As we dig out the gloves for another season, or look for a new one to start the season, here are a few ideas to keep in mind.
It is important for adults to help players find a glove that is suited to both their size and skill. One of the most common mistakes we see as coaches, is a player using a glove that is not a good fit. Up until recently, most ball gloves required a lot of breaking-in before an adult would be able to squeeze a ball tightly in the pocket. In many cases, adults handed down well broken-in gloves to their children, but they would be too large for them to control. In other cases, new gloves would be purchased that would be the correct size but they would never get broken-in properly, due to the child's strength and frequency of use. As a result, children would modify their catching technique in hope that the ball would stay in their glove.
Fortunately, the glove manufacturers have realized that there is a need for gloves that work for players immediately. Most of the major glove companies, such as Louisville, Rawlings, Easton, Mizuno, and Wilson, all make youth gloves. Youth gloves are typically designed with smaller finger and wrist openings and are partially, if not fully, broken-in. These gloves are not made of high-grade leather that costs more, lasts longer and requires a break-in. Instead, they are soft, broken-in and ready to go as soon as they leave the store. These gloves are inexpensive and while they are made of lesser quality leather, if looked after, they will be grown out of before they are ever worn out.
As for choosing the proper size, most t-ball and mini-minor players should be using a 9 or 10-inch model. As well, taking the player to the store and having them try the glove on is important. They should be able to squeeze a ball in the pocket, palm down, and not have the ball fall out. Buying the proper glove means having better control, allowing the player to move more quickly to the ball and keeping the ball in the pocket once it's there. A proper fitting glove that is comfortable to wear will make the game of baseball even more enjoyable to play.
As the players get bigger and stronger, a bigger and better quality glove will be required. Proper sizing is still the most important aspect in picking a glove of higher quality. Some gloves have a wrist adjustment to help keep it snug. The pocket size is a personal choice dictated by the position most often played or enjoyed. A shallow pocket is usually preferred by infielders, enabling them to get the ball out of their glove quickly, while outfielders and softballers prefer a deeper pocket. Most of the glove companies offer ideas on how to best break-in these new gloves that the older players may need on their websites.