An average softball can travel anywhere from 35 to 74 miles per hour, and that’s only counting slow pitches.
Professional leagues can reach all the way up to 90 miles per hour, and some truly remarkable throws break the 100-mile mark.
For an idea of how fast that is, that’s half the speed of a 250-gram arrow when fired from a 60-lb, 28-inch draw bow.
Now imagine catching that with your bare hands.
Made you wince? Thankfully, there’s a relatively straightforward solution to protect catchers: softball gloves.
Made from a variety of different designs and materials, they’re one of the most essential pieces of softball equipment. Here are five of the best softball gloves available on the market right now.
Top Five Softball Gloves, Reviewed
#5 Mizuno MVP Prime SE Gloves
Mizuno has been a trusted name in glove manufacturing since 1906, and their experience shows in the MVP Prime SE.
They’re particularly good at crafting gloves that ensure the best fit and comfort while still remaining durable and functional enough to take the demands of softball.
It’s a good entry glove for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers who are looking to get in the game. It’s also one of the most reasonably-priced gloves on the market, making it ideal for younger softball players who are just starting out.
Definitely pick this glove if you’re looking for a gift for a niece or nephew who’s really into the sport.
#4 Mizuno Premier Slowpitch or Fastpitch Softball Glove
For those looking for a softball glove that can combine durability with ball handling, the Mizuno Premiere Slowpitch/Fastpitch glove is a good choice.
It’s a glove that’s specifically designed to help lessen the shock of catching softballs and is designed for better ball control with either catching or throwing.
While it’s admittedly not as comfortable as the other Mizuno gloves, this is undoubtedly one of the most durable gloves on the market.
It can last for many seasons under repeated use and offers excellent features and quality for the price.
#3 Franklin Sports Windmill Series Lightweight Softball Glove
When it comes to fitting, the Franklin Sports Windmills Series has consistently proven their worth.
Designed to fit both left and right-handed players due to its unique design, it’s a glove that’s well-suited for the serious softball player.
At 11 inches, it’s one of the smaller gloves on the market, making it a good choice for players with smaller hands.
This glove is a good fit for casual players or kids in Little League.
The mesh design gives added comfort in comparison to other gloves, but be advised this glove is unlikely to stand up to intensive use or professional play.
Still, it’s a good glove that can be used by catchers in any position on the field.
#2 Easton Salvo Elite Softball Glove
As one of the trusted names in providing softball equipment, Easton knows a thing or two about crafting quality gloves.
The Salvo Elite is the culmination of their dedication to form and function: a soft glove that can securely fit any hand, coupled with the durability that you’d expect from high-performance gloves.
The Double Deep palm design makes this an ideal glove for outfielders, giving them deeper pockets to work with to ensure better ball control.
However, the VRS palm padding also makes this a good choice for infielders (especially when catching tricky groundballs), giving them more cushioning from high-velocity impacts.
#1 Rawlings Liberty Advanced Softball Glove
Rawlings is known for providing high-quality softball gloves for female players, but one of their best products can be used by any gender.
The Liberty Advanced Softball Gloves features almost all-leather construction, giving it one of the highest durability ratings in comparison to other gloves on the market.
At 12 to 12.5 inches, this is an ideal for almost any softball player.
It features palm and index finger pads that can considerably lessen the sting from catching fast pitches, and the non-slip strap allows the Liberty Advanced to stay on your hand even with rough use.
As one of the best softball gloves available right now, it’s definitely a good investment for those wanting to take their ball game to the next level.
What Should I Be Looking For In A Softball Glove, Anyway?
But before we jump into the contenders, let’s first look at the important qualities that you should be looking for in a softball glove.
Keep in mind that there are various factors that will influence your decision, including; the role you have on the field, your hand size, and your personal preference.
All these factors will play a role in determining what sort of glove you pick—and we’ll expand on that as we go along.
Material is important for a few reasons.
It’s one of the biggest factors that determine a glove’s overall price, it will affect how comfortable the fit will be, and it will affect the gloves durability.
There are three types of material generally used in softball gloves:
It’s rare that you’ll get the opportunity to get your hands on a glove specially-crafted to fit your exact size and measurements.
That’s why the majority of softball gloves have wrist adjustments in order to fit the glove as snugly as it can. Buckling, lacing, or velcro are all popular options, and usually vary based on the material of the glove itself.
Wrist adjustment also plays into how well the glove fits and stays on your hand.
Too many fumbles have been caused by mitts that don’t fit well, so a tight-fitting properly strapped glove is essential.
Padding is a relatively new addition to softball gloves.
It was usually expected that pitchers and catchers should have enough strength to take the brunt of the ball with just the glove.
However, recent studies have shown that depending on where you are on the field, a certain amount of padding is needed to reduce overall shock and damage to your hands and wrist upon catching the ball.
The tradeoff for this is that the glove can start to feel a little too thick and unwieldy after a certain amount of padding, which can cause you to fumble catches if you aren’t used to a padded glove.
Pocket and Webbing Sizes
Pockets and webs are essential parts of any glove that can drastically improve the performance of any softball player on the field.
Keep in mind that depending on your position, the pocket and webbing types can change by a lot.
A general rule of thumb to follow is that infielders have more compact pockets and webbing to allow for easy passes between each other, and outfielders have longer gloves to help catch flyballs.
Budget and Expected Use
Finally, you’ll need to take your budget into account.
While the price points of softball gloves aren’t as high as bats, there’s still a reasonable range that they can fall under when it comes to pricing.
The ideal balance is to find a glove that provides the best comfort, fit, and protection for its price—you can move on to other models once you’re able to dedicate more money toward it.
Now that we’ve gotten those out of the way, here’s our list of the top five softball gloves you can get on the market right now.
While they may not be as specialized as the kinds of mitts and gloves used by professional softball players, they’re accessible enough to be usable by most players.
How Important Is My Role In The Kind Of Glove I Choose?
The gloves above are good picks when it comes to gloves that you can use for amateur play.
But if you really want to up your game, you’ll need to consider the role you play when you step out to the field. In professional games, even the smallest factors can play a critical role in your team’s success.
If you’re wondering how to choose the right softball glove for your position, here are some general tips you can follow.
Catcher’s mitts are special compared to other softball gloves—so much so that it’s not entirely inaccurate to say that they are their own category.
But if you are looking for a glove to fit a catcher position; the amount of padding and the overall size of the glove should be your primary criteria.
Since pitchers will often be aiming for the catcher’s mitt, the size of the glove should be visible from the pitcher’s position.
Padding will be needed in order to protect the catcher’s hand from the speed of the ball.
The function of the pitcher’s gloves is a little different compared to the rest of the gloves on this list.
Since they don’t usually use the glove to catch, pitcher’s gloves are often used to hide the tells that indicate what kind of throw they are about to pitch.
As a result, their gloves often have intricate or wide webbing that can cover their hand and the ball from the batter.
Otherwise, they can use the gloves usually worn by infielders.
Basemen’s gloves are generally characterized by a “scooped edge” that makes it easy for them to pick up balls that roll in the dirt.
They’re also larger than other gloves to give infielders a good target to throw at when passing the ball.
The gloves of infielders have the widest variety when it comes to design and size—but the general pattern that they follow is being longer or shorter depending on how close they are to the flyball.
For example, shortstops have longer gloves to increase their fielding range, but most infielder gloves are small in order to allow players to avoid fumbling with the ball.
Outfielders have the longest and widest gloves to offset the chance of dropping a flyball headed in their direction, but they also need to be as compact as possible to avoid fumbling.
This is especially true for outfielders that often find themselves snagging a ball that’s about to cross the wall.
Again, these differences don’t matter so much in casual play but are taken more seriously in professional matches.
Depending on the league (such as the ASA or NSA), there can be requirements governing the kind of gloves used by each team in every match.
You can always get a glove cheap at any dollar store around town, or borrow some secondhand from friends or relatives.
But if you’re truly serious about taking up the sport, the options I listed above are some of the best softball gloves available on the market.
Getting the right softball glove is a matter of preference as much as it is of design and features. You can have all the bells and whistles, but if the player isn’t comfortable with it the extras won’t amount to anything.
So keep in mind that you may have to go through a couple of temporary gloves before you find your perfect match!