Why Do Baseball Players Have One Finger Out of the Glove?
A couple of weeks back, during practice, one of the players from my youth team came up to me and asked a very interesting question – why do the fielders keep a finger out of their baseball glove? He noticed it when he was watching the game with his dad at home, and he couldn’t figure it out.
Now, I really appreciate questions like this, as this shows that the player is trying to expand his knowledge. And back when I used to play, I used to wear my gloves the same way. But at the time, I did it instinctively – I didn’t put much thought behind the science of it all.
While I couldn’t give him the right answer at the moment, I did some digging on my own and consulted a few other fellow coaches, and figured out the reason. Simply put, it gives you more control over the glove and helps protect your index finger better. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
I will talk more about why many players choose to keep their index finger out of the baseball glove and how you may have been holding your glove the wrong way all these years. So, let’s get started.
How Do You Put Your Finger Out of The Glove?
Before I delve more into the “why,” let’s take a step back. While many of you already know what I am talking about, there are still beginners who haven’t noticed this particular wearing method. But if you look at any clip of a professional player, there’s a high chance that you will see them wearing their gloves this way.
The truth is there are many different ways of wearing a baseball glove, and if you feel like you are doing fine with the way you are holding your glove, then you don’t have to worry about changing it. But it’s still wise to know about the different wearing methods.
What you do is instead of putting your entire hand inside the glove, you push your index finger outside through the wrist flap at the back of the glove. This leaves the index finger slot of your glove empty. In addition to that, some players also push both their ring and pinky finger through the pinky finger slot of the glove.
Another thing you’ll notice is that instead of sliding their hand all the way into the glove, they keep the bottom part of their palm outside the glove leaving it exposed.
What’s the Advantage of Keeping One Finger Outside the Baseball Glove?
Now that you know what the whole fuss is about, you must be wondering what’s the reason behind it. I mean, it looks cool and all, but is there any point to this? Well, there is, in fact, a huge difference in how the glove feels when you keep one finger outside the glove. Yes, when you try it out at first, it will feel awkward. The glove might even slip off, but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to catch balls much better.
Here are a couple of reasons why people keep one finger outside the baseball glove.
1. Better Protection
In baseball, the fielders, or more specifically, the infielders, take a lot of heat. That’s why you will typically see infielder’s gloves offering thicker padding compared to outfielders’ gloves. But the problem with thicker padding is that it also inevitably makes your glove heavier.
But playing in a position where quick movement is the key to winning, you really don’t want to wear a thick and bulky baseball glove. That’s why many infielders, even though it hurts their hands, avoid thick padding when they buy their gloves.
By keeping their index finger outside the glove, they can put an extra barrier of protection between the glove and their finger without having to go for additional padding. That way, their gloves stay light, and their index finger, which takes the brunt of the damage, stays out of harm’s way.
2. Better Control
Your control over your glove dictates everything in baseball. You see, baseball gloves are big, and if you are just starting out, you will feel extremely awkward catching the ball when you are wearing your gloves. With practice and time though, it gets easier.
Now there’s nothing wrong with wearing your glove the traditional way, which is by putting all your fingers in their respective finger slots. But in my experience, keeping one finger outside the glove allows you to move your glove more quicker and track the ball easier.
Since your index finger is outside, you can push down on the back of the glove to generate a bit of extra momentum when you are moving your hand toward the ball. The difference is slight, but once you get used to keeping one finger outside the glove, you will be able to control your glove better than the traditional way.
3. Better Fitting
Baseball gloves come in various sizes, and finding the right size of gloves for your hand is essential when you are getting one for yourself. But even when the size of the glove is right, the finger slots might feel a bit too big for your taste. So when you wear your glove the traditional way, you will feel your finger moving around their slots.
By placing one finger outside the glove and squeezing the ring and pinky finger in a single finger hole, the glove will feel tighter. And as I always say – a tighter baseball glove is always better than a glove that’s too loose.
A quick tip if your glove still feels loose – there are several ways you can tighten a baseball glove. Some gloves come with adjustable wrist straps that can help you get the job done. Or you can simply remove the lace and tighten them up to make the glove feel tighter in your hand.
4. Bigger Pocket
A deeper pocket in your glove means you will have a better chance of catching and holding the ball in it. You see, you are really not supposed to catch the baseball in your finger. Instead, you want to direct the pocket in your baseball glove where the ball is going to be and grip it tightly in the pocket.
Now the pocket size and depth vary from one glove to another. Typically, infielders prefer shallow pockets as it lets them transfer the ball easily to the throwing hand, while outfielders prefer deeper pockets to catch the ball easier.
However, by keeping your index finger out of the glove, you essentially increase the amount of space in the glove you have to catch the ball. In other words, your pocket gets bigger, and you have a better chance of keeping the ball in place when you catch it.
Why Do Baseball Gloves Have a Finger Hole?
You may have noticed how some modern infielder’s gloves come with a hole near the bottom of the palm area. This is what’s called a finger hole, and it’s a relatively new addition to baseball glove technologies.
If you wear your glove like the pros, you are likely placing your hand at the back of the glove, pushing it out through the wrist straps. Well, if your glove comes with a finger hole, instead of placing your index finger outside, you can keep it on the inside area of the glove.
It’s more of a preferential thing, and most people opt not to use it, in my experience. But some players claim that keeping their finger on the inside area of the glove offers them better control and responsiveness.
I only see pitchers using this finger hole as it allows them to hide their finger from the batter, which can give away the next pitch they are planning to throw. So if you didn’t develop a habit of using the finger hole that comes in your glove, don’t feel inclined to start using it now.
The Bottom Line
Even when you buy the best baseball glove in the market, unless you are wielding it properly, you are not playing to your fullest potential. Yes, the traditional wearing method is fine, but I would still suggest trying out other styles before you discard them. You never know what works until you try it.
Typically, infielders who need to make quick movements and are taking most of the heat like to wear their gloves this way. And on the other hand, outfielders, who need to make the catch reliably, prefer wearing their gloves the traditional way. My advice is to try out both methods for yourself and see what feels better.
I hope my extensive discussion on why baseball players keep one finger out of the glove could help you learn a thing or two. Cheers!