The Best Baseball and Softball Gloves

The soft leather and low price, combined with the large size and ergonomics of this glove, make it the best option for beginners, whether they’re playing baseball or softball.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

The Wilson A360 14″ Slowpitch Glove won our top slot with its proven design and ergonomics. Based on Wilson’s A2000/A2K professional models, the A360 perfectly modifies that higher-end model to conform to the hand of a beginner, adding softer, pre-broken-in leather and an adjustable Velcro strap for a reliable, secure fit; the glove also is well-padded, so that hard-hit balls won’t sting. And we love the A360’s ginormous basket, which helps assure that you’re going to catch that fly ball or grounder—this glove works at most positions—and be able to hold on as you transition the ball into your throwing hand. Though (like most lower-priced gloves) the A360 probably isn’t likely to be durable enough for hard-core players, it’s a perfect choice for casual players.


If our main pick is sold out, or you want a slightly smaller glove, this glove will suit most beginners.

Not quite as large as our main pick, the Rawlings RSB 12.5 in. Outfield Glove is an affordable, versatile glove that will do a solid job for either baseball or softball, and at most field positions. No, it isn’t quite as large as our pick, and we don’t think this is a “last forever” mitt, but the Rawlings RSB should provide decades of service for the vast majority of casual players.

We recommend spending less on your first glove, but if you have some experience, the higher price for a higher-grade leather and smaller basket of the Shut Out make for a more versatile and long-lasting choice for those who think they do not need a 14-inch glove. Boasting much-higher-quality leather than the A360, the Rawlings Shut Out 12.5 in. Outfield/Pitcher Glove is a great glove for those looking to upgrade from the A360. At 12.5 inches, this glove is slightly smaller than our top choice but will still serve a beginner well. The leather quality is very good for how pliable the glove is out of the box. The glove also features an alternative finger grip that allows the user to close the glove with ease regardless of the size of his or her hand. It also has an adjustable leather strap for tightening the glove.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.

Perfectly designed for a child’s hand, the Rawlings Prodigy 12 in. Youth Outfield Glove is a great glove for anyone entering Little League. When choosing this glove we used the same logic that we applied with the A360 (i.e., bigger gloves catch more balls). For a young kid, 12 inches is on the larger side. However, Rawlings cleverly designed this glove for small hands. The leather is soft enough to use out of the box but also has some play and will conform to the hand of the user over time. We chose a larger glove to make catching the ball easier. If your child has very small hands and has a hard time with the 12-inch glove, we recommend the Wilson A500 Robinson Cano 10.75″ Baseball Glove (easily the best quality for the price out of the 10 gloves we tested) as it will be easier to close, but the smaller basket makes catching a bit more difficult for those with less hand-eye coordination, making it less suitable for an outfield position. The Prodigy’s 12-inch also allows your child to play most positions on a Little League level. Once your child is a bit more experienced they can upgrade to something a little more specific to their liking and expertise.

Why you should trust us

We conducted interviews with former college-level athletes, college coaches, youth coaches, and a veteran of the Little League World Series.

Micah Golshirazian played in the Little League World Series and made the Maimonides School varsity baseball team in Brookline, Massachusetts, when he was in eighth grade, playing for five years. Bradley Baskir played Little League in Newton, Massachusetts, and high school varsity baseball for Maimonides School, and subsequently coached its junior varsity team for two years. Matt Roberson played four years of college baseball (two years at Lee University and two years at Bryan College, both in Tennessee), has coached and recruited for NCAA women’s softball, and now gives lessons in both baseball and softball to kids ages 7 to 18.

I played six years of Little League in Newton, Massachusetts, and four years of high school baseball in Brookline, Massachusetts. I also played for two years on the A team from the Boston delegation of the JCC Maccabi Games, in addition to participating in the occasional slow-pitch softball league, with experience in both the infield and the outfield.

All three experts and I have played in various amateur softball tournaments.

Who this is for

Generally speaking, lifelong baseball and softball players know what they want from a glove, are willing to spend over $100, and can research on their own. This guide is for men and women exploring these sports for the first time, picking them up after a long break for some weekend or after-work fun, or wanting to try several positions in order to maximize their learning and competitive potential. We’ve also got recommendations for parents who just want to know what to get their kid for his or her first season of Little League.

If you played baseball or softball in high school and you just joined a slow-pitch league with some of your co-workers, your old mitt should do fine, but we also have a few softball-specific picks for you to choose from. If you’re a die-hard baseballer and you don’t feel comfortable in a softball mitt, we have something for you as well. And if you have never laid eyes on a baseball or softball diamond, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

If you are new to baseball, you may not have much of an idea of what to get for your first day on the field or blacktop. For beginners we recommend erring on the larger side (unless your beginner is a child). Baseballs are hard; they hurt to catch with a bare hand. The glove is meant to assist you in the fielding process. If you throw with your right hand you’ll want your glove on the left, and vice versa for lefties. Gloves are specifically manufactured for one or the other so make sure you check before ordering.

For simplicity’s sake, we recommend that those playing entry-level Little League or casual, slow-pitch softball use a general-purpose glove in order to allow multiple fielding positions. Once you have a little experience, you might want a specialized glove for the position you prefer to play. “It’s very important that you understand what position you are going to be playing. If you play infield, you need a smaller glove. [For] outfield the most important thing is range and you’re less likely to need to transfer the ball quickly like a middle infielder. Make sure you get the right glove especially because of how big the ball is in softball. If someone is not sure, I would err on the side of getting a bigger glove. You don’t want to be the guy where the ball tips off the end of the glove,” says high school coach Bradley Baskir.

Though gloves are made in softball and baseball versions, we think a softball glove can cover most beginners’ needs. To accommodate a smaller ball, baseball gloves generally have a smaller, shallower pocket than those made for softball. And within the category of baseball-specific gloves, those made for infield positions generally have smaller, shallower pockets than those made for outfield positions. However, experienced players tend to treat these use cases more as guidelines than actual rules, choosing what is most comfortable for their own personal use. “Our shortstops in softball use the same size gloves as shortstops in baseball, it just makes for a quick transfer, ” says Matt Roberson. Given the smaller size of a softball diamond and the short distance from home plate to first base, some softball infielders elect to use a baseball glove for the shallow pocket. This allows for a quick transition between fielding and throwing. For less-experienced players, we recommend a larger pocket to ensure that the ball is secure before transitioning to the throw.

How we picked and tested

Our picks had to be ready for immediate play, right out of the box, no break-in required.

We focused on gloves costing from about $20 to $80—the ones weekend and after-work players and cash-strapped parents would likely be interested in, rather than pro-grade gloves costing up to several hundred dollars. After looking at the top recommendations from baseball and softball enthusiast sites, as well as other online publications—and getting advice from some experts—we chose 10 models to test for ourselves.

We talked to people who had experience in both baseball and softball. Based on their recommendations and my experience, we were able to narrow our initial group. Our picks had to be ready for immediate play, right out of the box, no break-in required. The most expensive gloves, designed for pros and collegiate players, are made of very strong, but stiff, leather. This ensures durability and longevity, but they’re not game-day ready when brand-new; they require conditioning with oil in to make them pliable enough to open and close around a ball. Baseball glove break-in is idiosyncratic, to say the least; each player conditions his or her glove to his or her particular liking. Because we want to get you out on the sandlot right now, we chose only gloves that were either preconditioned or made from pliable leather.

Our picks had to be ready for immediate play, right out of the box, no break-in required.

When it comes to leather quality, price turned out to be a pretty accurate indicator. The big baseball-glove manufacturers—Wilson and Rawlings—use similar construction methods across their product lines. Price differences usually have more to do with the cost of materials. But evaluating leather quality is a tough call for beginners. Here’s a short explanation of some of the different materials used to make baseball and softball gloves. “Regular gloves consist of different grades of leather. These include top grain, full-grain, and premium. Gloves that are constructed with top-grain are the best of the best and are the easiest to break-in. Top grain gloves are also known for being the most durable,” says the Building Rome baseball site (we love this site’s approach to glove testing; you’ll find multiple guides there, including some for the higher-end products that we’re not looking at.)

Our experts agree that once a child is past T-Ball age—about 7—synthetic gloves should be avoided. A glove made of pleather is lightweight and easy to use, but they don’t last terribly long, and don’t provide a lot of hand protection. Leather acts as a shock absorber and pads the user’s hand against hard hits and fast throws that are not caught in the “sweet spot” of the glove, something a synthetic glove doesn’t do all that well.

Material choice and construction is important because of the work the glove needs to do. The pocket (webbing between thumb and index finger where the ball is supposed to be caught) needs to be designed to withstand the impact of a hard ball moving at speeds upwards of 100 miles per hour. The leather needs to be strong enough around the fingers to contain a ball that was caught improperly (and not fold over at the point of impact), but also pliable enough around the palm for the player to close the glove round the ball. The fingers and pocket need to be woven tightly together to allow both of these features to function in tandem, maximizing efficiency for the user.

You’ll notice that our picks come from specialist manufacturers Rawlings, Wilson, and Mizuno, who supply Major League Baseball. On the advice of our experts we avoided nonspecialist brands like Nike, which tend to put out a few models every year in the hopes of breaking into the big leagues. When we asked about Nike gloves, Little League World Series runner-up Micah Golshirazian had this response: “The advantage of going with Wilson or Rawlings is that they offer a wide variety of price ranges and categories.” And because construction methods are similar across the manufacturer’s product lines, you’re getting access to the same expertise, if not the same leather quality, that goes into a pro glove.

Our pick

*At the time of publishing, the price was $30.

Wilson A360 14″ Slowpitch Glove

The soft leather and low price, combined with the large size and ergonomics of this glove, make it the best option for beginners, whether they’re playing baseball or softball.

Assuming your hand can fit inside the glove and you can open and close it with ease, you can’t go wrong with the Wilson A360 14″ Slowpitch Glove. This 14-inch beast would close any gap in Bill Buckner’s worst nightmare. You essentially just have to position your arm and the huge basket will do the work for you. The soft flexibility of the leather allows beginners to open and close the glove with ease and the large size of the basket makes catching easier. And, of course, the low cost rounds out the features that make this a great value for almost any beginning player.

Beginners—especially children—should always go for something versatile, comfortable, and easy to use. We recommend the Wilson A360 specifically for casual players, folks looking for weekend fun, and those who want to learn how to play better by testing their skills at multiple positions. If you turn out to be a natural—or The Natural—you can graduate to a more position-specific glove that’ll suit your skills (though perhaps not your budget: Such gloves are expensive!)

Most baseball and softball gloves are made from leather. The glove is made of soft, game-ready leather; when we passed it around to friends, they immediately wanted to go out and play. The higher the quality of the leather, the more the glove will cost. The caveat of high-grade leathers is that they are usually very stiff and require a break-in period. Most professional ball players prefer to condition their own gloves to their specific liking (i.e., how soft each area of the glove becomes). The issue is that an inexperienced player may ruin an expensive glove by over-oiling it or conforming it to the wrong shape. Nowadays many companies sell beginner gloves that come broken in. The

Assuming you can comfortably open and close a glove with one hand, a larger basket will help you catch more balls (especially if your hand-eye coordination needs some conditioning). This is one of the main reasons we thought the 14-inch A360 would be a great choice for beginners. Of course, it is possible to have a glove that is too big. You can tell if a glove is too big for you by evaluating how easy it is to open and close with one hand, and how easy it is to move your glove hand around quickly. If it is too heavy, we suggest you try something smaller. This is a big reason why you should try on a glove in a store before buying it online. You wouldn’t want to order something only to realize later that it will hinder your success.

Once you have played with the A360 and gained some experience, you can refine your skills and position preferences and then invest in something more expensive that is more specific to your liking.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Yes, this is a massive glove, and if you have small hands and feel uneasy with such a huge glove on, dropping down to a 12-inch glove isn’t a bad idea. Wilson has a baseball model of the A360 that is slightly smaller, but we recommend you check out the Easton Synergy Elite. Though it hits the high end of our price range, the Easton is very easy to use. You’d also do well to check out models aimed at the youth market, like the Rawlings Prodigy 12 in. Youth Outfield Glove.

Longevity may be another issue. With so much glove at such a low price, we’re guessing that under intensive use, the A360 could get a bit floppy, as cheaper gloves tend to do. But if you’re planning on a few games a season and some backyard catches, this glove should last just fine.


RSB 12.5 in Outfield Glove

If our main pick is sold out, or you want a slightly smaller glove, this glove will suit most beginners.

The Rawlings RSB 12.5 in. Outfield Glove is a terrific choice for those who might find the A360 too large, or if our main pick is out of stock. Made for both baseball and softball, this size of this 12.5-inch glove is right in the sweet spot for all over the diamond. It isn’t too large to work as a slow-pitch infielder’s glove, yet has a roomy enough pocket to catch flies on the run. The RSB is soft and thoroughly broken in, and easily squeezes closed even in a child’s smaller, less powerful hands.

One thing the RSB isn’t is a super-high-quality glove–the leather is a bit flimsy (not atypical for the product’s under-$40 price tag). But we still think it’s a worthwhile purchase because too much product can be just as bad as too little, especially for folks who are just learning a sport. In fact, higher-grade gloves are much harder to use off the shelf. “You can have a $400 bat and a $2 swing,” said Roberson.

For beginners, it’s important to buy something easy to use in order to develop fundamental skills. Only after learning your strengths and weaknesses can you truly know what glove will serve you best in whatever position you decide to play.

Higher-grade gloves are much harder to use off the shelf.

All that makes the Rawlings RSB a functional glove perfect for players just beginning to explore and expand their abilities. The versatile design incorporates soft leather for easy, instant use and is the only glove we tested made for both baseball and softball. The size allows the player to comfortably play any position in a slow-pitch softball game, and would do very well in the hands of a Little Leaguer who finds youth gloves too small.

pgrade pick

We made durability—more than price—a key criteria for our runner-up pick. The Rawlings Shut Out is made from a higher-grade leather than the Wilson A360 and sits in a more versatile size range at 12.5 inches. The strap on the back helps the user adjust the glove to the size of their hand, and the alternative finger grip makes closing the glove comfortably around a ball much easier. The leather also provides comfortable padding, which prevents the ball from stinging the user’s palm. We feel that these combined features justify the Shut Out’s higher price.Roberson spoke at length about the importance of knowing how to properly close a glove. It is done with the thumb, ring finger and pinky. He says he coaches kids who have a hard time with their gloves to put two fingers in the pinky slot of the glove so that it closes around the ball instead of on the ball. The Shut Out was designed with this exact concept in mind, and is therefore a great option for anyone, not just beginners.

A great glove for kids

*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.

Perfectly designed for a child’s hand, the Rawlings Prodigy 12 in. Youth Outfield Glove is a great glove for anyone entering Little League (ages 7 to 12). Though it’s scaled down for smaller hands, like our main pick it’s the size that makes the Prodigy a great glove: Bigger gloves catch more balls. For a young kid, 12 inches is on the larger side. In general, Roberson, who regularly coaches children, warns against buying large gloves for kids. However, Rawlings cleverly designed this glove for small hands by making it very lightweight and pliable.

The leather is soft enough to play with out of the box but will also conform to the hand of the user over time. If your child has very small hands we recommend the Wilson A500, as it will be easier to close, but its smaller basket makes catching a bit more difficult. The 12-inch Prodigy allows your child to play most positions on a Little League level. Once your child is a bit more experienced they can upgrade to something a little more specific to their liking and expertise.

How to choose a glove for kids and beginners

My personal glove is a Wilson A2000, and I love it, but you don’t need a glove that sells for $270 to help you play better. Just keep the following in mind:

  • A beginner needs versatility. A jack-of-most-trades glove lets you explore your strengths and weaknesses. You build the skill and knowledge you need to evaluate what you’ll need as you improve. For example, if you learn that you’re better at fielding ground balls than pop flies, you’re probably better suited for the infield and would eventually benefit from a smaller glove, which will force you to develop quick hands and enable you to transition to throwing faster—making you an even better infielder. Outfielders are more focused on catching the ball cleanly, so they need larger gloves that keep the ball secure on those heroic diving catches that you’re sure to start making.
  • A glove a kid can comfortably maneuver is very important. Many parents think that buying their kids pro-grade equipment will make them a better player. If you buy one of those massive, pro-type gloves and it’s too heavy for your kid to lift quickly, they’ll make bad plays—and likely lose interest in the sport. Here’s a nice chart made by Rawlings that roughly outlines appropriate glove sizes for different ages and uses.
  • Adequate padding is a huge asset for beginners. Coaches often tell young fielders to “get in front of the ball.” That’s because doing so gives the player the ability to shorten a hit ball’s range, scoop up a bad bounce, and quickly transition to throwing. But putting yourself in front of the ball also means you can get hit with that ball. In more advanced leagues, this isn’t a bad thing, because your body has at least kept the ball close enough to make the play. The problem, as Roberson observes, is that “kids can get hurt by a baseball, which in turn can make them ball shy.”

All about the modern baseball glove

Fun fact: Baseball and softball are the only sports in which the defense constantly has possession of the ball. Baseball and softball have many positions, many with transferable skills, but each is also subtly different. “If you’re playing outfield you’re gonna need a glove with a big enough pocket to hold a slow-pitch softball, if you’re playing infield, you need an infielder’s glove that’s for quick transfers,” said Roberson. An outfielder’s primary job is to make a clean catch and get the ball to the infielders as soon as possible. Infielders are less concerned about clean catches as they are with transferring the ball from glove to throwing hand to make a play. As the sports have evolved, so have the technology and innovation that goes into the equipment. When watching old footage of games or even Hollywood films that are set in the past, it is easy to see how much gloves have changed. They used to just be thick leather gloves with no webbing or pockets, simply a padded shock absorber for the fielder’s hands. Old-time players even used to leave their gloves on the field for the other team to use after each inning (want to check out some of these olden-days gloves? Check out this online baseball glove museum; your hands will sting just from looking at them.)

The competition

Mizuno MVP Prime Future
This glove is top quality for a youth glove, and isn’t made for amateurs. The leather needs a bit more breaking in than the cheaper models we recommend, but it will last forever if treated well. Although this glove is made for outfield use, we find that in a Little League setting a big glove can be a big help, provided that the user can comfortably close it with their hand.

Our experts agree that, generally speaking, quality and price are correlated when it comes to baseball and softball gloves, and this glove is a little too pricey to make it our main pick. But it is a worthy upgrade if your child is serious about—and committed to—their gameplay.

Wilson A500 Robinson Cano 10.75″ Baseball Glove
Why isn’t this glove a pick? Because it is small. Really small. The quality of construction and materials is high, but this is purely an infielder’s glove, and we’re focusing on picks for more general use. If your kid was born at shortstop, this is an awesome choice. Otherwise, go with our main pick.

Our expert Micah Golshirazian helped test the gloves and this was his favorite, even though it is made for kids. Micah played shortstop through most of high school and used an 11.5-inch Wilson A2000. His argument for the A500 was akin to the strategy of the aforementioned coaches who make their players use old-style gloves in practice to help improve their technique. He said that the 10.75″ A500 would help an adult playing infield develop “quick hands.”

Easton Synergy Elite
The Easton Synergy Elite is a perfectly preconditioned fast-pitch softball glove. At 12.5 inches, it sits right in the sweet spot for all-around use in an amatuer league. Our only concern is that it will get too floppy over time. We would like to see higher leather quality in a glove that costs over $70. But if you want something that is game-ready and you like the unique look, this could be the glove for you.

Wilson Onyx
The Wilson Onyx comes with a very low price for such decent leather quality. This will last longer than most products at the same price due to how rigid the leather is. But this stiff glove definitely needs considerable breaking in and won’t work well out of the box. That said, if you’re on a budget, not in a hurry, and want a glove that will last, consider this model.

One major drawback of this glove is that it was much more stiff than the Easton and the Shut Out. When we tested, this glove was one of the hardest to use out of the box. It is not the stiffest glove out there but will definitely require some breaking in. If you’re willing to do that, this is great if you’re on a budget and want something that will last.

Care and maintenance

Some may think this obvious advice, but whatever you do, don’t leave your glove out in the rain. Water ruins leather. And don’t just throw your glove on the ground, that is how you develop “pancake syndrome,” the over-flattening of a perfectly good glove. Hang it on a hook instead of just leaving it somewhere.

The best way to break in a stiff glove is to use it, sweat in it, and occasionally apply some glove oil to the palm. When you are not using the glove, wrap it up tight with a ball inside so the pocket conforms to the shape of the ball. Some companies make special elastic wraps for this, but using several rubber bands will work just as well. When the strings begin to stretch, tighten them. Curve the fingers and put a fist in the pocket between pitches (watch the pros, they do it too).