Are you having trouble getting over losing your personal ol’ reliable? It has happened to the best of us. You will simply be playing in a game just like any other game, and all of a sudden the ball just decides to rip directly through your glove. As the lace rips apart just like your heart did the moment you felt it happen, you think to yourself, “Well, now what am I supposed to do?”
There are times to relace a glove that aren’t just the breaking point. You can decide to relace your glove at any time. A good time to do such a thing would be when you first start to seriously realize that those laces are breaking down. If they are starting to feel softer and thinner than they once did, or if the leather surrounding the laces looks like it’s deteriorating, you most likely will want to relace soon. Another time that would be ideal to relace your glove is when you first get it if you know the lacing is not very well constructed.
If you are going to take the task upon yourself, make sure to first take a look at the damage that has occurred. See how bad the puncture is, and make a determination on how to go about the relacing. Draw it out if you have to! Sometimes simplifying jobs out will really save you time and effort. For this job, you are going to need a lacing needle as well as your new lace.
How To Relace or Restring an entire baseball glove from start to finish (1 of 6) - YouTube
First, remove the original lacing from your glove if you feel it is necessary. Untie and pull the lacing through the glove and get a good look at how the leather is holding up. Obviously, if your laces are ripped, you are going to need to replace the laces with your new ones. Insert your needle into the hole closest to the damage and then thread the needle with your lace. Next, pull the needle through the other side of the hole so the lace goes through cleanly. Make sure to manually fix any twists in the lacing, and pull the needle with your hand to tighten it as much as you want. Continue to lace that baby up, intermingling every single hole with each other with the lacing. The process should seem to flow. Try to follow the original lacing pattern of the glove. This will make for the best possible feel on the glove when it is done. Your hand will not feel restricted in any way if you stick to the original pattern. Go very slow and carefully the first time you do it if you do not feel comfortable. If you do this, you will most likely not damage the glove any further if you were to make a mistake.
Catchers will usually have to relace their mitts more than any other position due to the amount of high-speed catches their gloves have to endure, over and over again. Outfield gloves usually last the longest because that is where the least action will usually be going on during games. Outfielders do not have to deal with high speed softballs coming directly at them like a catcher does. The outfielder’s glove just has to be able to endure a season or two of catching fly balls. Infielders are definitely the middle of the pack when it comes to relacing, with first baseman’s mitts definitely leading the way. While first baseman do have to catch throws from infielders at decent speeds, it still does not compare to the toll that catcher’s mitts take. Other infielders (second base, third base, and shortstops) use gloves that usually can take a pretty solid beating. They will break down, but it will take longer than a catcher’s mitt or first baseman’s.
It really is a traumatic experience when your favorite glove finally just gives. Sometimes it is just time to let your baby retire, but at other times your glove just needs a relacing. Do not go out and spend a boatload of money on a new glove when all you needed was some new lacing!
At all levels in the game of softball there are specific regulations considering gloves. From youth softball to professional fastpitch, players can be penalized for not wearing the correct type of glove on their hand when playing the field. If you are not totally sure what your league’s regulations are when it comes to gloves and other equipment, find the rulebook online or ask a league representative about what is and is not allowed. What about that old baseball glove – can you use it instead? If you still cannot figure out what you can or can not use, pay attention to the following rules and you can try to determine what your league most likely allows.
The NSA (National Softball Association) “is a full service organization that offers a division of play and a level of competition that youth through adult can enjoy.” The NSA is a well-respected group that has a fair share of influence on softball around the world. Many different leagues and tournaments are a direct result of the NSA’s hard work.
Their regulations for softball gloves state that the glove cannot be entirely white, gray, or “optic in color”. Also, the glove must meet a couple of different size requirements. The height of a glove (from the bottom edge to the very top of the glove) must be in between 8 and 15 inches.
How to measure a softball glove’s length (in inches)
The width must be 8 inches “from the bottom edge of the webbing farthest from the thumb in a horizontal line to the outside edge of the little finger”. The webbing on the glove must be measured at 5 and ¾ inches from the top of the webbing down parallel to the very bottom of it. If a glove does not meet any of these specifications, it is deemed illegal.
The NCAA (National Collegiate Amateur Association) is a countrywide organization which runs just about everything that involves American collegiate athletics. The athletes are some of the most talented young softball players in the country. The rules are more specific for NCAA, which means that if you follow the specifications that they set out for their players, you will most likely be okay in whatever league you play in.
The NCAA actually has similar rules to the NSA when it comes to illegal fielding gloves. The palm width has to be 8 inches, the height can not exceed 14 inches, (NSA allows 15 inches) and the web cannot exceed 7 ¾ inches tall. Aside from those stipulations, the NCAA actually has more specifications than the NSA. The thumb height cannot exceed 9 ¾ inches. Also, catchers must use catcher’s mitts only.
Catchers cannot wear position players’ gloves because of the injury they could sustain on their hand, as well as any unfair advantages they might be able to glean. Adding any adhesives to the glove that may give the glove more stickiness will deem the glove illegal as well. If any of these specifications are not met, an umpire can tell the collegiate player to remove the glove.
If a warning is issued and the glove is found being used in the field of play again (where it is not supposed to be) the umpire can eject the player from the ballgame. If a play is made with an illegal glove it can be nullified at the umpire’s and opposing coach’s discretion. The umpire should give the coach the opportunity to stick with the result of the play, or completely nullify the play due to the illegal glove. The player will then be given a warning, and will be told to take the glove off.
There are many different types of softball. You could find yourself in a competitive fastpitch tournament, or an over-40 slowpitch league. No matter the case, you have to play by the rules. Illegal gloves are against the rules. Make sure to do your research on the league before joining or before purchasing a glove that is not allowed. Every adaptation of the game is different, so be aware of that before you make any big decisions. The fact of the matter is that if you purchase a standard-issue Rawlings, Wilson, Nokona, or a glove from any leading brand, it will most likely meet the requirements of a standard softball league. Just make sure to check before taking the field. You don’t want to be the one who costs your team an inning-ending double play because you used a glove that was too big.
Coaching softball in game situations is stressful and requires the ability to multitask. Coaching in practice requires multitasking as well, but should be a much less stressful endeavor. A wise coach utilizes every minute of available practice time, and that requires organization. If players do not move briskly from one activity to the next, the wasted time will reduce the amount of work the team can do in a practice.
The ability to run a well-organized practice is a fundamental of coaching in the same way that keeping the glove down on grounders is a fundamental of fielding. Coaches build respect, and a bit of awe, in players when they provide them with individualized instruction that produces results on the field. Great coaches are thieves: They rob from the successful to provide the best instruction for the players in their charge.
Formulating a practice plan is as simple as slotting different drills and scenarios for different blocks of time within the practice. The following websites are great places to find beneficial activities that will help any team improve. Take what works; throw out what doesn’t and remember to schedule every exercise.
The softball spot is a great resource for softball coaches and backyard coaches alike to find drills and practice fodder. Regardless of the age of the players, there is a trove of information on this blog. The drills are written out in a simple tone that most everyone will appreciate, with no fluff or filler. All the free content is laid out intuitively, and all the important bases are covered.
Though the addition of new material appears to be sporadic, the dearth of drills and tips Softball Spot has accumulated warrants a visit. There is no way to go through it all in one sitting, and no doubt that some of the suggestions will earn slots in the practices of coaches at any level. If the site consisted only of the conditioning section, which gives drills for building position-specific strength and endurance, it would be worth the time to look into it.
One of the great things about Fastpitch TV is that it varies its contributors. As a player, it is wise to listen to fewer voices, but for coaches the opposite is true. The different voices on Fastpitch TV represent a wealth of viewpoints and experiences. The site has been in existence for a while, so the build of material is extensive.
The drills on Fastpitch TV are all presented in uncomplicated article form, and each is a short and direct read. To zero in on the type of drill you need, scroll to the bottom of the page and find the Categories drag-down menu. Under Drills, you will find categories like hitting, fielding, pitching, etc. For a nonstop barrage of useful drills, be sure to check out the “100 Coaches-100 Drills” segment.
Life in the Fastpitch Lane
Drills are fine and dandy. They serve their purpose and they undeniably have their benefits. But, practices are more than just a collection of drills, or, at least they should be. Longtime softball coach Ken Krause takes a more practical approach to practices, and his Fastpitch Lane blog puts his philosophy at your fingertips.
Articles like “Helping young hitters with a fear of the ball,” and “Crazy stuff people teach about hitting,” empower softball coaches to devise common-sense practices. Practicality is sorely missing in youth sports, particularly in select softball and baseball. Krause posts new material regularly, though by the nature of his blog, not every article is coaching-focused. However, the easy-to-navigate collection is full of tips for individualized instruction, with a sprinkling of well-informed drills and instruction.
Team Snap (Skills and Drills)
Team Snap is a software firm that facilitates better operation of team systems. Its “Drills and Skills” section is full of brief explanations of simple drills in article and video form. Most of the skills videos are available on YouTube, but with Team Snap’s blog there is no need to sift through mounds of videos in hopes of stumbling upon a good one.
To get to the “Drills and Skills” section from the homepage, click on the “Community” tab, then “Skills and Drills” will appear on a secondary tab bar. Scroll down to find “Softball.” The drills are divided into clickable categories that, while light on topics such as base running and catching, are loaded with content for the pillars of hitting, pitching and fielding.
Team Snap is still a thriving operation, but most of the links in the “Drills and Skills” section are from 2013. Softball does not change much over time, though, so the drills are still useful and will be for years to come. The written drills are accessible only through this site, though, and many of them are worthy of entire segments of practice time.
If the strongest, most talented players and teams always finished on top, softball would be a boring sport. To be sure, gifted players bring a tangible advantage to any team, but there is another side to the sport. The scrapper, the underdog, the Cinderella… champions are born in these ranks as often as in the ranks of superior athletes.
The reason less talented players and teams beat more talented ones is often because they have a mental edge. Whether these players are born with a will to win, or if they learned it from parents, coaches or other players, they often level the playing field simply by approaching the game the right way. The following blogs are some of the best sources on the web for developing the mental fortitude to overcome adversity and become a winner.
Where better to glean information on the mental approach to success than from a coach whose whole spiel is the mental side of the game. John Kelly has been coaching fastpitch softball at various levels since 1996, and has preached the importance of having a winning mentality for two decades. His site is a trove of confidence-building strategies, and he guides readers toward improving focus and attitude to achieve success.
Kelly has made a business out of his ideas on winning through improving mentally. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but perusing his site leaves a reader with the sensation that the best information is contained in the courses he sells. Again, nothing wrong with making a buck — everyone has to make a living — and the available articles are dense and numerous. It is just worth knowing going into it that your interest will be piqued to know what’s hiding behind the curtain.
Fastpitch softball internet pioneer Gary Leland’s blog is loaded with information on the mental approach that leads to winning. There isn’t much in the way of fluff pieces here. Mental toughness and preparation are front and center. These articles focus on the mentality that leads to success rather than just winning tactics. Crucially, much attention is also paid to how focusing solely on winning is self-defeating.
The site is not intuitively navigable, but there are a couple ways to narrow a search for information. The search function narrows things down nicely, and a clickable list of categories rests hidden at the bottom of the page. New content is uploaded regularly, which runs the gamut of fastpitch topics, from drills and tips to the mentality and philosophy of success.
Longtime softball coach Becky Wittenberg’s blog is geared toward her fellow coaches. The blog is loaded with older content, and new articles are posted regularly. Players and parents can easily apply the information presented in the articles to backyard and offseason practice sessions.
While the blog is mainly focused on the physical side of the game, and is loaded with drills, the mental and philosophical side feature prominently in the content. To access this type of content, simply type mental into the search bar, and an abundance of articles will be at your fingertips. Players can gain insight on topics like the mental approach to hitting, while coaches can get ideas for practices and drills to hone their players’ mental toughness and acuity.
This site is content-focused, and the articles are varied in the sense that they target players, coaches and parents separately. The density of material is such that you can get lost in the content. Hours after you begin your search for a given topic, you can easily be learning about things you had not intended to research. That may be problematic, in the sense that the site lacks a cohesive organization. Articles are tagged into basic groups, though, and the search bar function works well.
The mental side of the game is a definite focus of the content. Players can gain perspective from the experiences of others, whether in breaking out of slumps or improving focus. Parents and coaches will also find a wealth of information on improving their players’ focus and steeling their attitudes. The information can get technical, but there is often a takeaway beyond the mere physical side of softball.
As much as we all tend to see them as distinct facets of the game, the mental and physical parts of the game are intertwined. Ken Krause, the softball coach operator of the Fastpitch Lane blog, seems all too aware of that connection. Unlike other blogs, the articles on the Fastpitch Lane are organized into easily accessed categories, and are often cross-located.
The keys to winning in an age when players all train year-round are mostly mental, whether that be in mental toughness or focus, or simply getting players to get out of their own way. It can take years of experience in the game to develop an understanding of the link between mental preparation and success. The information on Krause’s site clues parents, coaches and players with less experience into a level of perspective that would otherwise require seasons of trial and error to accumulate.
There is nothing more frustrating than a season spent struggling with ill-suited equipment. A bat that’s too long, cleats that are too tight, etc., ruin the fun of softball. A softball glove should be a bit clumsy at first, but should become buttery smooth as it is worn and used. The following are some simple but common errors to avoid for a fun season and a rewarding experience.
Spending Too Much
In sporting goods, the price tag will often tell you much about the construction of the product. This is as true in softball as any other sport. Just as composite bats can cost more than aluminum, higher grades of leather usually cost more than synthetics, for example. But problems arise when well-meaning parents blow large amounts of money on gloves for their young daughters.
Fastpitch gloves utilizing exotic leathers can cost in the hundreds of dollars, but the feel and longevity these gloves offer are often lost on the youngest of players. Bear in mind, too, that these young players will outgrow their first gloves in no time. Save the expensive, pro-quality gloves for a later time, when players can use them, appreciate them and care for them.
Spending Too Little
The flipside of the cost coin is when parents decide to save money and buy a cheap glove for their player. Of course, for many of us, the cost of even a cheap glove can be bankrupting. The key is to purchase the best glove you can afford for your player’s skill level. If your daughter is showing prodigy-like form, she deserves the best equipment her parents can provide.
We are all human, and we are all susceptible to the allure of advertising. Companies will often tout some gimmick or another as the next big thing in softball gloves, but these add-ons are typically useless — at best. At worst, gloves that offer assisted closing and other user aids mask problems that could be addressed, or cause problems that would otherwise not exist.
That is not to say that you should ignore innovation. Just be sure that any such extras address some issue, and that they are needed. Also, make certain the advertising isn’t simply spinning a shortcoming. High-tech, synthetic lacing, for example, may be shorthand for cheap plastic. And all-leather lacing isn’t a selling point. You should accept nothing less. Manufacturers reached relative perfection in leather softball gloves years ago. Innovation from here on out should be slow and steady. Beware the next big thing.
Getting the Wrong Size
This common error encompasses more than just the usual advertised sizes of softball gloves. Finding the right measurement of glove for a certain position is easy enough with the use of a sizing chart, and many models are suitable at various positions. This is especially true in slow pitch softball. The crucial error, though, lies in purchasing a glove that does not fit the hand.
The size of the hand space is relative to the size of the finger wells. Manufacturers do not give a measurement for the finger wells or the hand openings of their gloves, but they usually give clues to help approximate a proper fit in the model names and descriptions.
Slow-pitch gloves are usually designed for men, for example, with larger finger wells and hand openings. Fastpitch gloves are made with smaller hand openings and finger wells, because females tend to have smaller hands. There is no rule that says one cannot be used for the other game, though.
Buying the Name
Herein lies the most insidious of buying mistakes: getting what’s cool. It is not uncommon to watch youth players on a team go through an entire lineup with each player using the same brand name of bat. There is no way that bat suits every player on the team, but the urge to conform often outweighs our better judgement — especially when we’re young. The same peer pressure exists on the defensive side of the ball, in the form of overpriced gloves.
Purchasing a glove just to be seen with the correct embroidered emblem on the back is a sure way to struggle, and no one looks cool making errors in the field. Often, the correct glove is more affordable than the cool-for-the-moment brand, but players and parents pass it up. The result is wasted money, time and effort. Purchasing quality, appropriate equipment is more important than who makes it.
The Take Away
When searching for your next glove or mitt, try not to look at the manufacturer’s name at all. Players need to have confidence in their equipment. Focus on what suits a player’s eye, and narrow down the search from there. There will always be compromises, but choosing the best glove that you can afford, which requires the fewest compromises, is always a good route to take.
If you’re new to slow pitch, the Easton Salvo Series may not be familiar to you. But, if you’ve spent any time in the game, you will have either seen them in play or experienced them first hand. The Salvo series has earned its reputation of provide a functional mix of value and quality, and the current-generation first-base mitts continue that tradition.
These mitts provide the best of materials for durability and longevity, while keeping costs down with a functional mesh backing. Do not be confused, though: The Easton Salvo Series SVSM3 first base mitts are a compromise only in the sense that they bring superior material and functionality into the hands of the softball player on a budget. You will never know you saved money on your mitt until you check your bank statement.
High quality 365 steerhide leather provides great feel
LOCK DOWN wrist strap keeps the mitt secure
Open, single-post web provides great visibility
VRS Shock Pad takes the sting out of hard throws
Nylon mesh backing in strategic locations, saves weight and cash
Easton’s DOUBLE DEEP pocket provides forgiveness for secure catches
365 Steerhide Leather
Steerhide is a tough and tight-grained option for softball gloves. If properly treated, it will last for years. This durability comes at a cost beyond the monetary, though. The SVSM3 requires an extended break-in period to get to game-ready pliability, and is stiff off the shelf. It is also heavy, though the weight is mitigated in this model thanks to the mesh backing. Once broken in, there will be no more durable glove, nor one with better feel, on any diamond.
VRS Shock Pad
Many gloves and mitts intended for the slow-pitch market come with little to no padding whatsoever. First basemen, though, will receive the hardest throws on the slow-pitch field with the greatest regularity. To this end, Easton included its cushioning VRS Shock Pad in these mitts. While the padding is not as thick as it is on first-base mitts meant for baseball, it is still functional. It reduces the painful sting of the hardest throws, though it does not eliminate it.
Extra Large Pocket
The DOUBLE DEEP pocket on the SVSM3 is truly enormous. At any other position on the soft-pitch field, a pocket of this size might be a liability, even in the outfield. Throws made to first base bring their own set of variables, though, and players at that position must make concessions. The larger the pocket, the more forgiving it will be when the mitt is positioned just millimeters from the optimal location. When throws are offline or skipped, the larger pocket provides forgiveness that will make everyone in the infield look better.
To what extent a nylon mesh backing is a disadvantage is up to the individual. It certainly adds a bit of flexibility to a new glove, while providing cooling air flow. However, there is nothing to be done to increase the mesh’s lifespan. It will last as long as it lasts, it saves weight and dirt will get into the openings. An all-steerhide glove would be longer-lasting, though inevitably more expensive, investment.
Not for Fastpitch or Large Hands
The fingerstalls in the SVSM3 mitt are larger than usually found on a fastpitch glove, so it would be a good option for girls with large hands. The hand opening, though, is on the small side. This creates a slight mismatch between the hand opening and fingerstall sizes that may confound male players with large hands. That group of player should find the interior comfortable, though never roomy, but taking the mitt off and putting it on might be frustrating.
Requires Extended Break In
The 365 steerhide in the SVSM4 is treated, and the mesh backing is already flexible, so the length of break in on these Easton mitts is a bit confusing. Once it is ready for play, the SVSM3 becomes pliable, providing excellent feel and superior strength. The issue is that breaking the glove in properly may take weeks of repeated use and oiling. This is not the glove you want to purchase the day of the big game.
When money is no object, finding the perfect softball glove is a simpler task. Players who need value as well as quality often have a tougher time finding perfection. The Easton SVSM3 manages to provide players with superior quality at a reasonable cost. The compromises players must make to put one in play have nothing to do with playability, which will be impressive. If you play first base and you want a quality mitt, you already likely know that your options are limited. With the SVSM3, you get quality and durability where you need it, and affordable synthetics where you don’t.
Still looking for the perfect slowpitch glove? Check out our picks for the best ones here.
You can find the first in our series of Softball Blog rundowns here, where we feature the best blogs for practical playing tips.
As parents, we all want the best for our kids. This desire, obviously, extends to the softball field. The softball community is as much of a family as that of any other sport, both because of the fewer options girls have to compete in athletics and because of the elite nature of the competitions. Parents and coaches tend to rally around each other and their players, and they usually have the players’ best interests at heart.
This sense of community should naturally translate to the playing field, but it sadly often does not. From parents in the stands berating players for errors, to personality clashes inside the fences, otherwise good teams often fail to reach their potential, thanks in large part to poor chemistry in the dugout. Thankfully, blogs such as those in this brief list exist to help parents, players and coaches develop winning relationships.
This informative blog contains tips and advice from travel ball coach and softball parent Greg Cruthers from his nearly two decades of involvement in fastpitch softball. While the blog certainly contains valuable instructional information, as one would expect from a coach, the parental advice and information sets this blog apart from the rest. Parents considering involvement in travel ball will definitely want to peruse this site.
Cruthers has obviously experienced many extremes in his years spent coaching his daughters and bringing them through the fastpitch game. His talks on the economic costs of raising an elite softball player have the potential to ease families’ transitions from recreational ball to traveling. And, for those parents hoping a daughter will transition to college softball, Cruthers offers the insight of his experience with his youngest daughter in NCAA ball. Though it is not often updated, this blog offers a real-world view into softball life that few others deliver.
In addition to instruction and tips, travel ball coach Ken Krause provides insights into the fastpitch softball experience. Use the side bar to narrow the categories of articles to your specific needs. The sections on the mental side of the game, the parents’ side and the team-building side have a tremendous ability to help those hoping to institute a culture of success on a softball team.
As blogs go, the Fastpitch Lane is easily navigable and chock full of interesting and useful content. Krause is an authority on fastpitch softball, but is not authoritarian. He regularly contributes to other reputable publications in the sport, and his style is informing in a caring way that coaxes rather than instructs. This blog is regularly updated with new material, with a new article posted about every week or two.
Softball is for Girls is a great softball blog in general, but it excels in the team-building department. Fastpitch coaches looking for strategies that work to build team chemistry can get lost in the information laid bare in this blog. Players interested in learning what they can do to develop skills that will make them a better leader on a team will also find valuable information.
Softball is for Girls also has a great section of articles for softball parents. The articles in this category are often grouped with those from the “Coaches’ Corner,” exemplifying the fact that the issues that affect both groups of adults involved in the game affect them equally. The site might not seem very intuitive at first, but the search bar is useful, and each article has category tags beneath it to help you find similar content. There is a wealth of content on this blog, and new content appears regularly.
While not specifically for softball, the blog at I Love to Watch You Play covers a broad array of information sports parents will find invaluable. From game-day nutrition to college recruiting, the information contained within the articles of this blog will help parents of softball players make sense of the confounding world of youth sports. Even former athletes-turned-parents will glean useful tidbits from the articles, but inexperienced parents will likely get the most help from this blog.
This is a popular blog in softball circles, and for good reason. The articles are informative and span a broad range of topics, and the information is both authoritative and exhaustive. The team-building articles, like much of the information on Fastpitch TV, deliver tactics that coaches, players and parents can all work to institute when they want to institute a culture of success. The parents’ section is not quite as exhaustive, but there the information it contains is valuable.
The articles on Fastpitch TV are not easy to isolate by subject, but the search function is useful. Simply punch “team” into the search bar, for example, and a plethora of team-building articles will appear. Multiple articles are uploaded in a typical week, making this a go-to for those immersed in softball life.
It can be tough raising an athlete. As parents, we want to give our children every possible advantage in life and in sport. Softball gloves are a prime example of the conundrum. Throw cost out the window, and high-quality, long-lasting gloves are everywhere. Go cheap, and you may be costing your child a chance to shine on the diamond. For parents who can’t throw hundreds of dollars at a glove, but who refuse to cheap out on their player, the choices quickly get limited to a select few options.
Rawlings new Shut Out series gloves fill that gap. They provide a quality option to players and parents for whom money is an issue but quality is a requirement. Available in different length patterns for players who specialize at certain positions, these new Rawlings gloves meet the needs of demanding players, without necessitating a second mortgage. They are a legitimate alternative to the exotic-leather gloves that price out the majority of families, and will handle the softball equally as well as any of them.
Full-grain leather shell, oil treated
Adjustable strap on back
Cushioned palm and index finger well
Small hand opening for female players
Closed, basket web
Quick break-in period
Pro Micro lining
The closed web on the Rawlings Shut Out series works well at any position on the field. Players who sometimes find themselves in the circle can move from any positon on the field straight into pitching without having to run to the dugout and dig for their pitching gloves. Hiding the ball is easy with a basket web, but it works equally well in the infield or outfield.
Rawlings pre-oils the leather in these gloves to provide a quick break-in period. The company claims players will have only 20 percent of break-in time remaining at purchase. This means the gloves can legitimately be put straight into play, though it is best to allow at least a couple practices before thrusting the Shut Out into actual game play.
Redesigned for Balance
Rawlings put extra effort into balance with its redesign of the venerable Worth Shutout, and the results are impressive. These gloves have no discernible tipping points, and players can flip the glove from the fingers-up position to the basket position with a minimal amount of effort. Over time, this balance provides an even break-in, as there are no compensatory movements required of the player to utilize her glove properly.
Small Hand Opening
Like many fastpitch softball gloves, the Shut Out is purposely designed with a small hand opening and finger wells to accommodate female players. While this sizing works well for the typical high school and travel ball player, those with larger hands may find these Rawlings gloves have too tight of a fit.
Finger Shift Design
The finger-shift design is a love-it-or-leave-it feature. Essentially, Rawlings has included added material on the outside of the index finger well to allow that finger to move back and away from hard-hit or hard-thrown balls. Intended to reduce the sting from these situations, the resulting freedom of movement it gives to the finger can be distracting to players who prefer a tighter fit in their gloves — a common requirement for fastpitch softball players.
The all-leather laces on the Shut Out gloves are a nice touch. Good looking and tough, they will help these gloves last through several seasons of hard play. However, like their Worth predecessors, these laces have an inordinate amount of extra material, leaving leather strings hanging all over the place. Some players like this look, but others will have to get to work trimming them down to size.
As Americans, one of the things we love about baseball and softball is that they are truly democratic sports. On the high school field, it doesn’t matter how much money your parents have, and players from either side of the tracks have equal opportunity to play well and to succeed. Unfortunately, when money is an issue, parents must take absolute care to ensure the equipment they purchase for their player is the best that they can afford.
The Rawlings Shut Out gloves fit well into this category. They are not a compromise, and parents can rest assured they are getting their player one of the best gloves in the game, at any price. The Shut Out is a redesign of the Worth Shutout gloves, which are no longer made but are still available from certain retailers. The name has been synonymous with affordable quality since it appeared. Players who cannot spend money blindly still deserve every chance to succeed on the softball field. These Rawlings gloves provide them that opportunity.
The most serious of slow-pitch softball players will spend serious funds on their equipment. These players know that the materials in high-end gloves mature and improve over time, and that they are worth the investment. Players that can really flash leather need gloves that like to be flashed. To a large portion of the slow-pitch playing public, though, the hundreds of dollars pro-level gloves cost would be so much wasted money.
If you are one of those players, gloves like Rawlings’ RSB series slow pitch gloves may be just the thing you need. These gloves are playable and serviceable, and they provide a lot of bang for the buck. They are not for everyone, though. Let’s look a little closer at this series of gloves and see which players they would benefit, and which ones should keep looking.
Velcro strap closure
Closed, Basket web
Cushioned palm and index finger
Deep, wide pocket
The leather palm of the RSB series gloves is soft and pliable straight from the factory. Extraordinarily little break in is required on the part of the user. Rawlings claims a 10-percent user break in, but players can put the RSB series in play right away. After couple of practice sessions, though, the RSB begins to truly shine. The synthetic, Neo Flex back is pliable when new as well, further speeding break in.
While the cushioning on Rawlings’ RSB series gloves is not in and of itself spectacular, it is not always found in a slow-pitch glove. Many of these types of gloves are completely without padding, and stinging line drives are a hazard with them. The RSB takes a bit of the sting out of those hard-hit shots. The padding also means the RSB series is useful as a baseball glove, though the large pocket may be a problem with the small ball.
In softball, a large pocket such as the one on RSB series gloves is a welcome addition, especially in the outfield. Rawlings markets these gloves as adult outfielder’s gloves but, unless you have an aversion to it, the larger pocket works equally well in the dirt. Large pockets like these can mask a lack of overall skill, as they provide a margin for error when making a catch. Infielders and outfielders can each use forgiveness in equal measure. Wherever it is used, the RSB’s wide and deep pocket make securing drifting flies and tailing liners easier.
The hand opening on Rawlings’ RSB series is abnormally small for an adult slow-pitch glove. Men with large hands may not be able to get their hands through the opening, and should probably look elsewhere. However, one person’s too small is another’s just right, and the RSB series works great for younger people and adult women. These groups often must consider fastpitch gloves for a secure fit, but the RSB provides them with an affordable option that is adequate for slow-pitch softball.
The soft leather palm on the RSB series may break in quickly, but the tradeoff is that the leather will continue to soften and lose its shape. The natural degradation of the leather means the palm is good for two seasons at a maximum. The Neo Flex back should keep its form longer, but it is not a durable material. To make it through a second useful season, RSB series gloves must be well-looked-after. They won’t take kindly to being thrown around.
Slow-pitch softball players who want a versatile glove have a thousand options, but those on a budget do not. If you fit that description, Rawlings’ RSB series gloves deserve your consideration. The leather palm provides similar feel to much more expensive gloves, but the synthetic back keeps costs down. The basket web is useful anywhere on the field, as is the oversized pocket. Though they aren’t built for the long haul, the RSB series gloves provide all the playability most players will ever need, at least for a season or two.
The Rawlings Storm Youth Series glove is a beginner’s glove for young softball players. The glove comes in varying sizes, and retails for a fairly cheap price. Depending on size, handedness, and color, the glove’s price can be significantly under the $50 mark. Sizes of the Rawlings Storm Youth vary from a 10” to a 12.5”. Make your size-decision based on the position of the player as well as hand-size. This glove comes game-ready, and will not require much break-in time at all. It comes in a grey/purple colorway, as well as a grey/pink colorway. It can be considered a budget-glove, but it is definitely not a bad glove, regardless. The Storm is meant for youth players, preferably under the age of 12 years old.
The youth version of the Rawlings Storm comes with cushioned finger back linings for extra comfort. Also, the glove features a cushioned palm area to soften catch-impact for the player. The Youth Storm comes with a velcro hand-adjuster for different sized wrists. It is immediately apparent just how soft this glove is, as the leather is somewhat plushy-feeling. The Rawlings Storm Youth also comes with a basket web to ensure catches, and the all-leather pocket will break in so no balls pop out of the basket. The pocket is deep, and the finger holes are small, making catches even easier to be made. The mesh back combined with neo-flex technology makes for a rather lightweight model.
The Rawlings Storm Youth can be found online in a variety of sizes for relatively cheap. This makes ordering a glove much easier because there isn’t as much risk in making such a low-commitment purchase. The leather is nice and soft, and will last a decent amount of time. The Youth Storm is ready to go as soon as it arrives at your doorstep, as only a 10% player break-in is needed, (according to Amazon). The other 90% break-in is already done for the buyer. This glove is also very customizable, as the buyer can choose from all different sizes and handednesses. You can choose between the two different available colorways, grey/pink and grey/purple. The Rawlings Youth Storm has a whole lot to offer for possible buyers, and definitely will not break the bank. For the most part, Amazon reviewers are very pleased with this glove. 78% gave the Youth Storm a 5-star rating, while only one customer gave it a bad review.
Since this glove goes for so cheap, it is not going to be regarded as a high-quality glove by any means. There are definitely better-made fastpitch gloves for players at the youth level. The leather starts out really soft, which means it is only going to get softer. The leather can last you a fair amount of time if you take care of it, (see our glove-carearticles) but it isn’t meant to last much more than a season or two. Some reviewers on Amazon have had concerns with the colorways. One specific reviewer ordered a purple/grey model and was shipped a pink/grey one instead. Another reviewer was a little bit more picky, suggesting that the color of the glove was not purple, but instead, magenta. (Oh no!) Other than those minor flaws, this glove absolutely serves its purpose.
The Rawlings Youth Storm Series is a budget-glove for sure. You can find this piece on the market in for a price that is cheap even for a youth glove. Even though it may be cheap in price, it is definitely not cheap in structure. This is a comfortable and efficient glove for youth fastpitch players. The leather is good; not great, not bad, but good. The pocket is deep and soft, and the colors are pleasing to the eye. There isn’t really any break-in time needed either. A similar glove to the Storm is the Diva Louisville Slugger. The Diva is soft, lightweight, and goes for even cheaper than the Storm. It also comes in a similar grey/purple colorway. Rawlings did a good job with this glove, and I recommend taking a look at it if you are in the market for a youth player’s glove.