There are some new designs that are almost fingerless. These allow you to scoop up that ground ball even quicker.
Sometimes an infielder prefers an open web like the outfielders and sometimes they like them closed to provide more stopping power and control.
Pitchers Usually like a glove that has a closed web. This allows them to hide the ball longer in the glove. Pitchers sometimes like a longer pattern like an outfielder to hide the ball. There are Fastpitch Softball Pitchers gloves designed by professional players. These sometimes have features such as less lacing or no knots on the outside to protect the leg when they slap the glove against it on the release of the ball. I know, pitchers can be weird about things.
First Baseman Mitts are similar to a regular fielders glove but have more of a mitt shape to them. They don't have fingers, but instead have a thin but stiff pad that runs around the circumference of the glove. They are usually larger to help scoop up those "bad" throws. This larger size gives them more control to catch the softball with. There are still a lot of first basewomen that use a standard fielders glove also.
It is not required to use a First Base Mitt if you play first base but you can not use a First Base or Catchers Mitt at any other fielding position.
Catchers Mitts are probably the most specific and don't look much like the other gloves. They are kind of round in shape and are measured by the circumference of the mitt. Fastpitch Softball Catchers Mitts usually are in the 33" to 34.5" range. They sometimes have added or special palm padding to help with the sting of a really fast pitcher.
Today's Fastpitch Catchers mitt is larger and shallower than it used to be making it more flexible and similar to a First base mitt. This allows for quicker ball transfer, which is essential in this very quick game of Fastpitch Softball.
Open Web gloves are typically preferred by the middle infielders, first basemen and some outfielders. This Open Web helps hold the ball better and allows you to transfer the ball quicker. These are Fastpitch Gloves with a "T" or "H" web design. There are many variations of these webs.
Closed Web gloves usually preferred by Pitchers, third and some outfielders allows the ball to be hidden from the batter and also gives better support when catching an outfield fly or line drive.
This web type basically means you can't see through it. These would be the "Beehive" or "Spiral Lock" type webs. There are many variations of these webs.
Open Back or Closed Back
Open Back gloves are usually a little cooler and lighter. They can be fitted more snugly on the wrist. There are different methods for adjusting the strap; Velcro and D-rings are common methods.
Closed Back gloves usually just have a hole for your index finger to slip through. Some have a Velcro strap or D-ring to help adjust the size and make it a more snug fit.
Most Fastpitch Softball gloves should be worn with a batting glove on the hand. This will help keep moisture from the inside of the glove. This can also help take the sting out of hard throws and adjust the fit of the glove. Change the batting glove if it becomes wet. Some leagues don't allow the pitcher to wear a batting glove. Supposedly it distracts the batter.
Most of today's gloves are made from a top-quality leather. There are some cheaper brands that use mostly synthetic materials. These are not going to last nearly as long as a quality leather glove but may be all you need at the moment.
A good quality Fastpitch Softball glove will be made of Steerhide, Cowhide, Buffalo hide, Kip leather (a younger or smaller steer), pigskins or other exotic animal hides.
Steerhide is generally the better material and it comes in several variations. Buffalo hide is good too but usually is much stiffer, so it requires a lot more break in. Manufacturers will tan the hide and give it brand names. This is a subject for another article.
Higher end, higher quality gloves usually are made from heavier leathers that help them last longer and perform differently and better.
Remember to take care of your new glove and it will take care of you on the field. Use only manufacturer suggested glove conditioners, if it gets wet then dry it with a towel and let it air dry – never use a hair dryer. Then you can apply a small amount of conditioner if necessary.
When the game is over, wipe the dirt from your glove and any excess moisture. Put a ball in the pocket and tie it with a length of pre-wrap just like you use to hold your hair back.