Can you use a Baseball glove for Softball? (Quick Facts)
One question that comes up quite often when looking for required softball equipment is whether or not you can use a baseball glove for fastpitch.
After all many look the same, manufactured with the same material, and are sold in the same areas in various stores. I wanted to provide some of the differences between baseball and softball gloves so that you can make an easier decision.
Can you use a Baseball glove for Softball? No – you should not use a baseball glove for fastpitch softball. There are subtle differences between softball and baseball gloves. The biggest difference is the pocket, which is larger on softball gloves because it has to help players catch the bigger ball.
But…if having a specialized softball glove is holding someone from playing, then by all means use a baseball glove! The ball glove is one of the most important pieces of equipment in both games. However if budget is a concern and a player already has a baseball glove then don’t worry about having to go out of your way to get a softball specific glove. This is especially true for beginners, but as players age they may want to look into a more specific glove for the sport.
Let’s outline some of the difference to determine if it’s worthwhile to replace your baseball glove with a softball counterpart.
For young players under 10 years of age, softballs have a circumference of 11 inches and a diameter of 3.5 inches. Once girls reach 10 or 11, they use the big ball which has a diameter of 3.8 inches and a circumference of 12 inches. On the other hand baseball players use a ball that has a circumference of 9 inches with a diameter of 3 inches. Interestingly, baseballs all have 108 stitches, but all softballs have 88 stitches.
The size difference doesn’t seem like much, but when you see the big ball in the hands of small players who have just transitioned to it, there is a clear difference. Just like the size of the balls change, so too do softball gloves.
When is it ok for a softball player to use a baseball glove?
For a young girl who is just starting out, if you have a baseball glove that fits her and she doesn’t know any better, there is nothing wrong with letting her try the game with the baseball glove.
In fact, the gloves look exactly the same. You wouldn’t know the difference between them if you put them side-by-side. They have pockets, lacing, webbing, and beautiful grains of leather.
Just like baseball players, softball players love their gloves as they become a useful extension of their bodies on the field.
When it is not ok?
Softball gloves have a different design, because of the ball.
Baseball gloves have pockets that are sized for 3-inch balls with smaller pockets and slightly longer pockets, because baseballs are hit so hard and travel so quickly. Softballs are larger, so the pocket of a softball glove is larger, but it is also shorter, simply because the balls do not travel at the same rate as baseballs.
Because of the pocket difference, the walls of the gloves are different, too.
Softball gloves have smaller walls than baseball gloves. If you put a softball and baseball glove next to each other, you will see that the baseball glove is slightly longer – but it is so subtle that you might not notice. Softball gloves are a bit wider than baseball glove.
With baseball gloves, there are more choices for webbing design. Softball gloves do not have as many choices, other than closed webs for pitchers. This is changing as softball players can order customized gloves with their favorite styles of webbing, stitching, and leather.
Using the wrong glove can create problems
Softball players who play at competitive levels would not do themselves any favors by using a baseball glove. They could be more likely to drop the ball and not make the speedy plays that are necessary for the fast-paced game.
How should the Softball Glove fit?
Baseball players often like their gloves to be relaxed and loose on their hands.
On the flipside, softball players tend to like their gloves to fit like gloves – snug and fitted.
To get gloves to fit tightly, many gloves for younger players have velcro closures so players can get them just right. There are also competitive-level gloves that have this feature, too. Because the ball is so big, softball players like to know that the glove will not fall off when they make a tough catch.
Differences on the inside
There are other size differences that softball players appreciate.
Men’s hands are bigger, so the finger openings in baseball gloves are designed for their hands.
Fastpitch gloves have finger and hand openings that are designed for their smaller hands. Young softball players might not notice many differences as young boys tend to have small hands, too. But, high school and college players would certainly notice the differences on the inside of softball and baseball gloves.
Price points do not vary
While the gloves might look the same, they do have subtle differences designed for their respective games.
There is one thing that is the same with both softball and baseball gloves: they both are sold at a variety of price points. Gloves for both games can be purchased for prices as low as $20 and they competitive-level gloves can have price tags over $350.
When it comes to gloves for baseball and softball, you really do get what you pay for! If you are interested in purchasing a softball specific model, you may want to check out our best fastpitch softball gloves page which we keep updated each year with the top choices.