Your glove is the most essential bit of equipment you will need. Whilst the name of the sport is softball, the ball is anything but soft! Softball gloves come in a variety of sizes, and some of them are designed specifically for a particular position. Most players will get a glove between 12.5” – 14”. When you are just starting out, its best to buy an all rounder glove. Below are some tips to consider when you decide which style, size, features and materials best suit your game. 1. Regular or Right hand?
A regular hand glove is for a right handed thrower (left handed catch) A right hand glove is for a left handed thrower (right handed catch) 2. Fit the Glove to Your Hand / Sizing Gloves that are “too big” can lead to "cheating" and can cause a disadvantage for beginners when learning the game. A larger glove can prevent new players from developing and refining proper skills. The best way to learn the fundamentals of fielding and catching is by wearing a glove that fits well. The larger size gloves (13 to 14 inches) are manufactured for softball players. Outfielders typically wear gloves in the 12.5 - 14 inch in range because the large pocket makes for great catching. Infielders looking for quick transfer often use a slightly smaller glove, between 12 - 13 inches. Pitchers, like infielders, usually prefer the quick transfer of smaller, 12 - 13 inch gloves Middle infielders should look for a shallower pocket within the recommended size range. 3. Find the Features that Fit Your Game
Today's gloves have different features built-in to help your game and to suit your ability. Here are the key features constructed into gloves and what to consider in finding the glove that suits you. Webbing
Different styles of webbing are available to either help you better field your position or to fit your preference A closed web is preferred for pitchers who want to hide the ball from the batter Outfielders and third basemen like the extra support from a closed web.
An open web helps middle infielders get the ball out of their gloves quicker to make throws.
Backs There are two choices of backs, open or closed.
The type of back is a matter of personal preference, but some styles fit some positions better.
The open back leaves a space open across the glove's back. Middle infielders prefer this for the flexibility whereas outfielders prefer a closed back with a "finger hole" for extra support
Wrist adjustment Gloves come with an adjustment to keep it snug. Not all gloves have these "fit systems." A D-ring fastener allows you to pull on the lacing and make the glove tighter or looser.
A Velcro fastener although it may wear quicker, offers convenience of pulling and adjusting to fit your comfort level. A Lacing adjustment allows you to loosen or tighten the wrist fastener with leather laces.
A Buckle system adjusts the glove with a buckle similar to an adjustable hat. Padding
The amount of padding in the pocket depends on the position played. The catcher's mitt has more padding to handle hard throws from a pitcher. Glove makers have been adding more padding for other positions as well to help players handle the sting of hard-hit balls.
There also may be padding in the wrist area to make the glove more comfortable Materials
Gloves come in a variety of materials, with the difference being in the feel and durability. Leather: - Offers the best comfort, control and feel…The better the leather, the better the glove! Synthetic materials: - A lighter, less-durable material. Less expensive, good for youngsters. Won't withstand the wear and tear of playing ball nearly as well as leather. 4. Care and Break-In of Your Leather Glove Pour a small amount of glove conditioner or glove oil on a clean dry cloth and carefully work the oil around the outer shell palm and back. A light coating is all that is necessary. Allow the glove to dry thoroughly for 24 hrs. Wipe off any excess oil and play catch for 10-15 minutes or 50-70 throws. This stretches and forms the glove to your hand and accelerates the break-in process.
Put a ball in the pocket of the glove and tie the glove closed for a few days with a string or rubber band.
Laces will stretch with use. Keep the laces taut but do not over-tighten them. Store in a cool dry place with a ball in the pocket when not in use. Do not leave your glove in an area where temperatures will become extreme, such as the boot of your car.
Do not over-oil your glove. Twice per season is sufficient. Do not submerge your glove in water -- it will rot. If your glove becomes wet, dry slowly and oil lightly. Do not put in the oven or microwave to dry it. We’ve been in touch with www.baseballandsoftball.co.uk and they’ve very kindly given all new Bombers members a 10% discount for any orders over £50*! please ask Rochelle or Lauren for the code once you have become a member.
One-Piece vs. Two-Piece
One-piece softball bats use the same material throughout the entire design. The advantage of the one-piece design is that you get a stronger, stiffer bat that is generally favoured by power hitters looking for as little flex as possible. In two-piece softball bats you'll find that the handle is a separate piece from the barrel and that the two are bonded together. The advantage to a two-piece bat is that it's design allows the barrel to flex at the point of contact creating a trampoline effect off the barrel. Two-piece bats generally have less vibration in the handle due to the separation of the handle and barrel. Alloy vs. Composite vs. Hybrid Alloy bats are generally constructed with a one-piece design out of aluminium or aluminium that is mixed with other metals to make a stronger product. The advantage to this strength is that it allows alloy bats to have thinner, more responsive barrel walls. Composite bats, on the other hand, are made out of a mixture of carbon fiber, graphite, fiberglass, and sometimes Kevlar. Some leagues may not allow the use of a composite bat, so it's always best to check with your league before making a purchase. Hybrid bats feature a two-piece design in which an alloy barrel is bonded to a composite handle. This makes the handle lighter and allows the alloy barrel to be made longer than on a traditional alloy bat.
Single-Wall vs. Double (Multi) Wall
Many slow pitch bats are now made with two or more barrel walls. Multi-wall bats are generally thought to have more trampoline effect due to the fact that there are more layers to provide the spring action. Multi-wall bats also tend to be more durable, as the barrels are usually thicker and sturdier.
So why swing a single-wall bat? Many leagues mandate that players are only allowed to use bats with a single wall. If you are in one of these leagues, don't worry, there are plenty of great single-wall bats out there that have as much, or sometimes even more, pop than multi-wall bats. Just type "single wall" into the search box and hit enter. Then click on the "Slow Pitch Bats" filter on the left-hand side to find a great selection of single-wall slow pitch bats.
Balanced vs. Endload vs. Maxload
A balanced bat is one that has an evenly distributed weight from knob to endcap and are the most common type of bat. Balanced bats are preferred by players who consider themselves contact hitters and players looking to control the bat and placement of the ball better. Endloaded bats usually have an extra half ounce or so of concentrated weight at the end of the bat near the endcap. This gives the hitter extra momentum when swinging through the ball. This type of bat is usually preferred by power hitters that like to swing for the fences. A maxloaded bat is very similar to an endloaded one, except that there is more weight at the end. This type of bat should only be used by stronger players that have no problems controlling their swing. ASA, USSSA, and Other Associations
ASA is usually considered to be the most highly regulated association in softball as they generally have the strictest guidelines for bats. The major difference between bats made for ASA play and all other associations is performance. For instance, ASA approved bats must adhere to the 98 mph batted-ball speed standard, while bats approved for USSSA and other associations are allowed to have a much hotter 100+ mph batted ball speed and a bat performance factor (BPF) of 1.20 or sometimes more. You can find a full rundown of rules and regulations here.