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Softball Gloves - Picking the Right Size

March 08, 2021 7 min read

Have you seen the little girl out there at second base fumbling around trying to make a play on the softball when her glove keeps falling off her hand? Maybe you remember something like that happening to you when you were just starting out in fastpitch softball or baseball. It was frustrating and kind of humiliating. Made you think you were a bad ball player.

If that kid is on your team you should reassure her that it is not her fault, it is the glove. It is just too big for her. Maybe it was her older sister's glovethat has now moved into high school or college and needed a new glove. Maybe it was your old glove from high school and you just didn't want to spend the money for a new glove. What if your little girl doesn't even like softball. I know - hard to believe her not liking softball. After all you were the star player all through high school.

One thing we as parents need to remember is that for a kid that is brand new to the game of fastpitch softball, we should give them the proper tools to learn the game. I don't mean you have to go out and buy them that awesome new Pro model glove that costs $259. YOu just need to make sure they have a glove that fits their little hand. But you can always sell it if they decide to give up on softball.

You can get them used of course. That is not a bad idea for the first glove. You can find a decent quality glove for less money that way. Thing is, most gloves in the past that were small enough for 6-8 year old girls were not made very well. So there probably aren't any decent used ones out there. Most were made of some kind of fake plastic leather stuff.

Today there are several glove makers that have quality youth gloves for very reasonable prices. You can find 10 inch gloves actually made of leather.

So What Size Does She Need?

Finding the proper size and fit depends a lot on the size or age of your child. Most 6-8 year old kids are pretty small. Generally they are of similar size too, so that makes it easier to find a glove that fits. Glove sizes for the youngest kids are gonna be in the 10 inch to 10.5 inch pattern size. It probably won't matter which position she plays either. Get a glove she likes. They even make them in Pink and Purple now. Make sure she can put her hand into the glove easily, and that it stays on. If it falls right off, try to find one that has smaller finger slots or one with a velcro strap on the wrist.

Akadema is a glove company that makes many Youth Softball Gloves with the Grasp Clasp wrist system built into the glove. It is a leather and velcro strap that makes the glove adjustable so you can get a custom fit on your hand. 

This custom adjustable wrist strap makes the glove so much more comfortable to wear. It stays on by itself which makes it more manageable to play with. The next thing you know she will be stopping those grounders and making the play at first.

OK, I'm Ready for Comp Ball

So, now your little girl has grown up and has really taken a shine to this game of  fastpitch softball. She was able to learn and almost master the mechanics of fielding and throwing the ball. Now she is ready to move into travel ball or competitive softball. She thinks she needs a position specific softball glove?

In today's softball game there are fastpitch gloves made for specific positions. You can get a glove not only made for catchers or first base, but specifically for pitchers, 3rd base, middle infeild and outfield. Wow, and we were lucky to even have a baseball glove back in the day.

Not only are there position specific gloves, there are some innovative new patterns on the market now. One is called Reptilian, and it is almost like a shovel on your hand. They get the name because the leather looks reptilian in the palm and pocket areas. It is a nearly fingerless design which helps scoop up the ball easier.

What Size For My Position?

Lets start with Catcher. The fastpitch softball catchers mitt is measured in circumference. In inches here in the good old USA. It is measured around the outside edge of the mitt. It kind of looks like a circle, so that is why they measure them like that.

Most fastpitch softball catchers mitts are either 33.5 inch to 34.5 inch. I see most in the 34 inch size. It kind of depends on your preference and how strong your hand or the size of your hand. Fastpitch mitts are also generally made with smaller finger stalls to fit a young ladies hand better. Baseball catchers mitts run a little smaller - in the 32.5 inch to 33.5 inch range. Youth catchers mitts can be smaller - in the 31 inch range.

There is a difference between fastpitch softball catchers mitts and baseball catchers mitts. Fastpitch catchers mitts are generally larger with a deeper pocket to handle the large size of the softball. Fastpitch mitts sometimes have different patterns too, they use a thinner padding on the edges to help catch the ball easier. This also helps the catcher transfer the ball to the hand quicker for that throw down to second.

Pitchers - The Princess Position

Pitchers in softball usually like a slightly larger glove pattern. Generally in the 12.5 inch to 13 inch range, with 13 inch softball glove being most seen.

Pitchers like to be able to hide the ball while getting the grip for the pitch. It also gives them a little more protection from that hard shot up the middle. Many pitchers like a glove with a beehive web - kind of a solid web. Some prefer the more open web. Again, it is a preference and by the age of 13 or 14 they are starting to have an opinion on everything.

First Base

First base can use either a mitt or a regular fielders glove. If this is your primary position, it is worth it to invest in a good 1st base mitt. They are similar to a catchers mitt, but with less padding. Some mens fastpitch catchers use a first base mitt and put some extra padding in there. First base mitts are measured like a fielders glove. They are measured from the top of the index finger down through the pocket/palm and out to the heel. Most are in the 12.5 inch to 13 inch range. Youth first base mitts may run in the 11 inch range.

The mitt shape helps you snag those crazy throws from across the infield. It is shaped somewhat like a shovel. The web is usually longer than regular fielders gloves or catchers mitts. It is a unique piece of softball equipment. Again, it can not be used for other field positions.

Middle Infield

Middle infield is your 2nd base and Short stop. These positions cover a lot of ground and have to do it quickly in fastpitch softball. Most middle infielders like to use 12.5 or 13 inch gloves. Again it is personal preference here. Some will go with a 12 inch glove.  

Many middle infielders are also what we call a "Utility" player. They will play many or all positions. So they may opt for the 13 inch glove to help them in the outfield or at 1st or pitcher. This allows them to only need the one glove. If you only play middle infield, you will probably want a shorter glove - 12 inch or 12.5 inch. The reason for the shorter glove is to make the glove more manageable, lighter and easier to get the ball out of. Fastpitch softball fielder gloves are sometimes designed with larger, flatter pockets to handle the larger softball. There are some desinged with special air pockets to absorb the energy of the ball and help it "stick" in the pocket better.

Third Base

Third base is a position where you have to be on your toes on every pitch. That ball comes back at you with some fire on it. Most third base players prefer a small size glove. Fastpitch players like to go with a 12 inch glove pattern. Many like a fly-trap web to make the glove even lighter in weight. The lighter glove helps them move a little quicker. Again, personal preference and I have seen some that will use a 12.75 inch pattern. Crystl Bustos uses one of those "Reptilian" models from Akadema, the ABU 73. It is a 12.75 inch with a beehive web - kind of a solid web.

Outfielders

Fastpitch softball outfielders usually prefer a larger glove. Most like to use a 13 inch model. Some use smaller, in the 12.5 inch range. Outfielders like the larger size to help them grab that fly ball on the run. The larger size and deep pocket also helps the ball stay in the glove when catching those really high fly balls.

There are outfielder softball gloves now that are as large as 14 inch to 14.5 inch. 

That Just About Covers It

That about covers fastpitch softball glove sizes. There are many new patterns, some are even patented. Lots of different sizes, and players have many different preferences. I see some players that have 3 or 4 gloves in their gear bag. If you are a catcher, a first base, a pitcher, and outfielder you may need several gloves to play at the high levels we see in competitive softball today.

Baseball glove sizes tend to be smaller, obviously the ball is about half the size. However, many people play both baseball and softball and use the same gloves for both.

Just remember to get a softball glove that fits snuggly on your hand when new because it will stretch and form to your hand as you use it. Clean your glove when the game is over and protect the interior by wearing a batting glove.