Catcher’s Equipment Buying Guide
Catcher is one of the most important and difficult positions to play. Purchasing the correct gear is a complicated process, age, level of play, amount of usage and financial iayout need to be taken into consideration.
As a rule, the more expensive gear provides excellent protection while being lighter and more comfortable due to the usage of more advanced, energy absorbing materials. Less expensive gear can certainly be adequate at the beginning levels of play and makes sense when there is a strong likelihood that the player might ultimately change positions.
Buying gear that fits correctly is the most important part of purchasing catcher’s gear. One of the biggest mistakes made is buying gear larger then needed to allow the players room to grow. Catcher’s gear has to fit properly, when the gear is too big it can move around and expose the catcher and subsequently result in injury. Also if it is too bulky it can slow down the catcher when making plays or throwing. Keeping this in mind, sometimes it is necessary to mix and match sizes to get the perfect fit. As such, a youth player may need to wear a junior chest protector, junior leg guards and an adult helmet if they have a large head. The same is true for a senior or high school player, he may need an adult chest protector, senior leg guards and a smaller helmet.
It is important to find catcher’s head gear, either a one piece hockey style helmet which is typically mandatory for little league players for ear protection, or a skull cap and mask worn at the higher levels that is comfortable but also durable as it is constantly being thrown off to chase foul balls and make other fielding plays.
A chest protector is an important piece of catcher’s equipment that is designed to protect the ribs, heart, collar bone and stomach. Chest protectors are made for both baseball and fast pitch softball. Fast pitch softball chest protectors are designed with a break in the chest to better fit a woman’s shape and do not come with a removable groin protector. Youth chest protectors come with a groin protector attached to the chest pad with velcro - smaller players playing at senior levels typically are not required to use the groin protector and can remove it. Senior and adult chest protectors do not come with the groin protector as high school and higher level baseball players are not required to wear it.
Properly adjusted chest protector straps are very important. The straps hold the chest protector in the right place to provide proper protection. Proper adjustment of the top strap ensures that the chest protector is tight enough to provide protection to the collar bone and prevents the chest protector from riding up into the chin while squatting. A proper adjustment of the side strap ensures the chest protector is tight enough to the waist to hold the pad in place each time the player gets up and down.
The throwing arm side of a chest protector will have a shoulder cap that is attached with Velcro and can be easily adjusted up or down for the right fit.. The shoulder cap is designed to allow the range of motion required in throwing but still protect the throwing shoulder.
Leg guards are a very important piece of catcher’s equipment and are designed to protect the knees, shins and feet. Leg guards are made for both baseball and fast pitch softball. Fast pitch leg guards are designed to better fit the shape of a woman’s leg.
Proper adjustment of the leg guard straps is important to ensure a firm but not overly tight fit. It is recommended to wear baseball pants while fitting the leg guards in order to ensure you get a proper fit and feel. The knee cap is attached with Velcro and can be adjusted for a proper fit as well.
Knee sports are designed to help prevent knee pain. The knee sports attach to the straps of the leg guards and pass the player’s weight to the pad instead the player’s knees, thereby helping to prevent knee strain and injury.