How To Break In Your Softball Gear
Break it up, break it in, let me begin,
If you came to win not breaking in your gear is a sin!
The House of Pain was on to something with their softball-inspired remix to Jump Around. Kidding, but really, although new equipment looks great, it won’t perform as well—which means you won’t perform as well—unless it’s fully broken in.
Here are a few tips on how to break in your bat, glove and cleats so you can play at the highest level.
First off, if your fast-pitch softball bat is 100% alloy (or has an alloy barrel), you’re good to go with no break-in period needed. On the other hand, composite bats have carbon fibers in them that need to be loosened before they can perform their best. The good news is you can break in your composite softball bat over the span of a practice session that should take about an hour.
Start by hitting balls off a tee and rotating the bat a quarter turn after each swing. Use the labels on your bat as a benchmark for how much you need to turn your bat after each swing. You’ll want to hit about 100 balls total during this process.
Next, you’ll want to hit 50 or so balls in a soft-toss or front-toss exercise. Make sure you’re rotating the bat a quarter turn after each swing. This is imperative as we want to ensure every part of the bat is broken in and ready for gameplay.
After soft-toss, have your practice partner back up and pitch to create a full BP-style hitting session. Continue to give the bat a quarter turn after each swing. After 50 or so balls, your composite bat is ready to go.
Your glove might be the most important piece of equipment you need to break in. The main goal of breaking in a glove is softening the leather so it’s flexible enough to catch a ball with ease.
Even though the best way to make your glove pliable is by playing with it over and over again, conditioning it will help soften the leather. Personally, we prefer conditioning foam to oil because oil can be heavy and rub off onto the ball.
Wearing, squeezing and working the glove in your free time helps break it in. Playing catch also helps loosen the seams to create a deep pocket for your ball to fit into. When you’re not practicing or playing, hitting the palm of your glove with a softball bat makes it supple and easy to move. After practice is over, make sure you keep a softball stored in the pocket of your glove to continue to help stretch the seams.
We don’t have any special tricks to help break in your cleats, but we do have two simple ways you can make them flexible and ready for gameday. The first way you can reduce the level of stiffness is by bending and flexing them every day at home. While you’re in your room, on the couch or in a car on your way to a tournament, flex them by putting the heel in one hand and the toe in the other. Since there’s no right way to do this, mess with your cleats by bending them every which way so that the leather becomes more and more supple.
The other way you can break in your cleats is by wearing them and running sprints on grass or dirt. Quick, aggressive movements will help soften the leather which in turn makes them more flexible and comfortable to run in.
In the end, following these easy tips and tricks will help you excel on the softball field. And remember…
I came to get down, I came to get down
So get out of your seat (break in yo’ gear) and jump around!