Can I Use a Softball Glove for Baseball?

In a way, the sports of baseball and softball are like siblings. They are very similar to a certain extent, but there are still clear differences.

The same goes for the gear athletes use in each of these sports.

They are very much alike but are rarely interchangeable and, in most cases, you can’t just use a piece of softball equipment while playing baseball.

Still, while watching a game from the stands or on TV, some equipment, such as gloves, looks more or less the same.

So, you may be asking yourself: can I use a softball glove for baseball?

It’s a fair question to ask, and I’ll try to solve this dilemma and provide enough information so you don’t make the mistake of buying the wrong glove.

With most of the purchases nowadays being done online, it’s easy to get confused and some research is always useful.

Can I Use a Softball Glove for Baseball?

Softball Glove with ball inside.

Although it’s possible to play baseball using a softball glove, traditionally, it’s not recommended.

You can probably get by with using a softball glove if you play baseball recreationally or just for fun, but at a more serious level of competition, it puts you at a disadvantage.

The main reason for this is the glove size difference. Baseball and softball use differently sized balls, so it’s logical that the dimensions of gloves would also differ.

Softball gloves are also thicker and heavier than those used in baseball.

Wearing them during a baseball game, for starters, may feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Plus, softball players like their gloves to be strapped tighter to their hands. That’s the reason why most softball gloves feature a Velcro strap for adjustability.

On the other hand, in baseball, players prefer their gloves more relaxed as that enhances their performance.

In addition, bigger gloves result in more difficulties in controlling the ball.

While softball gloves, due to their size, may theoretically make the catching of the ball itself easier, baseball is not just all about catching.

Infielders need to be able to pick up the ball from the glove and throw it to the baserunners as fast as possible.

Deeper pockets on softball gloves make this more troublesome. They may struggle to “find” and pick up the ball from the glove, losing precious time.

Bigger gloves may be more suitable for outfielders, but most leagues have restrictions concerning the glove size.

Can I Play Baseball Without a Glove?

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There’s no rule in baseball, professional or amateur, prohibiting playing without a glove.
However, this is not recommended, is very uncommon, and can be potentially dangerous.

Baseball players wear gloves to protect their hands and catch the ball more easily.

Playing with bare hands not only makes it more difficult to catch the ball but can also lead to serious injuries.

Nowadays, batters are routinely hitting balls with more than 100 mph exit speed.

A ball at that speed can do serious damage to any unprotected part of your body, hands especially.

It may cause bruises, fractures, and many other injuries.

Also, the glove extends the player’s reach by 4 to 6 inches. So, it’s much easier to cleanly field the ball while wearing gloves.

A player not wearing a glove would put himself at a serious competitive disadvantage.

The Differences Between a Softball Glove and a Baseball Glove

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As I already mentioned, the main difference between the softball and the baseball glove is the size.

However, there are several other, more delicate, distinctions that influence potential interchangeability.

The Size

The ball size difference between baseball and softball dictates the difference in glove sizes.

A regulation baseball is only 9 inches, while the softball usually has about 12 inches in circumference.

Typically, an adult baseball glove is 11.25 inches long (measured from the top of the index finger to the center of the heel).

Outfielder gloves are somewhat bigger and are usually up to 13 inches long.

On the other hand, softball gloves range from 11.5 inches for infielders to 15 inches for outfielders.

Besides, due to the ball size, softball gloves have wider and deeper pockets.

With bigger glove pockets, softball players have more room to receive and secure the ball.

The Design

While baseball and softball gloves are similar when it comes to color, leather, and lacing, the design itself is very different.

While they feature shallower pockets, baseball gloves have more diverse webs and offer more options in this regard.

Softball gloves will commonly have a larger web. It tends to run deeper into the pocket as softball players need to hide the larger ball.

Baseball gloves are also lighter and the manufacturers are doing everything to achieve lesser weight.

Softball is traditionally more played by women, so this also influences the glove design.

Compared to baseball, softball gloves have narrower hand openings so they would fit a lady’s hand.

Plus, as I mentioned, they usually feature a Velcro strap to make the opening even tighter if needed.

Also, in softball, the gloves have a lower finger divider to account for the size of a female hand and finger length.

Furthermore, softball gloves are typically softer than in baseball.

This is because the men are, on average, stronger than women and the ladies can have trouble breaking in harder gloves.


If you’re still wondering can I use a softball glove for baseball, the answer is, in most cases, no.

When playing a fun, carefree game with friends, you can probably get by with the wrong glove.

But, as soon as the stakes get higher, you’ll need proper gear.

Baseball and softball gloves definitely overlap in many aspects, but shouldn’t be viewed as interchangeable.

Using softball gloves while playing baseball would cause issues in securing the smaller ball and make for a more clumsy transfer to the throwing hand.

For optimal performance in either sport, you need optimal tools.

And, the glove is one of the most important parts of equipment when it comes to performance on the baseball field.

A larger glove will reduce the feel for the ball and may cost you a couple of seconds that can ultimately decide the game.

Paul Hall
Paul Hall

Hello, I’m Paul, a 45 year old passionate baseball fan and the owner of this website. I hope my article could help to answer your questions.

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