One of the common pitfalls of playing baseball is getting too attached to your gear. Now, if it were soccer or football, your one pair of boots or safety pads could last you your entire career. But in baseball, you need to regularly change your gears as soon as they start to show signs of wear and tear.
But I absolutely hate it when I have to say goodbye to my favorite baseball glove that has been with me through the last few seasons. I usually grow too fond of it, and the thought of buying a new glove and breaking it in, and getting the feel of it just right, is not something that I look forward to that much.
Well, if you know how to stiffen your baseball glove, then you just might be able to delay the inevitable. Don’t get me wrong – you still have to switch to a new glove eventually, but by stiffening up a soft baseball glove, you can squeeze a bit more use out of it.
Here, I will discuss the different ways you can stiffen a baseball glove that has become too soft over the years. So, let’s hop in.
Why Stiffen A Baseball Glove?
Wait for a second! – isn’t a stiff baseball glove a bad thing? I mean, wasn’t the whole point of breaking in your new glove to get it softer? Why on earth would you want to stiffen it in the first place?
You see, as the gloves grow old, the leather gets soft and floppy. While a bit of softness in the leather can be a good thing, if it gets too soft, that means, it won’t be able to do its job. Your grips will be affected negatively, and the glove won’t protect your hand from the impact as much as it used to.
I know some of you like switching your gears regularly, and for you, this isn’t too much of a big deal. However, if you are like me and want to delay having to change your glove as much as possible, well, you need to know how to fix your glove. And learning how to stiffen your glove is a critical part of it.
How To Stiffen A Baseball Glove
Now there are a couple of ways you can stiffen a baseball glove, but if you ask me, there’s only one right way. And that’s by tightening the laces. But with that said, here’s a quick refresher on how to stiffen your glove by tightening the laces. Start with a quick inspection of the laces in your old baseball glove. If the laces look too worn down, replace them. Make sure the new laces can support the glove.
If the laces look fine, untie the knot at the pinky finger area of the glove. Place the glove facing palm side up on a flat surface. You should notice an X-pattern in the laces between the index and the middle finger area.
To stiffen the glove, pull the top part of the lace and pull it out the other end. This will compress the distance between the index and middle finger of the glove, thereby tightening it.
You need to repeat the same process for the rest of the fingers. Once you are done compressing each finger, you can tie off the excess lace. Then simply cut off a bit of the end, and your glove should feel stiffer and tighter.
Alternative Methods: Not recommended
If your glove is on the brink of extinction, simply tightening it might not cut it. While I would recommend throwing it away and getting a new one at that point, I have seen some take drastic measures to try and save it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but at that point, you’re not really losing out on anything.
Keep in mind, though – you should use this method only as a last resort because if it doesn’t work, there’s a high chance that you won’t be able to use your glove at all. What I am talking about is applying a thick layer of glue to the leather to make it tighter and stiffer.
While it might seem that a bit of glue will not damage your glove, it can actually reduce the lifespan of the leather. And sometimes the glue might not even stick properly and can mess with the grip of your glove. So, do this at your own risk – I do not condone this method.
Another equally risky way to stiffen an old glove is to spray a bit of water on the leather. Now theoretically, water can cause the leather to stiffen once it dries. But the risk here is that it can also make the leather brittle and susceptible to cracking.
Ideally, if you want to stiffen your glove, the best way to do that is by tightening the laces. But if that’s not cutting it, and you decided to throw away the glove anyways, you can try out these two methods if you want. I haven’t tried it myself, so I cannot promise that you will have good results.
Stiffening A Baseball Glove Vs Reshaping It
Now don’t confuse stiffening with the reshaping. The two terms are often used interchangeably, and it really bugs me. Reshaping refers to restoring the shape of the glove and its pocket. Older gloves, when left in storage for a while, can lose their shape. That’s when reshaping becomes necessary.
Stiffening a glove refers to tightening the leather so that it feels snug and comfy in your hands. A new glove usually feels pretty stiff right out of the box. And you need to break it in properly to get it softer. However, after a couple of seasons, the glove can become “too soft,” requiring you to stiffen it up a bit if you want to use it for longer.
Depending on the condition of your old glove, you need to either reshape or stiffen it. However, in certain situations, you might need to do both before you can use the glove.
Typically, after stiffening your glove, the shape of the glove gets ruined. So, it requires breaking in all over again. And for that, you need to know how to reshape your baseball glove.
Is It Worth Stiffening Your Baseball Glove?
Well, it depends on your situation. If the glove is too old, and the leather is floppy and showing cracks in places, stiffening it might not do much. Sure, you might be able to use it for a couple more months, but eventually, you will have to replace it if the leather is damaged.
Now, if the only problem with your glove is that it feels loose and soft and the leather is in perfect condition, stiffening the glove might be all you need to do to save it. By tightening the laces and getting the right fit, you can get a couple more seasons out of it easily.
Typically, if you relace your glove, it’s always a good idea to stiffen it up a bit. Even when you get the relacing done by a professional, he might not get the fit just right. By tightening the laces yourself, you can make the glove feel comfier in your hands.
Now That We’re Here
Stiffening is not going to be your one-stop solution for solving all the problems with your baseball glove. But in certain situations, it can help you get more out of your glove. And don’t think that this is true only for cheap gloves. Even high-end gloves require stiffening once in a while.
And the thought of granting a new life to your favorite glove is pretty exciting. So, before you throw out your old baseball gloves, it’s always worth relacing and stiffening them to see if that extends their lifespan. And if that fails, you can always replace it.
Of course, tightening the lace is the only proper way to go about it. If you are planning on using glue or water to fix the problem, you might damage it further. And in that situation, I would rather store my glove as an old trophy than use water or glue to try and save it.
I hope my in-depth discussion on how to stiffen a baseball glove could help save your glove. Good luck!