There is very few who will dispute that catchers play the most demanding position on the baseball diamond. Using that logic, Catcher’s Mitts are arguably one of the most important pieces of defensive equipment found in any dugout. A catcher and his ability to receive pitches the most overlooked factors to whether or not a team wins. Because of the critical role a catcher plays, it is very important you pick the right mitt.
What To Look For
When choosing a catcher’s mitt, one of the most important aspects to consider is the size of the mitt. Unlike regular fielding gloves, they measure catcher's mitts using their circumference rather than their length. Due to the fact that it is the width of the catching surface that is the most important. A standard catcher’s mitt for players in the intermediate to adult ranks usually measures between 31-inches and 34-inches. The most common sizes for travel and high school players (depending on his size) are 32.5 to 33-inches. This size is ideal for receiving the ball as a result of an ample catching surface while remaining compact enough to make quick transfers from mitt-to-hand.
The most essential characteristic in any catcher’s mitt is its durability. The ability to hold up consistently during play at baseball’s most grueling position is incredibly important. It builds confidence and control behind the plate. Looked at as a leader on the field, the catcher must be sound in every part of his game. If the mitt is not sound, the rest of the player will follow suit. When searching for a mitt, players and parents should be on the look out for the quality of the leather. Kip Leather and Premium Steerhide of most American or Japanese varieties are considered the cream of the crop. Also give close attention to any tumbling or tanning processes as they can help determine the integrity of a mitt.
The majority of modern, elite-quality catcher’s mitts are constructed with a open or traditional back design that better secures the mitt to a player’s hand while improving control through a more complete fit and mobile feel. Catcher’s mitts also almost always feature a closed web design that helps to effectively halt the ball in its tracks and surround it with a more consistent closure. The outside ridges of the glove that would ordinarily be the place of fingers on traditional gloves should be stiff and sturdy when the glove is first used with a softer, moldable core that makes for a more responsive pocket.
Due to the nature of the catching position, catcher’s mitts are designed with additional padding around the thumb, forefinger and palm of the hand. The ideal catcher’s mitt will have bulkier padding in the pocket but some may not be ideal for every player. The additional padding can add unneeded weight to the glove but slightly more girth might be the trade-off players need to play the catching position with the confidence it requires. Pay close attention to mentions of thinner padding or more reactive palm guards as they tend to allow for the ideal blend of protection and flexibility.