Resource Guide | How to Break in a Glove

New baseball gloves are often stiff 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.

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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 and other methods can speed up the process. All things considered, no matter what you do to break in your glove, the more you can play catch and practice with your mit, the faster it will break in. 

Baseball Glove Oils and Conditioners

When considering how to break in a baseball glove, one of the best ways to begin is to lightly apply a thin coat of glove oil. Glove oil keeps the leather “alive” while providing a softening condition and minimizing weight gain. 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 areas of the glove that are currently firm. Begin at the palm before proceeding to the breakpoint of the glove and lastly the web. Later you can use the glove oil on all other parts of the glove, including the inside lining to help moisturize and protect the glove. Be sure to work the glove oil into the leather evenly. Do not apply the glove oil directly to the glove, as it will be too concentrated at the point of application and could potentially cause staining.

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Make sure that the laces get oiled so they can stay moisturized as well. Failure to do so can cause them to begin to crack and the webbing to become loose. Remember, leather is a skin and leather experts tell us not to treat glove leather any differently than you would your own skin.

When considering what type of oil to use for your glove, most people (including the pros) use shaving cream. Other popular oils include vaseline, mink oil or other glove manufacturer oils. 

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After your glove is broken in, you should continue to apply glove oils and conditioners throughout the season. Make sure not to overdo it though. Applying oil three to four times throughout the season should be sufficient. Then, for best storage results apply oil one last time before storing your glove after the season. 

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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 stretch the tight spots and work the leather to help break it up. Some of the tightest spots are around the thumb and the pinky. It is helpful to pull these parts of the glove towards and away from each other. This helps to loosen the binding and leather to allow the glove to squeeze and catch the ball. It’s also helpful to pull and move the other fingers in the glove. How much you manipulate the fingers should change depending on how tight you prefer your finger laces. 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

Wooden mallets are often used in softening and shaping a glove. Pounding the pocket can help form the shape of a ball so the glove will be more used 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.

Important Points to Remember

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