Breaking In Your New Baseball Glove
It's summertime and that means loads of BBQs and pick-up baseball games! Whether you're replacing an old glove or this is your first in a long time, you'll need to break your glove in to give it that well worn feel. I remember this process quite well from my own Little League days. That stiff glove... straight from the store was nearly impossible to use at first. But once you got it just right, there was nothing better!
Quite honestly, the best way to break in a new glove is to use it. This can take more time than you have or want, so you can quicken the process with some tried and true methods. You're likely to get a number of different methods depending on who you ask. It's always best to follow the manufacturer's suggested method since glove leather can vary widely.
First things first... When buying a new glove, remember that fit is of the utmost importance. Like shoes, you want the glove to fit properly right from the start. Don't choose a glove hoping it will stretch.
There are many ways to break in your new glove. Most are very similar and involve some sort of oil or cream. Depending on your preference, you can use shaving cream (foam, not gel), vaseline, mink oil or saddle soap. Sporting goods stores also carry a variety of specially made glove oils, but the other products listed here work as well. These solutions soften the leather to the more pliable state most players like. Avoid anything that contains silicone as this will cause the leather to dry out and will shorten the glove's lifespan.
Use the oil or cream sparingly though. You should only use enough product to create a light film on the glove.... Use too much and you'll just have a mess on your hands. Using your fingers, get a small amount and wipe it around around the entire surface of the glove. Add a little extra to the glove area where it bends.
Now you'll need to create a pocket in the glove. Simply place a baseball in the glove where the ball should be caught. Wrap the glove with a rubberband, shoelace or long piece of string. This will allow the pocket to take the shape of the ball. Keep the glove wrapped for 1 -2 days. After the specified amount of time, unwrap the glove and bend it to ensure that it is properly softened and to work it in a bit more. Throw the ball into the center of the glove's pocket several times. You can also beat the glove (but be careful not to smash your fingers). Re-wrap the glove and store it overnight. Your glove should be ready to use in the morning.
Please note: While some swear by the "heating" method... I would avoid this at all cost. Common sense tells you that when you heat leather... even for 20 minutes, it's bound to dry out.
There are no rules as to how soft or stiff your glove should be. Just get it to your comfortable spot and you'll be happy.
Now get out there and PLAY BALL!