Baseball and softball aren’t contact supports, so they usually don’t require much protective equipment beyond a batting helmet. But if you play the catcher position, you’re constantly facing pitches, swinging bats and fouled-off balls that pose a serious danger. Therefore, you need a catcher’s gear set to keep you safe.
Catcher’s gear sets typically contain all the protective equipment you need when playing behind the plate, including a helmet, mask, chest protector and shin guards. The top set from Under Armour is a favorite for young players because it provides all the protective gear you need, including knee savers and an equipment bag to keep it all organized.
When you’re shopping for a catcher’s gear set, its components are the most vital thing to consider. Most sets contain all of the protective gear you need to wear when playing catcher, but some may only include a few pieces.
Helmet and mask: A catcher’s helmet and mask are essential for protecting your head and face from errant balls and swinging bats behind the plate. Some sets feature a separate helmet and mask, while others have an integrated helmet and mask that are all one piece.
If you opt for a set with a separate mask and helmet, the mask usually has straps that allow it to slip over the top of the helmet. It doesn’t provide as much protection for the sides of your head as a one-piece helmet and mask do, but you can quickly take off the mask when you’re tracking down a pop fly.
A one-piece hockey-style mask features an integrated mask and helmet and offers a protective plastic piece for your jaw. It can limit your vision, but you’ll get the most protection for your head and face.
Chest protector: A chest protector is another critical piece of safety equipment for a catcher. It features a layer of foam padding covered with a thick piece of fabric to help absorb the impact of balls that hit your torso. It protects your shoulders, chest and abdomen and features straps that wrap around your back to keep the protector securely in place.
Shin guards: Shin guards feature a durable plastic outer shell to provide impact protection for your knees and shins. They also have padding on the inside to make them more comfortable to wear. While they mainly cover the knees and shins, they also offer some protection for your ankles and feet.
Knee savers/pads: You can also find some catcher’s gear sets that contain knee savers, which are pads that connect to your shin guards. They provide support behind your knees to make it easier to squat during a game.
Bag: Many catcher’s gear sets include a bag that’s large enough to hold all of your protective gear. Some bags are large enough to carry other equipment like your bats and cleats. If your set doesn’t come with a bag, you’ll have to purchase one separately.
If a catcher’s gear seat is going to offer adequate protection, its components must fit properly. Sets for adults usually fit teenagers and older. On the other hand, youth sets are for children aged 12 years and younger.
With a set, all of the protective gear is the same size. As a result, if the helmet and mask fit your child comfortably, all of the other components should also be a good fit. Most protective gear features adjustable straps that allow you to get the ideal fit too.
To make sure that the shin guards in a catcher’s set fit properly, you’ll need to measure the length of your or your child’s shins from the ankle to the mid-knee. Then, use that measurement in inches to match up with a size for the shin guards. In general, if your shin measures 13 inches, you’ll wear a size 13 shin guard.
In a catcher's gear set, all of the protective gear components match one another, so you don’t need to scramble to get the colors just right. That makes it easy to ensure that all of your gear matches your uniform colors. Most catcher’s gear sets are available in black, gray, red, navy and royal blue.
You’ll usually pay $75-$1000 for a catcher’s gear set. Basic sets cost $75-$150 and are suitable for younger players. Intermediate players can expect to spend $150-$350 for their set, while the highest-quality sets can cost as much as $1000.
A. It varies based on the league, but most youth leagues call for players to use a mask, helmet, chest protector and shin guards. Knee savers typically aren’t required.
No matter the age, anyone playing baseball or fast-pitch softball should wear all the protective gear to keep themselves safe behind the plate. If you play slow-pitch softball, though, you may not need to wear all of the equipment.
A. In most cases, there’s no difference between the helmets, shin guards and knee savers used for baseball and softball. Chest protectors for female softball players usually fit a little differently than those for male baseball players, though.
What you need to know: This is a complete set of catcher’s gear for children between the ages of 7 and 9 that can have them ready to hit the field right away.
What you’ll love: It includes a chest protector, SEI-certified helmet, leg guards, throat guard, knee savers and an equipment bag. It features materials with an antimicrobial coating to fight bacteria, mold and fungus. Available in red and blue.
What you should consider: The helmet can sometimes have a tight fit.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This is a well-priced set of catcher’s gear that contains a helmet, chest protector and leg guards.
What you’ll love: It’s an ideal set for beginner players, with durable components that hold up well to regular gameplay. It allows for easy changing.
What you should consider: Velcro tabs on leg guards can weaken over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This is a high-quality catcher’s set has an affordable price tag and features a sleek, clean fit.
What you’ll love: It comes with all the protective gear you need plus a carrying bag. Mask features steel for the best protection. It meets safety standards for baseball gear.
What you should consider: It’s designed for players up to 16 years of age, but it may not be the best quality for serious players.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.