Spent some time at a workout facility in New Jersey over the holidays. The Compete Academy in Neptune, to be precise. Saw some highly-motivated young ballplayers getting the reps necessary to become better, but more than anything, having fun.
While most of the kids who train at Compete are high school aged, a few youngsters did wander in, which gave me a chance to scope out their gloves. All of them had name-brand equipment, gloves that cost more than $125, for sure. But none of them had gloves that I'd describe as "capable of making the game easier and more fun."
The reason the gloves are inferior is simple to me. The companies that produce gloves for the pros (and pay the pros to wear them, by the way) do not care about making a quality glove for kids. These gloves are throwaway items for them.
Now, you can find a quality youth glove, if you are patient, willing to pore through the bins at Dick's, and willing to put in the time to re-shape the glove for your kid.
I know because that's what I did for my sons. Funny thing was, when my son was six, the best glove I found was a synthetic off-brand, hidden on a shelf at Target.
The glove cost me $15.
The reason the glove was better than the name brands was that it actually had a pocket. By pocket I mean that sweet spot somewhere between the heel of your hand and the bottom half of the web. That's where the ball is going to land most of the time, and if the glove doesn't hold the ball when it lands there, that's a problem.
Getting back to Compete Academy, here's what I saw when I put on the kids' gloves. When you close the glove the area between the heel the the web popped up instead of staying down. I'd go so far as to call it a "trampoline."
In designing my gloves, I was very specific with the glove maker. The pocket area needed to be soft, but reinforced, to hold its shape. When the samples came in, they were close to perfect. A slight tweak in the stiffness of the pinkie and thumb inserts made the pockets perfect.
My gloves need a little break-in. Very little. I have a small hand, so I can play with a youth glove. I could play a game with one of my gloves, right out of the box, and it would work. for a kid, it's going to take 5-10 decent throwing-catching sessions for the glove to work. Or, if you're an involved parent, you can manipulate the glove for a 1-2 sessions and it should be ready to go.
But more importantly, the glove will be ready to "work"