How to Break in a Baseball Glove
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Once you've found the perfect glove, you'll want to spend some time making it field ready by breaking it in. There are lots of ways to break in a glove but the end goal is the same: make the glove an extension of your hands!
This might seem like a weird concept at first, but you really want to get a glove to feel like its part of your body. Gloves can come preconditioned or "factory broken in", but that is just one part of it. In our opinion, there are 2 factors you should aim for:
Make the glove fit your unique hand. Have you ever bought a new pair of shoes and they felt a bit tight or loose? This happens with gloves too. The anatomy of a glove gives you a few adjustable portions that will make it fit your hand better. Adjust the wrist strap so that it fits snug without cutting off your circulation. Loosen up the laces until your fingers feel the perfect distance apart from one another, then tighten back up. Wear it often and use your other fist to fit better in the palm of your hand; you want your fingers to actually articulate at the base of the knuckles.
Getting the material to have the right amount of stiffness. Even with preconditioning, gloves can be rather stiff because they are brand new. Determining the right stiffness depends on the strength of your hand and what position you play. If you're an infielder, you may opt for a stiffer glove so ground balls find their place in the web easier; too floppy and the ball might get passed you. In the outfield, you might want more flexibility since your glove is likely longer.
Now that we know the reasons we want to get the glove broken in, let's explore some of the options.
Use It At Practice First
There are some gloves that say they are ready for the field right away but we recommend actually using it at some of your practices a few times before taking it to the game. It will be important to understand where you might need to work the glove a bit more. By using it, you are starting to get it broken in. This does take a little bit more time, but it will start to develop into the perfect fitting it. You can also play catch with it until it feels game-ready. Remember to not store your glove in the car, outside, or in the garage. The best place for the glove is in your house. After all, isn't this one of your prized possession?
Using Warm Water
Most people will tell you not to put water on leather, and that is true in many cases, but your baseball glove can benefit from warm water in the toughest places. If you identify specific areas that are extra tough, using a bit of warm water on a towel will help. Make sure your towel is very clean so that it does not create a water stain. Apply warm water to it and massage the glove in the area with the tough spot.
Soften Using Force
Think of this technique like needing dough. You can use a rubber mallet or even a wooden baseball bat to help "beat" the glove into shape. Now we are not saying go crazy hitting the glove, we are talking about delicately working it so that it softens up in the areas you apply force. This also works while wearing the glove and throwing a baseball at it with your other hand.
Using Leather Oil or Conditioner
Oiling your glove is a popular technique that has to happen delicately. This is similar to using a leather conditioner on your car's seats. You will want to place a very small amount of oil either on your fingers or on a clean cloth. Work it slowly into the leather paying attention to not let one area get too overworked or over oiled. Oil can actually stain the glove if it is too concentrated in one area and over time will make the glove a bit heavier since it's absorbing it.
Here are a couple of good options to consider:
Wilson Premium Glove Oil
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Rawlings Gold Glove Butter
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Rawlings GRBRKIT Game Ready Break-in Kit
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Shape Your Glove
This is one of those things I think everyone did as a kid with their favorite glove. That brand new glove smell! This method requires placing a baseball into the web of the glove and using a few rubber bands to help coax the fingers of the glove to fit perfectly around the ball. The goal here is that you want the "rested" shape of the glove to be some what rounded so that the baseball fits snuggle without too much effort of your hand. You will have to strike the right balance between the resting curve and having a wide enough opening to actually receive the ball.
Here are a couple of good options to consider:
Lizard Skins Glove Wrap
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Mizuno Glove Wrap
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