The catcher is one of the key positions in a baseball or softball game, and it's important for every catcher to have the proper gear that offers sufficient comfort and protection throughout the game.

When looking for the right catcher's gear, there are several important aspects to remember. The following guide should help you find the ideal gear and adequately prepare you for your next game.

1. There Are Two Types of Catcher's Masks

When looking for a catcher's mask, there are two different types to choose from: the traditional two-piece mask and the hockey-style mask.

  • Two-piece catcher's mask - Rests on top of the catcher's helmet, which helps make it easy to remove if the catcher needs to catch any fly balls or make plays at the plate. The two-piece mask comes with a level of padding that keeps the jaw and forehead covered, but the hockey-style mask offers more protection.

  • Hockey-style catcher's helmet - This is practically identical to a hockey goalie helmet and has become a preferred option for many because of its added protection. The only downside to the hockey-style mask is that it's a little bit more difficult to remove and narrows the catcher's field of view. Today, a majority of youth leagues make hockey-style catcher's masks mandatory.

2. Don't Skimp When it Comes to Chest Protection

The chest protector is another vital piece of catcher's gear, keeping not only the chest protected, but also the collar bone, ribs, stomach, and neck. Without a quality chest protector, the catcher risks severe and potentially fatal injuries. So, make sure you choose the right materials and sizes to provide enough protection.

Keep in mind that when choosing between an expensive and inexpensive chest protector, the expensive option will typically consist of higher-quality materials that absorb ball impact better along with additional ventilation to help keep the catcher cool on particularly hot days. Plus, the foam surrounding the outer shell is normally softer and lighter to allow for more mobility; meanwhile, cheaper protectors are often harder and heavier. 

Read More About the NOCSAE Regulations for Chest Protectors Here

3. Shin Guards Are Important Too

Keeping the shins protected at all times is also important. A good leg guard will feature ample padding on the inside with a hard external shell to shield the shins and knees.

Some features to look for in high-quality shin guards could include:

  • Moisture-wicking linings and breathable padding to keep legs/knees dry and comfortable throughout the game. 
  • Double or triple knee caps that can deliver improved knee coverage when crouching. 
  • Additional toe cups that protect feet and ankles. 
  • Added padding material to cover the inside of the shin and knee. 

4. Catcher's Mitts Are Different Than Regular Fielding Gloves

Catcher's mitts are designed specifically for catchers and can help keep the hand protected, while making it easier for the catcher to perform certain actions such as scooping a pitch in the dirt.

A catcher's mitt is different from a fielding glove in several ways. For instance, the designs feature different elements for different tasks. While fielding gloves have separate finger pockets to allow for better grip, catcher's mitts are designed to keep the fingers closer together, sacrificing grip and mobility for increased security. Catcher's mitts normally feature closed webbing that adds some more support while still allowing the catcher to hold the ball.

5. Don't Forget the Accessories

While accessories may not be necessary for catchers in many cases, many catchers swear by certain additional gear that make their game better.

Knee Savers

When crouching for a long period of time over the course of multiple innings, you're bound to experience some muscle and joint pain in your legs and knees. Knee savers can help ease this discomfort through the use of soft foams that connect to the backs of leg guards.

Throat Protectors

Throat protectors are pieces of durable plastic that can give your throat some additional protection against impact. Many professional catchers are using these and some leagues are starting to make them mandatory.

Catcher's Bags

It can be difficult to manage all of your catcher's gear and keep track of it, so you may want to consider getting a bag. A good catcher's bag will include plenty of sections where you can store your catcher's facemask, mitts, shin guards, and other gear with convenience, which will help you stay organized.

Browse Top-Quality Catcher's Gear for Baseball and Softball

If you're looking for some of the best catcher's gear available, Baseball Express has a great selection of catcher's masks, helmets, apparel, and much more depending on your needs. Browse our selection now!