It’s not easy finding the best youth baseball glove for a young player. There are many brands, models, sizes, and a handful of other factors to consider. Other than a bat, the glove is arguably the most important piece of equipment in a player’s arsenal. While certainly not a replacement for skill, a quality glove that fits well can help a player perform better on the field. Quality doesn’t have to mean expensive either, there are plenty of durable youth gloves for a decent price. Beyond that, purchasing a well-constructed glove will last multiple seasons, helping the player develop muscle memory with every catch and fielded a ball. Whether you are picking out a glove for your son’s first Little League team, or you’re searching for an upgrade or replacement glove, we’ve selected the best youth baseball gloves of this year. If you’re looking for a softball youth glove, we have a couple great options in our softball glove guide. For adult baseball players check out this page.
In this equipment guide, Dugout Debate covers all the bases: an overview of youth gloves and a brief review of each, before this review section, we talk about what to look for and how to select the right glove for a youth player. The gloves webbing, size, material, price, and what infield or outfield position the player is assigned are examples of things to consider before making a final purchase decision.
Overview of the Best Youth Baseball Gloves
Here are the most popular youth baseball gloves for this season.
|Rawlings Players Series||Closed Web ; Open Back||9, 10.5 Inch|
|Franklin Sports Air Tech Youth Baseball Glove||Open Web ; Open Back||9 Inch|
|Easton Z-Flex Youth Series||Closed Web ; Open Back||9, 10, 10.5, 11 Inch|
|Wilson Advisory Staff David Wright Youth Glove||Open Web ; Open Back||11 Inch|
|Louisville Slugger FG Genesis||Closed Web ; Closed Back||11 Inch|
|Wilson Youth A450 Dustin Pedroia Glove||Open Web ; Open Back||10.75 Inch|
|Rawlings Playmaker Series||Closed Web ; Open Back||11 Inch|
|Mizuno Youth Prospect||Closed Web ; Closed Back||10, 10.5, 11, 11.5 Inch|
|Rawlings Renegade Youth Series||Closed Web ; Open Back||11.5 Inch|
|Rawlings Youth Gamer||Open Web ; Open Back||11.25 Inch|
Top Three Mistakes in Youth Glove Selection
These are the most common blunders parents will make when selecting a youth glove.
- The glove is too big. This is the most common problem found in youth leagues—ill-fitting gloves. It’s difficult to get a glove too small because obviously the player will have a hard time getting their hand into it. It’s much easier to select a glove that is too large. This will result in a loose fit, with the hand slipping around inside of the glove which makes life a lot harder trying to field a fast moving ground ball for example. For a younger player, parents will be tempted to buy something a little too big so the kid doesn’t outgrow it in a year. We caution against this because a poor fitting glove will make it difficult for the player to open and close the pocket easily. This makes catching difficult as the ball will just hit the back of the glove and roll down the palm.
- The glove is poorly constructed. You don’t need to buy the most expensive brand name glove with the coolest looking design but making a deliberate purchase is better than relying on luck. Sometimes, a used glove from an older kid who’s outgrown it is a great option. The glove will already be broken in and ready to go, which brings us to our next point.
- The glove is too stiff. At times, it can be tempting to go for a top-grain, quality glove that is stiff and new. The funny thing about gloves is that a beat up old glove that has been collecting dust in the garage will perform better than a brand new glove (assuming they both have the same fit) because a brand new glove will be extremely stiff. This makes it hard to control the pocket of the glove and has nearly the same effect of an over-sized glove. However, the great thing about nice, new gloves is that they will last for years. The downside is that they require a break in period. We’ve included some helpful tips in our “breaking in a brand new glove” section on how to quickly and effectively prepare a glove for game day.
How to Select the Right Youth Glove
Here we break down the top factors that go into choosing the right youth baseball glove.
Size: Gloves are measured with the palm facing upward from the end of the index finger of the glove to the heel of the glove pocket. We went into a little detail about this before and it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to find the right fit when it comes to baseball gloves. Our sizing chart below is a helpful tool to use when determining the range you should be looking in. For most youth players, 6 through 15 will use gloves somewhere in the range of 9 to 12 inches in length.
Glove Sizing Chart
Position: In most cases, a generic glove will be all you need for a youth player (though in some cases first base or catchers will need a special glove). When things get more competitive, the player’s position can also be a determining factor on the type of glove that should be purchased. There are specially designed gloves for outfielders, infielders, pitchers, first basemen, and catchers. Commonly, outfielders will wear larger gloves to assist them in catching fly balls and line drives.
Material: The main thing to stay away from for a glove for youth leagues are plastic gloves. These are super uncomfortable and cheaply made, they are mainly designed for infants “play time.” Regular gloves consist of different grades of leather. These include top grain, full-grain, and premium. Gloves that are constructed with top-grain are the best of the best and are the easiest to break-in. Top grain gloves are also known for being the most durable.
Web: There are many types of web designs, but they fall in two main categories: open and close-webs. Closed webs use a tight woven pattern that creates a solid, unyielding web. Open webs feature loose cross patterns that create spacing between each piece of leather. Generally a pitcher will want a closed web mitt to hide his grip from the opposing team and fielders will want an open web to help track fly balls all the way into the glove. Many youth gloves featured closed webs for more rigid support when catching and fielding balls.
Price: Buying a top-tier glove can cost an arm and a leg. It may be a good approach when purchasing a high school or adult player glove whose hands have stopped growing. For really young players, especially those in tee ball, you don’t need the most expensive glove. For one thing, it’s going to be stiff and need to be broken in and that will take time. The younger the player, generally speaking, the fewer practices and games the team will have. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a bunch if the kid is going to outgrow the glove after a year or even lose it in a couple months. For more competitive leagues and older players, an expensive mitt can be a worthwhile investment.
Other Factors to Consider
Here are a couple other factors to consider before dishing out for a new glove.
Age of Player
- 0-6. The player just started to play Tee Ball and is learning all the basics of the game. All you need for this age bracket is a glove that fits and makes the game fun to play.
- 7-8. Similar to the youngest bracket, 7 and 8 year olds need a trusty mitt that makes fielding easy. Nothing is overly competitive here, but players have learned the game.
- 9-10. Players this age know the game and are starting to get a little more serious. They need a mitt that will help them perform well each time they take the field.
- 11-12. In this age range, teams are getting competitive. Hopefully by now the player has found a worthy glove that fits and helps make those clutch plays.
- 13-15. Competition intensifies, players are getting bigger and stronger, and the speed of the game has picked up. A glove that can handle powerful throws and last a longer season with more frequent practices and games.
- 16+. Welcome to the big leagues. The competition speaks for itself and not everyone is going to have the opportunity to play at this level. Any edge a player can get they are likely to take, and money becomes less of an issue as performance is emphasized.
Average Games Played per Year
- Casual, Recreation (5-20 games per year).
- Competitive (20-35 games per year).
- Dedicated (35+ games).
Best Way to Break in a Baseball Glove
There are many tricks to breaking in a baseball glove. Many people have a variety of opinions and the best way to break in a baseball glove. The bottom line is the absolute best way to break in a baseball glove is just to use it as much as possible. But there are a few of the most effective methods that speed up the process that have become the most popular over the years we will discuss. One of the relatively newer methods is using a steamer. These are sometimes found in athletic goods stores and it takes about 15 minutes for the glove steam treatment. They claim it makes a glove game ready, and it definitely helps the leather loosen up, but it’s not going to be as good as a glove broken in over a season of catches. If you don’t have access to a glove steamer, the next best thing is glove conditioners and oils. The more expensive conditioners are concentrated formulas, making the solution more of a cream than a liquid. This allows you to uniformly spread the oil over your glove. It only takes very little to cover the whole glove, and can be re-applied for even better results. Be careful not to over oil the glove or it may cause the glove to break down faster than it normally would. Nokona makes some great glove condition that slowly loosens the leather overtime.
After oil treatment, the best thing to do is play catch. A lot of catch. Everyone’s hands are different so the glove needs time to mold to your hand’s shape and size. For the first couple weeks, when the mitt is still brand new, it’s also a good idea to keep 2 balls in the glove. This will prevent the glove from becoming flat. Place one in the palm and the other in the pocket, then wrap the glove with wraps or a belt. Oftentimes folks make the mistake of only putting a ball in the pocket of the glove. This leads to the glove forming a taco like shape, rather than the wide shape that is optimal for catching balls. Remember take care of your gloves pocket, floppy pocket = sloppy game. Properly breaking in the glove will make for a glove that will last many years and be in the most effective shape during all those games and practices.
Best Youth Baseball Gloves 2016-2017
#1 The Easton Z-Flex Series Gloves are a top choice among many players. They offer great quality for a fair price, with an exaggerated pocket to help kids make more catches. Easton dubbed this pocket the “Grab All” web, which is about 40% than average youth webs. The Z-Flex technology helps make it easy to close and open the glove. It features elastic strips on each side of the palm to facilitate closure. The Z-Flex can be found in a 10 inch or 11 inch size. Made with ultra-soft leather, you can’t go wrong with the Z series glove. Easton’s also has a 9-inch glove option for new players. This will beat the heck out of the plastic crap you can pick up from a toy store.
#2 The Rawlings Gold Gamer Glove is one of the best gloves for serious youth players. It is more expensive than most options but compensates with its exceptional build quality. The Gamer Glove features a “trapeze” pattern also known as a six finger glove design. The web is built into the glove rather than being its own piece. This results in one of the most durable gloves for youth players. The small finger stalls are also great for younger players’ hands and gives them the control and stability they need. Rawlings offers both left hand and right hand throw gloves and it comes in an 11.25 inch length. The construction uses soft full grain leather and “Tennessee Tanned” professional grade lacing. Rawlings’ 9-inch glove option for new players.
#3 The Mizuno Prospect Youth Ball Glove is another high quality glove but this time from Mizuno, another respected manufacturer of sports gear. Mizuno is one of the go to companies for first time mitt buyers. It beats out the Rawlings Gold Gamer on price, being about $30 less. The PowerClose technology in this glove is pretty cool. It is patented by Mizuno. Essentially, it describes the hinges in the glove that make catching the ball easier. Once the player catches the ball, the hinges allow the player to tightly grip the ball, securing the catch for good. This glove also distinguishes itself from the pack with its flex bridge closed back. This supports the wrist and facilitates a stable hold on the glove.
#4 The Rawlings Playmaker Youth Baseball Glove is one of the mostly highly rated gloves on the market. If you want your kid to bring home the golden glove award this is the right glove. It is a 12-inch model that uses a Velcro strap to customize the fit around the player’s wrist. Rawlings claims it is already 80% broken in by their factories, which helps reduce the time it takes to get this mitt field ready.
#5 The Louisville Slugger Genesis Youth Glove is another well-priced option that comes in 9.5 and 10.5-inch sizes. Louisville Slugger has been around for over 120 years and is still one of the best in the business. This glove is specially designed for developing players, incorporating nylon mesh into the back design for easier closing and opening. The palm of the mitt uses a quality grade Buffalo leather and is lined with Louisville’s X-ultrasoft material for extra comfort. The Velcro strap completes the glove nicely, making it easy for youth players to adjust themselves.