How to Break in a New Baseball Glove

A Sample Instructional Essay

baseball glove
(Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The purpose of an instructional essay is to instruct the reader as to how to perform some action or task. It's an important rhetorical form which students must learn. How successful do you think the writer has been in converting a set of instructions into a process analysis essay?

How to Break in a New Baseball Glove

  1. Breaking in a new baseball glove is a time-honored spring ritual for pros and amateurs alike. A few weeks before the start of the season, the stiff leather of the glove needs to be treated and shaped so that the fingers are flexible and the pocket is snug.
  1. To prepare your new glove, you will need a few basic items: two clean rags; four ounces of neatsfoot oil, mink oil, or shaving cream; a baseball or softball (depending on your game); and three feet of heavy string. Professional ballplayers may insist on a particular brand of oil or shaving cream, but in truth, the brand doesn't matter.
  2. Because the process can be messy, you should work outdoors, in the garage, or even in your bathroom. Do not attempt this procedure anywhere near the carpet in your living room.
  3. Using a clean rag, begin by gently applying a thin layer of oil or shaving cream to the external parts of the glove. Be careful not to overdo it: too much oil will damage the leather. After letting the glove dry overnight, take the ball and pound it several times into the palm of the glove to form a pocket. Next, wedge the ball into the palm, wrap the string around the glove with the ball inside, and tie it tightly. Let the glove sit for at least three or four days, and then remove the string, wipe the glove with a clean rag, and head out to the ball field.
  1. The end result should be a glove that is flexible, though not floppy, with a pocket snug enough to hold a ball caught on the run in​ the deep center field. During the season, be sure to clean the glove regularly to keep the leather from cracking. And never, no matter what else you do, never leave your glove out in the rain.

    Comments
    Observe how the writer of this essay has guided us from one step to the next using these terms: 

    • Begin by . . .
    • After . . .
    • Next . . .
    • And then . . .

    The writer has used these transitional expressions to direct us clearly from one step to the next. These signal words and phrases take the place of numbers when turning a set of instructions into a process analysis essay.

    Questions for Discussion

    • What was the focus of this instructional essay? Did the author succeed?
    • Did the author include all necessary steps in their instruction?
    • How could the author have improved this essay?