Breaking in a New Baseball Glove
There are a number of ways you can break in a baseball glove. The manufacturer of your glove will likely be able to give you the best practice for your particular glove. I recommend this if you are using a more high end glove. If you are looking to get your child started in a new season of little league with their brand new glove, the following recommendations should work well.
Of course, using a glove is the best way to break it in. To speed up this process, you want to soften the glove and then create a pocket.
Softening with oils or creams:
To soften the glove, you want to apply some type of oil or cream to the entire glove. You want to pay special attention to the palm of the glove, but the entire glove needs to be oiled. Be sure to avoid creasing of the palm while you are working with your glove. You can use store-bought glove oil. These can be found at most sporting good's stores or major department stores such as Wal-Mart or Target. Foam shaving cream and Vaseline will both have a softening effect on the glove. Baby Oil and Saddle Soap will also have a softening effect.You can also use mink oil, tanner's oil or neat's foot oil. *Neat's foot oil has been reported as making a glove heavier.
It's important that you know how much of the softening agent to put on the glove. Do not douse the glove. You can do a couple of different things to ensure you don't over-do it. You can put the substance on a rag and then rub a thin coating over the entire glove. You can also drizzle an oil on the glove and then rub it over the rest of the glove. Think of it as if you were trying to clean a window. You would put the window cleaner on a rag and then spread it out or you would spray an even coating over the window and rub it in. This is the same principal. You do want to cover your glove, but you do not want to soak it. You do not want the oil to soak deep into the leather. You want it to be icing, not filling.
Use it or Beat It
You want to use the glove as much as possible. Play catch. If you can't do this because you lack a partner, you can use a batter's net to throw the ball into and catch it as it comes back to you. You can also go to a batting cage and catch the ball instead of hitting it. Throw the ball hard into the glove or throw it into the air. Use is best.
You can also beat it, literally. Take a hammer and pound away. Take a baseball bat and go to town. Pound your fist into it if you want to. The more you pound away, the softer it will get. Your glove can take it and will reward you for it.
It appears to be that heating a glove has mixed reviews. It may lead to quicker deterioration of a glove. I have, personally, never tried heating a glove. I will, nonetheless, share what I've learned about how it is done.
You can use a microwave. If you do this, BE AWARE. Some gloves have metal parts! Ensure that you do not put a glove with metal parts in the microwave! I don't recommend putting the glove in for more than a minute at a time. You want to warm the glove, not cook it.
To heat it in an oven, you need to set your oven to 300 to 350 degrees and let it pre-heat. Once this has happened, turn your oven OFF. Don't leave it on when you heat the glove. The temperature needs to be dropping or you will end up with a glove that is on fire. Put the glove on a sheet and place it in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Check on it regularly to ensure that it is not smoking or catching fire.
Put it in a warm car, greenhouse, out in the sun. Put it anywhere where is gets warm. The principal is the same with (in my opinion) less danger. Leaving your glove in the car all day on a warm summer day will heat it up and, in turn, soften it.
Forming a pocket:
Every glove needs a pocket. The easiest way to do this is to put a baseball in the palm of the glove and tie something firmly around it. You can do this after you've oiled, creamed, or softened in some way. Don't put the ball in the oven or microwave with the glove! You can, though, leave the ball in while you put it in the sun or your car. Some say you should leave the ball in there initially for two days. Some say one day. I say, put it in there any time you aren't using it. Store your ball in your glove.This will also keep your glove from creasing at the palm.
Bend and shape as you go
When you're first using a glove, shape it and bend it. Bend it from the top down into the palm. Bend it open and closed. Your goal is to be able to open and close the glove with your hand in it. Doing these bends as you go will go along way in getting the glove to, well, fit like a glove.