Tips on How to Break in Your New Baseball Glove

December 27, 2017
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A baseball glove is not an item you can buy and immediately put to use; or at least, it’s not an item you should do that to. If you want to get the most from your new glove, you’re going to want to take the necessary steps to allow the glove to work at its best, modifying its base performance for your own usages. So before you go out and give your new baseball glove some field action, you may want to break in your glove first.

Below, we’ll detail the most effective ways of getting a new baseball glove to feel old and used-- which in this case, is a good thing!


There’s a lot of information online that suggests ways and means to break in a baseball glove. Much of this is helpful, but some of these “life hacks” will outright destroy your glove. So, before we delve into the “do”, it’s important to get the “don’t” out of the way first:

  • Do not expose your baseball glove to excessive heat. This is most commonly done using an oven or a microwave, but some “life hacks” suggest using a hairdryer or even the heater in your car. Do not do this. Exposure to excessive heat is a surefire way of drying out the leather of your glove, usually beyond repair.
  • Do not neglect proper storage. In relation to not exposing your baseball glove to extreme heat, proper storage of a glove entails storing it in a cool, dry place so as to avoid damaging the leather, and prevent mold growth and any unpleasant odors.
  • Do not over-oil. Putting too much oil or conditioner to your glove can saturate the leather, making it overly soft and prone to stretching or losing its shape. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for oiling or conditioning and apply sparingly.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals. The use of harsh chemicals or cleaners on your glove can damage the new leather and weaken the stitching. Instead, use gentle leather cleaners or mild soap when cleaning your glove, and avoid abrasive substances.
  • Do not use excessive force. Bending your new glove in unnatural ways can cause unnecessary stress on the new leather and may weaken the glove's structure over time.

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There are a few different methods to help break in a baseball glove.

Glove Steaming

Glove steaming is a popular option, but it’s not something that you can do at home yourself. You will need to speak to a sporting goods store for their advice on this process.

Best Ways to Break in a Baseball Glove (Do it Yourself)

Method 1: Slow Break-in

One of the best ways to break a glove in requires a substantial time investment, but if you’re not in a rush, you might want to give it a try:

  • Place a baseball in the glove pocket;
  • Use string or a belt to bind the glove closed around the ball;
  • Wait for at least two weeks, though a month is better.

This method allows the shape to develop naturally, and for the leather to permanently stretch and adapt to the position of the ball. However, it isn’t particularly time efficient.

Method 2: The Traditional Break-In Approach

Aside from letting your glove sit for weeks, there are also other ways that you can break in your new baseball glove. Below are some of the methods used by players for years to break in a new baseball glove.

  • Apply glove conditioner or oil. This can help soften the leather and allow the glove to become less stiff and flexible. However, you must follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the use of glove conditioners or oils on your gloves. 
  • Work the glove. To help soften the leather and loosen the fibers, you can try flexing and bending the glove repeatedly. Use your hands to open and close the glove, focusing on the pocket and areas that need extra attention.
  • Use a glove mallet -- or just an old baseball if you don’t have a mallet -- and pound the pocket a number of times. This should help to relax the leather. 
    Some guides suggest you use a mallet while wearing the glove, but this is inadvisable due to the potential risk of injury-- and there’s no guarantee that wearing the glove would make that much of a difference anyway!
  • Play catch. One of the best ways to break in a new glove is to use it during catch sessions. Spend time throwing and catching with a partner, focusing on catching the ball in the pocket of the glove. This helps mold the glove to the shape of your hand while also improving your catching skills.
  • When not in use, place a baseball in the glove; this will be used to form the pocket your glove needs.

Good Glove Care

Finally, when your glove has taken a shape you are satisfied with, you will want to apply a good oil or glove conditioner. The best oils tend to contain lanolin, so look for this ingredient when considering your options.

By following the above recommendations, you can break in a new baseball glove right in time for it to be game-ready for the next season.

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