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Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best baseball helmets

Baseball players need a lot of equipment. Some of the gear is used to play the game, while other gear keeps the players safe. Probably the most important piece of safety gear is the baseball helmet that players wear when batting.

A baseball helmet consists of a hard plastic exterior shell with soft foam padding inside. The padding helps the helmet fit the player’s head snugly without being too tight. The shell absorbs the impact if a ball strikes it, keeping much of the force of that impact away from the player’s skull and reducing the chances that the player will get a concussion or other head injury.

Baseball helmets offer a bit of style, too, because you can pick a color that matches your team uniform. Also, the shape and position of the airflow vents can give the helmet a sleek look that youth players like.

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Professional baseball players use a helmet with one earflap if they only bat right- or left-handed or two earflaps if they’re a switch-hitter.

Key considerations


To ensure the baseball helmet you select is safe for use in games and practice, it should meet certification standards. It’s important to note that making any alteration to a helmet, such as drilling extra holes or removing padding, voids its certification.

NOCSAE: The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) is a nonprofit body that works to standardize equipment manufacturing across multiple sports to maximize safety. A baseball helmet with a NOCSAE certification has a stamp molded into the outer shell or a sticker attached, usually on the back of the shell. Manufacturers provide most of the funding for NOCSAE through licensing fees, enabling the organization to offer an unbiased service.

Little League International: The Little League International organization requires that baseball helmets used for games and practice have the NOCSAE stamp. Some non-affiliated local baseball leagues for youth (but not all) follow Little League rules regarding equipment, including baseball helmets. An altered helmet is illegal by Little League International standards.

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Did you know?
Some leagues require coaches standing in foul territory on the field (first base and third base) to wear a baseball helmet.


Although most baseball helmets look similar, there are differences between models that affect comfort and style.


Because of the compressible foam inside the helmet, each helmet size fits a small range of head sizes. Here are some guidelines for baseball helmet sizes based on head circumference.

  • Extra-small: 20 to 20.75 inches
  • Small: 20.75 to 21.5 inches
  • Medium: 21.5 to 22.25 inches
  • Large: 22.25 to 23 inches
  • Extra-large: 23 to 23.75 inches

Some helmet manufacturers offer small/medium or medium/large helmets. These contain a softer foam that compresses more easily, allowing the helmet to fit a wider range of head sizes. Whatever type you choose, know that a snug fit is important for the helmet to protect your head properly.


Most baseball helmets are available in dark blue or black, but almost any color is available if you search around a bit. Some helmets also have stripes or other decorative accents in a contrasting color.


Many baseball helmets have multiple openings on the top for ventilation, which don’t affect the integrity of the shell. The earflap also has a hole for airflow and so the player can hear instructions from coaches.

"You can order decals for your baseball helmet online and attach them yourself."

Baseball helmet prices

Inexpensive: Basic plastic baseball helmets with minimal padding cost $10 to $20. Don’t expect much in the way of advanced padding or a precise fit. These helmets are made for very young recreational players who may be sharing helmets with a team.

Mid-range: These helmets, which cost $20 to $35, have comfortable padding and come in multiple color choices. These helmets fit better than cheaper helmets, too.

Expensive: The priciest baseball helmets cost $35 to $100. These have multiple vents and high-quality padding. Helmets with an attached face mask or C-flap are at the higher end of this range.


Depending on your league, you might need to add safety accessories to the baseball helmet, such as the following, usually sold separately. Most helmets have pre-drilled holes in the shell for attaching these accessories. If you know you’ll need them, only get a helmet with pre-drilled holes. Drilling holes in the plastic yourself affects the integrity of the shell and will void the helmet’s certification.

  • C-flap: Some leagues require a C-flap on the side of the baseball helmet. This is a hard plastic guard that attaches to the helmet on the side that faces the pitcher, near the earflap, and extends downward to protect the jawline.
  • Face mask: Youth leagues often require a face mask. Some cover only the mouth, while others extend down to cover the jawline and chin, too.
  • Chin strap: Most baseball helmets have snaps on both sides near the earflaps where you can add a chin strap. This slightly elastic strap helps to hold the helmet on your head while running the bases.
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Batting helmets grew in popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s after several professional players suffered head injuries after being struck by a pitch.


Q. How do I know if my baseball helmet is legal to use in games?
If you or your child plays in a local league, you should check with the league to see if it has rules regarding helmets. Some leagues require a certain certification for the helmets, usually NOCSAE. Your league may require specific safety attachments, too.

Q. How long do batting helmets last?
Most helmets will last several years if they receive the proper care. Don’t subject the helmet to extra stress by stacking heavy equipment on it or sitting on it. Helmets should be inspected and recertified every couple of years to ensure they remain in the best possible condition. The padding inside the helmet will almost certainly wear out long before the plastic shell does.

Q. What protection does a baseball helmet provide?
The helmet protects the batter from being struck in the head with a pitched baseball. Base runners also wear a helmet because they could be struck with a batted or thrown ball. Sometimes, a base runner’s head makes contact with the leg or knee of a defensive player when sliding into a base, and the helmet protects the player’s head in these instances, too.

Q. Why do baseball helmets need warning labels? Does it mean they might not work?
No, the warning label simply notifies the wearer that the baseball helmet has limitations in the level of protection it can provide. The helmet isn’t perfect, and it may not provide complete protection in certain circumstances. In baseball, the chance of injury exists even when wearing a helmet. Additionally, the warning label may indicate the inability of the baseball helmet alone to protect the face or neck areas.

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