Softball gloves come with more options, styles, and sizes than perhaps any other single piece of softball equipment. If you’re new to the game, picking the right one can feel overwhelming. If you’re looking to upgrade your glove, you need to be sure you get exactly what you need.
It can be a lot to take in.
Fortunately, Guardian Baseball is here to help. Our team of experts includes MLB players that have played in the All-Star Game and the World Series, like Matt Joyce, and we work with a lineup of softball superstars, like Jasmine Perechica from The University of Arizona. If anybody knows softballl, it’s us.
Here’s our official softball glove buying guide to walk you through all the factors you need in making your decision. Whether you're playing rec league, travel ball, high school or college softball, this list has something for you.
Why does having the right softball glove matter?
If you’re running a marathon, would you wear the same shoes you’d wear to a job interview?
No. Of course not. In the same way, not having the best softball glove for your game can be problematic.
Alternatively, having the right softball glove will help you get the most out of your game. The “best softball glove” for you will be largely influenced by four key factors:
- Your position
- Web type
Let’s take a look at the four different types so you know what to look for when you’re shopping for your favorite baseball glove collections.
What’s the best material for your softball glove?
The quality of the leather is the number one influence on the price of the glove, but high-quality leather leads to more comfort, durability, and a better fit. Remember, you get what you pay for when shopping for softball gloves and let your level of experience and softball goals influence what you buy.
Synthetic leather gloves are best for an athlete just getting into the game, regardless of age. Since they’re not made of actual leather (most of these are described as being made with “man-made materials”), they’re easier to close and manipulate. This can make learning the basics of the game easier and there’s no break-in period required. These are typically the most budget-friendly of gloves. too. Since they’re often used for young players with growing hands, this can be a very good thing.
Cowhide (or pigskin, sometimes) is the lowest quality of authentic leather you’ll find in a glove. It’s more durable and has a better feel than anything synthetic, but will cost a bit more, too. Most of these gloves come largely broken-in from the manufacturer – 90%, often – meaning they’ll be easy for players to adjust to and take the breaking-in process across the finish line. The ideal audience for this glove is a Little League player with lofty softball ambitions but growing fast enough to invest in a more expensive glove.
Full-grain is very similar to cowhide. The main difference is that the entire natural grain of the leather is visible on the glove. Because of this, the glove is more stiff and a bit harder to breakin, but it will also last for several years. Look for these gloves among competitive and travel teams.
Steerhide is nearly as good as it gets. Thought of as a premium glove material, steerhide gloves are for serious players at high school, college, and beyond. These gloves will take longer to break in and come at a greater cost because of the high-quality build, but their lifespan and quality will make up for it.
The highest-quality of softballball glove leather, kip leather comes from younger cattle. The lack of aging makes it softer and lighter than the rest of the cowhide leathers. These gloves have the lifespan and durability of steerhide gloves, but more comfort and considerably less break-in time. These gloves are most popular among positions that need great reaction times and quick hands, like infielders.
Softball gloves: the difference by position
The position you play influences what kind of glove best suits your needs. Here are the most significant differences between the different types.
Infield gloves have more shallow pockets to help players get the ball out of their glove and into their hand more quickly. They are commonly worn at second base, shortstop, and third base.
First base gloves have a wide catching area – like a catcher’s mitt – but they don’t have as thick of padding. They are made with deeper pockets for high-speed throws to first and they’re often more flexible so they’re easier to close. Many leagues won’t allow a first base glove to be worn anywhere else on the field.
Outfield gloves have a wider, deep pocket for catching and fielding deep balls. They’re oftentimes longer as well with increased finger support so a player is better suited to layout and make diving catches.
Pitcher’s gloves have closed webbing so the ball is completely hidden in the glove. They’re often lightweight with less padding, too.
Catcher’s gloves are the most padded, durable of all gloves because the quantity of high-velocity pitchers they take game after game. They’re fingerless, too, and are shaped to wrap around the ball in a way that gives the pitchers a visible target. Catcher’s gloves are, by far, the most unique type of glove.
Whether you play all over the field or you’re just getting into the game and learning what position you’ll play, a utility glove provides all the essentials without “specializing” in any one position.
Different types of webbing for softball gloves.
Every position has different types of webbing within its gloves. By position, the webbing styles are all uniquely designed to do the same big-picture task, but each player will have different preferences in web type.
Here’s a list of the most common types of webbing by sofball glove position. Note that “fielders” includes everything that’s not first base or catcher.
Trapeze: a leather pipe down the center of the basket with interlacing leather on each side. It creates a deeper pocket and provides more visibility, making it popular in the outfield.
Modified Trap: Very similar to the trapeze but with a lather strip added to the top of the basket for more stability.
Basket: Common for pitchers, the basket is made with overlapping leather strips that completely close off the pocket.
H-Web: An H-shaped leather post sewn together, this is a versatile glove design that is sturdy but airy. It’s a gridline in shape.
I-Web: An I-shaped take on the H-Web, this is a versatile glove that allows for easy glove-to-hand transfers and great reactions.
Single Post: A lone, vertical strip in the basket with two perpendicular leather strips overlayed. Great for visibility and flexibility.
Dual Bar: Two horizontal leather straps stitched together to form a pocket.
Modified H-Web: The same basic design as the H-Web but with a leather strip added across the top to expand catch radius.
Half-moon: two leather pieces laced together to build a tight pocket with more flexibility.
One-piece: One piece of large leather with lacing around the outdoor edge. This creates a tight, shallow pocket.
Ready to find the perfect glove for your game?
Congrats! You’re now an expert in softball gloves and everything you need to know to find the best glove for you.
We hope to supply all your glove needs at Guardian Baseball, and as a thank you for reading our buying guide, enjoy 15% off baseball and softball gloves using promo code: GLOVE15
Now grab a glove you like and go make some winning plays!