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illump

Balloon chest protector mechanics

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Next year, I will be the plate umpire for a charity game.  The organizers are supplying the umpire with old school-style umpire uniforms from the 1950s or so.  I suggested the 1970s AL uniforms with the powder blue turtle necks and the burgundy coats, but was told "no".  They want me to use a balloon when I work the plate.

Anyway, i have not used one in over 30 years and was never taught the proper way to use it (stance, head height, etc.).  When I did use it umpteen years ago, it was for 8- and 9-year olds.  This time it is with adult men.  Since the kids were so short, I just used the knee directly behind the catcher.  Some of the adult catchers don't get down too low, so I may be high setting up directly behind them.

Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

 

Thanks.

 

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Having used the balloon much more recently than that...

I'd set up in the slot same as you would normally.  Make sure you don't let it slide down and expose your neck. Tuck it inside your throat guard if you have one.

Some guys can drape it over their shoulders. I could never do that - it kept sliding off my sloped shoulders. So i used it like a shield on my left arm. Yes it can work like this even to remove your mask, but it is definitely awkward and the dang thing can block your view in the process. I'd use it over the shoulders if i could.  Be sure your elbows don't protrude out the sides.

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Tuck it tightly up against your chin, and make sure your elbows are tucked against your sides (to be completely behind the balloon).

If you can hold it by the handle as in a shield, you can hold it by the handle with it over your shoulders.  Your right arm comes out anyway when you remove your mask and leave your position.  The balloon then gets tucked between your left arm and side as you move.

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Yeah, right under your chin..if you use a dangling throat protector, I’d take it off so you can easily get it up there.  I think straps not really over the shoulders.  Put your arms through, then arms down, and up again in front of your body so that your hands are in front of and tight to your chest.  Grab balloon handle with left hand (indicator there too).  If the straps are the right length, the bottom of the straps will rest on both your forearms to support the balloon in addition to just holding the handle.  I’m trying to remember taking off the mask...I believe it’s:  get right arm out of strap, remove mask with right hand, and then stick it in your left hand (yes, with balloon handle and indicator) so that your right arm and hand are free for all the other stuff we do with it!

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Thanks everyone for your advice.  I remember using the balloon as a shield to ward off all of the poorly thrown pitches from the 8- and 9-year olds, in particular keeping it right under my chin.  I like being in the slot now, so I was worried that I would have to go high directly behind the catcher's head to call balls and strikes.  Not a big fan of routinely getting blown up on foul balls hit straight back.

I may try to wear the straps over my shoulders to leave my hands free (left to take off the mask).  I don't know how many times i will drop my hat if I try to take it off with my right.  Yikes.

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Using a Balloon is really simple.  Put one arm through each strap.  Once you have your arms through

the straps place both of your hands under the bottom of the balloon.  Then raise the balloon up with

your hands and hold it up against the bottom of your chin.  Don't forget to tuck your elbows behind the

balloon.  When it is time to remove your mask use your lefty hand to remove it like you always do.  Next

place the mask against the bottom lefty side of the balloon while you remove your right  arm from the strap.

This action will cause the balloon to swing to your left side  where you can hold it  secure by applying pressure

with your mask.  If the balloon is not moving fast enough when place your mask on it you can use your right

hand to give it push to help it swing around on your left shoulder to your left side.  As far as where to stand let the 

catcher set up first and then assume a position that leaves enough space so the catcher does not hit the

balloon if he moves backward.  Your head height should be same as when using a inside protector.

Hope this helps 

Lefty

 

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