Not all softball positions are created equal. Every position in softball is played differently. So depending on the position you play, you will need different equipment. That includes your gloves.
Why Are Different Softball Gloves Needed?
In any profession, different jobs require different tools. A Phillips-head screwdriver and a flat-head screwdriver may look similar, but only one will work for the task at hand.
Because the various softball positions have different “jobs” in the game, different gloves are needed. Catching flyballs in the outfield is different from making catches at short range. The second baseman will be making different plays than the catcher.
In every position, the right kind of glove is essential.
Each glove will also perform differently depending on its design and material. It’s important to have the right kind of glove in order to play your best. The right glove will also help protect your hand from injuries.
You’ll feel more comfortable and confident on the field when you know you have the proper equipment.
Make sure you learn the basics of which gloves work for which softball positions before committing to a new glove. This guide will give you the rundown on what you need to know.
Different Kinds of Softball Gloves
There is actually a difference between a glove and a mitt. Gloves are for positions that require more dexterity: they separate the fingers from each other. These are best for positions where you will be catching balls from a greater distance.
Mitts don’t separate the fingers and are heavily padded. A mitt is heavier than a glove, because of the padding. If you’re a catcher or first baseman, you will want a mitt, since you’re likely to be catching balls that are traveling fast from a short distance away.
If you’re an outfielder, pitcher, or second or third baseman, you’ll want to look for gloves instead. The added dexterity will help you catch balls at that distance.
There are more detailed differences between each glove or mitt, though.
Each position will have a slightly different glove or mitt, for the most part. A catcher’s mitt is different from a first baseman’s mitt, for example, and infielder’s gloves differ from outfielder’s gloves.
What are the different gloves and mitts for each position?
First Base Mitt
A first base mitt has a wide outside edge and deep pockets. The wide edge helps scoop up thrown balls from the dirt. Because the first base mitt is large, the other infielders will have a bigger target to throw the ball to.
Sometimes, an outfielder’s glove may also be used when playing first base.
A catcher’s mitt is very heavily padded and has a very deep pocket. This protects the catcher’s hand while making it easy for the pitcher to throw to them.
The pitcher will want to use an infielder’s glove, often with a closed web, which can hide the grip from the batter so they won’t know what kind of pitch is about to be thrown.
Infielder’s gloves are smaller and lighter than outfielder’s gloves. Second base gloves will be somewhat smaller than third base gloves. That’s because the second baseman may need to transfer the ball to their throwing hand quickly in order to make a double play.
The longest gloves will belong to the outfielders. Outfielders need the extra reach when jumping or reaching to catch a flyball or a line drive. Their gloves should have deep pockets, so the ball won’t accidentally pop out after it’s caught.
Features of Softball Gloves
Every glove will adjust differently.
It may use Velcro, which allows you to make adjustments quickly and easily. Or it might have a D-ring, which lets you make adjustments just by pulling on one lace, or use multiple laces to adjust the fit of the glove. Some gloves have a buckle instead.
There is variation in the material softball gloves are made of. Synthetic materials are cheaper and better for young players who are going to outgrow their gloves in a few seasons. Leather is more durable, better for gloves that are expected to last a few years.
Some leather is pre-conditioned to make the breaking in process easier.
Each glove will cost more or less depending on what it’s made of and what the quality of its construction is. The cheapest glove probably isn’t right for you. But the most expensive glove might not be the best, either. It’s important to think about what you need from your glove.
There are different grades of leather used in softball gloves, and the price will probably indicate the quality. But you don’t need the absolute highest-quality leather in order to have a nice glove or mitt.
Consider what adjustment method will be easiest for you, and what material would be most practical. Leather gloves are heavier than synthetic. Some gloves have a mesh back, which makes them lighter than a solid leather glove.
Gloves for different softball positions will also have different kinds of webbing. Open webbing is usually best for infielders, since it will allow clumps of dirt and grass to pass through the glove when picking a ball up off the ground and transferring it to the throwing hand. Outfielders and pitchers will be more likely to want a glove with closed webbing.
There are also right-handed and left-handed gloves, so make sure you know what hand the glove will be going on. You’ll be wearing your glove on your non-throwing hand.
For a committed softball player, the right equipment makes all the difference.
With the wrong glove, not only will you not be able to play your best, but you might be at higher risk for injury. A catcher shouldn’t play without a heavily padded catcher’s mitt. An outfielder will miss more flyballs without the extra length and deep pockets of the outfielder’s mitt.
The correct glove for you will fit correctly, feel comfortable, and be easy to adjust. It will also keep your hand safe during play and ensure that you make as many catches as possible.
Make sure you have the right glove for your softball position, and that its features work best for you as a player. And don’t forget to bring a spare glove with you to the field, just in case.
Your teammates will appreciate you that much more for being knowledgeable and prepared to play!