How To Break A Baseball Glove In – Right and Wrong
So, you just got a brand new glove that you are pumped about, and you want to get it out on the field. But, there is a problem. It is too stiff to play with. Now what? Well, with every new baseball glove there is something that needs to happen, the glove needs to be broken in.
Here I am going to discuss a few different methods of how to break a baseball glove in. I will discuss what you should and should not do to the brand new glove you just bought. There are some methods out there that are sort of obscure (and can actually damage the glove), and then there are some methods out there that are tried and true.
It is important to get the glove fitting right, it should feel like an extension of your hand. You will be using it every game, and you want a nice snug, comfortable fit before you take it out on the field with you.
Traditional Method – Old School
This is by far the best method in breaking in a new glove, without a doubt. Just get some people together, and play catch. A lot of catch. This will allow the glove to form perfectly to your hand over time. It may take a while, but this is definitely the best way to go in my opinion.
I have not broken in a glove any other way except for this way (although there was some forming and “malleting” involved as well), it took some patience, and was a little annoying especially at a young age to have to wait. But, in the end, I believe it was worth the wait.
Glove Steaming – New School
The next best way to break in a glove is to steam it. This relaxes the leather and help it to get game ready. First you want to apply oil or conditioner to the glove, then put it into the steamer. After that, take a glove mallet (or a ball), and start to beat the pocket of the glove until it gets to the shape desired.
With the glove mallet, you can also put the glove on the ground with the pocket side down, and begin to beat the outside of the pocket with the mallet. This will make the process even faster.
Form By Force – Also Old School
This can also go in conjunction with the first method, and often does. To do this, take a glove mallet, or a baseball (softball if using a softball glove), and begin slamming the mallet or ball into the pocket using your throwing hand while wearing the glove. Strike the glove where you want the pocket to form.
Then, on the more rigid/stiff parts of the glove, starting with the pinky and thumb, begin to bend them back and forth toward each other multiple times. After that, take the middle fingers and push them down toward the palm with your throwing hand while also squeezing the glove (wearing it) at the same time. Continue doing this multiple times until you feel you are done.
Oil/Conditioner – Can be used with each method
Some gloves come pretreated with oil, some do not. It is very important for your gloves sake that you get the oil or conditioner that the manufacturer recommends. Using cooking oils, or other types of oils may damage your glove. Oiling or conditioning the glove before each of the previous methods I described, will make the breaking in process much faster. The glove will soften over extended usage.
Do not over apply the oil, and do not apply the oil directly to the glove. Over applying the oil can actually decrease the life span of the glove, and direct application may cause the glove to get soaked and heavy. Over oiling the glove will also attract more dirt and debris to the glove, making it much harder to clean, and shortening the lifespan.
You also do not want to oil the glove too much throughout the season. This will also shorten the lifespan of the glove. Oiling it two to three times throughout the season, and before the off season is plenty. Any more than that is a bit of an overkill, and is not good for the glove.
You also want to make sure that you wrap your glove with the ball in the pocket. It is exactly as it sounds. Take some rubber bands, some shoelaces, or whatever you can think of that you can wrap it with. Put a baseball (or softball if wrapping a softball glove) in the pocket, fold the glove in half – pinky finger over the thumb where the crease is in the middle, and let it sit for four to five hours. It is a good idea to do this right after you oil the glove.
I would also recommend doing this during the off season as well. This way the glove will stay in the shape that you worked hard to mold it into, instead of slowly going back to its original state over time.
Do Them All
If you do each one of these steps, your glove will be broken in in no time.
My recommendation is to stay away from steaming and from oils when breaking in a glove. That is completely my opinion, I prefer to do it the natural way. I would just play catch, slam a baseball into my glove continually, form it by force with my hands, wrap it up, and just let it form to the shape of my hand over time. Depending on how often you play, it may not take as much time as you think.
But, if you want it done quicker, there is nothing wrong with steaming your glove, or oiling it to make the process faster.
I’ve read many ways to breaking in your glove, from running it over with your car, to putting shaving cream on it. Personally, I definitely would not recommend wither of those “methods”.
One of the more popular ones is putting it in the microwave. I do not recommend this either. Putting it in the microwave dries out the leather and the laces, and may cause the laces to actually break over time. Putting it in the microwave almost without a doubt shortens the life span of your glove. I’ve also seen an example where the glove actually SHRUNK!
I think any other method other than the ones described above, are a shortcut, and will shorten the life span of your glove. They may even void the warranties of some gloves. Ultimately, it is your glove, but after you read this you can not say that you weren’t warned.
Formed and Fitted
So, we see the right ways, the more traditional methods. And, the “other” ways to break in a glove. There is the traditional method (playing catch), steaming, “forming by force”, oil/conditioning the glove (which can be used in conjunction with the other methods), wrapping it (which should be done). These are the best ways to break in your glove. Then, there is the microwave, shaving cream, and running it over with your car… Which I think is a bad idea, but if you want to I’m not stopping you.
I hope that this has helped you learn how to break a baseball glove in. If you have any comments, questions, or any other way to break in a baseball glove, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you soon! Thank you for reading!
Links to pages describing the different type of gloves based on position listed below: