Best Youth Catcher’s Gear Sets
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Catcher’s play an important role in the game of softball or baseball. Even though they aren’t out in the field, since they are right behind the batter and receive the pitcher’s throws, they are actually quite susceptible to being hit.
For this reason, purchasing a sturdy, protective catcher’s gear set is essential to making a great catcher.
Best Rated Youth Catcher’s Gear Sets Reviewed
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There are different products on sale in the market that might make it hard for you to buy the right product you want.
Any player who wants to be at the top of their game will find the right gear that will give him/her the confidence to be the best out on the field.
Key Parts of a Catcher’s Gear
A catcher’s gear set will usually come in three pieces. Usually, when you are purchasing for the gear set, there are some companies that sell them together as a set while others require you to go and get them separately. We recommend buying them together to assure they are all the same quality.
- Headgear – This refers to the helmet/mask that a catcher needs to wear. When you are buying a catcher’s helmet and mask, you might notice that some say traditional while others are labeled ‘hockey.’ Do not be confused, since that is just the name of the headgear. Even though the sport is softball or baseball, one of the styles of a helmet/mask is called hockey style. This is actually one of the most common types of gear you will find since many baseball associations do not allow the traditional style to be worn. While we go into greater detail down below for the specific key considerations, we recommend that the headgear you have allows for good visibility. It is not a good mask if you cannot see properly.
- Chest protector – Much like the headgear, the chest protector can come in various styles. It is meant to protect your chest and groin area. The two main styles it comes with are whether or not it includes this groin protecting area or if you need to buy that separately. Although protection is key, some chest protectors sacrifice comfort for safety. Keep in mind, you do not want to be uncomfortable and rigid while wearing a chest protector. Something lighter weight might be more ideal. There are even some chest protectors that have removable shoulder pads, which can be convenient.
- Leg guards – Many leg guards look quite similar. The main difference that you need to look at is comfort – how well they fit – as well as the padding. One of the most painful places to get hit by the ball would on your legs, so make sure the right places are protected. There are a lot of leg guards that offer to pad behind the knee, so that is one thing to consider. Make sure the straps are sturdy and keep the guards in place. It is extremely annoying when you are playing a game and need to adjust the guards each minute.
Key Considerations When Buying Youth Catcher’s Gear
Since protection and safety is the most important thing for every youth, every parent or player should make it a priority to buy good quality items. But, before you decide on a product, first learn what features to consider when buying a youth catcher’s gear set. By understanding this, you can get a better idea of what parts are more important to focus on than others.
- Allowance of your gear – Just as we mentioned above, some baseball associations do not allow specific types of gear. Often times, associations do not permit traditional style headgear. For this reason, make sure to check this before purchasing your gear. The last thing you want is to spend all this money on an expensive catcher’s gear set and then be told you cannot wear it.
- Padding thickness – Obviously, your catcher’s gear set should be thick enough to protect your body parts, but still comfortable enough to wear. This is probably the most important thing to consider when purchasing your gear since it is all about protection and safety. There are some leg guards and chest protectors that offer triple layered padding without sacrificing mobility.
- Washable – If you go out on the field and play frequently, it is reasonable that your gear will get dirty quick. For this reason, check the instructions on how to properly wash your gear without damaging or wearing out its material. Some gear might require a specific method to wash it. There is even some gear that is not washable, but instead, needs to be replaced. Make sure to check this information first.
- Breathability – The last thing you want is to have the gear pressing down on your chest, face, or groin uncomfortably. In a sport where you need to move around and be physically active, breathability is key. This is especially important for headgear, as a lot of companies tend to make a helmet or mask that does not allow the player to breathe well due to being too heavy or thick. The same goes for chest protectors.
- Moisture-wicking – You are definitely going to be sweating a lot wearing this gear on top of your uniform, especially on a hot day. For this reason, make sure that the catcher’s gear set is moisture wicking. This means that it should be able to absorb sweat well and have good ventilation, rather than get heavier or damp.
- Visibility – Any helmet or mask you put on should allow for great visibility. As a catcher, every movement counts. Your entire team is relying on you to make that catch. It would be weird to miss the pitcher’s throws from the fact that you can’t see well. Thus, put on the helmet and mask before buying and try to practice with it. Consider the field of view from inside the helmet.
- Comfort – This relates to breathability, but comfort for both your arms, legs, and chest should be something you should consider for any gear. Even if what you buy is durable, safe, and protective, it means nothing if you hate being inside of it.
- Accessories – There are also some additional accessories you can add onto your gear set. For example, knee savers help to protect your knees even more, and there are also things called thumb guards. These are awesome if you are a hard thrower. Visors are also great for those sunny days.
- Sizing – There are so many sizes available and if you are a youth, that means you are in the process of growing. Thus, make sure that whatever gear you purchase has some flexible room to wear even after a few years. Most manufacturers offer a youth size that is great for ages 9 to 12. This means the gear can be well-adjusted.
- Pricing – Usually, youth catcher’s gear sets can range from $100 to $400. The lower end will obviously be less durable or lack certain features that the higher end provide. For example, some higher end kits have extra padding, knee guards, and is made of fabric that is easier to breathe, while also being lightweight. However, just as we mentioned above, keep in mind that your child or you as the player may grow taller or bigger as you get older. Therefore, even if high-end sets have great features, consider if it is really necessary to have. If you are going to replace the set in a year or so, you might as well get something a bit more affordable in price, and then settle on something more expensive when your child is all grown up.
The best youth catcher gear for any player should offer protection, comfort, and agility to be able to perform well on the plate. On top of that, it should be within a budget that you have set out for yourself. A catcher’s gear is the most important thing that a catcher can invest in. Even though we do not recommend getting something overly expensive just because of the brand name, it is good to get a product that is sturdy, durable, and perfectly fit. As a result, you will ensure the utmost protection on the field.