One of the most asked questions we get is ''How do you break in your glove?'' Many people wonder: Do you cover it in leather treatment, put a ball in the glove and tie a string around it? Do you put it under your mattress or bake it in the oven?
There are so many options out there - and most will work. A tried and true method that works best is to turn the glove inside out. This may seem crazy if you have not tried it. Turn the glove inside out by pushing the pocket out of the glove. While the glove is inside out, bend and manipulate both the pinky and thumb (as they are typically some of the stiffest areas of a new glove). Also, bend the heel of the glove as the leather strings can be stiff there as well. When you turn the glove back right side out it will immediately be easier to close. Continue to work the thumb and pinky into the shape you desire.
There are many great products out there to care for the leather of your glove to help it last longer. Nokona has a New Premium Leather Treatment (SNLTP) that is made with a beeswax / propolis suspension lubrication that will gradually seep into the leather. As a result the leather is moisturized and oiled. This leather treatment will keep your glove from drying out or cracking.
Once you have the leather treated and your glove shaped to your liking, always store your glove with a ball in it -- this holds it shape. It is also helpful to tie something around the glove. The Glove Locker (SGL) is a great option. This stretchable neoprene strap fits both softball and baseballs gloves will help shape the pocket as well as keep the pocket in its shape between games and practices.
The best way to break in a glove is by using it, manipulating the glove in different positions to loosen it up, and making it your own. A little time spent with your glove will go a long way when it comes to breaking it in after all it is an extension to your hand.
Caitlin Chandler is the Softball Manager for Longstreth Women's Sports. She is the former pitching /assistant softball coach for the University of Sciences in Philadelphia and Varsity Softball Coach for Friends' Central High School. She is a graduate of Slippery Rock University where she played outfield, pitcher, and 1st base. Caitlin has her master's degree in Leadership Development from Penn State University. She continues to coach young softball players and runs many of Longstreth Academy's Softball clinics.
To ask Caitlin other softball-related questions, visit our Ask the Experts Softball forum.