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Resource Guide | How To Break In A Glove

How to Break-in a Glove

New baseball gloves could often be considered stiff gloves and not yet ready for game performance. Even gloves that are made specifically for your playing style, such as custom baseball gloves or custom softball gloves need to be broken in before they’re ready to take the field.

Many players wonder how to break in a baseball glove, and what methods to avoid. Below, we’ll walk you through best practices, things to keep in mind, things to avoid and even show you what the pros do.

Traditional Methods

Purists use traditional methods to break in a new baseball or softball glove. They simply play catch with their gloves for multiple hours over several days and weeks until the glove is broken in.

Though this process may take longer, it naturally breaks in your glove better than any other method. All things considered, no matter what you do to break in your glove, the more you can play catch and practice with your mitt, the faster it will break in. 

Baseball Glove Oils and Conditioners

When considering how to break in baseball gloves, one of the best ways to begin is to lightly apply a thin coat of glove oil. Glove oil will come in a liquid form and provide a softening condition to glove leather. Apply about a dime-sized amount of glove oil to a sponge or cloth, then use the sponge or cloth to apply the oil to the entire glove. It is typically best not to apply the glove oil directly to the glove, as it will be too concentrated at the point of application and could potentially stain the leather. Using the sponge or cloth will also assist in making sure that the oil is applied evenly over the entire glove. 

Typically, when the term "conditioner" is being used to describe a glove product, one is usually referring to a product that comes in a "jelly" or paste-like" form that helps moisturize the leather of the glove. Ultimately, it will do the same thing as the more "liquid-type" glove oils, but it comes in a different form than an oil. One characteristic of conditioners is that they don't typically permeate the leather as deeply as an oil. Thus some folks do not think conditioners add as much weight to a glove as an oil (however, conditoners may have to be applied more regularly than oils).

No matter if you are using oil or conditoner, be sure that the laces receive attention so that they can stay moisturized. Failure to do so can cause them to begin to crack and the webbing to become loose. 

Even after your baseball or fastpitch glove is broken in, you should continue to apply glove oils or conditioners throughout the season. Make sure not to overdo it though. Applying oil a couple to a few times throughout the season should be sufficient (for some players, they may choose to only condition once a year). Then, for best storage results apply oil one last time before storing your glove after the season. 

Work the Rigid Parts

Many players are also unsure how to break in a glove when it comes to physically working it. One of the best ways is to apply some work to what some will call the "break points" in the glove. The two most common of these sections is where the pinky and thumb meet the palm of the glove. It is helpful to pull these parts of the glove towards and away from each other. This helps to loosen the leather to allow the glove to squeeze and catch the ball with ease. It’s also helpful to pull and move the other fingers in the glove. How much you work on the fingers should change depending on how tight or loose you prefer the fingers of your glove to feel. It is best to do a little at a time, play with the glove to see how it works, and then do more if needed.

Soften and Shape the Glove

A wooden mallet is often used in softening and shaping a glove. Pounding the pocket  with a mallet can help form the shape of a ball in that section of the glove. Thus, it will be more attune to holding a ball. You can also pound other parts of the glove to loosen the leather and prepare the glove for play. For best results, put a ball in the pocket to gauge the size and shape, then use a wooden mallet to continue softening and shaping the leather in the pocket area of the glove.

 

Important Points to Remember

  • Excessive glove conditioner/oil can make the glove heavy and possibly damage the leather.
  • After applying oil/conditioner, allow the product to absorb into the leather for 24 hours in an area set to room temperature.
  • Play catch daily until the glove is ready for gameplay (although playing catch is not an instant solution for breaking in a glove, it is the best method)
  • Attempt to add an even coat of oil/conditioner to the entire surface of the glove.
  • At the end of the season, gently apply glove oil/conditioner to keep your glove from becoming brittle.
  • Store your glove in a dry place with a ball in the pocket to maintain shape.
  • Oil/Conditioner application is best done with a sponge or cloth so that it is evenly added to the entire surface of the glove.
  • High-quality leathers (leathers like what is on a Heart of the Hide or A2000) will likely be the most difficult to break in.
  • Do not use an oven or microwave to break in your baseball or softball glove. This will damage your glove beyond repair.
  • Do not leave your glove outside or in your car to try to break it in.

Another Method

Many people like to look to the pros when considering how to break in a baseball glove. A professional ball player will sometimes break in a glove in a way that will contradict what glove manufacturers recommend. This method is not always endorsed by glove manufacturers because if it is not performed correctly, it could irreparably damage the glove. Please know that professional ballplayers usually receive multiple gloves free of charge, so they are not as worried about the break in process of one glove being botched. However, we understand that some players who are not professionals also consider a quick break-in as more important than the longevity of the glove, so we will let you know how a good number of professional ballplayers break in a glove.

First, they will pour hot water over the surface of their glove and within the hand slot (usually a handful of pours over the glove). They won't submerge the glove in water, but will get it wet enough so that the leather becomes softer and more pliable. 

Next, the player will begin to work the glove in the break points. The two big ones will be where the thumb and pinky of the glove meet the palm of the glove. They will also roll the heel of the glove and pull apart the fingers of the glove. Then they will pound the pocket of the glove with a wooden ball mallet. 

Finally, a step that we might add to this method is to lightly add some oil or conditioner to the glove after you're done working with the break points. Some of the water that was poured on the glove initially will be absorbed into the glove's leather. As that water evaporates from the glove leather, we'll want the oil or conditioner to take it's place in the glove and prevent it from excessively drying out. Look below to watch a video of a form of this professional break in process in action:

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