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Heave-Ho

Advice for Gear? Younger levels

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Hey all,

Can't wait for umpiring season to start back up, hoping to be more active here this year. Going into my 2nd season umpiring, and want to upgrade my gear a bit. I'm only 15, so I do a lot of lower level games, highest I do is U13. I bought a package for gear last year that I wasn't really found of. Fell apart quickly, and the CP was much bulkier than needed. 

I'm looking for a recommendation of a good chest protecter. Doesn't need to be super protective, as I typically don't see anything above 60 MPH, but it has to be enough to protect me obviously. Any recommendations? Also looking for a cheaper pair of shin guards as well.

 

Thanks in advance,

John

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The Adams HDX (I think, used to be Schutt) is good and pretty inexpensive. I'd also recommend the Champion hard shell. You can find a lot of information on this stuff throughout the site. Both of those will be good at higher levels too. I always liked making sure my equipment would protect me above the level I'm currently doing so that I could comfortably take on higher level games. 

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@Heave-Ho

You seem like me a few years ago when I started, but don't do what I did and blow $$$ on cheap crap that breaks fast. Based on my perception of your ambitions to gradually move on to higher level ball, here's what I would get:

CP:

- Champion Body Armour Hardshell

This CP is used by MiLB umpires, is very lightweight, breathes pretty well, and features excellent protection. I use this CP for all my games, which range from 9u all the way to 14u Majors (upper 70s low 80s pitching) and have never even seriously felt a shot! And the best part? It's the CHEAPEST CP ON UMP-ATTIRE!!! (~$55 depending on size)

 

Shin Guards:

Two options I would suggest:

- Diamond Ump-Lites

These sacrifice some protection for being ridiculously light and only having two straps. They should be just fine for what you're doing, but if you may feel shots to the legs a bit more.

-Champro Pro-Plus/Diamond iX3/Wilson Guardians

All of these shins are basically the same thing. They have a thigh plate with a floating kneecap and thicker padding, which combine to offer better protection. They're still lightweight, but not as much as the Ump-Lites.

 

Hope this helps!

Oh, and which starter package did you buy originally?

-BR

 

 

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11 hours ago, Heave-Ho said:

Hey all,

Can't wait for umpiring season to start back up, hoping to be more active here this year. Going into my 2nd season umpiring, and want to upgrade my gear a bit. I'm only 15, so I do a lot of lower level games, highest I do is U13. I bought a package for gear last year that I wasn't really found of. Fell apart quickly, and the CP was much bulkier than needed. 

I'm looking for a recommendation of a good chest protecter. Doesn't need to be super protective, as I typically don't see anything above 60 MPH, but it has to be enough to protect me obviously. Any recommendations? Also looking for a cheaper pair of shin guards as well.

 

Thanks in advance,

John

Welcome, fellow Ohioan. It's great to have some younger folk in the ranks!

My son started out in almost the exact same path - youngsters till he was 18, though he did get certified at 17 so he could do middle school and freshmen games.

One thing that helped him - and me starting out - was to scour the local Play It Again or other used sporting goods shops. Honestly, for shin guards, a decent used catchers' set will work just fine. You can often find Champ-Pro guards, as well as All-Star (which I'd much more recommend). Same for chest protectors, though those may be a bit more rare. I found a Wilson Charcoal a few years ago for $30 and a Diamond Ultra-Lite mask for $15.

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I was about to make the same recommendations as the rest. And in love the Play It Again idea. Especially the shin guards part for young starting umpires. The reason...? Most young guys dont have honest to God plate shoes yet. Most just wear sneakers or their baseball spikes. (I would recommend hitting Walmart or the like and getting black steel to tennis shoes at the least.) Then buy a pair of catcher shin guards with the foot extensions on it. That way you at least have some protection.

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My current shin guards were PIAS purchases. Cut off the foot extensions. Been using them for 12 years now and have never thought to buy new ones.

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Without a doubt the Champion Body Armor chest protector. For shin guards at the level you are working I'd suggest something light and comfortable, like Diamond Featherweights. (Or whatever is comfortable you can find used. I'd spring for the Champion CP new if you can't find a used one as you will never have to upgrade if you don't want.)

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Welcome to the forums! Great to see some fellow teens be serious about umpiring. I started at 14, as it sounds you did, and I wish I'd found this resource as soon as you...

I'm in the same boat as @BlueRanger, doing 9u to 14Um, and would give pretty similar advice to the others here. Don't cheap out, and have gear ready to take you to the next level. If you think about it, getting quality equipment really isn't that expensive (think of it in game fees), but will have a huge effect on how long the gear lasts you, the protection you get from the gear, and your comfort. 

For CP, I have the Champion, and it does a great job. I think the others here have said enough about it, so I'll just say I concur with them.

For Shins, I splurged and got the force 3's. I'm not going to say I necessarily recommend them, but only because they're total overkill for what you'll be doing in the near future, and they're expensive. That being said, I can't see myself getting a new set of shinguards anytime in the foreseeable future. You feel nothing when you take a shot, and they're super comfortable. They're pricey, but they're the best. Sounds like they may not be the choice for you, but I'd keep them in mind if you ever decide you want an upgrade. 

The piece of gear I've picked up that has surprised me enough has been an odd one. It's my socks! I was shocked at how much of a difference it made for me. I picked up a pair of the force 3 socks off of ump attire (pretty sure it was to get me into the free shipping range), and I'm super happy I did. Doesn't have to be those, but a few nice pairs of thick, but breathable, calf length or higher socks would be a great investment. 

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2 hours ago, Biscuit said:

Welcome to the forums! Great to see some fellow teens be serious about umpiring. I started at 14, as it sounds you did, and I wish I'd found this resource as soon as you...

I'm in the same boat as @BlueRanger, doing 9u to 14Um, and would give pretty similar advice to the others here. Don't cheap out, and have gear ready to take you to the next level. If you think about it, getting quality equipment really isn't that expensive (think of it in game fees), but will have a huge effect on how long the gear lasts you, the protection you get from the gear, and your comfort. 

For CP, I have the Champion, and it does a great job. I think the others here have said enough about it, so I'll just say I concur with them.

For Shins, I splurged and got the force 3's. I'm not going to say I necessarily recommend them, but only because they're total overkill for what you'll be doing in the near future, and they're expensive. That being said, I can't see myself getting a new set of shinguards anytime in the foreseeable future. You feel nothing when you take a shot, and they're super comfortable. They're pricey, but they're the best. Sounds like they may not be the choice for you, but I'd keep them in mind if you ever decide you want an upgrade. 

The piece of gear I've picked up that has surprised me enough has been an odd one. It's my socks! I was shocked at how much of a difference it made for me. I picked up a pair of the force 3 socks off of ump attire (pretty sure it was to get me into the free shipping range), and I'm super happy I did. Doesn't have to be those, but a few nice pairs of thick, but breathable, calf length or higher socks would be a great investment. 

Totally agree with this. I'm going to sign up to do HS ball in a year or so, so I went and grabbed the F3s on advice from @MadMax and absolutely love them! Now, yeah, they are TOTAL overkill for anything below Varsity, but I see it as not having to buy shins for at least 5 years. Same thing with my Champion PX00, it's overkill for everything below JV, but like the F3s, it's light enough and breathes well enough that I don't have an issue with it. 

-BR

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13 hours ago, BlueRanger said:

Totally agree with this. I'm going to sign up to do HS ball in a year or so, so I went and grabbed the F3s on advice from @MadMax and absolutely love them! Now, yeah, they are TOTAL overkill for anything below Varsity, but I see it as not having to buy shins for at least 5 years. Same thing with my Champion PX00, it's overkill for everything below JV, but like the F3s, it's light enough and breathes well enough that I don't have an issue with it. 

-BR

You hit the nail on the head by saying you will be using the F3's for five years.  Should be able to get a Champro protector to last a while and also use that at higher level ball.  I'd never recommend buying junk if you're only going to have to replace it in a year because it breaks.  I don't know if it's overkill for lower level ball since you tend to get the crap knocked out of you more often at those levels.  Might as well protect yourself.

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I second the Champion hardshell. Here's my thinking about gear, I would get stuff that's serviceable at any level you work. You will save money in long run and not have to worry about getting crap as a younger umpire. 

 

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Nothing new here....don't go cheap...and remember...you get hit MUCH more at the lower levels than you do with the older guys...so going cheap is going to hurt you literally lol. Champion hard shell or Schutt HDX....Schutt is cooler in the heat...the Champion will need a replacement harness to fit properly. I went the exact same route as others above...started with the Diamond Ump lite Shins which were great for the younger guys and SUPER lite and upgraded to F3's when I decided to make the move to HS and above. They both server their purpose. Personally...I suggest getting plate shoes if you can afford it as well....3n2s are fine and will last you at least 3-4 years....that's a small investment when you look at game fees. I picked up a +POS ZRO-G mask but I know that a lot of people have had issues with that vendor...for the price though...I don't think there is a better mask...Check out Epic sports for really low prices on a number of things...if you don't need rush shipping they are often a good source for the lowest prices.

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