Catchers Gear Buyers Guide

Why do I need catchers gear?

More than any other position on the diamond, catchers demand great gear to perform at their highest levels. Crouching right in the line of fire, catchers purposefully put themselves in the most dangerous position on the field, and need solid protection to stay in the game. They also need lightweight, performance-ready gear to stay sharp. No other player has to move quite like a catcher. From second to second they must be ready to catch a fastball, block a wild pitch, field a bunt, or gun the ball to throw out a runner, all while squatting for hours on end. For all these reasons and more, a catcher's set of gear should not only fit properly, but provide plenty of strength, flexibility, and protection. Catchers gear should also improve performance by maximizing visibility, breathing, wicking moisture, and absorbing impact energy, to keep your game sharp and honed.

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What gear do I need as a catcher?

Before you get behind the plate, whether you're little league or major league, it's important to have the following protective catchers gear:

  • Catcher's Mask or Catcher's Helmet
  • Chest Protector
  • Leg Guards or Shin Guards
  • Knee Savers
  • Cup or Jock Strap
  • Throat Guard
  • Catcher's Mitt

One way that Sports Unlimited makes it easier for you to get everything you need is through our selection of Catcher's Gear Sets that come with a helmet or facemask, chest protector and leg guards. We also have plenty of catcher's accessories available. With all of that gear, it can be a pain to transport everything around and keep things protected and scuff free. That's why we recommend using catcher's equipment bag to haul your new stuff from home to the diamond, and keep your investments organized and safe.

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What different types of catchers masks are available?

A catcher's helmet is a key piece of safety equipment, designed to block shots to the head, prevent concussions, and protect your face...what I like to call the "money maker," from injury. It's there to shield you from foul balls and even collisions at home plate, so it's got to be built tough.

But a good catcher's helmet or mask has to be so much more than a tank. It should fit comfortably, without restricting movement or visibility, so you can act at the drop of a hat, and read every pitch and motion on the diamond with ease. Thankfully, every catcher's helmet we offer features a size chart, to help you choose the helmet that fits you best, and most are easily adjustable, with sliding plates, to create a customized, snug, and secure fit. Our selection of higher-end catcher's helmets, from companies like Mizuno, Nike, Under Armour, and Easton, feature enhanced peripheral vision, moisture wicking materials, breathable vents, and added padding to absorb harder blows.

Two Types of Catcher's Helmets

Many catchers in the game argue over the two different types of catcher's helmets. The classic catcher's mask and backwards helmet combination has been a favorite amongst catchers for years. Hockey style catcher's helmets are a relatively new fixture behind the plate, but are gaining popularity due to their improved safety ratings, larger protection area, and mandatory use in little league baseball and other junior leagues. It's important, though, to understand the pros and cons of each, and make up your own mind before purchasing a new helmet.

    Mizuno Catcher Mask
  • 2-Piece Catcher's Masks
    • Flap-less batting helmet, worn backwards with a mask pulled down in front of the face
    • Moderate coverage and protection of the head
    • Provides good visibility
    • easy to remove if necessary
  • All Star Hockey Style Helmet
  • Hockey Style Catcher's Helmet
    • Protects the front, top, and side of head with one solid helmet piece
    • Typically has a longer face, for greater coverage of the neck and throat
    • Can be more difficult to get off quickly, if necessary
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What is the best youth catchers gear for my child?

Selecting the right catchers gear for your child or team can seem overwhelming with the variety of sizing options available from today?s leading brands. You also have to consider how long they will be wearing the sets as they continue to grow. The first step would be to follow the measuring steps below, to see exactly what size helmet, chest protector, and leg guards you?ll need. Once you know exactly what your current measurements are, you can begin to think about which set will work best for you.

Each manufacturer makes their sets with a suggested age range for the best use. This can give you a guideline as to where you should fall. But with kids growing at different rates, it important to use your measurements to make sure you?ve selected a set that will fit. The table below can give you a better idea of what the relation is between the ages and sizing. It is important to remember these are just a reference, and that you will always want to make sure you check the measurements to guarantee the correct fit. If you find you?re measurements are right in-between sets, it is suggested that you select the larger set to ensure the appropriate coverage and protection is provided. Check out our selection of Youth Catchers Gear to find the perfect set for you.

Youth Catchers Gear Sets
Level Age Helmet Chest Protector Leg Guards
Tee Ball 5-7 9" - 12" 10" - 11" 6 - 7
Youth 7-9 11.5" - 13" 11.5" - 13" 6 - 7
Junior 9-12 13" - 15" 13" - 14.5" 6 - 7 1/4
Intermediate 12-16 14" - 15" 14" - 15" 6 1/4 - 7 1/2
Adult 16+ 16"+ 15"+ 7+

Check out our Top 5 Youth Catchers Gear Sets

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How do I find the right chest protector for me?

The chest protector is central to the safety of any catcher. Most wild pitches, foul balls, missed catches, and hard plays at the plate are blocked by the chest protector, and without it, would cause some real damage. Think giant baseball sized bruises, broken ribs, collapsed lungs...serious injuries in anybody's book. These risks come with the position, and catcher's know that chest protectors get a solid workout each and every game. That's why, when looking for a new chest protector, it's important not to skimp. A cheap chest protector won't deliver the padding or durability you'll need to make it through a full season's wear and tear.

Our collection of advanced and affordable chest protectors are incredibly lightweight and durable, without compromising protection. Lightweight designs, foams, and materials keep catcher's quick, protecting without restricting movement. These materials also keep players cool on hot days and nights behind the plate, and as we all know, a comfortable catcher is a better catcher.

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How do I size a chest protector?

No matter which chest protector you go with, the best is one that fits correctly. Thankfully, sizing for a chest protector is fairly easy.

  1. Grab a measuring tape or ruler
  2. Have someone else do the measuring, to ensure accuracy
  3. Stand up straight, against a wall if it's more comfortable
  4. Measure the length from the bottom of your throat to your naval
  5. Use this number to find the right chest protector size for you

Most modern chest protectors range from 11 to 18 inches, from youth to adult.

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How do I size catchers shin guards?

It's important to get the right size shin guards, so they fit securely and comfortably, and provide the best protection and performance.

  1. Use a flexible measuring tape or ruler for the most accurate measurements
  2. Measure from the middle of your knee to the top of your foot.

Correctly fitting shin guards will stay in place regardless of whether you're crouching behind the plate or running to make a play at first. Most catcher's leg guards are adjustable, so you can always get the right fit, even if your preferences change.

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What features should I look for in a new pair of shin guards?

Shin guards are vital to your protection as a catcher. With durable, strong shells, shin guards protect against batted balls, prevent bruised knees in the dirt when playing the ball, and keep shins and knees away from a runner's spikes when sliding into home plate. To find the right shin guards for you, it's important to understand exactly what you need in a piece of gear. Many modern shin guards feature:

  • Moisture wicking linings and breathable padding, to keep your legs and knees dry and comfortable all game long.
  • Double or triple knee caps to deliver improved knee coverage when crouching.
  • Additional toe cups that protect feet and ankles from injury.
  • Added material to cover the inside of the knee and shin.

When you know your size, and understand the features you're looking for, finding shin guards within your budget, age, and skill level becomes easier. Also keep in mind that many catchers prefer Knee Savers, that provide additional padding to the back of the knee when crouching.

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How do I find the right catchers mitt for me?

Just as it is with the rest of their equipment, catcher's use a different glove than anyone else on the diamond. A catchers mitt is specially designed to protect the catcher's hand from fast balls in excess of 100 mph, and give the pitcher a nice sized target to aim for. To achieve this, catcher's mitts lack individual fingers, in favor of a single large pocket, and use plenty of extra padding. The larger the catcher's mitt, the more padding protects the hand and fingers, and the larger target the pitcher has to work with.

Typically, youth catcher's mitts are 31" and smaller, while adult catcher's mitts range from 32" to about 34" in circumference. Some catchers prefer the largest possible mitt for added protection, while others like smaller mitts that help them get the ball out and in their hand faster. Your choice should be based off of skill, training, and preference. Sports Unlimited offers mitts for everyone, from entry level catchers to pro-level players. We even have the exact same mitts that current MLB catchers use on the field! With mitts from Wilson, Mizuno, Easton, Rawlings, and more, we're sure you'll find the perfect one for your game right here.

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Do I need a catchers equipment bag?

Catchers use plenty of specially designed equipment and armor to get the job done. And even with all of the latest lightweight and durable materials, advanced polymers, and innovative technologies, lugging that stuff around gets cumbersome, heavy, and just plain annoying. That's why it's important for your back, and your sanity, to use an equipment bag to keep your gear organized and protected when hauling it from home to the field and back again.

Catchers equipment bags are specially designed to hold and organize everything in a catcher's arsenal. These bags have huge main compartments, with plenty of specially designed pockets, compartments, hooks, and features. They are built tough, with durable polyesters, strong stitching, and reinforced areas to combat wear and tear. Most of them feature wheels (and some of them even have speakers!), to make hauling easier than ever. Sports Unlimited carries a huge variety of baseball equipment bags for any need, so check them out and find the one that works for you.

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