There are many important factors to consider when choosing the best softball catcher’s mitt: quality of leather, webbing size, break-in time and durability. You should carefully look at all the details, pros and cons of a mitt before purchasing because you want a catcher’s mitt that will fit your hand comfortably, be durable to last you many years and also help you perform at the very highest level. As we said in the introduction, the position of a catcher is the most physically and mentally demanding in this sport so a good glove is vital for success. Keep in mind that the new mitt is a bit stiffer a will require a little bit more time to break in then fielding gloves.
Let’s now see what are the most important factors when choosing a catcher’s mitt.
There are two main types of webbing used on fastpitch softball catcher’s mitt: closed and open webbing. Open webbing is used more because on the larger mitt it gives more visibility then the closed one and has better mobility but has less protection then the gloves with closed webbing. Closed webbing also gives the catcher more protection, increases chances to hide calls and have a deeper pocket.
Catcher’s mitt’s for fastpitch softball have padding along with the pinky finger and the thumb. Padding is so important for the protection of the catcher so be sure to check if your mitt has enough padding to protect your fingers. But this is a bit of a tricky thing because too little padding means less protection and too much of it means that you will have less space to catch the 16″ softball. But the brands that make the best catcher mitt’s for softball take this into account when designing and making them so they don’t sacrifice the protection.
Another super important part of a good mitt; There are two types of back on mitt’s – open and closed. With open-back, you get a space between the wrist strap and the glove, and because of that open space, you get more mobility of movement but sacrifice the wrist support. On the other hand, the closed-back get’s you more wrist support.
The most important factor that influences the durability of a good fastpitch catcher’s mitt is the material that it is made of. Top-of-the-line catcher’s mitts use a full-grain leather which is the more expensive and needs a bit more time to break in but it will perform fantastically and will last you many seasons. Those types of mitts are used by professional catchers. On the other side, you have synthetics, a material that is cheaper and needs a little break-in time but its main problem is the durability; it lasts much less than the leather.
HOW TO BREAK IN A FASTPITCH CATCHER’S MITT
A very important thing to do when you buy a new softball catcher’s mitt or glove is to break it in so it fits your hand perfectly because many times when you get a new glove or a mitt it comes a bit stiff. With some mitts, you just need a little time to break them in but with others, you will need more time. Breaking a glove in means that you are working to get the leather more flexible and to fit your hand better. There is a couple of ways to break in your new catcher’s mitt:
- Using oil or conditioner – they help in softening the stiff leather;
- Play catch (the best way) – play as much as you can and the leather will soften over time and the glove will be a better fit to your hand;
- Loosen up the seams and build a pocket inside the catcher’s mitt;
- When you are not using a mitt, keep a softball inside.
Probably the most important factor when choosing a proper mitt is its size; you have to find a mitt that fits your hand perfectly, is not too narrow and not too wide. As we said many times, the position of a catcher is probably the most difficult because of the speed and quickness of the reactions that a good catcher needs to have so that is why you need a mitt with a perfect fit; to make fast and quick movements much easier. Because a catcher’s mitt is measured by its circumference a player over the age of 13 will need a mitt with a size of 33″, 34″, and players younger than that because of their smaller hand will need a size 32.5″. Below is a sizing chart to help you in picking a fastpitch catcher’s mitt that will fit your hand.