The average speed of the ball has been rapidly increasing over the past two decades in baseball. As of 2018, the average speed of the ball is 93.2mph.
While the hitter is undoubtedly at risk of being injured, catchers are at a higher risk since they must face the ball head-on.
Injuries are common in sports, but none are as scary as Traumatic Brain Injuries. These can cause permanent cognitive problems and also issues like sleeping disorders and behavioral issues.
Fortunately, protecting yourself from these life-altering injuries is easy. All you need to do to protect yourself from TBIs is get the right catcher’s helmet or mask.
But finding the right helmet can be a problem of its own.
The market is flooded with seemingly perfect options, and narrowing down your options can get confusing and hectic.
In this post, I will not only discuss what you should be looking for in your helmet or mask but also review ten of the industry’s best baseball headgear for your convenience.
EASTON GAMETIME Helmet
||Hockey Style||$$$||Check Price|
Champion Sports BM2A
||Hockey Style||$||Check Price|
Wilson Prestige Catcher’s Helmet
||Hockey Style||$$||Check Price|
|Best Youth Catchers Helmet||
Champion Sports Heavy-Duty Youth Catcher’s Mask
||Traditional Style||$||Check Price|
EASTON SPEED ELITE Catchers Facemask
||Traditional Style||$$||Check Price|
Mizuno G4 Youth Samurai Catcher’s Helmet
||Hockey Style||$$$||Check Price|
All-Star Sports Catcher Face Mask
||Hockey Style||$$$||Check Price|
||Hockey Style||$$$||Check Price|
||Hockey Style||$$||Check Price|
||Hockey Style||$$$||Check Price|
Catcher Mask Vs. Catcher’s Helmets
Catchers have two types of equipment available to them to protect their head: catcher’s masks and catcher’s helmets.
However, there are some critical differences between the two that you must always factor into your buying decision.
A brief look into the history of head protection in the game of baseball will give you a lot of insight into how far protective gear has come.
Brief History of the Catcher’s Mask
The first protective gear that was used in leagues was, somewhat surprisingly, the catcher’s mask.
It was introduced to the game in 1876, before which no protective gear was used to protect players from TBIs. It is said that the first iterations of the gear looked like bird cages.
Fans in the crowd and even members of the press hated the gear’s look so much that they screamed at the catchers that wore it during the game.
Over time, though, the gear was refined to both look better and provide better protection, as a result of which we have the sophisticated gear we have today.
Modern catcher’s masks are a lot lighter and do not obstruct the vision much, which were some of the most serious issues in the gear’s previous iterations.
Skull caps didn’t exist in the first versions of the mask, either. The concept is relatively new, and the skull cap provides additional protection to the player.
Brief History of the Catcher’s Helmet
A helmet was first used by Charlie O’Brien (Toronto Blue Jays) back in 1996 – the concept of the catcher’s helmet is less than 30 years old!
Before the late 90s, players would either use just the mask on the diamond or couple it with a skull cap. It wasn’t uncommon to see a player wearing no helmet or cap at all on the diamond.
It didn’t take long for helmets to gain popularity – both in and out of the leagues.
Best Catchers Helmets vs Masks
These are the general differences between catcher’s masks and helmets:
|Better field of view||Limited field of view|
|Tend to be lighter||Tend to be heavier|
|Only protect the face||Also, protect the jaw, ears, and the backside|
|Minimal ball deflection||Excellent ball deflection|
Masks are still used in the game; however, I recommend getting a catcher’s helmet since those provide better protection.
But, at the end of the day, it’s a personal decision. If you don’t mind trading the better protection for a better field of view, you can get a mask.
Types of Catchers Helmets
Not all helmets are built the same. There are two types of helmets, and learning the differences between them is critical before we proceed to the options.
The traditional two-piece helmet has been around almost as long as the game has.
But several associations don’t allow the use of these helmets anymore.
Getting one is still worth considering because these helmets offer some excellent advantages.
The mask sits on top of a helmet, making the mask super easy to remove for catching fly balls.
But you trade-off protection for this convenience. When compared to the hockey-style helmets, these protect you a lot less.
The lower cost and better ventilation make them an excellent option for complete beginners.
These are the helmets you see big leaguers wear – they provide the protection needed at the professional level. At first glance, these look more like hockey helmets, hence the name.
While best-in-class protection is an obvious advantage, these are also very easy to take off. They also stay stable on your head and don’t slip off like masks sometimes do.
Some players claim that hockey-style helmets obstruct the periphery. However, for most, the field of view is the same.
It’ll now be easier for you to weigh the pros and cons of the different types and pick from the recommendations below.
Best Catcher’s Masks
1. Best Seller – EASTON GAMETIME Helmet
The EASTON GAMETIME helmet is undoubtedly one of the best helmets in the market. It comes with a sturdy steel cage that will keep your face protected, but it won’t obstruct your vision, helping you do your best behind the plate.
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The helmet’s shell is made out of ABS, which is one of the sturdiest plastics available. You won’t need to worry about your safety with this helmet on, and will be able to focus your full attention on the ball.
But the best thing about the helmet is certainly the comfort it offers. The helmet is lined with BioDri fiber, which will keep your head sweat-free throughout the game.
The cooling effect is amplified by the strategically-placed airflow vents, making it one of the most comfortable helmets you could get your hands on.
It comes with an ergonomic chin cup design, improving comfort and allowing for easier communication.
The extra-wide top strap secures your locked-in adjustment – you won’t need to adjust it to your liking more than once.
- NOCSAE approved
- High-impact resistance ABS shell
- Shock-absorbing foam
- Moisture-wicking BioDri liner
- Available for both adults and young players
If you’re looking for an affordable catcher’s mask that does not compromise on protection, the Champion Sports BM2A is perfect for you.
It comes with a rugged metal frame to protect your face. The incorporated padding not only makes you comfortable but also cushions the impact of the ball.
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You never know how the ball could hit you when you’re behind the plate. The helmet’s built-in throat and ear guards give you the extra protection you need to stay calm when you’re on the diamond.
The included harness allows you to adjust the mask to your face and give it a secure fit.
The mask only comes in one color – classic black. But it will go perfectly with any team’s uniform.
But the best thing about the mask is undoubtedly its weight. It weighs just 15 ounces, and you’ll barely feel it on your head.
The mask gives you enough room to wear glasses, which is another tremendous advantage.
- Allows you to wear glasses
- Not the best quality – still great for the price
High-quality catcher’s helmets can be hard to find, especially if you’re looking for one for your kid. It needs to fit just right, so it feels comfortable while also offering maximum protection.
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The Wilson Prestige is perfectly sized and protects your child on the diamond from wild pitches and slipped bats.
The premium-grade ABS used to make the helmet, coupled with the 360° protection it provides, makes it one of the best catcher’s helmets for kids.
But there’s a lot more to like about the helmet than that.
The strategic venting will keep your child comfortable when they’re behind the plate.
The helmet is modeled after the same gear MLB players wear, and it also comes with a multi-point adjustment system. Adding some padding is all you will need to do to make sure the helmet doesn’t wobble at critical moments.
- NOCSAE approved
- Excellent look
- 360° protection
- Strategic venting
- Not very adjustable
4. Best Youth Catcher Mask – Champion Sports Heavy-Duty Youth Catcher’s Mask
Keeping junior safe on the field can get expensive. But the Youth Catcher’s Mask from Champion Sports offers superior protection without burning a hole in your wallet.
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It offers full-pad protection at a low cost. But what’s more impressive is that it only weighs 18 ounces, lightening any pressure the child may feel.
Champion Sports incorporates its DryTek EverClean leather pads into the mask, which makes it extremely comfortable. The pads also wick away any moisture, keeping the catcher cool on hot days.
While the mask is very lightweight, the hollow wire used is super sturdy. It can withstand heavy hits without breaking.
The adjustable straps ensure that the mask is secured to the child regardless of their head’s size. Both boys and girls can use the mask.
But the best thing about the mask is that it also protects the neck and the ears, which many other masks don’t.
- DryTek full-leather padding
- Weighs only 18 ounces
- Great price
- Extended ear, forehead, and throat guards
- Lightweight hollow wireframe
- Some complain of poor stitching
EASTON embraces the old school traditional facemask design, but not without improving it and making it ready for what a catcher may face behind the plate in 2020.
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The lightweight traditional mask features a high-strength cage that will protect the catcher from the hardest of throws.
The high-quality cage, coupled with the energy-absorbing foam, makes it one of the safest masks available.
The foam padding is lined with moisture-wicking material, which will keep you cool and comfortable in the heat.
But the best feature of the mask is undoubtedly the field of vision it supplies. If you’re concerned about your field 0f vision, you cannot go wrong with the EASTON SPEED ELITE.
The facemask comes in four colors – black, red, navy blue, and royal blue, so you can match with your uniform.
- Excellent protection – perfect for college baseball
- Moisture-wicking lining
- High impact absorption foam padding
- Wide field of view
If your little one is fussy about the look of the helmet they wear, you won’t regret getting the Mizuno G4.
The helmet can be used for both softball and baseball and is available in six excellent colors.
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It has the same specs as the Samurai adult gear, which means the helmet will hold up to the rigors of the season.
The strategic ventilation system is a significant advantage since it makes for enhanced comfort.
But the best feature is undoubtedly the three-layer EVA foam padding. It not only cushions hits but also keeps the player feeling comfortable throughout the game.
Mizuno goes the extra mile by incorporating a sturdy steel frame into the mask, which adds to both the protection and the durability of the helmet.
Overall, it’s one of the safest options in the market.
- Perfect for picky youngsters
- Strong steel-framed mask
- Strategic ventilation system
- Three-layer EVA foam
- Same specs as adult gear
- Slightly heavy
One of the biggest reasons players avoid using a facemask is that it irritates facial hair, which can be distracting when behind the plate.
And distracted is the last thing you want to be when you’re behind the plate.
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The All-Star Sports catcher’s mask comes with Luc pads that don’t irritate facial hair, helping you stay focused on the game.
What’s more, the pads also have moisture-wicking properties, adding to the comfort of the mask.
The mask also features the company’s DeltaFlex harness, which secures the mask to your face firmly. You won’t have to worry about the mask slipping off when you slide into the home plate.
But the I-Bar Vision construction of the mask is definitely the highlight feature of the mask.
Despite the above average price tag, I love the All-Star Sports mask which is why it makes it onto our list of the best catchers helmets.
- Excellent visibility
- Lightweight at 21 ounces
- Moisture-wicking Luc pads
- Washable pads
- Slightly expensive
If you want to get your kid a helmet, but you’re concerned about sizing, the Mvp2500 is the best helmet to buy.
It adjusts to head sizes 7″ to 7 ½”, allowing you to get the exact fit you want. But there’s a lot more to like about the helmet than just that.
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It comes with a strong ABS resin shell, which guarantees the safety of your child when he’s behind the plate.
The helmet also features the company’s I-Bar Vision steel cage, adding to the helmet’s protection and durability. The ultra-cool mesh liner keeps the child comfortable throughout the game.
It comes in eight colors, and you can match it with the team’s colors. Or you can just go with the black helmet – it’ll look great with any uniform.
- Strong ABS resin shell
- I-Bar Vision steel cage
- Ultra-Cool mesh liner
- Advanced shell design
- Solid molded color
The Wilson Dyna-Lite is among the best catcher’s masks out there. Many MLB umpires use the mask to keep themselves safe on the diamond.
The high-profile steel cage is further fortified with the polyurethane finish, which makes the mask super sturdy.
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It is also this excellent finish that gives the mask outstanding front-impact protection.
The interchangeable non-wrap pads allow for easy maintenance and enable you to get a more personalized fit.
The harness is also adjustable, and once you secure it to your head before the game, it won’t slip from its place throughout the game.
It’s also easy to wear glasses with the mask on, which is another excellent benefit.
- Wrap around padding
- Adjustable harness
- High profile steel cage
- Slightly heavy
10. All-Star Fm25
If you’re looking to get serious about the sport, the Fm25 is the right mask to get.
The hollow steel construction makes it super lightweight, and the frame has a proven track record for durability.
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The I-Bar Vision cage comes with a flat bar, which makes for increased strength and improved sightlines.
The LMX-style padding makes the mask super comfortable to wear and also adds to the protection it offers. You won’t feel any vibrations from foul balls, which counts for a lot when you’re behind the plate.
But the back strap assembly is undoubtedly its best feature. The snug fit and feel gives you the confidence to face every ball without pressure.
The All-Star Fm25 is available in five colors.
- Excellent fit
- Absorbs impact well
- Doesn’t get hot
- Doesn’t obstruct vision
- Only available in one size – won’t fit younger players
Choosing the Best Catcher Helmets
There’s a lot for you to consider when getting a catcher’s mask. Going in blind and not knowing what to look for is the formula for getting the wrong product for your needs.
Here are the things you must keep in mind when picking a mask whether you’re shopping online or at a store:
Even if you have the measurements for your head and pick your helmet accordingly, you must wear it and see if it fits right.
Make sure that the helmet doesn’t wobble when it’s on your head – you don’t want it wobbling or slipping at key moments in the game.
Experts recommend that your test fit the helmet with the same hairstyle that you intend to have when you’re on the diamond.
It may sound silly, but the length of your hair and how it’s combed makes a big difference to the fit.
If it’s snug and feels comfy, you have the right helmet.
Regardless of how rugged your helmet is, you must remember that its weight makes a big difference to your comfort.
If a helmet is too heavy, and you shrug it off, you may begin to feel pain in your neck in the middle of the game.
Ensure that the helmet isn’t weighing you down when you tilt your head. If it is, steer clear of the headgear.
Ease of Breathing
If the mask or helmet is too tight, you may have difficulty breathing during the game. It will undoubtedly impact your performance.
Be sure to ask yourself if you’re able to breathe normally every time you pick up a helmet.
A high number of both baseball and softball associations no longer allow players to wear traditional two-piece helmets when they’re on the diamond.
Learning the rules of your association is essential before you buy a helmet – you don’t want to waste money getting the wrong one.
Catcher’s helmets come in two sizes: Youth and Adult. Getting the right size is critical to both your comfort and protection.
Youth catcher’s helmets are for players aged 14 or below. However, some youngsters may need bigger helmets, in which case they may use an adult-sized helmet.
Again, make sure you wear the helmet and check the fit.
Ease of Removal
If there’s a flying ball, you will need to quickly take your helmet off to get a better look at the ball.
Catching flying balls can have game-changing consequences, so getting a helmet that you can remove fast with ease is just as critical as breathability.
When you’re shopping for a helmet, test it by taking it off as fast as you can. But make sure you don’t buy an inferior product and sacrifice on protection.
Every mask on the market will alter your field of view in some way. Making sure that you are able to see the ball at all times is key to being a good catcher.
Check for blind spots and avoid any helmets that obstruct your periphery too much.
And with that, you know everything there is to know about catcher’s helmets and masks.
You also know how to find the right helmet and are well-acquainted with the market’s best options. To go along with the best catchers mask, follow along as I evaluate some of the best catcher gloves on the market today.
Finding the right mask is now as easy as taking another glance over my recommendations.
Keep your preferences in mind, and you’ll find the perfect helmet in no time.
My name is David Farnum and I’ve been a Little League Coach in my community for the past 7 years. With 2 boys playing baseball and 1 girl playing softball, most weekends I can be found near a baseball diamond.