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Before you use your new baseball gloves, you must prepare them by breaking them in. Breaking the glove in yourself makes the glove fit you perfectly. There are several methods to do this, but they can be tricky and time-consuming. Let’s learn about ‘How To Break In Baseball Glove?’.
How To Break In Baseball Glove?
There are several methods to break in your baseball gloves. One of the best ways to do it is to play catch with it for a long time for the perfect, personalized fit. Other methods can be quicker, including moistening the glove with warm water or glove oil, manhandling it, or wrapping it around a ball. However, there are also some methods used that can harm your glove and reduce its lifespan. You should know how to treat your glove and make it work to its best capacity because it is a long-term investment.
We will look at: How To Break In Baseball Glove?
- Using it normally
- Moistening and manhandling
- Oils and Conditioners
- Harmful methods
Using it normally
Playing catch normally is generally considered the best, traditional method to break in the glove. Every time you catch the ball, it will help loosen the leather and form a pocket perfect for your hand and playing style. The method is more time-consuming, but there is minimal danger of damaging your glove, and it will fit you best. You can use a pitching machine to throw balls or play with friends.
Moistening and manhandling
Pour a little bit of water onto the part of the glove that needs softening. Do not use too much as it can cause over-drying. The water should be warm (ideally 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit) but not boiling. The warm water will make the leather easier to shape. Next, you ‘manhandle’ it: apply pressure on the part where the pocket should be. You can even wear the glove and use a glove hammer/mallet/dumbbell to beat the glove into the right shape for your hand. However, it will not be as personalized as directly playing catch with it.
The method for wrapping the glove is relatively simple. Close the glove with a ball in the pocket and the thumb touching the pinky. Use a string or something elastic – like rubber bands – to secure the glove in the wrapped position. Unwrap and rewrap the glove every few days for a few repeats.
Oils and Conditioners
While not a break-in method specifically, you need to oil or condition the glove during and after the breaking-in to increase its lifespan. You should only use manufacture-approved products because things like Vaseline, petroleum jelly, mink oil, chapstick, or linseed oil can damage your glove by making it too greasy, heavy, or dry. The oil/conditioner should help the leather’s health and soften it. You will need to apply a small amount of oil/conditioner – a light coat rubbed in with a sponge or cloth should suffice. Too much oil/conditioner can saturate and ruin the glove.
You should give around three to four treatments per season.
- Microwaving or baking the glove can make the leather seem more supple for a while, but the hot and dry air can make the glove dry and sometimes brittle. Gloves, especially ones with metal parts, are flammable, too.
- Leaving the glove in the car to get hot will have the same effect. You cannot fix the dried glove with any oils or conditioners.
- Shaving cream used instead of proper oils/conditioners can also dry the glove. It used to be a popular conditioner because it used to have lanolin oil in the past. Newer shaving creams have little to no lanolin, and their artificial ingredients can harm your glove.
- Wrapping the glove without a ball inside can affect the final shape.
- Putting your glove under the mattress can damage the glove. These methods are used as alternatives to the wrapping method. However, where proper wrapping gently pulls on the leather crease to help the glove fold better, the mattress will flatten your glove and damage its heel, making the glove floppy and difficult to catch a ball with.
This method can harm your glove’s leather fibers, so a steamed glove will no longer be covered by a warranty from, for example, Wilson’s. The glove will become softer but less durable, and the steamed leather can sometimes fail to maintain its shape and eventually soften too much to be used. However, the method is easy, quick, and effective if you want a game-ready glove urgently or if you are a beginner to whom an extra-soft glove does not matter much. In several sports stores, you can ask the company to steam your glove for you. They will apply a glove conditioner to open and soften the leather pores. They then steam it at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by manhandling the glove to break it in. They repeat the process several times.
Now We’ve learnt about ‘How To Break In Baseball Glove?’, Baseball gloves directly impact a player’s catching abilities. It is necessary to break them in properly to use such an expensive but long-lasting possession to its full potential. You should not use methods that include flattening the glove, applying foreign/inadvisable substances, or steaming, which would harm your glove. The more time and effort you invest into it with maintenance and proper wrapping or, best of all, hands-on practicing with the glove can build your relationship with it and help the glove last longer and work better.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Why do I need to break in my gloves?
A: A new glove is stiff and does not have a pocket to catch the ball easily. To soften it and make it adapt to your style and hand type, you need to break it in.
- Q: Why are gloves not broken in by the manufacturer? Can I ask someone else to do it for me?
A: Some stores offer the steaming method to break in your glove for you at checkout. However, it is best to break in the glove yourself because it becomes like a part of you on the field and its shape should coordinate with your hand perfectly. Playing catch with the glove can coax it into the perfect shape because you mold the leather into your way of playing the game.
- Q: How long do baseball gloves last? How much do they cost?
A: If you break in the glove properly and maintain and protect it, it can last over ten years, which is why you should consider investing personal effort into the break-in process because its effects will stay with you while the glove lasts. You can get budget-friendly beginner gloves for around $20 to $80, whereas professional ones can go well over $200. Many sports stores will offer both varieties.
- Q: Does the glove material affect the time needed to break the glove in?
A: Yes it does! According to Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Pro Tips, synthetic leather needs no break-in period; it is easy to close and lightweight, good for younger players. Softened, oil-treated leather is easy to break in and is good for older players moving up in leagues. Pro Series or Premium leather has the highest quality and needs a proper break-in period, after which it will conform to your hand perfectly and comfortably.