The proper-sized softball glove for the softball infielder will make a noticeable difference. Opting for a smaller glove at second, third and shortstop will provide the fielder with a greater amount of control and a quicker transfer from glove to hand. As longtime NCAA Softball player and coach Cindy Barstow notes: "The glove doesn't catch the ball -- your hand does -- the glove only protects your hand."
Different Positions, Different Sizes
For a youth softball player, the use of a 10-inch glove is common during the fledgling stages of organized softball. As the player matures, a 12-inch glove is introduced in play, and a larger glove becomes vital. A 14-inch glove is the largest version allowed on the softball field, but most outfielders choose to use 13-inch models for extra reach, with infielders and pitchers employing 12-inch gloves.
Playing First Base
Perhaps the most active of all infielders, the first baseman is the primary receiver of throws from all parts of the diamond. Given the need to scoop errant throws out of the dirt and field hot shots at the base, a larger, specialized mitt is used at the position in slow- and fast-pitch softball. While a smaller model may be used in youth leagues, most adult players wear a 12- to 14-inch mitt, making it typical for the first baseman to use the largest glove on the field.
Infield vs. Outfield
Outfielders put a special emphasis on catching fly balls and hard-hit line drives, so they typically use a slightly larger glove than their infield counterparts. An outfielder will typically sacrifice the need to make a quick throw for that of the ability to make a shoestring or diving catch by using a larger mitt. The aforementioned 13- to 14-inch model will suitably provide the outfielder with enough length, while the 11- to 12-inch version will meet the specific needs of infielders. A lighter, smaller glove gives the infielder greater control in the fielding of ground balls and an easier transfer on pivot and throw situations at second base.
Shallow Pockets and Open Webbings
Middle infielders generally use a glove with open webbing and a shallow pocket. The web of the glove connects the fingers of the glove to the thumb and can provide additional catching support when the glove is closed or easier ball transfer when it is open. Due to the frequency of hard-hit balls to third, third basemen generally use closed-web gloves for added protection. The pocket of the glove is located where the ball falls into the fielder's palm after being caught. A shallow pocket makes for a faster transfer from glove to hand and allows the infielder to quickly dispose of the ball by making the corresponding throw.
Hand Size Tips
Finding the perfect-sized glove for softball may not be the easiest of tasks. Having a clear understanding of your hand size and comfort level will greatly assist in any decision. Find a glove that allows an adequate amount of wiggle room in the palm area, creating a snug fit. As the same time, the length of the glove should allow you to fit each of your fingers into channels without hitting the padding obstruction. The goal is to retain full control of the glove.