Baseball is America’s pastime. There are scores of ballfields and leagues of all kinds, and little league baseball remains a precious social institution in communities across the country. Of all of the equipment that is utilized in baseball, gloves take a backseat only to bats. Players treat their gloves with deference. A broken-in glove is sought after and not easily replaceable. When playing on the field, players don’t want to have to think about their gloves at all. They simply become extensions of their hands that offer protection.

What Is a Baseball Glove?

Whether you’re talking about those that the professionals wear or youth baseball gloves, a baseball glove is an oversized glove, typically and traditionally made of leather, worn over the dominant hand of baseball players when they take the field to play defense in a baseball game.

Baseball gloves feature a fold-over, closed-web design, which enables them to snap shut around the ball when contact is made, then open with an easy release. Each finger fits in its own pocket and the glove extends well beyond the length of the fingers, providing the space where the baseball makes contact.

What Are Different Types of Baseball Gloves?

Though there are quite a few gloves marketed for each particular position, players don’t necessarily need to have singular gloves for each position. For instance, you don’t need a first baseman’s glove to play first base, it’s just chosen more because the design has proved effective. Some players that shift positions in the field prefer to keep to one glove because they have an intuitive understanding of how it reacts to the baseball that they don’t want to lose.

With that said, there are different positions in baseball and there are certain gloves that are worn at those positions. A catcher, for instance, wears a mitt. This is because his job is to receive the pitches as they are thrown to the batter, in the event that the batter doesn’t make contact. Catcher’s gloves have an oval-shaped pocket and are not measured in length, but rather in circumference. They are designed for the ball to strike at high rates of speed while protecting the hand inside. They have more padding than a traditional glove and feature a variation of the closed-web design.

First-baseman gloves are another variation of traditional baseball gloves. Like the catcher’s mitt, they have a lack of separated fingers on the outside of the glove, making it look like a mitten. A first baseman’s glove can not be longer than 13 inches. Like the catcher’s mitt, the first baseman’s glove has a curved edge that makes it easier to pluck balls out of the dirt.

What Should You Look For in a Baseball Glove?

There’s plenty to pay attention to when choosing a new glove. You don’t want it to be too tight. It should be big enough so that you can wiggle your fingers a little. It should also be big enough to wear a batting glove underneath it. Gloves are adjustable, so make sure to get one that you can easily adjust. You’ll also want to make sure that there is enough padding over the palm because receiving a ball squarely in the palm can be painful.

You should try on gloves that are marketed for positions, to better get the feel of them. An important consideration when shopping for gloves is that they will necessarily loosen up over time. The rigidity of a brand-new glove that makes it hard to squeeze shut will go away with usage. It will develop a sweet spot where you are most likely to receive the ball and also contort more to your fingers and thumb.

A ballplayer needs a glove that fits well and can stand up to the wear and tear that playing defense in baseball will put it through. Choosing the right glove can dramatically affect performance and boost confidence. When it feels like an extension of the hand, good plays are bound to be made.