Head out to purchase a catcher's helmet, and you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. Be aware that masks and helmets for catchers usually come in only three sizes, unlike chest protectors and leg guards. Choose between youth, intermediate, and adult, as the back plate is movable, allowing you to obtain a custom, snug fit. The mask and catcher's helmet work to protect the player from injuries to the head and face so corners should never be cut in this area. Choose the best helmet you can afford to obtain great protection at all times.
The catcher helmet works to protect the head, which is very important at any age. Children learning to play baseball or softball often hit foul balls, yet wild swings and wild pitches endanger the catcher also. When the time comes to choose the helmet, you'll find there are two basic types. Some opt to go with the classic mask, yet many leagues now require players to wear hockey-style masks as they tend to offer superior protection.
The classic mask is simply a face mask, one with padding in the jaw and forehead areas. To use this mask, the player wears a batting helmet, one turned so the brim is on the back of the mask, as this provides the most cranial and facial protection. Many professional players choose this style as it allows them to quickly remove the helmet and mask to catch foul balls. The level of protection is the trade-off, however.
In contrast, a hockey-style helmet offers complete protection of the face and head. This style features a face mask, thick padding on the interior of the helmet, and a solid shell face mask. The mask goes down under the jaw, for additional protection of the neck and throat. This type of helmet does tend to restrict some peripheral vision and is hard to remove quickly, yet the protection offered is superior to that of classic mask and helmet combos.
Don't hesitate to ask for assistance when choosing a mask and helmet for yourself or your child. Protecting one's head needs to be the top priority at all times so take the time to fully understand the differences between the two types. Most recommend hockey-style helmets for younger children, yet the added cost is worth it in both the short and long run.