Did you know that softball has been around for more than 100 years? That’s right – it was invented in the late 19th century as a variation of baseball. You can play it on a smaller field, and that’s its biggest appeal. At its core, softball is very similar to baseball. The ball, however, is softer and bigger, and that begs a question: can you use a softball glove for baseball, and vice versa?
Say, the Best baseball batting gloves are specifically designed to provide a strong grip for traditional baseball bats. So, will you be able to catch a softball with a baseball glove? More importantly, can a larger softball glove be able to hold a baseball, or maybe you shouldn’t use these gloves interchangeably? Join me, and let’s figure it all out!
The Main Differences between Soft- and Baseball Gloves
Alright, with the basics out of the way, let’s take a close look at the most important differences that you need to keep in mind when shopping for new gloves. True, they won’t cost you a fortune, and you can always get a new set. However, if it is game-day tomorrow and you suddenly realize that you’ve got the wrong glove(s), that can be quite disappointing! That’s why I want you to consider the following factors:
Softball Gloves are Slightly Larger
This is the biggest deal-breaker. When you’re watching a game on TV, all gloves seem to be identical in size, but that’s not really true. A common baseball glove size in the US and Canada ranges from 9 inches (for the youth) to 13 inches (for the outfielders). Infielders and pitchers, in turn, get 11- and 12-inch gloves. In softball, the range is 11.5-13 inches, with infielder gloves being 11.5 inches, and outfielders getting the bigger size (13”).
Now, for an inexperienced player, those 0.5-1 inches might not sound like much, but when you’re actually on the field getting ready to catch the ball, the “tiny” size imperfections make all the difference in the world. Moving on to the catchers, let’s talk about typical sizes for softball and baseball mitts. As you might already know, catcher gloves are measured in circumference, not in length.
For baseball, 32-34.5” is the right size range. Softball mitts, however, are bigger, and go from 33” to 35”. The reason: a softball is bigger than a baseball, that’s why the catchers need a larger circumference to be able to grab it. And one more thing: a typical baseball catcher’s glove has more padding. This is done for protection, because, on average, a baseball has a higher speed than a softball and hits harder.
Different Designs: Longer vs. Deeper, and More
The leather, lacing, and colors are mostly the same between softball and baseball gloves. Baseball gloves tend to be a bit darker, though, with black and grey being the predominant colors. This is mostly because baseball is more popular among men, while softball is considered to be more of a woman’s sport. So, it’s not rare to see softball gloves with bright, colorful prints. But that’s not the most important difference, of course.
As mentioned, baseballs are smaller than softballs (9 inches vs. 12 inches). That’s why softball gloves are designed with a deeper, yet shorter pocket, while baseball gloves are smaller but a bit longer. If you buy a 12” softball glove and put it next to a 12” baseball glove, you’ll immediately see that they’re actually different in shape.
Strapped Vs. Relaxed
Although softball and baseball are, in many ways, the same, there are still big differences between the two. For example, softball players like it when the glove is very tight around the hand, while baseball players prefer it to be loose and comfortable. You won’t see any straps on baseball gloves; in contrast, they are customary for softball gloves and allow regulating the tightness.
As a result, baseball gloves may seem to be bigger, even though they’re not – they’re just not as tight. In fact, back in the day, all high-school baseball coaches used to have wooden mallets for breaking in the gloves. These days, they are also quite common, but you can get a broken-in glove at a local store/online.
Baseball Gloves Feel Different
Since you’re doing most of the work with your hands, softball and baseball gloves are almost always adjusted and customized to be a perfect fit for the player’s hand. Still, softball gloves have smaller openings. Why is that, though? The answer is simple: as we already learned, softball is mostly played by women, and they have smaller hands than men. It won’t be a problem to wind a softball glove with a bigger opening, of course.
It’s just that the average softball glove is going to have a smaller opening. Remember: this mostly applies to Fastpitch softball. Slowpitch players also prefer their gloves to have bigger openings and won’t feel comfortable with traditional softball gloves, especially if it’s an important game.
Alright, that’s pretty much everything there is to know about the differences between softball and baseball gloves! Which game do you favor most, and why? Are you a “baller”, or a soft baller? Share in the comments!