There's nothing quite like buying a new baseball glove.
From going to the store to pick out the glove that's the right size and looks the best...
To bringing it home and taking off all the tags, it's a great experience for young kids new to the game and even older players, too.
If you've never bought a new glove before, you'll notice one thing right off the bat:
Your glove will be very stiff and hard to squeeze.
This is completely normal for new gloves, so you don't need to worry.
In addition, the pocket of the glove (where you'll catch the ball) isn't formed yet when you buy a glove off the rack.
The leather that the gloves are made from needs to be broken in before you can use it.
When you do so, you'll be forming the pocket and loosening up the leather, making the glove easier to squeeze and, therefore, easier to catch a baseball.
Knowing how to break in a baseball glove is important for all players, and fortunately, there are a few tried-and-true methods of doing so.
Here is a step-by-step guide for how to break in a baseball glove:
The Traditional Method
The old-school way of breaking in a new baseball glove is actually quite simple:
Just have a catch.
The thinking here is that the best way to break in a glove and have it form to your hand is to actually put your hand in it and catch a baseball as you would in a game.
There's a lot of logical thinking here, as what's better than the real thing?
The more times that you squeeze your glove around the baseball while playing catch, the more the glove will be broken in perfectly.
Not only will the squeezing make the entire glove be more flexible, but the pop of the ball in the glove will help you form the pocket better.
This traditional method is by far the most effective way of breaking in a new baseball glove.
However, it is also the most time consuming.
It will take much longer to break in a baseball glove using the traditional method than some other methods.
The good news, though, is that you'll be getting some catching and throwing practice in while you do so.
Steaming Your Glove
If you want to speed up the process of breaking in your new glove, another method that you can use is steaming your glove.
By applying heat to the glove, it will help to relax the leather and the seams in order to get it ready for you to use.
This is a proven method when one asks how to break in a baseball glove, and is often considered the next best option to the traditional method.
To steam a glove, you first want to make sure that you apply a glove conditioner all over the glove.
This is a product that can be bought at most sporting goods stores that sell baseball gloves, or online.
Make sure to apply the conditioner all over the glove. It will help open up the pores in the glove's leather.
Next, you want to make sure that you steam the glove to approximately 150 degrees. Temperatures lower than that won't be as effective. Likewise, temperatures above 150 degrees could actually be damaging to the leather.
Finally, once you've steamed the glove, you want to use a glove mallet to break in your new baseball glove.
The mallet is a wooden tool that looks like a miniature baseball bat.
You'll pound the inside of the glove with the mallet to replicate the impact of a baseball hitting the glove.
Beating Your Glove
If you don’t want to take the time to break in your glove using the traditional method, and if you don't trust your ability to steam your glove, then you can always use this method.
(This is also a great method if you need to take out some of your aggression)
Through this method, you'll be beating the pocket of your new glove so that it softens the leather and helps to form its pocket.
The best way to complete this method is to purchase a glove mallet, as it was designed specifically for this purpose.
Another option is you could create a mallet on your own by taking an old baseball and attaching it to something with a handle.
To beat your glove, you first want to put the glove on your hand as you would wear it on the field.
With your other hand, you want to take the glove mallet and strike the glove's pocket repeatedly.
Don't hit it too hard, or else you could end up hurting your hand.
Once you've beaten the pocket enough, take the glove off your hand and lay it on the floor, with the palm side down.
Now, take the glove mallet and pound the back side of the glove to break in the leather on that side.
Wrapping Your Glove
No matter which method above you choose to break in your new baseball glove, you'll want to complete the process by wrapping your glove.
The process of breaking in your glove only really formed the pocket of the glove.
Now, you'll need to wrap it to complete the process.
It's pretty easy to wrap a glove.
Step #1 - Fold your glove in half using the crease that forms where you have made the pocket.
Step #2 - Fold your glove on itself beginning with where your pinky finger is. Make sure to folk the pinky in on itself.
Step #3 - Either use a glove wrap or even old shoe laces to tie the glove in this folded shape. A glove wrap that you can buy from a store would work best, as it's specifically designed for this process.
Step #4 - Place a baseball in the pocket of the glove, behind the wrap or laces, so that it further forms the pocket.
By wrapping your glove after you've completed one of the methods above, you'll be fully forming the pocket, breaking down the leather, and forming your glove the way you'll need it to play in a game.
Using Oils and/or Conditioners
There are a lot of people who talk about using either glove conditioners or glove oils to help break in a glove.
This is something that could help soften the glove's leather, for sure, but it is not a method of breaking in a new baseball glove in and of itself.
If you want to use an oil and/or conditioner, just know that you should do so in conjunction with one of the methods described above.
One very important thing to note is that you only want to use glove oils and/or conditioners that are recommended by the manufacturer of your glove.
The manufacturer should have information about what oils and/or conditioners you can use with that glove on the tag that's attached to the glove.
If not, then you can always reach out to the manufacturer directly, go onto their website, or talk to one of the professionals at a sporting goods store.
In no instance should you ever use linseed oil, petroleum jelly, mink oil, olive oil, or Vaseline on your glove. These products could damage the leather of your glove instead of helping it. You don't want to use any of these products or any other product that could dry out leather.
Finally, if you decide to use glove oils and/or conditioners, make sure not to apply too much oil.
A little bit will go a long way in accomplishing the goal here, which is to help soften the leather of your new baseball glove.
Other Things You Should Not Do to Break in a Baseball Glove
There are a few other methods of breaking in a new baseball glove that people talk about that you should absolutely not do.
Perhaps the most popular alternative way of doing it is to "bake" a new baseball glove in the microwave or the oven.
People think that heating the glove up will soften the leather, much like the steaming method does.
However, ovens and microwaves will heat your glove to a much higher temperature than the recommended 150 degrees of the steaming method.
What this will do, then, is actually cause irreparable damage to your glove.
Not only will it cause the leather of your new glove to dry out, but it'll also make the laces brittle, which will most likely cause them to break.
When you bake a baseball glove in the microwave or oven, it will often cause it to shrink considerably as the leather tightens up.
In this way, it's reminiscent of clothes shrinking in a too-hot clothes dryer.
Finally, baking your glove in the microwave or oven for too long can actually be a fire hazard. The glove can catch fire if heated at too high temperatures for too long. Some gloves even contain some metal parts, which could easily catch fire in either the oven or microwave.
Another method some people use is to break in a new baseball glove is to leave it out in their car or leave it to bake in the sun.
Much like the other baking methods, this can cause the leather in your glove to dry out too much, shrinking the size of the glove, and making the laces brittle as well.
While this method doesn't come with the inherent fire risks that baking a glove in an oven or microwave does, it's still not a good idea at all.
Buying a new glove is one of the most exciting things for a youth baseball player.
But before they will be able to use their glove effectively, it is very important to break in the glove to make sure that the leather softens and the pocket forms.
There are many methods for doing so that you can find on the internet, but you want to make sure to stick to one of the three safe methods that are listed above.
Don't bake your new baseball glove in the oven or microwave, and don't let it sit out in the sun outside or in a hot car.
If you want to apply conditioner and/or oil to your glove to help the leather soften, feel free to do so. However, make sure you are using only products that are approved for use by the manufacturer of your glove.
No matter what method you choose to break in your new baseball glove, make sure that you end it all by wrapping your glove.
This is the final step in ensuring that your new baseball glove will be the best it can be for you in game situations.