So, you got your first starter baseball glove and can’t wait to get to the pitch. Let me tell you what’s going to happen. You will put on your glove and slide all your fingers in their respective slots, but when you try to catch a ball by closing your glove, you will face a huge roadblock. The glove just won’t close!
Well, don’t be alarmed – it’s normal, and in fact, it’s one of the most common complaints that I’ve heard coming from beginners. What’s happening here is that your glove is not broken in properly. And when a leather glove is not broken in, it feels extremely stiff and refuses to close.
Now I have seen this happen to high schoolers, too, so there’s no need to beat yourself up about it. The thing is, many of the synthetic or affordable leather gloves in the market come broken in from the factory. As a result, rookie players who only used starter gloves until now don’t really know much about breaking in a new baseball glove.
When they finally step up and buy a decent leather glove, it feels stiff and impossible to close. Well, there are certainly ways to fix the problem. In fact, that’s what brings me here today. Here, I’ll discuss how should a baseball glove close and how you can achieve that with minimal hassle. So, let’s hop in.
How Should a Baseball Glove Close
First thing first – what does it mean to close a baseball glove? And how should a glove close anyways?
Putting it simply – “closing a glove” refers to you wrapping your glove around the ball when you catch it. When a player catches the baseball in their glove, they need to bring their finger and palm together. As a result, the ball gets trapped in the webbing of the glove.
Some people pull their index finger down to get a bit of extra momentum to help them close the glove easier. On the other hand, some players like to push up with their thumbs when closing the glove.
The main thing to remember here is that you want your glove to let you catch the ball and transfer it to your throwing hand quickly. So it’s entirely up to you how you close your glove as long as you can do it consistently and reliably.
I know that it sounds pretty basic, but when you try doing that with a fresh, new leather glove, you are in for a rude awakening. You see, leather gloves are extremely stiff when you first get your hands on them. As a result, closing the glove becomes difficult, and you might fumble a lot of catches with it.
How to Make a Baseball Glove Easier to Close
The most important thing about closing a baseball glove is not how you do it but rather how easily you can do it. You see, there are two ways to close a baseball glove – you either use your thumb to close it, or you use your other four fingers.
But what affects the smoothness of the glove and how responsive it is to your hand is its break-in. Leather gloves, as you know, have a bit of stiffness to them when you first use them. Because of the stiffness, you will have a hard time closing it properly, which can lead you to fumble the ball.
That’s why it’s a bad idea to start playing with your glove the moment you buy it. You need to spend time breaking the glove so that the leather loosens up and you can make the glove do your bidding.
One thing I should add here – you should always make sure the glove is the right fit for your hands. If the glove is too big for you, you will naturally have a harder time closing it since your fingers won’t go in all the way. Inversely, closing a smaller glove is also difficult as you won’t get enough wiggle room for your fingers.
If you want to make your glove easier to close, there are a couple of things you need to do.
· Break it in properly
The most obvious way to make your glove easier to close is to break the baseball glove properly when you buy it. I know – it’s tempting to whip out your new high-end baseball glove and head to the field for a full game with your friends. But a new glove will be considerably harder to close before you break it in.
What you’ll notice is that try as you might catch the ball in the pocket – you are having a hard time holding the ball in place. However, after you break in your baseball glove properly, the leather softens up and becomes much easier to close, allowing you to make good catches with no extra effort.
· Put a Ball in the Pocket
Baseball gloves can be tricky to maintain. Even when you break in your glove, if you take it out of the locker after a couple of days, you might see that the pocket is deformed. And to make matters worse, you won’t be able to close the glove properly because of the pocket.
Don’t worry – there’s an easy way to counteract this problem. All you have to do is put a baseball glove in the pocket and tie it up using a rubber band or leather strap. That way, the pocket will retain its shape, and you will not have any trouble closing your glove any time soon.
· Play with it Regularly
You might think that the way to keep your glove safe and in good condition is to store it and only use it when needed. While storing your baseball glove properly is important, playing with it regularly is even more so. If you keep your glove locked up in a locker all month, it will require breaking in all over again.
What that means is the leather will stiffen up, and it will become extremely difficult to close properly. The trick to ensuring a long and healthy life for your baseball glove is to use it regularly, clean the glove after each game, and condition it when needed. That shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone.
· Use Glove Conditioners
Using glove conditioners is a natural step when you are breaking in a new glove. The conditioner seeps into the leather, making it soft and comfortable for your hands. Proper use of glove conditioner can drastically cut down on your glove’s break-in time.
Even after breaking in your glove, if closing it proves a bit difficult, using a bit of glove conditioner can help set things right. Just don’t go overboard with it. Apply a bit of conditioner on a soft rag and work it gently into the surface of your glove. After the conditioner dries, your glove should feel easier to close.
· Work on your Finger Strength
Of course, a proper workout should always come side-by-side with your training on the pitch. You see, baseball gloves are made of thick leather to protect your hand against impact from the ball. As a result, you need to put in a bit of elbow grease when you want to close the glove.
Maintain a proper diet and include some good cardio and muscle exercise in your daily routine. This will give you enough strength to close your glove without any struggle. So, make sure you work on your physical strength off the field alongside your regular baseball drills.
Now That We’re Here
Catching a baseball as it’s hurling through the air is tough enough without your glove working against you. And closing your glove shouldn’t feel like a struggle. It should come naturally.
You see, a properly broken-in baseball glove feels like an extension of your hand if you play the game regularly. Now if you had to apply an unnatural amount of force to close your hand into a fist, that wouldn’t feel good, right? If this is what you feel when you close your glove, then that means you didn’t break it in properly.
Most of the challenges of closing your glove go away after you break it in. So the best advice I can give you is not to rush through it. Take things slow and play a bit of catch with your glove daily, and it should become softer and easier to handle after a while.
I hope my extensive rundown on how a baseball glove should close could help make it easier for you to trap the ball in your glove. Cheers!