How To Break In A Baseball Glove – Ultimate Guide

It’s no secret that owning a good glove is an important part of being successful at the game of baseball. Almost half the time you are playing is spent in the field trying to catch a baseball. You will have a serious deficiency in your game if you can’t field a baseball well. A good glove will not only help you scoop up ground balls but it will also help you catch hard-hit line drives and the occasional pop fly. These are all things that are hard to do if you do not have a baseball glove that has been broken in properly.

Many people make the mistake of trying to play the game with a brand-new glove they have bought. This is not a very good idea, to say the least. If you do this you will find that balls will pop out of your mitt unexpectedly and you will have a much more difficult time than normal catching even a slow-hit baseball. A game like a baseball requires quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination, you don’t want to be playing with a glove that will make it difficult for you to catch the ball.

So make sure you take the time to properly break in any new glove you should purchase before you use it in a game. Here is a little more information on why it is important to break in your new baseball glove before using it and several different ways how to break in a baseball glove.

Why Is It Important To Break In Your Baseball Glove Before Using It?

Before we tell you how to break in your baseball glove maybe it is best to tell you the reasons why you should do it. That way you will better understand what the tricks we are trying to teach you will accomplish. Then you will know best how to apply the tricks and tips you learn.

Why Is It Important To Break In Your Baseball Glove Before Using It

Here is an example. Try to visualize this in your mind as you read it. I am going to exaggerate here but it is important I feel to help make my point as to why it is so important to break in a baseball glove before using it. Think of these two materials; a net and a piece of plywood board.

If you throw the ball at the piece of plywood board it is rigid so the ball just bounces off of it and it’s impossible to catch the ball unless you use your other hand to trap it. That is exaggerated but similar to the result you will get with a baseball mitt that is not broken in.  When you throw a ball into the net it is absorbed by it and it stays in the net easily because it naturally wraps around the baseball as it enters it. Well, the latter is exactly how a broken-in baseball glove works.

So being able to naturally absorb a ball into it is what you are looking to gain by taking the time to break in your new baseball glove. A properly broken-in baseball glove will have many of the following characteristics:

  • It will naturally close around a ball when a ball goes into it.
  • It will take a little effort for your hand to open and close it.
  • It will tend to stay in a slightly curved shape on the sides even when no force is acting on it to do so.
  • You will have a better feel of the ball when it is in a baseball glove that is broken in.

So as you are trying to break in your new baseball mitt look for these signs to know you are on the right track to breaking it in properly.

What Will Happen If Use Your New Baseball Glove Before Breaking It In?

If you have played baseball long enough you have probably heard the word ‘error’ used on occasion when a player makes a miscue when fielding a baseball that is hit to them. Well if you are not familiar with the term and you use a new baseball glove in the field without it being broken in, then you should become familiar with this term because it is something that will be happening to you a lot.

It is extremely tough to catch a baseball with a mitt that has not been broken in. That is why pro baseball players take the time required to break in several gloves. That way if the glove they are using breaks during the course of the play they have another one standing by that is already broken in. So be smart and make sure your new glove is broken in before using it.

The Importance Of Glove Material In Breaking In A Baseball Glove

Glove material is ultra-important as far as how easy it is to break in your baseball glove. You want a glove that is made with the softest leather possible. The general rule here is that the softer your glove leather is the shorter the break-in period for your glove.

Try to avoid gloves that contain a lot of synthetic material or tough animal hides such as rawhide. Although these gloves will be cheaper to buy than gloves made of leather, they will either take a very long time to break in or simply cannot be broken in at all.

Catalysts That Help The Glove Breaking In The Process

Every process has some tricks that can speed them up and it’s no different when you are breaking in your baseball glove. Here are a few things that will speed up your other glove-breaking-in methods in most cases.

Heat

Heat tends to make even the toughest glove materials more supple. This can be in the form of water, hot air, or even the sun. Heat will make it much easier to bend and shape your glove as you attempt to break it in as quickly as possible.

Glove Oil / Glove Foam

Glove oil is another way to make the leather and other materials that your baseball may be made of softer so that your glove is easier to break in. The only thing with glove oil is that you don’t want to overdo it because your glove will become greasy and then a baseball will actually become harder to catch with it. A good general rule when applying glove oil is to stop when the oil is no longer easily absorbed by the material in your glove. Glove oil is also used even after your glove is already broken in because it will help extend the life of your baseball glove too. Only used approved oils and foams on your baseball glove no matter what others might tell you.

What Actions Cause A Baseball Glove To Get Broken In?

There are two main things that cause a baseball glove to get broken in properly. These are from repetitive action acting against the glove such as catching balls repeatedly with it and glove memory. Glove memory is when you do something to a baseball glove that causes it to stay in a shape that is much more conducive to catching a baseball that is hit you.

Both of these things will significantly speed up the time it takes to break in your baseball glove.

Methods Used To Break In Your Baseball Glove

Here are some time-tested ways to break in your glove by using repetitive action techniques:

Practice

We have mentioned several times in this article it is the repetitive action of a baseball going into and out of your glove plays a major part in breaking in your new glove. There is no better way to get the necessary action that your glove needs to help it get broken in than by using it in practice. Most people when they practice play catch and toss with a teammate, field several balls that are hit to them and take some fielding practice too. All of these things will help to properly break in your glove as you wear it. So practice with your new glove as often as possible before using it.

Playing Catch

Simply playing catch will go a long way toward breaking your glove in. The action of the ball repeatedly being caught in it will soften its material and start to give it shape. It is a great way to break in a new baseball glove so do it as often as possible. It also has the extra benefit of sharpening your baseball skills at the same time you are playing catch.

Self-Catch

You have probably seen someone repeatedly throwing a baseball into their own glove. This is not as crazy as you might think and it is actually a great way to break in your new baseball glove. It is actually very similar to playing catch with someone because it has the exact same effect. Not only that, it can also be a good way to relieve a little stress too.

Glove Mallet

They actually make special mallets for breaking in baseball gloves too. The principle behind this method is very similar to that of playing catch or self-catch. Here the repetitive action of the mallet striking your glove’s leather will both soften it and start to form your glove in a way that will help you catch a baseball easier. This method works much better at breaking in a baseball glove than you might think.

This next series of glove-breaking-in techniques all have to do with creating glove memory so you can catch a baseball easier with your new gloves:

Glove Strap

When you do this you are doing what is called creating glove memory. That is a simple way of saying that your glove remains in a position that is ideal for catching even if you are not using it at the time. Several of the methods of breaking in a baseball glove will mention focusing on doing this. These are straps you can buy at any sporting goods store that sells baseball gloves. Almost every manufacturer that sells baseball gloves makes these too.

They work for more than breaking in a glove also because they are great to use when storing your glove for long periods of time. They will help keep your baseball glove from losing its glove memory when it’s stored. For this one, you simply put a baseball in the pocket of your glove and wrap your glove around the baseball like you would do if you were catching the baseball. Then you take the glove strap and wrap it around your baseball glove to keep it in this position to help break it in.

My Dad’s Reliable Method

You will see some definite similarities between this method and the strap method mentioned above. My dad’s trick takes it to a higher level for a cheaper price. He was a good ballplayer his whole life and even played several years of professional baseball in the minor leagues. My dad learned this trick to break in a baseball glove from some of the veterans on his teams.

Here is how it is done and I will even add a modern twist to it that I have learned at the end.

  • Immerse your glove in a bathtub full of warm water for 3 – 5 minutes and then take it out of the tub.
  • Find an old baseball and grab a shoestring too.
  • Put the baseball in the pocket of the glove and then fold the glove around the baseball.
  • Next, you will take the shoestring and tie it tightly around the outside of the glove so it keeps the glove wrapped tightly around the baseball that you left inside it.
  • Store the glove for several days with the fingers pointing down so it will both drip dry and air dry. Put it in a dry place with ventilation to do this so the glove does not get moldy and stinky in the process.
  • After a few days finish off the drying process by putting the baseball glove in the dryer on low heat for 30 or 40 minutes. Not only will this dry off the baseball glove but it will further help the glove break-in process by softening the leather as the glove beats against the sides of the dryer.I can personally vouch for how well this method works and it will be a great first step in breaking in any new baseball glove that you own. It does a tremendous job of creating glove memory so you can catch a baseball much easier.

Glove Steaming

I personally am not a big fan of using forms of heat on a baseball glove such as sunlight, a microwave oven, or a regular oven. With that being said, I am a huge fan of using heat to help break in a baseball glove. One of the methods I like best is using steam to heat up your new baseball glove. It is safe for your glove and effective at the same time.

Here is how it works:

  • Place a large pot of water on the hot stove so it can start to boil. At the same time, the water is heating place a grill over the top of the pot. When the water starts to boil then place your glove on top of the grill so it can start letting the steam that is being released heat it.
  • Turn your glove occasionally during this process and make sure that no part of the glove contacts the water below. Keep turning the glove until you feel it is warm both on the outside and inside of the glove.
  • Once it is warm all over then gently pat dry the glove to get off any surface moisture that has accumulated on it.
  • Next use a glove mallet on the inside and outside of the glove. Place special emphasis on the pocket of the glove when doing this. This should go a long way toward making your glove easier to open and close when catching a baseball.

Thing To Avoid When Breaking In A Glove

Avoid using heat and oil at the same time

We have talked a little bit about using glove oil to help break in a glove and using heat to help break in a glove. Both of these methods work but they are not meant to be done at the same time in some cases. Take for instance oiling your glove and then placing it in a hot oven. If you have ever done any cooking you will know that this is how a lot of baked foods are cooked and that is exactly what you will be doing to your glove. Do this and you can pretty much guarantee to replace the laces in your glove and stand a chance of ruining your glove too.

Don’t leave your glove wet for an extended period of time

Many of the tricks for breaking in your glove involved the use of water and it really does help soften and break in a glove. What you want to avoid is leaving your glove wet for an extended period of time. For one it will be too heavy to use and you also stand to get it stinky and moldy too. So after you have wet your glove and done what needs to be done to break it in, make sure you use a fan, clothes dryer, hair dryer, or other means to get it dry sooner rather than later.

Final Thought

So now you know why it’s so important to break in your baseball glove before using it. You also have more insight as to how to break in a baseball glove properly. It really is not that hard it just takes a little bit of time but once it is done it will make an incredible difference as to how easy it is to catch baseballs with your new glove. So don’t delay; get going and get your new glove broken in so you can comfortably play in the field with your new baseball glove.

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