Your choice for your fastpitch softball catchers gear is perhaps one of the most important decisions you’ll make, either as a player or as a parent buying for your kid.
That’s because these pieces of equipment aren’t just meant to help your children play better. They’re meant to ensure that they play more safely.
Here’s a handy guide for the gear you need to get, along with a list of highly recommended catchers gear sets that you may want to consider.
In a hurry?
Fastpitch Softball Catchers Helmets
You’ve probably seen the old-style 2-piece catcher’s mask, and these things are more affordable than the newer hockey-style masks.
Mizuno Womens Samurai Fastpitch Catchers HelmetThey’re easier to throw off if you’re going for foul balls in the air. They’re also generally more comfortable because of the greater ventilation they offer.
Softball is a summer game, and staying cool during a game is important.
But perhaps the most important of all factors to consider is safety, and that’s where old-style masks fall short.
They simply don’t offer the same level of protection as their hockey-style counterparts.
This is especially true when it comes to protecting the area around your ears. A hitter can tip a ball foul and it ricochet to your ear.
Safety Is Moving The Direction of Masks
The hockey-style catcher’s gear isn’t just a mask—it’s a helmet that covers your whole head for greater safety.
This is why in Little League and in many youth leagues around the country, traditional masks aren’t even allowed.
When safety is the number one priority, there’s simply no other choice but to use a hockey-style helmet.
But there are several factors you also need to consider, and here you can consider these factors to make your final selection.
How comfortable are they to wear? This takes the quality of the padding into account, as well as the ventilation.
How well can you see? Obviously you need to make sure your vision isn’t impaired, unless you want to have pitches pass by you every time.
Also, stealing bases is allowed in fastpitch softball, so you need to check on the runners as well.
How stable are they? You want something that stays in place even if you do move around a lot and jump up quickly.
Ins and Outs of Chest Protectors
Easton Adult Mako Fastpitch Chest ProtectorIf you’re a younger player, it is possible to use baseball chest protectors for as part of your youth fastpitch softball catchers gear.
After all, boys can play fastpitch softball too.
But that may not be ideal as you get older, because there are obvious shape differences between the chests of men and women.
The chest protectors for fastpitch softball usually come with a break in the chest area, so that it can accommodate the chest of female players.
Also, the chest protectors for women don’t have groin protectors either.
What Do The Chest Protectors…Protect?
Chest protectors are designed protect vital areas such as the ribs and the collarbones.
They can even reduce the chance of cardiac injuries, as it’s possible for the pitches of fastpitch softball to reach tremendous speeds.
You have to make sure that the chest protectors fit you (or your daughter) correctly.
Firstly this means getting it in the right size, and for that you have to measure from the top of the sternum (the breastbone in the center of the chest) to the navel (bellybutton).
Boombah DEFCON Fastpitch Softball Women’s Chest ProtectorSo it has to be tight enough so that it protects up to your collar bone, and when you squat you it should remain in place so it doesn’t ride up.
You should also avoid buying larger chest protectors because you think that your children will grow into them. That just means that they’re not getting the best protection now, and they need protection every time.
The padding of the chest protector isn’t just about protecting the chest. It’s also about preventing the ball from bouncing all over the place when they hit the chest area of the catcher.
When this happens, the ball should land near the catcher so that a runner from 3rd base can’t steal home.
Then there’s the matter of the shoulder pads. Once upon a time these things were removed because they impaired movement and the throwing motion.
But nowadays the better chest protectors have shoulder pads that don’t restrict your movements.
These are important because they can protect your shoulder from foul tips. They usually come with Velcro snaps so you can adjust them for the perfect fit.
What You Need To Know About Shin Guards
To get the right size, you have to measure from your anklebone to the middle spot on your knee. The shin guard measurement must be within half an inch of your knee to anklebone measurement.
When you try the shin guard on, make sure you’re also wearing your uniform so you can get the right fit. The ankle plates on the shin guard should rest on the top of the tongue on your cleats.
It shouldn’t be too tight, but it should fit snugly. You should then test it with quick movements so you can confirm that they’re securely in place while you move and that they don’t slip.
Recommended Catcher’s Gear Sets
It’s true that for many catchers, their fastpitch softball catcher’s equipment consists of various pieces from different models or different manufacturers.
But there’s something to be said for buying an entire set. It’s more convenient, and it offers a better overall look.
Often the total price is also less than what it would cost to buy the various pieces individually.
Here are some of your better options when you wish to buy an entire set at once:
#1. Louisville Slugger Intermediate PG Series 5 Catchers Set
For younger players, sometimes the best catchers gear for fastpitch softball comes from baseball equipment.
The helmet is approved by NOCSAE, and it fits head sizes ranging from 6 and 3/8 inches to 7 and 1/8 inches.
It offers a comfy chin pad that wicks moisture, and it looks great with the glossy finish.
The chest protector is size 14, and it uses high density memory foam padding for protection while it deadens the ball on contact.
It’s very light, and it’s designed to stay in place when you crouch down. It comes with mesh lining for better ventilation.
The shin guards come with a triple-knee design and with removable knee pads for a better fit and freer motion.
#2. Easton Intermediate M7 Catcher Box Set
Easton Intermediate M7 Catcher Box SetThis Easton set in known for its durability. The helmet is a little big according to some reviews so keep an eye on that.
The helmet is designed to fit snugly, and it uses ABS high grade shell for durability and toughness. It also uses dual-density foam padding for both protection and comfort.
With its 18 vents, keeping cool isn’t really a problem. It’s also NOCSAE- approved.
The foam in the chest protector comes in several layers, and this protects the chest and also reduces the rebound distance of the ball.
It also comes with vents in strategic places for better ventilation. There’s a shoulder cap and groin protector, but they’re removable.
The shin guard is size 14 inches. It also offers triple-knee protection, and there’s specially-placed memory foam for the knees.
The liner is removable so you can machine wash it.
#3. Mizuno Women’s Fastpitch Samurai Catchers Box Set
Mizuno Women’s Fastpitch Samurai Catchers Box SetThis is a set designed specifically for women.
The helmet uses ABS hard plastic, and it’s both tough and comfy.
The chest protector features padding with low rebound technology.
The AirMesh inner liner also makes it light and cool.
The shin guards use a triple knee design, with vents for lower weight and for cooling comfort.
D. Easton Mako FP Grip Intermediate Fastpitch Softball Catcher’s Package
This helmet offers a snug fit, as it’s sized from 6 1/8 to 7 hat sizes. It uses ABS plastic shell, with vents and molded EVA foam for better comfort.
The chest protector is in size 13, and it’s specific to women.
It comes with dual clips for easier and better adjustment, and the shock absorbing foam protects the chest and reduces the ball rebound. The shoulder cap is removable.
The size 14 shin guard also protects the lower thigh, and the design is optimized for throwing on your knees. It uses memory foam to protect the knee, and the liner is removable too.
E. All-Star Vela Pro Fastpitch Women’s Adult Catcher’s Set
All-Star Vela Pro Fastpitch Women’s Adult Catcher’s SetVela may not have the reputation of the other brands on this list, but they’re making a name for themselves with their fastpitch softball catchers gear sets.
The helmet uses a new System Seven design for the shell, cage, and padding. The molded shell uses ABS resin with tremendous impact-resistance, and the UltraCool mesh liner is removable and machine-washable.
The chest protector conforms to many shapes and offers unrestricted mobility due to the narrow shoulders.
It also uses elastic straps and 4 different adjustment points for a better fit. Several areas come with lightweight plates for greater protection.
It’s designed to knock balls downward, and it also comes with large vents and a design that draws heat and moisture away from the body.
It even comes with antimicrobial properties to reduce odors.
The shin guards are very light at 49 ounces per pair, yet it wraps around to the sides. The flexible straps keep it in place, and it has vents for breathability.
F. All-Star Vela Pro 2-Tone Intermediate Women’s Fastpitch Catcher’s Set
All-Star Vela Pro 2-Tone Intermediate Women’s FastpitchThe advantages of the Vela set for adults are all present for the Intermediate version, which accounts for the price.
This represents the ultimate when it comes to women-specific catcher’s gear for fastpitch softball.
The features are virtually the same as the version for adults, and only the size and colors are different.
This set is the newest for the All-Star line and is one of the most sought after for the 2017 season.
Final Word on Fastpitch Softball Catchers Gear
As you can see, you have a lot of excellent options for your fastpitch softball catchers gear.
You can choose among the most renowned brands, but even relative newcomer brands are offering superb alternatives.
These Fastpitch Catchers Gear Sets Are on Sale