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Baseball and softball are similar games that use similar equipment. Even though softball and baseball gloves look similar and complete similar tasks, it's important to know whether or not they are interchangeable.
Softball gloves are generally larger than baseball gloves because a softball is larger than a baseball. This makes it more difficult to play baseball with a softball glove, but it can be done. However, if you're playing in a competitive baseball environment and want to maximize your abilities, you should use an actual baseball glove.
There are some other specific differences that we'll go over below, as well as helpful information for anyone interested in baseball or softball gloves. We've done the research and are confident that we'll be able to help you get on the field with the right equipment!
The difference in Size between Softball and Baseball Gloves
A baseball is nine to 9.25 inches in circumference, while a softball is eleven inches (for fastpitch) or twelve inches (for slowpitch) in circumference.
This makes it important that softball players use a glove from 11.5 inches long for infielders to thirteen inches long for adult outfielders. A longer glove creates a deeper pocket (the part of the glove in which the ball stops after being caught), making it easier to catch a bigger ball.
Why is it better to use a smaller glove in baseball?
While this larger glove also makes it easier to catch a baseball, there are some aspects of baseball that are made more difficult with a bigger glove.
For instance, baseball infielders need to be able to efficiently transfer the ball from their glove to their throwing hand so that they can throw out baserunners. Using a bigger glove makes that transfer slower because it's tougher to "find" the ball in the glove.
Baseball infielders also need to be able to move the glove quickly to field a hot ground ball. A longer glove equals a heavier glove, which makes reaction time slower.
What about outfielders?
A longer glove with a deeper pocket might be great for outfielders! However, be careful: some baseball leagues (including Major League Baseball) have rules preventing gloves longer than thirteen inches.
Do I have to use a glove in baseball?
While there are no rules against it in professional baseball, playing without a glove is not recommended and is extremely uncommon.
Baseball gloves serve two purposes: to protect the fielder and make it easier to catch a fast-moving ball. Baseballs are hard and are often hit or thrown at high velocities, depending on the age and ability of the players. A glove protects the player's fielding hand from bruises, fractures, and other injuries.
Furthermore, fielding a baseball cleanly is much easier with a glove, because it extends the player's reach by four to six inches. To give up this advantage would be foolish in a competitive game.
Be sure to check your local league's rules, as they might require gloves to be worn. If you are going to play baseball with anyone strong enough to hurt you with a baseball, you should wear a glove.
What kind of baseball glove should I get?
Baseball gloves are varied based on the position for which they will be used. Catchers, first basement, infielders, and outfielders all use distinct types of gloves designed for that position.
Gloves by position
Catchers use a rounded mitt with more padding than any other type of glove. This is to protect their hand when catching pitches with high velocity.
First basemen use long, rounded mitts to help them catch a variety of throws from infielders, as well as field ground balls. A first baseman's mitt is usually twelve to thirteen inches long.
Other infielders use a smaller glove to help them transfer the ball quickly from glove to throwing hand. This helps them throw out baserunners. Infielders' gloves are usually 11.25 to twelve inches long.
Outfielders use gloves somewhere from twelve to thirteen inches long so that they can have a maximum reach when trying to catch fly balls.
If you are a teen or adult and are confident in which position you will play, use this guide to determine which type of glove you should get.
If, however, you don't know which position you'll play, are just playing for fun, or are purchasing a glove for a young person, you might want a less-specialized, versatile glove.
It's really important to know which hand the glove's user throws with. The vast majority of people wear a glove on their left hand and throw with their right. There are some, however, who do the opposite. Make sure when buying a glove that you pick out the correct handedness.
If you're looking for a glove that you can use to play catch with a friend, look for a glove that is about twelve inches long. This is a happy medium between an infielder's glove (usually 11.25 to twelve inches long) and an outfielder's glove (twelve to thirteen inches long).
This Rawlings Player Preferred glove is twelve inches long, has an adjustable wrist, and isn't as expensive as a high-end glove. It's perfect for someone who needs a casual, versatile glove!
Most kids play a variety of positions on the ball diamond and are not old enough to be specialized. It is often best to buy them a versatile glove that they can use anywhere on the field. This can be anywhere from eight to eleven inches long, depending on the child's age and size.
While most baseball glove sizes are only based on length, youth gloves are also defined by the size of the hand in the glove. Many youth gloves have adjustable wrists so that the glove stays on the child's hand and won't fall off. The finger slots in a child's glove are smaller, allowing them more control over the glove.
A glove that is too big for a child is difficult to use and can be dangerous if the child cannot use it to protect himself or herself.
This Rawlings Sure Catch glove is a great option for most young players with its adjustable wrist.
What’s the difference between a fastpitch and slowpitch softball glove?
Slowpitch softball is a different type of game than fastpitch, primarily because it is so much easier to hit a slow pitch than a fast pitch. Thus, balls hit by batters in a slow pitch game are hit harder. Additionally, slowpitch softballs are usually about an inch bigger in circumference than fastpitch softballs.
Because of this, gloves worn by slowpitch softball players are generally longer than in fastpitch softball. A glove used by an adult in a fastpitch game might be 11.5 to 13 inches long, depending upon their position. A glove used by an adult in a slowpitch game might be twelve to fourteen inches long.
Are infield gloves the same size for baseball and softball?
Because of the size difference between a baseball and softball, infield softball gloves are typically bigger than infield baseball gloves.
For teenagers and older, softball gloves are recommended to be 11.5 to 12.5 inches long for infielders. For younger children, softball infield gloves can go down to 10.5 inches long.
Baseball gloves for infielders should be 11.25 to 12 inches long for teens and adults, or as small as 10.5 inches long for children.
For more info on the differences between baseball and softball, check out this article!
Is there a difference between a softball and baseball catcher’s mitt?
Catchers use a different mitt than the rest of the team in both baseball and softball. This is because their role is so distinct from the rest of the players: they're responsible for catching every pitch and the occasional pop-up or throw from another fielder. They do not have to field ground balls.
A softball catcher's mitt must have more space to catch the bigger ball, so it has a deeper pocket. A softball pitch's velocity is less localized and is distributed over a greater area, so the mitt does not need as much padding as a baseball catcher's. A baseball catcher must wear a mitt with plenty of padding so their hand does not get bruised.
If you were to try to play catcher in a softball game with a baseball mitt, the ball would not go in the mitt as easily. On the other hand, if you were to catch a baseball pitch with a softball catcher's mitt, your hand would quickly become bruised from the lack of padding.
If all you have is a softball glove and you aren't trying to win a professional championship, you will be fine with the softball glove. If, however, you are playing competitive baseball and are an infielder, you will be much better off with an appropriately sized baseball glove.
Whatever glove you wear, have fun and be safe!