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Softball Glove vs. Baseball Glove: What’s the Difference?

WriterAubrey McShan
15 min read
The difference between a baseball glove (featured on the left side) and a softball glove

You can’t just slide your hand into a fastpitch softball glove when the game you’re playing is baseball! No matter how similar these two gloves might appear, each was specially engineered for their respective sports. Keep reading to learn the breakdown of all the differences between softball gloves vs baseball gloves.

What’s the Difference Between a Baseball and a Softball Glove?

The main difference between a baseball and a softball glove comes down to the size of the ball that players use in each game. At first glance, you might think baseball and softball gloves look identical. They have the same general shape. They’re both made of the same materials.

But when you inspect them closer, you’ll catch all the subtle differences easier:

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Softball Gloves vs Baseball Gloves Summary
Difference Softball Gloves Baseball Gloves
Ball Size
  • Adult: 11.88 - 12.13 inches
  • Youth: 11 inches (less than 10 years old)
  • Adult: 9 - 9.25 inches
  • Tee Ball: Same size but lighter-weight than a standard baseball
Pocket Size + Construction
  • Deeper pocket
  • Wider glove
  • Shallower pocket
  • Longer glove
  • 11.5 - 15 inches
  • 11.25 - 12.5 inches
Hand Slot + Finger Stalls
  • Smaller (Fastpitch)
  • Larger
Webbing Design
  • Larger and deeper web overall
  • Less webbing designs available
  • Smaller and shallower web overall
  • More webbing designs
Padding + Weight
  • Thicker padding
  • Heavier weight
  • Thinner padding
  • Lighter weight
Overall Fit + Feel
  • Tighter fit
  • Features adjustable strap on the wrist
  • Looser fit
  • Typically does not have adjustable strap

Expert Tip:

Looking to learn more about which gloves you should consider for your position? Check out our in-depth baseball glove guide and our complete breakdown of the various softball gloves.

Baseball Size vs Softball Size

Softball Size(s)

  • Regulation softballs are 12 inches in circumference for players aged 10 and older.
  • Younger softball players use an 11-inch softball.

Baseball Size(s)

  • Regulation baseballs must be 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference.
  • Young baseball players under the age of eight years old use an 8-inch ball.

Ball Glove Pocket Size + Construction

The size of the ball dictates the construction and pocket size of the glove for both baseball and softball. The pocket is part of the glove against the palm of your hand.

Softball Glove Pocket + Construction

  • Softball gloves have a wider construction compared to baseball gloves.
  • Shorter, deeper pocket shape that allows the player to handle the ball better.

Baseball Glove Pocket + Construction

  • Baseball gloves have a narrower construction.
  • Longer pocket shape to accommodate balls that hit harder and throw faster than softballs.

Softball & Baseball Glove Length

Baseball gloves range from 11.25 to 12.5 inches in length, while softball gloves fluctuate from 11.5 to 15 inches long. The size of each sport’s ball is the biggest influence on a glove’s overall length — among other important factors:

  • Hand Size/Age: Younger players require smaller gloves regardless of whether they’re playing baseball or softball.

  • Field Position: Certain positions (e.g. infielders, outfielders, pitchers, catchers) have different ideal length standards.

The difference in length between a softball glove and a baseball glove

Expert Tip:

A catcher’s mitt measures the total circumference around the outside of the mitt. All other ball gloves measure from the base of the heel to the tip of the index finger for length.

The differences between each sport’s glove length used to be more distinct. Some glove manufacturers now design wider baseball gloves as well as longer fastpitch softball gloves.

These new glove construction trends have by no means unseated the more traditional glove construction. Rather, the Academy experts believe these subtle changes give players even more opportunities to personalize their individual game!

Hand Slot + Finger Stalls

  • Fastpitch softball gloves have a narrower hand slot (the opening for your hand) and finger stalls to accommodate girls’ and women’s naturally smaller hands.

  • Baseball gloves have larger finger stalls suited to boys’ and men’s larger hands.

  • Both men and women wear slowpitch softball gloves. You can find separate options tailored for a man and woman’s general hand sizes.

Ball Glove Webbing Design

Softball Glove Webbing

  • Has fewer glove webbing options since softballs require a deeper pocket
  • Webbing designs are typically larger than baseball webbing types
  • Webbing runs deeper into the pocket

Baseball Glove Webbing

  • Has more webbing options since baseball gloves have a shallow pocket
  • Webbing designs are typically smaller than softball webbing types
  • Webbing does not run as deep into the pocket

Expert Tip:

Want to learn more about the best types of webbing for your specific position on the field? Learn how to choose a softball glove or read our in-depth baseball glove guide!

Ball Glove Padding + Weight

You’ll usually find that softball gloves are heavier and thicker than baseball gloves. A softball is both larger and heavier than a baseball. Softball gloves need more padding to absorb the increase in the ball’s impact.

Overall Baseball or Softball Glove Fit + Feel

The overall fit and feel of your glove really comes down to your personal preference. However, the general consensus about what the best baseball or softball glove fit looks like includes the following:

  • Baseball gloves should fit looser on a player’s hand to allow for an easier experience catching the smaller ball.

  • Softball gloves traditionally offer a more personalized fit due to their wrist strap. Players generally prefer a tighter fit to handle the ball better.

The difference in hand slots between a softball glove and a baseball glove

Wrist straps offer players the ability to adjust a glove’s tightness for the most personalized fit. Traditionally, they’re more commonly featured on softball gloves. Nowadays, many baseball gloves also have a strap on the hand slot that allows you to adjust the tightness as you wish.

Expert Tip:

Playing with an ill-fitting baseball or softball glove can have massive consequences! Any glove that’s too small or large for your hand can greatly impact your overall performance. You also risk hurting yourself!

Can You Use a Baseball Glove for Softball?

You shouldn’t use a baseball glove for softball (or vice versa) on the field for safety reasons. A softball is distinctively bigger than a baseball.

Ball size also influences the different pitching motions seen in each sport. To accommodate the different ball size, the main difference between softball gloves and baseball gloves is the difference in their overall size.

Expert Tip:

Playing catch in your backyard or interested in joining a recreational league? Pick up a utility glove! You’ll find a few available on the market. They’re perfect for parents who want to help their kids improve their ball playing.

Next Steps

Are baseball and softball gloves the same? Although similar, no. They’re not the same. Now that you know how to tell the difference between them, you’re ready to choose the best baseball glove for you or learn more about how to pick the best softball glove for your position. Have fun out there!