Getting a new baseball glove is always exciting! The smell of fresh leather and that anticipation of those first few catches and the feel of it on your hands – but how long does it actually take to break in a baseball glove?
To break in a new baseball glove can take anything from three weeks to a few months or even a year before the glove is game ready, and the best way to do it is to play catch! Trying to break it in sooner can damage the glove and dramatically reduce its lifespan.
Let’s examine the best ways to break in a baseball glove and what NOT to do to avoid irreparable harm to your glove. After all, good gloves take time to break in, and doing it right will bring you years of enjoyment.
Play Catch To Break In A New Baseball Glove
Aside from the various methods we will look at, one of the easiest and safest methods to break in a brand-new baseball glove is to play catch with it!
All new gloves will be stiff, but playing catch over a few months will develop the pocket of the glove that matches your hand, and the glove will mold in the shape of your hand over time.
Using the glove and flexing the stiffer parts, like the thumb and fingers, as you work is a great way to mold the glove to your hand. While it can take a few weeks to a few months to get the glove game ready, it’s worth the time to do it right.
If you are going this route, don’t allow other people to use your new glove. Remember, this glove has to fit your hand, and if other people use it, it will change the fit and the molded shape over time- rather, keep this one just for you.
One of the great benefits of this simple and age-old method of breaking in a baseball glove is that using it for the catch will not harm the leather.
Even though the first few catches may see the ball bounce out of the pocket due to the stiffness of the leather and fingers, over time, the glove will soften and mold perfectly into your hand shape.
Can I Use Oil To Break In A Baseball Glove?
Adding oil to leather is an age-old practice, and you can do the same with your new baseball glove, but this should not be used as a breaking-in strategy. Rather add oil to parts of the glove that start to show dry spots.
When it comes to oiling your glove, less is always more, and if you apply too much oil, this can have the opposite effect and make the leather too soft too quickly. Too much oil will saturate the leather, which can ruin the glove.
Oil is more to protect the glove, so using a light coat of oil over the leather will extend the life of your glove while making it a little softer in the process – but note that this is NOT a method of breaking it in, rather one that is designed to protect the leather and extend its lifetime.
Wrap A Ball In The Glove Pocket To Break It In
While some methods, like using hot water and a glove mallet to break the glove in sooner, are being done by professionals, there is much debate about the efficacy of this method and its effects on the leather. So unless you are very experienced, this method is NOT recommended.
But, let’s look at a method of breaking in a baseball glove that does work and will not cause any harm to your glove, and that is to wrap a ball inside the glove using elastic bands.
Take a baseball and place it in the pocket of the glove. Then take some sturdy elastic bands and wrap them around the glove to enclose the ball in the pocket with the thumb and pinky touching.
You can use string, elastics, or any other binding that will keep the glove in position with the ball in the pocket. This method will gradually stretch the leather around the ball over a few days. Then unwrap it and repeat the process till the glove is game ready.
How NOT To Break In A Baseball Glove
The methods of breaking in a baseball glove described above are safe and will allow the glove to stretch naturally to fit your hand and the ball, but there are also a few ways to avoid it at all costs.
- Don’t steam or microwave your glove, as this can damage the leather fibers and remove moisture from the leather, making the glove dry and brittle.
- Don’t use shaving cream to break in your glove. In the past, this was done as shaving cream had lanolin which helped to soften the glove. Very few modern shaving creams contain lanolin, and you are better off using a good leather oil designed for baseball gloves.
- Don’t leave your glove in your car. The car environment is not ideal for gloves as it is dry and hot, which will also dry out the glove.
- Don’t store your glove under your mattress- again, this is because the weight of the mattress, with or without you on it, can compress the leather into a shape you don’t want, and it will draw moisture out of the leather.
Some synthetic baseball gloves come game-ready, but these will generally not last as long as leather ones, so take the time and break in your glove properly. Baseball gloves are an investment, and it’s always better to break them in properly rather than rush them and risk damaging them.
The best way to break in your new baseball glove is to take it out for a game of catch and work the leather around the tight spots of the pinky and thumb. Remember that if you are going to practice with it, advise the coach you have a new glove, so any spills or bounces will be accorded to the glove and not you!