An essential part of any softball player’s arsenal is a broken-in glove that fits well. We take a look at some of the best gloves for softball players and for simplicity’s sake we divide them into slowpitch and fastpitch categories (even though you can generally use them interchangeably). Whether you’re looking for an expensive top grade leather mitt or a less costly synthetic, it’s a good idea to find a glove designed for your position and—at a bare minimum—won’t fall apart mid-way through the season. Finding the best softball glove for you isn’t always an easy task. Back, wrist adjustment, webbing, and material are some of the top factors worth considering before you make a final purchase decision. If you’re looking for baseball gloves check out this guide.
In this equipment guide, Dugout Debate covers all the bases: the most important things to look for in a softball glove, why there are unique designs for different positions, the most popular glove brands, and lastly our softball glove reviews section.
Overview of the Best Softball Gloves
Here are the top softball gloves currently on the market. If you’re on the hunt for a burly catcher’s mitt, skip to the catcher’s mitt part of the review section further down the page. The gloves in this chart are sorted by price ascending.
|Louisville Slugger Diva||Youth ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||11 inches|
|Wilson A360||Slowpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||14 inches|
|Easton Youth Series||Youth ; Closed Web ; Open Back||12 inches|
|Mizuno Prospect||Youth ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||12.5 inches|
|Worth Mayhem Series||Slowpitch ; Open Web ; Closed Back||13 inches|
|Mizuno Franchise||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||13 inches|
|Easton Salvo Elite||Slowpitch ; Open Web ; Open Back||13, 13.5, 14 inches|
|Rawlings Gold Glove Elite Series||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Open Back||12 inches|
|Miken KO Series||Slowpitch ; Open Trap Web ; Open Back||13.5 inches|
|Worth Liberty Advanced Series||Fastpitch ; Open Trap Web ; Open Back||12.5 inches|
|Nokona Walnut Leather||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||12.5 inches|
|Nokona Buckaroo||Fastpitch ; Closed Web ; Closed Back||12.5 inches|
How to Select the Ideal Softball Glove
Here are the most important glove basics to keep in mind when shopping for a new glove. Keep in mind that left hand throw (LFT) gloves are worn on the right hand since the player is throwing with their left hand. RFT gloves are worn on the left hand. Most glove manufacturers will offer their models in both versions for righties and lefties.
Material: Typically the type of material used and the price point goes hand-in-hand. Top grade leather such as full grain commands a premium. Leather gloves are great because they conform to the player’s hand and last a long time. They take time to break-in, but leather gloves are like a fine wine, they get better with age. Synthetic gloves are less expensive and an excellent choice for beginners who may be trying out the sport as well as casual players who aren’t too competitive.
Size: Perhaps the most important feature of all is the size of the glove itself. The size of gloves are measured in inches from the tip of the index finger slot to the end of the glove that rests on the wrist (referred to as the heel). The measuring technique is different for catcher’s gloves. The circumference rather than the length is measured to better display the catching area of the glove. With either glove type, you want a solid match between your hand size and glove to make it easy to manipulate open and close. A well-fitting glove makes for a secure pocket to hold the ball when fielding and catching. Too loose and your hand will move around in the mitt making life hard on defensive innings.
Web: The web is the major defining element of gloves and is the term used for the catching area of the glove also known as the “pocket.” Glove manufacturers and have come up with all sorts of fancy webbing designs, but they all really fall into two main categories. The first category is the open web mitt that oftentimes incorporates an “I” or “H” design with pieces of leather woven to the rest of the mitt with leather lacing. Generally infielders prefer this type of glove because it aids in quick ball transfer. The other category is closed web mitts that are all one solid piece across, providing the player with a more rigid catching area. Most players prefer an open back to help them track the ball all the way into the mitt. Pitchers will often use a closed web design to shield their grips from the opposing team.
Back: Much like the webbing, the backing of the mitt is either closed or open. An open glove will expose the top of your wrist and provides a little larger range of movement. This is usually favored by infielders. Outfielders usually lean towards closed back gloves because they offer more wrist support for those laser beam line drives. Sometimes closed back gloves will feature a finger slot for the index finger that some players prefer.
Wrist Adjustment: The wrist adjustment definitely comes down to personal preference. Most glove manufacturers either opt for a Velcro or D-Ring for their wrist adjustment design. A few gloves feature a lace-up or buckle wrist adjuster. Velcro is the fastest and easiest way to make adjustments. D-Rings don’t wear down like Velcro but require a bit more hassle to re-adjust the fit.
Break-in: Most the time manufacturers will list the factory and player break-in on the list of product details. The bottom line is you don’t want to run out on the field the day after you purchase a 100% player break-in glove because it’s going to be hell trying to field balls with an ultra-stiff glove. A wicked bouncer is likely to bounce right off the glove and pop you right in the face. A general rule of thumb is the higher the grade of leather, the stiffer the glove will be. For a brand new high-grade leather glove, it’s a good idea to use glove oil and play some catch before game day.
Glove Design by Position
Gloves are designed differently to perform better in specific positions.
Infielder’s gloves are designed to allow players to make quick transfers from fielding to throwing hand, to delivery. The only exception is gloves designed for first base, which you can check out in our section below. They feature a shallower pocket area and are shorter than other gloves. The webbing composing the pocket usually incorporates an I-web, H-web, post web or modified Trap-eze pocket. Generally, the only position that will sometimes opt for a closed web is the third base because they are more likely to receive harder hits which a closed pocket handles better than an open one. The typical standard for softball infield gloves in 11.5 to 12.5 inches.
A side note for pitchers: There are gloves specially designed for pitchers that are significantly lighter than standard gloves. Pitchers are normally not as concerned about performance as other infield positions. For this reason, their main concern is the comfort, as they will be catching the return balls from the catcher. At competitive levels, pitchers opt for a closed web to hide their pitches from the prying eyes of the opposing team’s batter and coaches.
Outfielder’s gloves are designed to reel in high flying balls, line drives, the occasional miraculous diving catch, and in-the-hole grounders. These gloves are longer and have deeper finger slots for an oversized pocket. The main web designs are trapeze and H-web, providing a gap for the player to track the ball while still retaining most of its ability to block the sun. In softball, closed webs are more commonly seen in the outfield to account for the size of the softball. The fingers are reinforced to help keep the ball in the glove when making diving plays. Softball outfield gloves usually fall between 12 and 14 inches.
First Base Gloves
These look like a hybrid of a fielder and catcher’s mitt. Very similar to the catcher’s mitt, the first base glove had a little extra padding to handle throws with some heat on them. These gloves are longer than a catcher’s mitt and infielder’s mitt however, to help the first player extend and rein in wild catches. They are also built to be stronger than the average mitt, so the fingers do not flop back. Players usually start using these special gloves at the age of 12 and older because it is difficult for smaller hands to close the bigger glove. The size of these gloves range from 12 up to 14 inches for softball.
Catcher’s gloves are an entirely different breed of glove. The distinguishing characteristic is that they do not have separately cut finger slots like other positions. They also incorporate padding to take an all game beating of fast pitches without hurting the catcher’s hand. Catcher’s mitts are very stiff off the shelf because of the extra material used to construct them. Many times, catchers will buy a new mitt months before they plan to ditch the old one to allow the mitt time to break-in during practice. Practically all catchers’ mitts feature a closed web pocket area to provide a firm, unyielding wall to rein in throws coming from the pitcher. Catcher’s mitts range from 31.5 to 35 inches in circumference for softball players which are slightly larger than baseball catcher’s mitts (about 1 inch) to compensate for the larger softball.
Just below you can see a chart that will help you pick out the right size for your hand. This chart breaks things down by position and age making it easy as pie to find the best fit.
The Best Softball Gloves for Fastpitch
Here are the top softball gloves for fastpitch. Further down the page you’ll find the best slow pitch and youth softball gloves. Fastpitch and slowpitch gloves are nearly identical in size and characteristics. However, in slowpitch softball the catcher doesn’t really need a specially designed catcher’s mitt because the pitches are slower and stealing usually isn’t allowed. If a glove is labeled a “fastpitch softball glove” or “slowpitch softball glove” by a manufacturer it is generally done for marketing purposes.1. The Nokona Fastpitch Buckaroo Softball Glove is easily one of the best (if not the best) fastpitch fielder gloves money can buy. The price tag is a shocker but considering that it uses Nokona’s proprietary Kangaroo leather, Steerhide, and composite padding materials it becomes more acceptable. Nokona claims it has the quickest break-in period of the premium glove market. It features a closed back, closed web design and comes in 12 and 12.5 inch inch sizes.
2. The Nokona Walnut Softball Glove is another gorgeous fastpitch glove from Nokona that is less expensive than the Buckaroo Series and nearly the same quality.
3. The Louisville Slugger FG M2 Softball First Base Mitt is a great choice for first base players. It measures 13 inches in length making it ideal for stretching to beat out those super-fast base runners. This glove is pre-treated with oil allowing you to quickly break it in and be ready for game day.
Fastpitch Catcher’s Mitts
For the brick walls playing the catcher position, there are a few highly rated options as well.
The Best Softball Gloves for Slowpitch
If you have a left over glove from baseball that’ll work just fine for a casual league. More competitive leagues you may want to consider getting a mitt designed for softball, which is generally going to be about one half inch to a full inch longer to handle the larger ball.
1. The Worth Mayhem 13 inch Slowpitch Glove is a great all around glove for slow pitch softball. The all leather blue and black construction, white lace bindings, and custom fit adjustable wrist back has made this glove one of the most popular on the softball fields. The oversized pocket pattern is great for fielding softballs and the leather makes this a defensive player’s companion that will last.
2. The Wilson A360 Slowpitch Softball Glove is the big dog fielder’s glove of softpitch softball. Wilson claims “If you can’t get leather on the ball with this, it’s not catchable.” It’s a well-priced glove, with a reinforced open web design, full leather material, and closed back with a Velcro wrist adjustment. If you have large hands and have had difficulty finding a mitt that fits in the past, this is the glove for you.
The Best Softball Gloves for Youth Players
The most important thing to remember when shopping for a youth softball player is that they are still growing. Unless you have a few money trees in the backyard it’s probably a good idea to stick with less expensive mitts for the young-ins as they may outgrow it in a couple seasons.
1. The Mizuno Prospect Series is the top softball glove for youth players. Mizuno incorporates the “Power Close” tech in this glove. Essentially, this aids the new players in closing the glove and securing more catches. It also has a wider pocket so there is more area to catch the ball, a closed back design that can be used in any position on the field, and palm lining that’s great for youth softball to reduce sting and soreness.
2. The Louisville Slugger FA Diva Softball Glove is another great glove for new players. It’s a reasonably priced mitt that features a pig leather palm and easy close mesh backing. The extra soft palm lining will keep your young slugger happy. The Diva series requires no breaking in which is great for younger teams that do not practice as often as older teams. Louisville offers this glove in a 10.5 or 11.5 inch option, great for small hands.