How To Break In A Baseball Glove: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to break in a baseball glove

Breaking in a new baseball glove is a timeless ritual that connects players of all levels, from little league enthusiasts to major league professionals. The process not only softens the glove for optimal performance but also personalizes it, making it an extension of the player’s hand.

Step By Step Guide

Before applying any oil, clean the glove’s surface with a dry or slightly damp cloth to remove dirt and debris. This ensures that the oil penetrates the leather evenly without being blocked by any grime.

Bonus Tip: Warm up your baseball glove before shaping it to make stretching the leather easier, helping you shape the glove more effectively. Just use small amounts of warm/hot water for this.

Step 1: Shape the Pocket

The pocket is where the ball spends most of its time, so shaping it is crucial. One effective method is the mallet technique, where you use a glove mallet to mimic the impact of a baseball. You can also grab a, dumbbell, weight or hammer for this. But it might not work as well and most certainly be more dangerous. So be very careful.

Strike and pound the pocket area, the glove’s heel, and then the webbing to help form the perfect pocket shape.

Step 2: Soften the Leather

Leather softener or conditioner is your best friend in the break-in process. Apply a leather conditioner/oil to a sponge/cloth. Then apply to the glove, focusing on the pocket and laces. Avoid over-saturating the leather, as too much moisture can damage it. After applying, work the glove with your hands, bending the fingers and thumb to start forming the pocket.

Apply the Oil

  • Lightly Oil the Glove: Use a small amount of glove oil or conditioner. A few drops are often enough for the entire glove. You can always add more if necessary, but starting with less is wise to avoid over-saturating the leather.
  • Focus Areas for Application:
    • Pocket: This is the primary catching area of the glove and one of the most crucial parts to keep soft and well-conditioned.
    • Laces: Apply a small amount of oil to the laces to keep them supple and prevent them from drying out and breaking. Be careful not to over-oil, as this can lead to the laces becoming too slippery or degraded.
    • Webbing: The webbing also benefits from light conditioning, helping to maintain its flexibility and durability.
    • Back of the Fingers: Conditioning the back of the fingers helps keep the leather flexible, aiding in closing the glove more easily.
    • Thumb and Pinky Areas: These areas undergo a lot of movement and stress, making them important spots for conditioning.

Avoid Over-Applying

  • Do Not Apply Oil to the Palm: Applying oil directly to the palm area can make the glove too soft and affect its ability to catch and hold onto the ball effectively.
  • Use a Cloth or Sponge: Apply the oil with a soft cloth or sponge to ensure an even distribution. This method also helps prevent over-application in any single area.

Work the Oil Into the Glove

After applying the oil, use your hands to work it into the leather, paying particular attention to the areas mentioned above. This helps ensure that the oil is evenly distributed and absorbed by the leather.

Wipe Away Excess

If any excess oil is visible on the glove after application, gently wipe it away with a clean cloth. Leaving too much oil on the glove can attract dirt and degrade the leather over time. You can repeat steps 1 and 2, but remember less is more in terms of the glove oil/conditioner.

Step 3: Play Catch (Most Important)

There’s no substitute for the real thing. Playing catch is arguably the most effective way to break in a glove. It naturally forms the glove to your hand and the way you catch a ball. Spend as much time as you can throwing and catching with the glove. The repetition and impact of the ball will soften the leather and mold the glove.

Step 4: Use During Practice

Incorporate your glove into practice sessions. Whether it’s fielding grounders, catching pop flies, or just having it on during drills, the more you use it, the better. This step is about getting the glove used to the types of movements and impacts it will regularly endure.

Step 5: Keep it Shaped

When you’re not using your glove, keep a ball in the pocket and wrap it with a couple of bands or a baseball glove wrap. This helps maintain the pocket’s shape and prevents the glove from flattening out.

Step 6: Store Properly

Avoid leaving your glove in extreme conditions, such as in direct sunlight, in a damp area, or in very cold temperatures. Leather is sensitive to its environment, and extreme conditions can dry out, warp, or otherwise damage your glove.

How Long Does It Take To Break In A Baseball Glove?

The time it takes to break in a baseball glove depends on several factors, including the glove’s quality, the leather type, and how much you use it. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to even a couple months of consistent use before your glove is fully broken in.

5 Best Baseball Glove Oil

1) Sarna Baseball Glove Oil (Most Popular)

Sarna baseball glove oil

Why We Like It:

  • High quality leather care oils are specially designed to allow for clean conditioning
  • Great Reviews
  • Created by ball players, for ball players
  • Will not alter the color or darken your beloved gloves

2) Rawlings Glovolium (Best Reviewed)

 Rawlings Glovolium

Why We Like It:

  • Trusted brand in the world of baseball
  • Softens, protects, and restores leather gloves
  • Cloth Included & comes in Spray formula too
  • Lots of great reviews

3) Rhino Wax (Best Kit)

rhino wax baseball glove kit

Why We Like It:

  • Includes: Baseball Glove Oil, Baseball Glove Conditioner, Glove Mallet, Glove Wrap, Brush, and Microfiber Cloth
  • Hydrate using oil, soften and shape with a baseball mallet and glove wrap, and protect with conditioner

4) Rawlings Glove Conditioner (Best Conditioner)

Rawlings Glove Conditioner

Why We Like It:

  • Great reviews and good price
  • Helps break-in, clean and protect gloves with one product
  • Easy to apply and repels moisture from leather

5) Wilson Pro Stock Glove Conditioner (Most Affordable)

Wilson Pro Stock Glove Conditioner

Why We Like It:

  • Great price and lots of great reviews
  • Trusted brand
  • Easy to apply
  • Enhances natural leather scent and color


* Should You Microwave Your Glove?

No, microwaving your glove is not recommended. It can cause the leather to dry out and potentially warp or crack the glove.

* What Does Steaming a Baseball Glove Do?

Steaming a baseball glove is a process used by some players to soften the leather quickly. It involves using steam to loosen up the leather, making it more pliable and easier to break in.

However, this method is not recommended for all gloves and should be used with caution as it can also damage or over-soften the leather.

Dicks Sporting Goods offers this service to help break in your baseball glove.

* Can You Use Shaving Cream For a Baseball Glove?

No, just use glove oil/conditioner.

* Should You Let Other People Use Your Glove?

No. A baseball glove molds to the hand of the person who breaks it in, fitting the contours of their hand and adapting to their catching style. When someone else uses your glove, it may start to take on the shape of their hand, potentially altering its fit and performance for you.


Remember, patience is key—the best gloves are those that have been lovingly broken in over time, providing a perfect blend of comfort, performance, and personal touch.

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