It’s not hard to see why.
Fastpitch softball can reach speeds of up to 75 mph, and some topnotch pitchers can even reach the 85 mph mark.
Add the fact that many who play the game are very young and you really can’t have a game without this piece of equipment.
If you’re in a hurry…
Starting at a Young Age With Fastpitch Softball Helmets
Some of them say that it can interfere with how they track the ball. Some say it doesn’t look good with their uniforms.
But the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t seem “tough” or macho. It’s “girly”.
Players look to the professional baseball hitters and they don’t see facemask, so they don’t feel the need for one either.
However, that’s starting to change. Giancarlo Stanton has started wearing a facemask even in the Major Leagues, and its history actually started way back in 1978.
The most notable trailblazer in wearing facemasks in the majors was John Stearns of the Mets, who needed to protect his face while batting because it was injured in a home plate collision.
He started with a modified hockey mask and then with a version of the football face mask.
Why Is a Face Mask Recommended?
The ball can bounce from the tee and head straight to the player’s face. This may not happen often, but it does happen from time to time.
Players at a young age have not yet mastered the skill of getting out of the way of a thrown ball. They tend to stand still like deer caught in the headlights.
It’s unfortunate but true that many players learn this reflexive skill only by narrowly missing or getting hit by a pitched ball.
Throwing plays around the base paths can also hit the face of players.
Believe it or not, in the younger leagues even cleats from opposing players can end up in your face.
They get used to tracking the ball even with the facemask so they have a longer time to develop that skill.
They also just get used to the facemask in general, so the notion doesn’t seem as if it makes them less tough than the helmet.
Factors in Buying Fastpitch Softball Helmets
If you’re a parent, you need to have some sort of input in the decision, since your child may decide solely on how “cool” a helmet looks.
Here are some factors that must be considered:
Size. Ideally, you buy the helmet at a shop and pick one that the most comfortable on your head.
But this isn’t always practical, since sports equipment shops don’t often have an extensive variety of options to choose from.
So what you have to do is to use a fabric tape measure to measure around your head just right over your ears.
Get the measurements in both inches and centimeters, and then get the corresponding helmet size that matches the measurement.
Once you get your helmet, you need to try it out right away. Most reputable manufacturers give you a month or so to try it out and you can have it replaced if it doesn’t feel right for you.
It has to be nicely snug on your head, but it shouldn’t be so tight that it makes you feel uncomfortable.
It’s too big for you if you put it on, and when you move your head from side to side the helmet moves independently.
If it’s too big, you can get a smaller size, or you can buy a fit kit from the manufacturer that lets you put in extra pads to the inside of the helmet to make it fit better.
Sanctioned. Most basic fastpitch softball helmets have foam and hard plastic components that can absorb high impact.
But you can just make sure that the helmet is sanctioned for your league. Most helmets are approved of by the NSA, ASA, or the NOCSAE.
2 ear flaps. For the higher levels of play, it’s possible to get a helmet with just one ear flap.
Some players prefer this because this is what the pros use, but others contend that having a single ear flap offers certain advantages.
It makes the helmet lighter, it’s cooler for the summer heat, and the player can hear well.
Still, most of the time the league will specify that fastpitch softball helmets should have 2 ear flaps, so you’ll need to comply with the rule.
Face mask. These helmets usually come with face masks, but you’re not forced to use the face mask that comes with the helmet.
You can replace it with another face mask, although usually you have to get the new face mask from the same manufacturer.
These masks are usually made from steel wire, but they should allow for maximum vision.
Brim design. Generally, the typical brim must be worn over the forehead so it’s parallel to the ground.
It can’t be too low, since that exposes the back of the head. But it can’t be too high like some players prefer, as that exposes the forehead to impact.
However, some helmets already offer some upturned brims to let players see the ball better.
Comfort. Some of the pads inside the helmet are designed to offer comfort.
The best pads handle moisture well so you still feel dry inside.
Air vents should also be featured. Hairstyles should also be accommodated, which is why a lot of girls’ softball helmets (and even boys’) have ports to accommodate ponytails.
Usually there’s also a chin strap to keep it secure on your head, and make sure that this also fits you well.
Colors. Usually, a helmet is available in several colors or color combinations.
Do Helmets Need To Be League Approved?
One or Two Ear Flaps?
Final Two Softball Batting Helmets Buying Factors
Top 5 Excellent Fastpitch Softball Helmets
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular softball batting helmets with face mask attachments available today:
RIP-IT Vision Pro Softball Helmet. These fastpitch softball helmets are available in several sizes and 6 color schemes.
It even offers both gloss and matte finishes. Its most notably unique feature is its vaunted “Blackout Technology” which reduces glare and enables players to better focus on the ball.
It has 21 air vents in strategic locations along with an open design to maximize coolness, it is very light, the padding inside handles the moisture well to keep you dry, and there’s a port for ponytails.
All in all, the combination of features has resulted in a vast majority of positive reviews without any sort of complaint at all.
It even offers a 400-day warranty. This is approved by the NSA and ASA.
This also offers 6 different solid colors, with a rubberized matte finish.
It also comes with a strategic venting system.
The low profile shell and the dual density padding ensure a nice fit.
Btw, free same-day shipping if you are part of the “PRIME” program.
Mizuno Women’s MBH252 MVP Fastpitch Softball Batters Helmet with Facemask. This one doesn’t really have any features that specifically make it just for female players.
Even the 8 color schemes look good with their 2-toned matte finish.
But it is limited to just small and medium sizes, so perhaps that’s why it is marketed for female players.
It comes with the ABS plastic shell with EVA foam inner core, a liner for moisture, and holes for alternate masks.
Easton Natural Two-Tone Senior Batting Helmet with Mask. It brags of what is supposed to be the most aerodynamic and slimmest profile among the venting systems in fastpitch softball helmets.
It uses premium ABS plastic shell, EVA foam on the inside, urethane foam for comfort and great fit, and antimicrobial fabric liner that wicks the moisture so you’re comfortably dry.
It meets NOCSAE standards, although the color schemes may be a bit limited.
Easton Junior Z5 Batters Helmet with SB Mask. This is a bit more affordable, but that’s mainly because it’s for younger players so less material is used.
But the quality is still excellent. The ABS protective shell protects against ball impact very effectively.
The special “dual density” foam will absorb and wick away the sweat from your head.
The wrap around the ears offers great comfort. This also meets NOCSAE standards.
The Two Easton Fastpitch Batting Helmets
These softball batting helmets are all terrific. You may notice that some of the negative reviews they may receive are actually because the customer ordered the wrong size!
So take care to get your measurements right, and heed the manufacturer’s guide on proper sizing.
Take advantage of the typical 30-day window you have and test the helmet right away. See that it fits your head comfortably, that you can hear things well, and that you can track the pitch with no problem.
See that you can run around the paths while wearing it.