Catching demands a lot from the player as well as from the glove. You have to be a target or the pitcher, switch between stance techniques, block pitches in the dirt and keep track of base-stealers. You have to do all of this while focusing on your main task: calling pitches.
From your position, you can see the whole field of play. You can see the way the pitcher throws the ball, and see your team responding to an event on the field.
Your point of view gives you the ability to gain a complete overview and analyze the game from another perspective. And all of this screams for the right catcher’s mitt.
To find this perfect mitt, you have to know what to look for and match it with your personal preferences.
Not a glove
The terms glove and mitt are used all the time in the sport Baseball. But there still is a big difference between these two.
Think about it like this, a winter glove has separate finger pockets which allows more flexibility and speed. A baseball glove also has separate finger pockets for the same reasons. A mitt on the other hand, lacks individual finger pockets and is designed to keep your fingers closer together. This gives the catcher more security while catching a pitch. Security in this case means, more protection as well as a more secure feeling of catching the ball.
As a catcher, try to go for a glove that fits your style of play.
Catcher’s mitts usually have closed webbing. The reason behind this is to get more support when catching the pitch. An open web gives you more visibility, while the catcher’s mitt is on the big side.
As a catcher, you can choose between two options regarding the back of the mitt. Most of the catcher will go for a “closed” back. The closed back gives more support and wrist protection. A mitt with an open back provides more mobility. You have to pick the option that suits you best as a player. Some of the gloves offer extras such as an external finger slot for more control or an adjustable wrist guard for more support.
Padding has advantages and disadvantages. More padding gives more protection, but it also gives you a smaller pocket. So when you like the extra protection, go for a glove that is an inch bigger to gain a bigger pocket as well for more secure catches and the pocket size that you actually need.
There are four available options regarding the leather. These offer different levels of durability and costs.
Less expensive leather is often softer and are more suited for youth players. They might grow out of their glove quickly so breaking the bank is not necessary. Also, synthetic or pigskin leather wear out more quicker but are not that big of an investment.
The professional catchers often use the tougher leathers that need a lot of break-in time. These leathers last longer, mostly a couple of seasons. The players that look for these kind of gloves can choose between Steerhide or full-grain leather.
The reason behind the bigger number in glove sizing is because the measurement is done by circumference and not by length.
When your aged 12 and under, the size of the mitt should me 32” or smaller.
When your aged 13 and up, the size of the mitt should be 32.5” or bigger.
It is up to you to change your preferred size. Keep in mind that when choosing a larger glove, the size of the pocket grows bigger. This lets you catch balls easier without needing a lot of accuracy to do so. Going for a smaller glove will train and increase your visibility and agility. A few models have extra options like laces and an adjustable strap for a better fit.
After finding the right glove, it is very important to shape the palm and webbing into the preferred pocket. The biggest factor in breaking-in the glove is the choice of leather. Softer leathers will break-in sooner and easier. But these materials will also wear out sooner. A glove made out of pigskin leather can be broken in within a few hours of playing. This material is a great option for new players.
Steerhide leather on the other hand will break-in after two to three months of light use during practice. A professional player often buys a new steerhide glove to use it on a part time base. They do this when their regular glove is wearing out. Keep in mind that a lot of gloves and mitt are pre-broken in from the factory. The higher percentage of factory break-in, the shorter the break-in time for you.
When you’re short in time and have a game in a couple of days, go for a pigskin leather glove. When there is more time, or when you’re playing in a more advanced league, a stronger leather will be worth the price.