Posts Tagged baseball equipment

Baseball/Softball: Breaking In Your New Baseball Glove

It’s springtime and that means loads of BBQs and pick-up baseball games! Whether you’re replacing an old glove or this is your first in a long time, you’ll need to break your glove in to give it that well worn feel. I remember this process quite well from my own Little League days. That stiff glove… straight from the store was nearly impossible to use at first. But once you got it just right, there was nothing better!

Quite honestly, the best way to break in a new glove is to use it. This can take more time than you have or want, so you can quicken the process with some tried and true methods. You’re likely to get a number of different methods depending on who you ask. It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s suggested method since glove leather can vary widely.

First things first… When buying a new glove, remember that fit is of the utmost importance. Like shoes, you want the glove to fit properly right from the start. Don’t choose a glove hoping it will stretch.

There are many ways to break in your new glove. Most are very similar and involve some sort of oil or cream. Depending on your preference, you can use shaving cream (foam, not gel), vaseline, mink oil or saddle soap. Sporting goods stores also carry a variety of specially made glove oils, but the other products listed here work as well. These solutions soften the leather to the more pliable state most players like. Avoid anything that contains silicone as this will cause the leather to dry out and will shorten the glove’s lifespan.

Use the oil or cream sparingly though. You should only use enough product to create a light film on the glove…. Use too much and you’ll just have a mess on your hands. Using your fingers, get a small amount and wipe it around around the entire surface of the glove. Add a little extra to the glove area where it bends.

Now you’ll need to create a pocket in the glove. Simply place a baseball in the glove where the ball should be caught. Wrap the glove with a rubberband, shoelace or long piece of string. This will allow the pocket to take the shape of the ball. Keep the glove wrapped for 1 -2 days. After the specified amount of time, unwrap the glove and bend it to ensure that it is properly softened and to work it in a bit more. Throw the ball into the center of the glove’s pocket several times. You can also beat the glove (but be careful not to smash your fingers). Re-wrap the glove and store it overnight. Your glove should be ready to use in the morning.

Please note: While some swear by the “heating” method… I would avoid this at all cost. Common sense tells you that when you heat leather… even for 20 minutes, it’s bound to dry out.

There are no rules as to how soft or stiff your glove should be. Just get it to your comfortable spot and you’ll be happy.

Now get out there and PLAY BALL!

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Baseball/Softball: How to Choose a Batting Helmet

Baseball Helmets

One of the leading causes of sports related injuries among children, teens and adults is ill-fitting gear or wearing none at all. Baseball can be quite dangerous. If your head lacks proper protection, it can even be fatal. Just consider for a minute the speed and force in which a baseball or softball is actually thrown (even in Little League) and you will realize the damage that can be done by a ball hitting you in the head. Our heads are pretty tough, but were never meant for THAT.

No matter your age or playing level, a batting helmet should be worn whenever you are at the plate. You just never know when a wild fastball will be thrown your way. We’ve all heard the complaints of helmets being uncomfortable, leading a player to skip its use if not mandated by league rules. Chosen properly, a helmet should not be uncomfortable at all. Read on to learn how to buy a proper batting helmet.

When you’re shopping for a batting helmet, you want to consider several things before making a purchase. A batting helmet should cover the back, top and sides of your head.

They should also cover at least one ear. For right-handed batters, the left ear should be covered and vice versa for left-handed batters. This protects the ear that will have a ball coming towards it and allows the batter to hear the umpire with their other ear. There are also batting helmets that cover both ears available as well. Learn the helmet requirements from your league. Some leagues have strict helmet specifications, and failure to adhere to them may result in removal from a game.

The batting helmet should fit securely on the head without squeezing the head. It should not move when your head is turned from side to side and should be easy to take on and off as well. A secure batting helmet should not fall forward over the eyes. Whether you are buying a helmet in a store or online, be sure to take a measurement of your head’s circumference at its widest point. A secure fit is important in a batting helmet, as it could cause more damage to a player if it were to get hit by a ball.

But all helmets are not created equal! The cheapest batting helmets are made of plastic with a protective layer beneath while more advanced batting helmets are made of durable polymers. The foam interior of the helmet is a safety must-have. This padding keeps the head away from the outer shell of the helmet in case of impact. Save money elsewhere, but don’t skimp on the batting helmet that you choose. You are buying safety and in this case, you really do get what you pay for. Find a brand name you trust and do the research on that particular helmet. Be sure the shell is made of quality materials and the foam padding is thick and durable.

Batting helmets were not required in the MLB until 1971. Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs was the first to wear an earflap helmet in the game. Today, all batters, base runners, bat-boys, bat-girls, and catchers are required to wear a batting helmet. Catchers and bat-boys and girls usually wear a flapless batting helmet with no ear protection. After the recent death of Tulsa Drillers first base coach Mike Coolbaugh, many base coaches are electing to wear batting helmets as well. Coolbaugh was hit in the head with a line drive.

Softball Helmets

Buying a softball helmet, whether for fast pitch or slow pitch, please consider the tips for proper fit above. Using a helmet that isn’t up to NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standards can cause you to be ejected from the game, or worse yet, it may lead to serious injury.

Softball helmets are made of impact-resistant molded ABS plastic. They are solid one-piece helmets with interior foam padding. Many have face guards in front with straps that secure them to the head.

Ponytail batting helmets do just what their names says… they allow room for a girl’s ponytail. More comfortable than the standard softball batting helmet, it fits better because female baseball and softball players don’t have to cram their ponytail into it.

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