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You have probably heard all of the different stories older baseball players may tell about how they used to break in their gloves. From baking it, sleeping on it, running over with a car, you have probably heard several different ways to break it in.
One of the best ways to break in a baseball glove that is much safer and much more effective than any of those other methods is to apply glove oil to it. However, after breaking it in, the job is not complete as glove conditioner will help to keep the glove in good shape.
The main difference between baseball glove oil and baseball glove conditioner is that oil is mainly used to break in a glove whereas conditioner is mainly used to maintain it. Also, glove oil weighs the glove down more than glove conditioner.
In this article, we will teach you how to both break in your glove and keep it in good shape without flattening it like a pancake or setting it on fire.
When and How Should I Use Glove Oil?
Buying a brand new glove is one of the most satisfying feelings you can experience as a baseball player. However, you shouldn’t throw the old glove away just yet because it may take some time to break in the new one.
That is where glove oil comes into play.
You should use glove oil when you are in the process of breaking in a brand new glove. The best time to do this is right before you go to bed so the glove can rest overnight.
When applying the oil to the glove, it is important not to overdo it. Oil makes the glove heavier because it soaks into the leather, so putting too much on your glove may weigh it down too much and cause more harm than good.
In order to avoid applying too much oil, try dabbing a dry cloth into the oil and rubbing it on the glove instead of pouring the oil straight onto the leather. Doing this will help you avoid those oil stains you sometimes see on old gloves.
When applying the oil, make sure to apply it all over the glove, but pay extra attention to the pocket: the area between the thumb and index finger as that is the crease you are trying to loosen up to help you catch the ball.
After you have applied some oil, you must let the glove rest for several hours, which is why we advise applying the oil at night. It is important to not let your glove rest in the sun or in a hot location as the oil will dry quickly and discolor the glove.
Once it has rested for several hours, you must start trying to break in your freshly oiled leather. There are two effective ways to do this: 1) playing catch and 2) pounding the pocket of your glove with a mallet.
Playing catch is by far the easiest way to break in a glove. If you choose the other method of hitting the pocket with a mallet, there are mallets made specifically for breaking in a glove in which a round ball is attached to the end of it to simulate playing catch.
There are a few other popular ways to break in a glove that we DO NOT advise. That is the oven method and the mattress method.
Some people put their glove in the oven after oiling it to soften the leather. While this does work to loosen up the leather, it ages the glove fast and can flatten it too much.
Some people advise putting the oiled glove under the mattress when you sleep, but again, this just flattens the glove and doesn’t actually loosen the leather.
To summarize this simply, to break in your glove you should 1) apply oil, 2) let it rest for several hours, and 3) play catch/pound with a mallet to break it in.
When and How Should I Use Glove Conditioner?
New gloves aren’t cheap, so if you can do something to avoid buying a new one each season, I would suggest doing so. This is why I would advise using a glove conditioner to help maintain the glove over multiple seasons.
You should use a glove conditioner at the end of a season. It can be applied very similarly to glove oil, but its purpose is to help the glove maintain its shape and to keep the leather from drying out.
There aren’t as many steps to applying glove conditioner as oil. You simply just apply the conditioner and let the glove rest. Make sure it is kept in a relatively cool place avoiding direct sunlight for the best results.
Glove conditioner is not as heavy as the oil used to break in the glove, but it should still be applied carefully to avoid staining the glove.
You do not have to worry about applying glove conditioner often. Most players do it at the end of each season. However, if you have a several day break in games or practices, it is okay to apply it in the middle of the season.
At the end of the day, your glove is your lifeline on defense. Buying a quality glove comes at a price, so using glove conditioner can help keep that glove in the condition necessary to perform at a high level.
How Should I Form the Pocket of My Glove When I Break it in?
Gloves are like batting stances. Different players have different preferences, but as long as the end goal is the same, it really doesn’t matter. When breaking in a glove, your goal should be to shape it to where it provides comfort and allows you to catch the ball at your position.
Forming the pocket of your glove is very important, and how you form it is based on your comfort. However, you always want to consider the position you play when forming the pocket.
For example, infielders sometimes prefer their gloves to be wide between the thumb and pinky and a little flatter on top to allow them to keep their gloves on the ground when fielding a ground ball.
Outfielders often prefer to keep their gloves wider and longer because they field mostly fly balls.
Also, some players prefer to put their pinky and ring finger in the pinky slot of their glove in order to reiterate the closing motion of taking the pinky to the thumb. It makes the pocket a little deeper. This is common in outfielders.
Obviously, one of the most important gloves to break in is a catcher’s mitt. Of course, it is also one of the most difficult gloves to break in because of the amount of leather used on it.
Using glove oil to break in a catcher’s mitt is very important because it is more stiff than other gloves when it is new.
One trick in forming a glove that some players like to use is the rubber band method. They place either a baseball or a softball in the pocket of the glove and wrap it up with a rubber band or shoe lace.
Using a softball for this helps to create a bigger pocket while using a baseball helps the glove form to the type of ball it will catch most often.
The bottom line is that the shape of your glove must fit your comfort and your needs. As long as it allows you to catch the ball and does not hinder your performance on defense, you are in good shape.
When should I buy a new glove?
If the laces on your glove are starting to break, it is starting to lose its shape, or the leather is drying out, then it may be time for a new glove. If gloves are kept in good condition, they can last many years, but if you play a lot of baseball, they rarely last forever.
What is the difference between an outfield glove and infield glove?
Outfield gloves are longer and have a bigger pocket than infield gloves. Outfielders mostly catch fly balls and need bigger gloves to give them a better reach. Infielders mostly catch ground balls and need smaller gloves to more easily transfer the ball from their glove to their throwing hand.
Is there really a difference between a pitchers’ glove and an infield glove?
Pitchers’ gloves are a little bit bigger than infield gloves, and they also typically have a closed webbing so that hitters can’t see through their glove to see the grip on the pitch. Other than that, there is not a big difference, and a pitcher can certainly use an infield glove to pitch.
Why aren’t pitchers allowed to wear white gloves?
Pitchers are not allowed to wear white gloves because the baseball is white, and it may be a distraction to the hitter. Most other colors are allowed on the mound, but if there is too much white on the glove, the umpire will make the pitcher remove it.