How to Break in a Glove

Written By: Eric Tyler

How to Break In Your Glove

How Important is it to Break in Your Glove The RIGHT Way? 

In a sport full of superstitions none are more prevalent than the sacred relationship between an infielder and his glove. They will go to extended measures to keep it intact including carrying it onto planes as a carry on (seriously). The reason they are so cautious with their glove is that it is broken in exactly how they like it and they don’t want to lose that. 

Breaking in a glove is always an interesting topic. From baking it in the oven, covering it in shaving cream, and even lathering it in vaseline, athletes go to drastic measures to make their glove feel like an extension of their hand.

  • And, that’s what it has to be, an extension of their hand.
  • So how can the molding of the glove benefit and play a role in the success of the fielder? Does the break-in make that big of a difference?
  • Can the way you break in a glove result in more errors?
  • Let’s take a dive into how an infielder can break in their glove to positively affect their defense. 

1. Breaking in Your Glove- Finger Placement

There are two main strategies and set-ups when it comes to finger placement in the glove.

Straight up (All five fingers separate in the web): when all five fingers are placed in different finger holes in the glove, and two in the pinkie: when the pinkie and ring finger are placed together in the pinkie hole of the glove.

  • This is solely a preference for what is comfortable for the fielder. I’ve heard of organizations mandating their infielder to use the straight-up method because of their belief that it leads to more control of the glove.

Two-Pinkie Method: However, if you have a youth fielder who may no be equipped with the adequate hand strength to close the glove on command, try out the two in the pinkie method.

  • This tends to give the athlete more pressure on the edges of the glove and leads to easier open and closing.
Break in Your Glove Straight Up
Break in Your Glove Two Pinky

2. Breaking in Your Glove- Open Pocket

To be honest this is the main culprit of my desire to write this article.

  • If I have to watch another youth fielder comes in for their fielding lesson and attempt to field a ball, whether hit or thrown and reach out for the ball with the pocket or web of their glove closed, I will punt the glove over our building.
  • To be clear, I’m not talking about squeezing the glove too early, I’m talking about having a glove broken in in such a way that when the glove is resting the pocket is completely closed.
  • If we’re relying on a youth infielder to have to flex their hand to properly open their glove, then we’re in some trouble.

Here is an example of how a glove should properly lie with a baseball in it.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 1.59.53 PM

3. Breaking in Your Glove- Funnel to the Pocket

An infielder has to not only field the ball well but also has to exchange to their hand and throw at an extremely quick rate.

  • Part of a quick exchange is knowing where the ball will be in their glove. If the ball funnels to a different part of the pocket every time the ball is caught, the fielder has to reach in and search for the ball.
  • But, if the glove is formed in a way that funnels the ball to the same spot of the pocket, the fielder knows where to go every time.
  • The fingers of the glove should act as a funnel towards the pocket. I often see fielders roll or fold the fingers of their glove in towards the palm which gives me anxiety.
  • The fold creates a lip that can affect the hop of the ball. Think about how a shovel works. The flat edge allows the dirt to direct to the same spot on the shovel.
  • Make the fingers of your glove a shovel to make the surface bigger. The bigger the surface, the more likely you are to make the catch.
Break in Your Glove Tulo
Troy Tulowitzki Perfectly Broken in Glove
Break in Your Glove Arenado
Nolan Arenado Perfectly Broken in Glove

Make More Plays by Breaking in Your Glove Correctly

How you break in a glove involves preference and what the infielder likes. However, more needs to go into it than just looking cool. How the glove is broke in is vital to how the ball is caught and transferred. Give your fielder the advantage of having the proper break-in for their position.

  • Middle infielders need their gloves to stay tight to create a smaller pocket which allows for easier transfers on double plays.
  • However, third-basemen need wider pockets for diving plays down the line and slow rollers.

Understand how to blend comfort and necessity when it comes to breaking in a glove. It may be the difference in a couple of errors throughout the year. We all know, baseball is a game of inches.

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