Better Youth Baseball Gloves
A good ball glove can have a big effect on youth’s enjoyment of playing baseball and even about whether baseball is a worthwhile sport for them to participate in. Kids could be playing many other sports, and in fact, participation in basketball and soccer is growing fast in the US. There’s no better summer sport or pastime than baseball though. It has a rich American tradition that other sports don’t possess and that’s an important part of your own child’s sports experience.
Baseball is a game that is dependent on equipment though, and if the equipment is poor quality or in doesn’t suit the kids using them, it can dampen their enthusiasm for little league baseball. It’s important to buy youth baseball gloves for your child, not small adult baseball gloves which will discourage your youngster.
They had poor equipment back in the old days, including rotted out or horribly stiff leather gloves. Some would actually throw the glove down and try to catch with their bare hands. It may not be that bad today, but in visiting your local sporting goods store, you’ve probably wondered about the quality of the gloves on the store shelves. Some are weird shapes and feel uncomfortable and the selection is many times limited.
The Good Old Days
Have you ever wondered whether baseball glove manufacturers are producing better ball gloves now than in decades past? Well, if you happen to have an old baseball glove still around and compare it to modern youth baseball gloves, you’ll notice a big difference. Those old gloves didn’t make catching and fielding easy for infielders, outfielders and especially catchers. You actually had to have some outstanding athletic skills and knowledge of catching to make a catch. In those days, you used both hands to catch a ball because you had to.
That’s not to say these new gloves are suited to the ball player that’s using them. These kids range in physical size greatly, and play different positions. The child that has a new, well-fitted glove is going to catch the ball better and play with a lot more confidence.
Young ball players with their metal bats are hitting the ball hard, so infielders and outfielders need good gloves just to catch them, let alone throw the runner out at first. We shouldn’t just assume that any glove would do for our child. Each youngster has their own level of coordination and confidence, along with their own style and preferences, and fortunately, there are so many types and styles of gloves available now, that you should be able to find one they like. You don’t see kids get hurt often but it does happen and it will happen more often with the child that feels uncomfortable with the baseball equipment they’re using.
Last week, while watching a youth baseball game (11 year olds) a batter hit a ball hard up the middle, fortunately missing the pitcher. The ball hit the side of the mound and bounced up to hit the base umpire in the shoulder. She was hurt and lay on the ground several minutes before getting up. That highlighted well, the speed the balls are reaching and that the young infielder playing with awkward baseball glove is going to playing with fear. Yes, some fear is good, as it keeps them sharp and makes the game exciting, but too much fear and they’re going to get discouraged.
Many of the kids on these teams have gloves that are too small, and overwhelmingly, you see their reluctance to catch well-hit grounders. They generally wave at it going by them and sigh in relief that it wasn’t hit right at them. One youngster in the outfield ran to make a diving catch only to have the ball pop out of his glove. They used to see that if your glove touched a ball, you should have caught it and it is an error for you. When a ball is in your glove, it should stay in there. In this kid’s case, the ball was clearly in his glove and yet it popped out. The reason for that is that the glove didn’t fit his hand and the web wouldn’t close tightly.
He walked dejectedly back to centerfield, his position, and cursed at himself for dropping it. It was like a scene out of a Charlie Brown episode. If he’d hung onto that ball, he would have been walking on clouds and be the pride of the team. I don’t have to tell you how important peer pressure is with kids these days and when kids never catch the ball, it can deflate the team and even the crowd of parents watching the game. Sometimes, it’s downright torture to watch a ball game if the kids can’t catch or throw properly.
Young pitchers too, can have trouble throwing strikes, and after walking batter after batter, you can sense disappointment. The glove on the pitcher’s hand acts as a counterbalance when throwing and if it doesn’t feel comfortable for him, you may be in for a long inning.
A fair number of kids come from homes that can’t afford a new glove every year and they may not be able to afford baseball shoes. If there’s one piece of equipment you need to focus on for youth baseball players, it has to be the glove. Your child is out there standing for half of the game, with this glove on their hand. If it’s uncomfortable, and doesn’t fit, that has to take some of the enjoyment out of it.
There’s a mind-boggling array of youth baseball brands out there to choose from Rawling, Mizuno, Wilson, Spalding, Rawlings, Nokona, Akadema, Kelly, Nike, Louisville, SSK and more. The problem with many of these big brand names is not only the inflated prices associated with these brands, it’s the weight and stiffness of the gloves. The materials and the stitching are sewn well enough. They aren’t designed with kids in mind who after all, don’t have time to break the glove in. Within one year, they will have likely outgrown the glove, so what’s the point of buying a glove like that? The glove ends up unused in a closet or on the garage floor becoming a nuisance object.