Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Youth Glove in 2020
Youth leagues are filled with players that show great potential and skill. From playing in Saturday Little League tournaments to practicing with a friend in the backyard, your youth player shows up to play. However, a player’s development can be significantly limited by the gear they use. This applies to cleats, bats, and especially gloves. With so many brands, models, material types, sizes, and other elements to consider, how do you find the right glove for your youth player?
Pitchers, right-fielders, shortstops, first-baseman, you name it; many different factors apply to each player’s individual needs when searching for the perfect baseball glove. A new leather glove will last multiple seasons, making it easier on the player’s comfortability and your pockets.
Consider this article a comprehensive guide to helping you choose which baseball glove is the right fit for your youth player’s needs.
History of the Baseball Glove
It’s important to understand why baseball gloves are the way they are in the modern era of the sport. From the first professional use of the baseball glove in 1875 to the flashy and fancy looks we see in the current state of the game, this piece of leather has evolved from a simple mitten-style covering to the new and elaborate designs worn by pros and amateurs alike.
1875: The First Pro Appearance
Charlies Waite was the first pro player to wear a baseball glove in a game. The design was something like a winter mitten without the finger coverings (think “hobo” style glove). This, of course, was the start of a sport-wide phenomenon that picked up quickly among professional and non-professional leagues around the country.
1920: The Glove Gets A Facelift
Rawlings, who had been in the business of baseball gear for a while, purchased the rights to the newly-designed web glove, which looked like a leather welder’s glove with webbing between the fingers. The design was intended to increase the usability of the glove by increasing catch rates and decreasing the dreaded ball sting. This innovation led to a launch of great competition in the glove world.
1922: Enter The Catcher’s Mitt
Wilson, one of the top names in baseball since this moment, changed the game for catchers by developing a mitt specifically catered to their needs. With extra padding and greater comfort, the innovative mitt was the new standard for players catching those speedy pitches.
1957: The Wilson A2000
Wilson’s A2000 is still one of the most sought after gloves today. Invented in 1957, this glove was designed for infielders and outfielders to catch fly balls and scoop up grounders with greater ease than ever before. It was lighter, longer, more durable, and more breathable than any other glove in the industry. Next time you’re at a game of any level, take a look at the gloves being worn by the players; odds are you’ll see a Wilson A2000!
The Modern Era of Baseball Gloves
Truly the peak of baseball gear, we’re seeing more and more glove innovations and developments that are proving to benefit the player. Between its web-like design, leather material, flexibility, padding, extended reach, and any other elements involved, the modern glove is about as good as it gets.
Anatomy of the Baseball Glove - How Baseball Gloves Are Built
There are many different variations of baseball gloves on the market. A normal leather baseball glove is comprised of five different parts: the fingers, webbing, lacing, pocket (palm), and heel pad. The primary difference between glove types is dependent on position and player preference. The most commonly divided types are the catcher’s mitt, first-base mitt, and the infielder/outfielder glove.
The Catcher’s Mitt
The catcher’s mitt’s primary differentiator by its lack of fingers. Their special design earned them the name “mitt” because of this. When it comes to mitt structure it is important to understand that catchers have to take pitch after pitch which requires them to have a stiff, durable, sturdy, and highly-padded mitt.
The First-Base Mitt
The first-base mitt is similar to that of a catcher’s mitt because they also don’t have individual fingers. This is because first-basemen are subject to catching the most throws during a game, whether that be the pitcher keeping the first-base runner in check from the mound, or a third-to-first play where the third-baseman or shortstop make a fast pass to first to throw the runner out after hitting a groundball. The mitt design is more flexible than that of the catcher’s mitt, but also has the stiffness, thick padding, and deep web to for palm protection and greater grip.
Infielder/outfielder gloves are the style that most people picture when they think of a baseball glove. The design is set apart by the separation of the fingers and the flexible, lightweight design. There are slight variations depending on position and preference, such as pitcher’s choosing a woven web pattern to hide the ball and the hand, or outfielders choosing an extended finger length with increased flexibility for snagging those deep-field bombs.
Below is more information on glove specifications which will help you to form an understanding of what to look for, particularly in gloves that are intended for infielders and outfielders. The design and structure necessary for youth baseball players to successfully play their roles comes down to their position and their individual preferences.
What to Consider When Buying A Youth Baseball Glove
Amateur baseball players usually don’t play just one position for the whole season. It’s common to bounce back-and-forth between infield and outfield. This is why prioritizing a glove that’s versatile enough to perform in any position is important. Here are a few tips for selecting a youth baseball glove:
How To Choose A Youth Baseball Glove That Fits… Like A Glove
This might seem obvious, but finding the right fit is more difficult than one would think. The most important considerations are its measurable size and feel. To accurately gauge a glove’s size, measure it from the tip of the index finger down to the bottom of the heel. Be sure to follow along the length of the finger and the palm, and keep the measurement tape in touch with the natural contour of the glove. Check out this sizing chart for a general reference:
- Ages <6: 9” to 10 ½” Glove Size
- Ages 7-10: 11” to 12” Glove Size
- Ages 11+: 12” to 13 ½” Glove Size
This is the basic standard for glove measurement. Each player will have unique requirements, but this is a good starting point for those who don’t know where to start or may not be familiar with baseball glove sizing.
Choose A Youth Glove Based On Your Position
As stated earlier, amateur youth leagues typically see players bouncing around positions as they begin to discover their role on the field. However, players begin to carve out their primary position relatively early on, which makes this element of the glove selection process smoother. Here are some rules of thumb for sizing when selecting a position-specific glove:
- Ages <6: 9” to 10”
- Ages 7-10: 10” to 11 ½”
- Ages 11+: 11” to 12”
- Ages <6: 9” to 10 ½”
- Ages 7-10: 11” to 12 ½”
- Ages 11+: 12” to 13”
As you can see from the sizing chart that you read above, infielders will typically want to target a smaller-sized glove, whereas outfielders will want to target a slightly larger-sized glove. This is because infielders like second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops, require greater mobility which can be achieved through lighter weight, smaller size, and greater flexibility. They need to react quickly to grounders and for making in-game plays.
On the other hand, outfielders need a larger-sized glove to make those big-catch plays. A batter will often hit the ball into the outfield with just enough velocity for an outfielder to make a catch. To make those catches, outfielders require extended glove length and greater glove stability to hold on to the ball after catch-contact is made.
Another highly important aspect of selecting a glove based on position is its web design. The web is the woven structure that connects the thumb to the index finger. Its primary function is to catch and scoop up balls with ease. Web patterns can span from flexible to stiff, loosely-stitched to tightly-stitched, and wide to narrow. The type of web pattern your youth player may need will depend on their position and their individual needs.
Glove Web Pattern Designs By Position
With numerous options for web patterns, it’s easy to get confused on which one is right for your player. We’ve compiled a list of recommendations that makes it easier for you to identify the correct web design based on field position:
Pitcher Web Design
- Pitchers will undoubtedly want to consider going with a basket web pattern for their next glove. This design is fully closed off which allows a pitcher to hide the ball and their hand, always leaving the batter guessing what the next pitch will be. Two-piece closed web design can also be utilized effectively by pitchers for similar reasons, but will come at a heavier weight than the basket web.
First and Third Base Web Design
- The best web pattern here is the single post web. It provides a deep pocket that enables first- or third-basemen to secure infield throws with ease, but also makes it more difficult to transfer the ball from the glove to the hand in order to make a quick turnaround play.
Infielder Web Design
- The H and I web designs are great for infielders. The I web is especially popular among middle infielders. The capital “I” shaped leather allows infielders to see fly balls through the gaps of the web, as well as align their gloves with the ball hitting the same spot for quick turnaround throws. The capital “H” shaped leather on the H web design is versatile enough for both infielders and outfielders to use, but its benefits are primarily similar to those of the I web.
Outfielder Web Design
- As aforementioned, the H web pattern is very beneficial for outfielders due to the increased visibility through the web which makes lining up fly balls with the glove easier. Another solid option for outfielders is the modified trap pattern. It’s more of a “utility” or “flex” type of web design, meaning that most positions can use it effectively, but it’s highly-popular among outfielders. The leather lacing creates greater flexibility and an easier closing that secures both grounders and high-hitters with minimal issue.
Web Patterns And What They Mean
- A pitcher’s best friend. Basket web patterns look exactly as the name suggests; a woven basket. They are tightly-stitched using intertwined leather straps. They have greater flexibility and are easier to close given the flexible design that anchors the web. Pitchers prefer this style because they can hide the ball and hand from the batter, allowing them to easily keep the batter guessing what the next pitch will be.
- Most commonly preferred by outfielders, the trapeze web pattern has a small leather strap connecting both sides with strong lacing that holds them together, running from the top of the finger down to where the two sides connect.
Modified Trap Web
- Mostly used by pitchers and infielders, the modified trap web pattern has a similar structure to the normal trapeze web. The primary difference is the thicker leather strap along the top of the glove. This provides greater stability for the player.
H/Dual Post & I Webs
- The H and I webs earned their name from their designs which form the letters H and I. The I web pattern is almost exclusively used by infielders because it helps them grab and retrieve ground balls quicker than other pattern styles with their greater flexibility. The H/Dual post web pattern is used by outfielders but is more typically worn by infielders. It exhibits high levels of sturdiness and flexibility. They H web makes it easier for infielders to see fly balls through their glove when going for a catch.
Single Post Web
- The first base position is where the single post web pattern thrives. Strips of leather are woven together both vertically and horizontally, giving the first baseman greater flexibility and visibility.
Double Post Web
- Another favorite among pitchers is the double post web pattern. Like the single post web, it consists of leather strips woven together horizontally and vertically and offers greater flexibility and visibility. The decision between the two lies in the preference and field position of the player.
- Like the basket web pattern, the two-piece web is favored among pitchers because of the ease of hiding the ball and hand from the batter, behind the web covering in the glove. A variation of the two-piece web is the two-piece closed or solid web, which consists of more leather material, is tightly-stitched, and weighs more.
How to Choose A Youth Glove With The Right Leather Type
Baseball is a rough sport that puts a lot of wear and tear on bats, gloves, cleats, and jerseys. You need gear that can withstand even the most brutal of games. Because of this, it’s necessary to consider the durability of the gloves you are looking at, without sacrificing any of the quality. Baseball glove designers and manufacturers take this aspect seriously and it’s why gloves are made from a variety of leather materials.
There are four major types of leathers used in baseball gloves: full-grain, kip/kipskin, premium steerhide, and cowhide. A fifth material commonly used is synthetic leather which is less durable, but does offer a price tag that’s easier on the bank.
Which Glove Leather Type Is Right For You?
Best Glove Leather for Beginners
- Cowhide leather is light, flexible, and requires little-to-no break-in time, making it the best all-around choice for beginner level players.
Best Glove Leather for Intermediate Players
- Kip leather is the preferred choice among intermediate players because of its light and flexible nature.
- Cowhide leather is another popular material at this skill level because of its minimal break-in time, light weight, and flexibility.
Best Glove Leather for Advanced Players
- Premium steerhide leather is made with ultra-high quality material that is stiffer, heavier, and requires a longer break-in time than its alternatives, which is why it is recommended for advanced players.
- Full-grain leather is also beneficial for high-level players due to similar attributes, but will exert great performance once broken in.
The type of leather used affects how the glove looks, feels, how durable it is, its break-in time (length of time it takes to break-in the glove), and the price of the glove itself. Let’s take a look at the differences between leather types:
- This leather type uses steerhide or cowhide material. What sets it apart is the way the natural grain of the leather remains. A full-grain leather glove is relatively stiffer and heavier than other types. This results in a longer break-in time. Even with the longer wait, full-grain leather provides an elevated level of performance and durability.
- Kip leather, also called kipsin leather, is the type of material used in many high-end baseball gloves. Its soft and comfortable feel provides a player with superior comfort when worn. Kip leather is also lightweight, allowing for a greater sense of control and usability. It is especially useful for infielders who are required to make quick plays and have reduced transfer time of the ball from the glove to the throwing hand. When compared to full-grain leather, kip leather gloves take less time to break in and are easier to use.
- Steerhide leather is tougher and more durable than cowhide. It’s also stiffer and heavier than the other three types of leather, which makes it quite difficult to break in. It’s called “premium” for a reason, though; the leather is extremely durable and strong, meaning the longer break-in time is worth the extended use you will get out of it.
Cowhide (Standard Reference For Leather)
- Cowhide is the industry standard for glove material. When you think of leather, you’re typically thinking of cowhide material. This glove type is typically medium weight, but can sometimes be heavier. Cowhide is popular among many players because it exerts high levels of performance and has a faster break-in time. Unlike the alternative steerhide leather, cowhide usually wears out faster and is less durable. Several baseball glove manufacturers will pre-oil cowhide leather to reduce the break-in time even further. Overall, cowhide leather is the material used to create the best all-around youth baseball glove.
The Top 10 Best Youth Baseball Gloves
By now you should have a good understanding of what to look for when selecting a new baseball glove for your youth player. Having covered size, leather type, design, web pattern, and other previously discussed specifications, it’s time to dive into the top-ten youth baseball gloves of 2020.
Our top pick for the best youth baseball glove in 2020 is the Rawlings’ Select Pro Lite series. Every youth athlete has dreams of being just like their favorite professional player. With Rawlings’ Select Pro Lite Series, they can be one step closer! This glove is specifically designed to look and feel like the gloves that your child’s favorite MLB players use. Since it is made based on MLB players’ mitts, it can be used by both outfielders and infielders. It’s considered an entry-level glove for kids ages 6 to 12, and has some great features:
- Designed for youth athletes based on the gloves worn by popular MLB players
- Soft leather shell construction
- Shock-reducing palm technology
- Lightweight vinyl design for quicker and easier closing movement
- Lacing may frequently become unknotted
- Longer break-in time
- Runs smaller in size
- A bit on the pricier side
Easton’s Flex Notch technology makes the Scout Flex Series shine. The innovative flex technology allows players to close the glove pocket with increased ease, making it especially appealing to new and developing players. Its versatile line offers options for left-handed or right-handed players, and includes a hog hide leather shell and a lightweight 3-piece palm construction with a soft palm liner for both durability and increased grip, comfort, and control. The Scout Flex’s features are very unique:
- Flex Notch technology for easier pocket closure
- 3-piece palm construction for a lightweight and durable structure
- Soft palm liner for improved grip, comfort, control, and reduced palm-shock on contact
- Come in both left-handed and right-handed designs
- Sizing only ranges from 9” to 11”
- Only offered in 1 color option
Mizuno is one of the most dependable names in baseball gear. Their Prospect Select Youth glove series is no different. One of the defining features is the PowerClose Technology which is specially designed to make catching the ball easier. This makes it ideal for younger players who are developing their catching skills, but also useful for more advanced players who want the benefit of the technology. It has a full-grain leather construction to provide a more comfortable and softer feel while also absorbing shock. Here are some of the highlights of Mizuno’s Prospect Select series:
- PowerClose Technology provides an easier catching experience
- ButterSoft PU palm liner increases glove durability and maximizes comfort
- Full-grain leather construction gives the glove a softer feel
- Ideal for younger players developing their skills
- A bit on the pricier side
- May run smaller in size
- Slightly stiffer than similar alternatives
Every baseball player knows the name Louisville Slugger. As one of the oldest and most dependable names in the game, you can count on Louisville Slugger’s Genesis youth glove to provide a near-flawless performance. Durable? Check. Lightweight and flexible? Check. Comfortable? Check. It’s a great entry-level glove that offers plenty of toughness for any type of player. Here’s what you need to know about the Genesis youth glove:
- All-mesh backside removes extra material to make it lightweight
- Leather padded palm provides the user with a stronger grip and maximum comfort
- Tough nylon shell increases durability while maintaining flexibility
- May run smaller in size
- Nylon shell may reduce glove breathability
- Extended break-in time
This Rawlings youth glove is very popular among infielders and pitchers due to its quick and easy break-in time. Made from synthetic leather materials, it offers a tight, yet comfortable, fit. The adjustable strap lets players manage how snug it sits, and its composition delivers a lighter weight. Here are some key specifications of this glove:
- Quick break-in time
- Offered in a variety of colors
- Two different styles: Closed Web and Open Back
- Limited sizing only ranging from 9 ½” to 11 ½”
- May be too tight for some players
The Franklin Sports RTPII Teeball glove is the perfect choice for the young prodigies just beginning their baseball careers. Made from synthetic material, its shell is extremely lightweight and comfortable. The RTPII Teeball youth glove even comes with a FREE foam baseball! Check out this quick overview:
- Variety of color options, including a stand-out color scheme
- Ultra-lightweight shell with a comfortable fit
- Easy and better break-in with the RTP II Construction
- Very affordable
- Young players may quickly grow out of it
- Limited sizing at 9 ½”
Easton’s Mako series gloves are made from genuine cowhide leather; the most commonly used leather type in the sport. Easton is also one of the most recommended brands for baseball gloves, so you can rest assured that the Mako series will give your player all that they need to perform above and beyond. Another benefit of choosing Easton is the high level of durability in their products, especially gloves. Here’s a brief overview of the Mako youth series glove:
- One of the more affordable glove options
- Uses Easton’s Hyperlite design for maximum durability
- Oiled Hog Hide Lining protects players’ palms from ball impact
- Tricot Finger Linin protects the fingers when ball contact is made
- Slightly lower quality seam structure
- Extended break-in time
Another one of the oldest and most sought after brands in baseball is Wilson. Wilson is known for its innovative designs and game-changing features, and they didn’t skip a beat with this youth glove. From its soft inner lining to its exceptional durability, Wilson has a lot to be proud of with the A360. Take a look at the main highlights:
- The extremely durable and lightweight design makes it easy to handle and control
- Improved comfort with the soft inner lining
- Little-to-no break-in time needed
- Web pattern delivers increased flexibility
- May run smaller in size
- A slightly older model baseball glove
The Wilson A2000 Clayton Kershaw Game Pitcher is designed for youth with playing skills advancement in mind. If it isn’t obvious in the name, this model is very popular among pitchers, though other positions use it as well. Players using this model will enjoy the 2-piece web design, high-end leather construction, Dual Welting pocket for increased durability, and many other features:
- High-end Pro Stock Leather makes for an easy break-in and long-lasting use
- DriLex Wrist Lining maintains a cool and dry hand; especially important for pitchers*
- Finger and palm padding for increased protection
- May run smaller in size
- Primarily used at the pitching position
Rounding out the top-10 youth baseball gloves of 2020 is one of the most versatile gloves in this guide. The R9 series by Rawlings features significant levels of padding in the thumb, fingers, and palm, which creates a highly protective and comfortable feel. The fully-leather construction maximizes the life of the glove, even with the roughest of use, and minimizes the glove’s weight. Here are the main highlights:
- Fully-leather construction for maximum durability and lightweight feel
- Thick padding maximizes protection in the finger, thumb, and palm
- Tapered fit increases performance, particularly in younger players
- One of the more expensive youth gloves
- Extended break-in time
Wrapping Things Up
This list is meant to act as a guide throughout the entire process of selecting the best youth baseball glove for your star player. There are countless youth gloves on the market and many considerations to address when choosing which glove is right for your child. Take the time to try on gloves and figure out which ones they like the best. This guide has hopefully given you new insight into the world of youth baseball gloves and you can use the information within it to help your player find the perfect glove. Play ball!