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An Overview of Catchers Gear
If you currently play Catcher or are planning to play the position, whether it's in Baseball or Fastpitch Softball, you've no doubt got to have the proper catchers gear to keep you safe!
However, there is a wide variety of catchers gear and related accessories available on the market, and for some, it might be confusing as to what exactly is essential for good protection and performance behind the plate.
As a result, this post looks at the different components of catchers gear, and it discusses what types of gear are required and what items are only optional.
It's our hope that this introductory post will be helpful, especially for parents of younger ballplayers and for those who might be new to playing Catcher.
At It's Most Basic Level...
...What is the purpose of catchers gear?
Its primary purpose is to protect the Catcher from injury caused by a Baseball or Softball.
This could be caused by the Baseball or Softball striking the body due to a wild pitch or a foul tip.
It could also be caused by a bat striking the head or other part of the body on the back side of the batter's swing.
Or even (to a certain degree), from a play at the plate involving contact from a runner.
In all of these cases an injury could occur, so catchers gear is designed to prevent and mitigate against injury in these circumstances.
When you take a second to really consider the tough job that a Catcher has, and the different scenarios in a game that could lead to injury, it then becomes clear that investing in high-quality catchers gear is essential.
Catchers Gear 101 Infographic - A Visual Overview
We created the below infographic to illustrate for our readers at a high-level what the primary components of catchers gear are:
Note: If you share this Infographic, please link back to this post. Thank you.
Required Catchers Gear
There are four basic pieces of catchers gear that are required at all levels for both Baseball and Fastpitch Softball Catchers. Anything else (except two items below with asterisks – more on that soon) are optional, nice-to-have items.
The four required items are:
Catcher's Helmet OR Face Mask with Skull Cap
- Arguably the most important piece of equipment you wear behind the plate, a catcher’s helmet protects your skull, face, jaw, and the back of the head. Head injuries can happen behind the plate, so getting a helmet with excellent protective qualities is important.
- An alternate option to a catcher’s helmet is a traditional face make and skull cap. Make sure to check league rules to see what is allowable; otherwise, the choice between wearing a catcher’s helmet and a face mask with skull cap is up to your preference.
- We reviewed the Best Catcher's Helmets for Baseball, Fastpitch Softball, and Youth Catchers.
- Chest protectors are designed to guard your shoulders, collarbone, chest, stomach and ribs from injury due to impact from a Baseball or Softball.
- We have reviewed the Best Chest Protectors for Baseball, Fastpitch Softball, and Youth Catchers.
- Since Catchers are the only position player to catch very fast pitches constantly through the game, catcher’s mitts are designed to withstand this constant barrage as they contain very thick padding and have a pre-defined “pocket” in the glove, more than what you might notice in a traditional fielder’s glove.
- We have reviewed the Best Catchers Mitts for Baseball, Fastpitch Softball, and Youth Catchers.
- Leg Guards are designed to protect your knees, shins, ankles, and the top areas of your feet from injury due to balls in the dirt and foul tips, and from general discomfort caused by constantly moving from a crouch to a blocking position throughout the game.
- We have reviewed the Best Leg Guards for Baseball, Fastpitch Softball, and Youth Catchers.
Not pictured – Cup*
- We concur with key medical organizations, such as the American Urological Association, that all male Catchers should wear a cup, regardless of their age. Cups are built to protect male anatomy and they are manufactured in different sizes, so whether you are shopping for a 6 or a 16 year old ballplayer, you can find a size that will fit.
- We didn't mention this as a core “required” piece of catchers gear since this overview is designed for Catchers in Baseball and Fastpitch Softball, and cups are only applicable to males. However, we recommend Fastpitch Softball Catchers to wear Pelvic Protectors, since these protect the pelvic area for female Catchers, who of course are also exposed to the risk for injury to this region of the body.
Optional Catchers Gear
- Throat Guards are built to protect your throat from injury behind the plate. They connect to the bottom of the Catcher’s Helmet or Face Mask, dangling down from the helmet/mask to cover the throat.
- Most youth leagues (including Little League) require Catchers to wear Throat Guards. However, they aren’t required in many adult leagues, which is why we didn’t list them as part of the core “required” pieces of catchers gear.
- Thumb Guards are worn on the catching hand and fit inside of your Catcher’s Mitt. Their purpose is to provide extra protection to the thumb and ulnar collateral ligament on your catching hand.
- Wrist Guards provide protection to your wrists, helping prevent injury and bruised forearms caused by wild pitches and foul tips.
- Knee Savers are built to act as a seat-like support, thereby helping to reduce strain to the knee joint and prevent injury to the knee down the road. There is some debate as to the pros and cons of wearing Knee Savers; coach Xan Barksdale covers this debate very well in his article on the topic, which we’d encourage you to check out if you’d like to learn more.
- A Glove Sponge is worn on the index finger of your catching hand and is designed to shield your finger from discomfort while catching. It can only be used if you aren’t using a full protective glove already.
Glove Wrist Protector
- Different from a Wrist Guard, a Glove Wrist Protector is a detachable leather flap that connects to the base of the Catcher’s Mitt and extends over the inside portion of your wrist for extra protection.
Face Mask Visor
- A Face Mask Visor acts like sunglasses for your Catcher’s Helmet or Face Mask, in that it is designed to improve visibility by helping to reduce glare from the sun or from lights.
Wrapping It Up
The optional items listed above are only illustrative of the additional accessories available to Catchers. Most of the gear is helpful from a protection standpoint, but too much excess gear could impact performance.
We encourage Catchers – and parents of Catchers doing research – to utilize the optional gear above based on their preference and on the considerations that are most important to them.
Regarding the required items above, our recommendation is to invest in the best quality gear out there, as the required equipment plays an important role in protecting some of the most important areas of the body. Don’t take safety lightly.
We’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or comments, head on over to the Contact Us page, or send an email to scott (at) catchershome (dot) com.
We hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading!