Difference between Softball and Baseball gloves: Are They Different?

Whether you are a softball fan watching the beautiful Jennie Finch or a baseball fanatic watching the King, Felix Hernandez, a question will have come to you. That question would be, what is the difference between softball and baseball gloves. Alongside this question, another is are softball and baseball gloves the same. The answer to the question comes down to the differences in the balls used in both sports.

The ball used in softball is bigger in circumference compared to baseball. For example, the rim of a regulation softball is between 11.88-12.13 inches. In contrast, the regulation baseball is 9-9.25 inches.

The weight of the balls in both sports also plays a key role. For example, a professional softball weighs in at 6.25 ounces, and a professional baseball tips the scale at around 5-5.25 ounces.

These fundamental differences call for different designs in the glove-making process. In many cases, these differences sometimes lead to girls playing softball and not baseball even though to me it makes no sense.

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The difference in baseball and softball glove size

The size does matter in sports gloves. Due to changes in weight and size of the balls in both sports, the glove sizes also had to change.

In softball, the size range is from 11-15 inches. The infielders prefer 11-11.5 inches, while the outfielders look for something in the 14-15 inches. In particular, the need for bigger gloves is due to the larger ball size.

With the larger softball gloves, it’s easier to catch and hold the bigger balls. These gloves come with an H-webs design. Together with these softballs gloves come a deeper pocket, but that’s for another time.

On the baseball gloves side of things, it is slightly different. Most infielders in MLB use gloves in the lower 11 inches, while the outfielders go for 13-inch gloves.

Here is a video explaining how different a Wilson A2000 for fastpitch and baseball gloves in the youtube channel BaseballMonkey.

Different positions need Different gloves

In games like these, positions are critical. Each position in games like these requires proper sports equipment for good plays.

For baseball, the gloves are sometimes known as mitts as well. In baseball, the Catchers, First Baseman, Infielders, and Outfielders have different gloves. The first base glove for softball is also similar to baseball. According to fanbuzz, each player on the field does something particular so they need something different:

  1. Catcher’s Mitt: Has no finger separation, thus a closed web. It makes them look like a pair of mittens worn in the winter months. Thus the name mitts. 
  2. First Baseman’s Mitt: Similar to catcher’s mitts. Wider and longer than the ones worn by infielders. It helps to pick up balls thrown by infielders.
  3. Infielder’s Mitt: Smaller with deeper pockets. The webs are more open so that dirt flows out in ground balls.
  4. Outfielder’s Mitt: Longer with deep pockets. It makes it easy to catch both ground and fly balls.
  5. Pitcher’s Mitt: Closed webbing for concealment. Smaller compared to other gloves on the list. The pitchers’ gloves aren’t used for anything special. 

The gloves come with either I-web or modified trap design. Firstly the I-grip closes the thumb and forefinger to trap and release balls quickly. Secondly, the modified trap closes the thumb and ring finger. It helps to create a shallow pocket and more space for ball catching. For the outfield position, it has H-web for maximum catching potential.

Baseball players require these types of gloves due to baseball gameplay. On the other hand, Softball pitchers use completely different gameplay, so their gloves are different.

Catcher’s mitt is where the difference between the two sports is easy to spot. The gloves in baseball are 32-34.5 inches, and the softball ones are 33-35 inches. The sidewall of softball catcher mitt is thinner than baseball. Baseball catcher gloves have more padding for fast hardballs.

Pocket depth difference between softball and baseball gloves

Glove depth leads to victories. Both sport’s ball weights and circumference are dissimilar, requiring different gloves with deeper and shorter pockets, all for better ball control and less spin of the ball. Softball and baseball gloves are both tailor-made for professional players with the ball size in mind.

The Fit and the Feel

In the professional stage of wither game, the gloves need to be custom fitted. The reason behind this is that the hand size of each player is distinct. Therefore, each of the gloves for softball and baseball needs to match their hand size.

For fastpitch softball players, the gloves generally tend to be smaller since those players are mainly females. On the other hand, for slow-pitch softball and MLB, baseball gloves need to be bigger since the players are predominantly male.

Additionally, the glove openings have fur or alternative soft material for comfort. Alongside comfort, tightness of the fit is also essential. Softball players, both professionals, and amateurs need a Velcro strap to tighten the gloves properly.

To keep this fit and feel at the proper level make sure to use glove oil or conditioner. If there is any damage done to the gloves read our article on glove repair kits for the best one at your price point.

In Summery

To finish the article, let’s look back at what we learned. There are similarities between both sports, but there are apparent differences as well:

  • Baseball gloves have a shallower pocket with a smaller size because of baseball size.
  • The gloves of a baseball player might have to be taller, depending on the player’s position.
  • Due to the larger ball size, fastpitch softball gloves need deep and round
  • Fastpitch softball players need a strap to tighten their gloves for better control

To use a typical baseball glove for softball is possible for lower levels, but that is not viable at the professional level. Hopefully, now you will watch your favorite softball or baseball players and know-how different their gloves are.

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FAQs

What is the difference between slowpitch and fastpitch gloves?

Slowpitch softball gloves are similar to baseball gloves with their larger opening due to many players being male. In comparison, a fastpitch softball glove is worn mainly by females; thus, those gloves have smaller openings.

Infield vs outfield glove, which does what?

Infield gloves come with deeper openings in a smaller size while the webs are open for easier ground ball catching. Outfield gloves are longer with the same deep pockets, but they are made for flyball and ground ball catching.

Using a baseball glove for softball, is it acceptable?

When you play softball recreationally or with younger players, using a baseball glove for softball is ok. But those at the professional softball players’ level need custom-fitted gloves for fair play. Due to the larger softball balls using the smaller baseball gloves will be a mistake. 

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