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Any NOCSAE approved two-piece catcher’s helmet option?


JBishop12

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I have a 14 year-old son who sustained a prior eye injury (unrelated to baseball) and therefore must wear protective eyewear while playing baseball (even while catching).  It is impossible to quickly remove a hockey style mask (for catching pop-ups, etc) without disturbing the glasses, but he can remove a separate face mask without issue.  Does anyone know of an acceptable two-piece option (e.g. a helmet with ear flaps that can be paired with a separate face mask)?  I can find NOCSAE approved face masks, but I am having a difficult time locating a NOCSAE approved helmet to pair with it.  Thank you, 

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Not as sexy looking as the HSM, but what about a 2 piece like this? Have seen these in LL and those were NOCSAE approved (not positive the photo is a NOCSAE version). The mask can be pulled away from the face a little when removing the helmet.

 

Catcher's Protection - Rawlings Catchers Helmet - Trainers4Me

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I would try different HSM styles and/or sizes before giving up on them.  Or see if you have eye protection options that work better. Catchers wear sunglasses under HSM's all the time, so it seems like you should be able to find a workable solution. Good luck!

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My son's team's primary catcher has worn glasses as long as aive known him (u13 through u18) and he wars the goggle-style and tears the helmet off with no issues. Biggest issue is fogging, he's got a stick he rubs on them to prevent it. Usually.

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3 minutes ago, isired said:

Biggest issue is fogging, he's got a stick he rubs on them to prevent it. Usually.

😬 LOL

Sidebar - About two years after coaching a kid from 6 to 8 I saw him show up with glasses. It sure helped explain a lot of things :) 

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On 9/19/2021 at 11:17 AM, JBishop12 said:

I have a 14 year-old son who sustained a prior eye injury (unrelated to baseball) and therefore must wear protective eyewear while playing baseball (even while catching).  It is impossible to quickly remove a hockey style mask (for catching pop-ups, etc) without disturbing the glasses, but he can remove a separate face mask without issue.  Does anyone know of an acceptable two-piece option (e.g. a helmet with ear flaps that can be paired with a separate face mask)?  I can find NOCSAE approved face masks, but I am having a difficult time locating a NOCSAE approved helmet to pair with it.  Thank you, 

I've seen catchers, including at least one in MLB, keep the HSM on when fielding a fly ball.  Try one on - the vision is much better than a traditional mask.

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On 9/19/2021 at 8:17 AM, JBishop12 said:

Does anyone know of an acceptable two-piece option (e.g. a helmet with ear flaps that can be paired with a separate face mask)?  I can find NOCSAE approved face masks, but I am having a difficult time locating a NOCSAE approved helmet to pair with it.

You are, unfortunately, never going to find it. 

The reason you will never find it lies in the purpose of NOCSAE's existence. Sure, on paper, NOCSAE can state they are striving to improve safety and protection of amateur athletes, but their purpose is to alleviate liability of the manufacturers, especially in regards to a class-action lawsuit. 

NOCSAE is comprised of representatives of several professional medical review boards, experts therein, certified equipment managers, certified equipment reconditioners, coaches, and a representative of each of the (acknowledged / licensed) manufacturers, as well as an NCAA and NFHS rep. The primary focus of NOCSAE is to mitigate or eliminate head injuries in sports requiring helmets and/or involving head trauma; as to this goal, this usually involves football, baseball, and lacrosse. Do note – none of the professional sports leagues are represented within NOCSAE, nor do any of the manufacturers necessarily want them to be included. The reason for this is that professional (ie. adult) customers can make their own research and decisions when purchasing their equipment. However, amateur athletes – especially those at public-funded schools – cannot afford that luxury, and are often using institution-issued gear. Thus, the institutions must perform due diligence with the manufacturers to assure (or certify) that the produced gear meets safety criteria that a governing body – in this case, NOCSAE – ratifies. 

Why am I explaining all this? Because, if the ulterior motive of NOCSAE's certification is remove litigious liability in the instance of an injury, you – the parent and/or legal guardian – might be able to have a lawyer draft you up an exemption letter. 

Think this out with me... A traditional "two-piece" mask and hard hat (AKA skull cap, AKA earflap-less batting helmet) is and has been just as protective as HSMs regarding frontal concussive impacts. However, to achieve NOCSAE certification, the piece of gear must impede or reduce impact forces that has been determined by physicians to a number (I can't remember it off-hand) that breaks cranial bones and produces hemorrhaging, and prevents visible head injuries (bruises and lacerations). It's on this second point where traditional "two-piece" masks fail because they don't cover the ears, and the ears are definitely considered part of the head. As such, side impacts (such as when a catcher turns his head, or a ball ricochets to find its way there, or a batter has a "loose" follow through, or lets go of the bat) bring with them a much higher risk. 

So, as callous as it sounds, accept (officially, legally) the risk. Perhaps a lawyer can draft for you a legally-binding document that waives liability for your son (specifically; no-one else on the team could use this) to use a conventional two-piece. Again, the reason for the NOCSAE certification is to limit (remove) the liability for a player to sue a school and/or manufacturer for issuing them gear that "would have prevented this injury" (or failure therein). This document would have to be presented to the school, retained by the coach, and also presented to the UIC (in Fed, it's the PU) prior to that game (the reason we umpires get conjoined in this liability crap is because we are the Fed's "enforcers"). 

This isn't unprecedented. Many amateur leagues and tournament series utilizing NFHS rules waive or ignore the NOCSAE requirements because they themselves are not issuing the gear. Instead, the participants are bringing their own gear and are (purportedly) making their own purchasing decisions. 

There's a whole bunch of other legalese in this, but that's the gist of it. 

Now, from the other perspective or approach... 

Have you (more so, your son) truly tried keeping the HSM on as much as possible? I was a catcher for 16 years (and have been an umpire for 13 years), and while I never used a HSM during that time (as a catcher, they became prominent after my high school days), it never ceases to amaze me that coaches / fans think and project that a catcher must take that mask off every time a pitch gets away from the mitt, or becomes a batted ball. I've lost count the piles upon piles of HSMs (and, to be fair, TMs) that have been catapulted off the catcher in front of me to land at my feet... on a ball that is already over the backstop, or rolling just over ~there~ while no runners are on base! It just becomes engrained habit! Well, stop engraining it! 

How often do we see MLB catchers catapult off their HSMs? Relatively few times, actually. They certainly don't fling them off so as to throw during a steal attempt (no time!), they typically don't fling them off on a pitch in the dirt (again, no time!), and even on most pop-ups, they leave the HSM on so as to pursue the pop-up as rapidly as possible. Most pro-grade HSMs (think All-Star and Easton) have minimal cages on them to maximize visibility. Why's that? Not only because visibility is an utmost premium in the pro game, but also because these HSMs aren't being dumped on the ground on a repetitive basis like shared, issued amateur HSMs are!!!! I spent several years as a hockey goalie, several years as a Wide Receiver, Punt & Kick Returner in football, and even tried my hand at lacrosse. In each of those, you're looking for a (moving) ball (puck) through a wire cage anyway... right??!! So why this obsession with dumping off the mask for baseball??!! 

So, another option, as @ousafe has mentioned is to get a really, really good HSM and leave it on as much as possible. From my experience and knowledge base, All-Star and Easton have the most minimal of cages so as to promote visibility. Going further, I got my hands on an UnderArmour Converge HSM (not the Victory!) and it is noticeably wider and more accommodating in the eyes area, with less intrusion(?) on the flanks, so maybe your son would be able to flick this HSM up and off without disturbing or unseating his glasses?

Wow, I pushed the word count on this one... thanks for keeping up. Got any more questions, drop us a message.

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Guest JBishop12
9 minutes ago, Matt said:

...but not to you, lest they go over their monthly data allocation.

Thank you all for your responses and suggestions.  He has an All-Star HSM that he has used for several years and is comfortable with -- maybe he can keep using it and not worry about removing it.  I agree that he should be able to make most plays without taking it off.  And, this saves me the additional expense (and effort) of finding an purchasing another piece of equipment!  Thank you all again, 

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3 hours ago, Guest JBishop12 said:

Thank you all for your responses and suggestions.  He has an All-Star HSM that he has used for several years and is comfortable with -- maybe he can keep using it and not worry about removing it.  I agree that he should be able to make most plays without taking it off.  And, this saves me the additional expense (and effort) of finding an purchasing another piece of equipment!  Thank you all again, 

Texas Rangers catcher Travino tonight - fielding popups mask on. 

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As stated by others - Keep the mask on.    I coached this the last five years I actively worked with catchers.  If NHL goalies can track 100+ mph slapshots and deflections, our kids can track a foul ball.   Makes playing the position much simpler.   Removes all the other potential drawbacks of removing the mask, with very little risk of not being able to track/find the ball.

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