One of the reasons why people choose to keep their old, worn-out leather mitts instead of replacing them right away is the break-in process. If you have ever used a new catcher’s mitt, you already know how stiff it feels out of the box.
You need to soften it up properly before using it in a game without things getting uncomfortable. As a part-time catcher myself, I had my fair share of trouble trying to break in my catcher’s mitt.
When I was a beginner, I tried experimenting instead of just playing with it, which often led to disastrous results. But after years of experience, Now I know that there are no shortcuts here.
I will share a few tips regarding how to break in a catcher’s mitt, so you do not mess up or damage your new mitt, as I have done countless times.
Note: The principle of breaking a baseball glove and a softball catcher’s mitt is pretty much the same. So, you don’t have to go the extra mile or do something different.
The Time it Takes to Break in a Catcher’s Mitt
Well, there is no easy way to answer this as the quality of the mitt matters a lot. The better the quality of the mitt, the longer it takes to break it in.
That is because a higher quality mitt will come with better leather which will feel stiff at first, but after breaking it in, it will become more flexible and durable.
That is why, a casual baseball player with a basic, inexpensive catcher’s mitt will be able to start enjoying their mitts sooner than a professional player with high-quality, expensive mitts.
In other words, going with the best catcher’s mitt in the market means more waiting around for it to break in. There are typically four types of materials used to make catcher’s mitts. Here is a rough idea of the break-in period you have to look at with different types of leathers.
Pigskin leather: Easy to break in, typically takes only a couple of hours to a day at most.
Synthetic leather: Takes a bit longer but can still be broken in within a day or two.
Steerhide leather: Takes at least two or three months.
Full-grain leather: This can take up to a year, depending on the quality of the catcher’s mitt.
The Best Way to Break in a Catcher’s Mitt
Let me come right out and say it. The absolute best way to break in your brand-new mitt is to just play catch. You don’t need to drive a car over it or nuke it in the oven as some might suggest.
Simply play catch with it for a few hours a day and when you are done, keep a ball or two in the pocket.
Sure, it might not be the flashiest of solutions, and it does take a fair bit of time. But you will not be damaging your new mitts by doing that. Using foreign substances like oil, Vaseline, or shaving cream on your leather mitt can damage it slowly but surely.
The good news here is that there are a few tricks that you can apply to speed up the overall process. For one thing, you should try to hit a bullpen with a pitching machine any chance you get. You can set up the machine to shoot balls at high velocity and catch it in the pocket of the mitt.
As you keep catching high-velocity balls, the mitt will slowly mold to the shape of your hand. There is another benefit to this; you will be working on your skill too. The more you practice in a bullpen, the better you become as a catcher scooping up those knuckleballs.
That about covers everything you need to do activities to break in your catcher’s mitt. But once you are done playing with it, you need to preserve the shape of the mitt.
To do that, all you have to do is place two balls in the pocket of the leather mitt. Then you want to take a belt and wrap it around the mitt holding the balls in place. That way, even if someone steps on the mitt or sits on it, it will not get misshaped.
The Rumors and Don’ts of Breaking in a Catcher’s Mitt
I get furious when I hear about the crazy ideas floating around about breaking in a catcher’s mitt.
As a baseball fan and player, I find it extremely heartbreaking to hear someone destroy their mitt while trying to soften it up.
You should never experiment with your mitts when you are trying to break them in. Here are a few things that you should never do.
Soak It In Oil
Oil or other similar substances can seep through the leather and make it weak. Since a catcher’s mitt is not like a baseball glove, using vaseline or oil on it is not the brightest idea.
Use Microwave Oven
Using a microwave to break in your leather mitt is a terrible idea. It will damage the leather and if you are not careful, can even damage your microwave. Needless to say, avoid doing it.
Drive Over It
Yes, you read it right. Some people claim that running over their leather catcher’s mitt with a car can help break it in. This, however, cannot be further from the truth. You will be damaging your mitts and ruining their shape entirely.
Breaking in your new catcher’s mitt can be a hassle, sure, but there is no easy way around it. I have had gloves that even took up to six months before using them in a game. And with mitts, it is even harder.
If you hate waiting around for your baseball mitts to break-in,
Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be able to break in your catcher’s mitt without any trouble. Remember, patience is the key, and you should never rush it.