Choosing the proper glove for your aspiring young baseball player
It’s not easy finding the best youth baseball glove for a young player. There are many brands, models, sizes, and a handful of other factors to consider. The glove is arguably the most important piece of equipment in a player’s arsenal. While certainly not a replacement for skill, a quality glove that fits well can help a player perform better on the field. Quality doesn’t have to mean expensive either, there are plenty of durable youth gloves for a decent price. Beyond that, purchasing a well-constructed glove will last multiple seasons, helping the player develop muscle memory with every catch and fielded ball. Whether you are picking out a glove for your son’s first SOMBA team, or you’re searching for an upgrade or replacement glove, this guide should help make your decision easier.
Top three mistakes in youth glove selection
These are the most common blunders parents will make when selecting a youth glove.
1) The glove is too big. This is the most common problem found in youth leagues—ill-fitting gloves. It’s difficult to get a glove too small because obviously the player will have a hard time getting their hand into it. It’s much easier to select a glove that is too large. This will result in a loose fit, with the hand slipping around inside of the glove which makes life a lot harder trying to field a fast moving ground ball for example. For a younger player, parents will be tempted to buy something a little too big so the kid doesn’t outgrow it in a year. We caution against this because a poor fitting glove will make it difficult for the player to open and close the pocket easily. This makes catching difficult as the ball will just hit the back of the glove and roll down the palm.
2) The glove is poorly constructed. You don’t need to buy the most expensive brand name glove with the coolest looking design but making a deliberate purchase is better than relying on luck. Sometimes, a used glove from an older kid who has outgrown it is a great option. The glove will already be broken in and ready to go, which brings us to our next point.
3) The glove is too stiff. At times, it can be tempting to go for a top-grain, quality glove that is stiff and new. The funny thing about gloves is that a beat up old glove that has been collecting dust in the garage will perform better than a brand new glove (assuming they both have the same fit) because a brand new glove will be extremely stiff. This makes it hard to control the pocket of the glove and has nearly the same effect of an over-sized glove. However, the great thing about nice, new gloves is that they will last for years. The downside is that they require a break in period.
Things to consider when purchasing a youth baseball glove.
1) Size. Gloves are measured with the palm facing upward from the end of the index finger of the glove to the heel of the glove pocket. We went into a little detail about this before and it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to find the right fit when it comes to baseball gloves. Our sizing chart below is a helpful tool to use when determining the range you should be looking in. Most youth players ages 6 through 15 will use gloves somewhere in the range of 9 to 12 inches in length. A good all around size for players aged 10 and up is 11.75 inches.
2) Position. For T-Ball and Tadpole a generic glove will be all your child will need. As your child progresses into Mosquito, PeeWee Bantam and Midget ball a higher quality more position specific glove might be purchased. When things get more competitive, the player’s position can be a determining factor on the type of glove that should be purchased. There are specially designed gloves for outfielders, infielders, pitchers, first basemen, and catchers. Commonly, outfielders will wear larger gloves to assist them in catching fly balls and line drives, infielders and pitchers will wear smaller gloves to facilitate getting the ball out of the glove and into their throwing hand faster, and first basemen will wear gloves that allow them to scoop up errant balls thrown in the dirt. Back catchers will wear a heavily padded glove to protect their hand from foul tips and hard pitches.
3) Material. The main thing to stay away from for a glove for youth leagues are plastic gloves. These are super uncomfortable and cheaply made, they are mainly designed for infants “play time.” Regular gloves consist of different grades of leather. These include top grain, full-grain, and premium. Gloves that are constructed with top-grain are the best of the best and are the easiest to break-in. Top grain gloves are also known for being the most durable and are often the most expensive. When buying a glove for a youth player consider that a good full grain leather glove can last 10 years or more.
4) Price. Buying a top-tier glove can cost an arm and a leg. It may be a good approach when purchasing a high school or adult players glove whose hands have stopped growing. For really young players, especially those in tee ball/tadpole, you don’t need the most expensive glove. For one thing, it’s going to be stiff and need to be broken in and that will take time. The younger the player, generally speaking, the fewer practices and games the team will have. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a bunch if the kid is going to outgrow the glove after a year or even lose it in a couple months. (Always write your child’s name in their first glove) One of the best series available for t-ball/tadpole is the Wilson A450 Advisory Staff series. These gloves are takedowns of gloves worn by Wilson’s top professional players and they come in a variety of sizes and are roughly $40-$50. Once your child becomes Mosquito or PeeWee aged it is important to get them a higher quality leather baseball glove. Gloves for kids aged 10 and up should be made of leather for safety, durability and playability. Expect to spend $150 and up to get a good glove in Canada. For more competitive leagues and older players, a really good baseball glove can be a worthwhile 10 year investment.
Buying the proper youth baseball glove can seem like a daunting task. Keep in mind when you're considering buying your child a really cheap and poorly constructed glove that it will affect their ability to play the game. Sometimes spending a few more bucks on a glove will mean that it will last longer and play better. We hope that this guide helps you overcome the stress of choosing the proper ball glove for your child this season!
Anatomy of a baseball glove
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