The job of a catcher in baseball is quite difficult. Catchers have to be quite agile and keep their eye on multiple points on the field while also calling the pitches at the same time.
This makes it crucial to get the most important piece of equipment right- the catcher’s mitt. If you don’t have the best catcher’s mitts for yourself, your job will become more difficult and you won’t be able to play your best game. There are quite a few variations in the types of mitts available for choosing. Here is what you should look for to determine which ones are the best for you:
Type Of Webbing
Generally, most catcher’s mitts have a closed webbing. It provides the player with additional support when catching quick-moving balls. They also help in hiding your pitch calls to a certain extent.
However, a closed webbing will make it difficult to clearly see the ball coming towards you. It will take some additional practice to clearly judge the ball’s movement through a closed-webbed mitt.
An open-webbed mitt will offer you an unhindered view of the ball as it shoots towards you. It does, however, take away the additional support offered by the webbing and requires you to be extra careful while catching. You will have to practice with both types of gloves to see which one suits you the best.
The Back Of The Mitt
A closed-back catcher’s mitt will provide you with extra support and add protection to your wrist. On the other hand, an open back mitt has the same wide opening as an outfielder’s glove between the wrist strap and the upper part of the glove.
The closed-back offers a lot more protection but it tends to reduce the player’s mobility a bit. The open-backed ones offer lesser protection from the fast-moving balls but allow for more mobility that can help you take better catches.
You will have to decide which is a higher priority for you. You can either learn to be more agile while working with a closed-back mitt or try to be extra careful of injuring yourself with an open-back one.
Amount Of Padding
The amount of padding on the mitt depends from player to player. Some like to add several layers of padding on their mittens while some like to keep it to the minimum.
More padding offers more protection but also means that the mitt has a smaller pocket. Lesser padding does increase the risk of injuries a bit but will allow you to have the full pocket.
Quality Of Leather
There are several different types of leather that mitts are made from. For beginners or those who aren’t fully committed to the game yet, pigskin or synthetic materials are the best.
They are less durable but can be bought at a cheaper price. For those who want stronger, durable material, mitts made from steerhide and cowskin are the best.
The type of leather you choose will depend on how invested you are in the game.
The Right Size
One thing you must remember while buying a catcher’s mitt is that they are not measured by the length of the hand like other gloves. They are measured by their circumference. Generally, for people aged less than 13, a 32” or less mitt would do. Those older than that will require larger mitts.
Some players tend to buy slightly bigger gloves to increase the size of their pockets. However, that makes it a bit difficult to be accurate. You can also buy a smaller one to improve your agility and vision of the ball.
The Break-In Time
The above things will help you find the perfect catcher’s mitt for yourself. Once you buy it, you will have to shape the palm and the webbing into a proper pocket before using them.
The break-in time depends largely upon the leather you’ve chosen. Softer leathers like pigskin, while wearing out easily, also break in faster.
On the other hand, stronger leathers like steerhide take a couple of months of light use before they can be fully broken in. If you’re buying a tougher leather mitt, make sure that you purchase it at least a few months prior to some important match.
The next time you go out to buy a catcher’s mitt for yourself, make sure that you keep in mind all of the things mentioned above and get the best one for yourself.