The Many Odd Ways to Break in a New Baseball Glove

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Everyone who has ever played baseball knows how important it is to have a glove that is well broken-in. You need to have so much dexterity with your glove that it feels like an extension of your hand, capable of catching anything that might fly your way. No matter how much you may love the glove you currently use, it’s inevitable that you will need to get a new one someday. Whether you outgrow the glove or it starts falling apart, no baseball mitt is going to last forever. When you get a new glove, your first task will be finding the one that you think has the potential to be great for you. Once you get it home, however, your next mission will be to break it in. Nothing feels worse than playing with a stiff baseball glove, so you’ll want to soften it up as quickly as possible and mold the mitt to your hand. Here are a few tips for ways to break in your new glove. Some are conventional and some are downright bizarre. (Note: A few of these methods have the potential to ruin your mitt if done incorrectly, so be sure to try them with adult supervision and always be careful.) • Play Catch with the Glove – The most plain and simple way to break in your new glove is to use it as intended. Grab a few friends, head to the park, and just play catch. Yes, your new mitt will probably feel very stiff at first, but the more action it sees, the softer it will naturally become. It may literally take weeks of playing before you start to feel like your glove is adapting to the game, but eventually it will get there. This method is obviously ideal for the off-season, when you don’t need to be playing at the top of your game. • Beat the Glove – Subjecting your baseball mitt to a thorough imitation of the beating it will get by playing the game is a quick way to wear it out and break it in. As barbaric as it may sound, grab a hammer and start beating your glove from all sides. Whack the mitt against the ground or against a pole with all the aggression you can muster. You may even want to grab your bat, put the glove on the ground and have at it. The overall goal is to break down the fibers of the glove that make it stiff. • Wrap the Glove – One of the most tried and true methods of breaking in a glove will create a nice pocket for the ball to rest in. Simply place a baseball in the pocket of your mitt (between the thumb and forefinger). Next, wrap up the glove with either a rubber band or some twine and leave it like that overnight. Another version of this popular technique involves leaving a ball in your mitt and placing it under your mattress overnight. While you sleep, the ball and your weight will be helping your new glove break in. • Oil the Glove – Different ballplayers will have different opinions about whether you should use a lubricating agent to soften your glove. While most will admit that oils will definitely soften the leather, others will argue that they may cause the materials of your mitt to start deteriorating. This method might shorten the overall life of your glove, so you should be prepared before you decide to oil it up. If you do decide to use a softener, some of the most popular options include baby oil, shaving cream, and Vaseline. Just be sure to remember that “less is more” when it comes to oiling your glove. A small amount of whatever product you choose will go a long way. • Heat the Glove – One of the most controversial ways to soften a new glove is also one of the most widely-practiced among today’s baseball players. Subjecting your new mitt to heat can actually quickly break it in, but you will want to exercise extreme caution. Many players will opt to put their new glove in the microwave for several seconds until it is warm and softened. Remember never to microwave your glove if it has any metal anywhere on it as you could easily ruin your microwave. You can also heat an oven to about 300 degrees, turn off the oven, and put the glove inside on a cookie sheet. Leave it there for about 10 to 15 minutes, but pay very close attention to make sure that it isn’t catching on fire. If you’d rather keep your mitt out of the microwave and oven, steaming a new glove is also becoming a fashionable way of heating it to make it softer. While the heat methods are popular among a certain faction of players, you should know that it will often void any sort of manufacturer’s warranty. It also could ruin your glove by making it too soft. Only heat your glove, therefore, if you are prepared to buy a new one should something go wrong. Ask 50 different baseball players and coaches and you will likely get 50 different pieces of advice about the best way to break in your new glove. The method you decide on will end up coming down to a personal choice about how you want to soften your mitt. As long as you don’t do anything that ruins your glove, there is no wrong way to go about the process, and hopefully you will end up just as happy with your new glove as you were about the last one you used.