Breaking in a new glove can produce a beautiful thing—or a money-wasting catastrophe. To get the best results, follow this advice from Shigeaki Aso of Wilson Sporting Goods and Scott Keene of Rawlings Sports Goods.
STACK: What’s the number one priority when breaking in a glove?
ASO: The shape. Infielders want a flat pocket, so they can get the ball out quickly. Outfielders want a deep pocket to make long catches and snag pop flies.
KEENE: On most new gloves, the lacings are too tight and the padding is stiff, so you need to loosen the laces and break down the padding.
What is the best way to break in a new glove?
ASO: The best way is to play catch, but a faster way is to wear the glove and pound it with your opposite fist. Periods of 10 minutes at a time are ideal, because you’ll be more consistent with the strength, rhythm and placement of your punches. You can also pour some warm water—between 150 and 170 degrees—into the palm of the glove and pound it with your fist while it’s warm and moist. Water will make the leather more malleable and stretch easier. Let the glove dry naturally and slowly.
KEENE: In the summer, leave your glove in the trunk of your car to soften the leather. Then, play catch to stretch it and work the pocket. You can also use a little bit of glove oil in the pocket, but just enough to condition the leather so you can work the padding and bend the glove.
What should a player never do to a new glove?
ASO: Never, never, never put your glove in a microwave or oven! The leather will either burn or slowly harden. Don’t apply detergent to it either; it will strip the glove of any natural oil and leave it hard, dry and weak. Also, Wilson gloves are made with the perfect proportion of oil for the glove size and leather type, so adding oil only makes them heavier.
KEENE: The worst thing you can possibly do is stick a glove in the oven or microwave—both dry out the leather. The craziest thing I’ve heard is running over the glove with a car. I don’t think you have to go to that extreme to loosen up the padding. If you do pour warm water on it, make sure to use just a little. If water gets into the lace holes and the padding, the glove can get moldy if it doesn’t dry out completely.