When most folks think of fastpitch softball they think of girls. But there are lots of men, young and old that play the game too. Finding the correct gear is just as hard for men as it is for girls. Catchers mitts for men are even harder to find. Read on for some suggestions that should help.
Softball and baseball catchers mitts differ in many ways.
– size of ball used
– edge padding is different
– size of the mitts themselves
– palm padding strategically placed
– what mitts to use
There is quite a difference between a baseball catchers mitt and a fastpitch softball catchers mitt. They are designed differently for a few reasons. The size of the ball used is obvious to most. Fastpitch softballs are 12 inch around, and baseballs are only 9 inches around. So the mitt needs to have a much larger opening and pocket to catch the ball.
Fastpitch catchers mitts usually have thinner padding on the edges. This thinner padding is to allow for the larger opening and deeper pocket. You don’t catch the ball on the edge anyway, so why have it there. Most mitts have stiffeners around the edges too to help the glove maintain its shape with all the abuse it gets. What you want is a deep pocket that stops the ball from spinning. Fastpitch pitchers can put a lot of spin on the ball. Makes it really hard to keep in the mitt sometimes. So softball mitts are designed with larger webs and deeper pockets to do just that.
Baseball catcher mitts use that thicker padding to help trap the ball. The smaller size mitt means smaller pocket, so using the thicker edge padding helps trap the ball better when it snaps closed. The softball is bigger, so it can be trapped easier with thinner padding when it snaps closed at the catch.
The size of the mitt is generally larger for fastpitch softball vs. a baseball catchers mitt. Baseball mitts generally run from 31 inch to 33 inch. Fastpitch mitts will start at about 33 inch and go up to 34.5 inches for the adult size. That large size helps a lot with fast spinning softball pitches.
Catchers mitt use more padding than fielders gloves for obvious reasons. Baseball mitts generally have a lot of thick padding covering the entire palm area. That is where the baseball hits. Softball mitts use thick palm padding as well, but will often add strategically placed padding over the area between the index finger and thumb to provide more protection for the larger ball. Some will add more up into the finger area as well.
It is more important to have a good deep pocket in a fastpitch mitt than all the extra padding. When caught correctly, the softball will be guided to the pocket.
Both types of mitts must be made of thick sturdy leather in the palm, pocket and web area. The laces used must also be thick and sturdy. Most mitts use 1/4 inch wide laces in this area. Other areas can use thinner laces.
Now, how do you find a men’s fastpitch catchers mitt? Good question. Most fastpitch mitts are designed for the female hand. They have smaller finger stalls and smaller openings to help ladies manage the mitt better. That is great for the ladies, but what about the guys?
You can use them just the same. If you get one made of good leather, it will mold to your hand and be just as if it was custom made for you. Many men use them and get along excellently with them. I personally use one from Akadema that has served me very well.