Catcher’s Gear – Traditional Mask vs. Hockey-Style Helmet

Catcher’s Gear – Traditional Mask vs. Hockey-Style Helmet

One of the biggest decisions a catcher can make when choosing their gear is which style of head protection they will wear. The two options a catcher has to choose from are the traditional two-piece mask or the more recently developed hockey-style helmet. Each design has certain benefits and limitations that catcher’s must take into account before selecting their helmet/mask. The below information is aimed to help inform parents, players, and coaches on several factors that go into the catcher helmet/mask decision-making process.

Traditional Two-Piece Catcher’s Helmet

The two-piece catcher’s helmet has been in baseball since 1907. However, this traditional mask was used with a backwards hat as opposed to the hard hat worn today.

The traditional look of a two-piece mask is very appealing to many players. Apart from the look, a two-piece mask can also be very appealing to catchers playing in hot climates. When exerting a lot of energy behind the plate, the last thing you want is a bulky hockey-style helmet trapping in all of the heat. The two-piece mask leaves a good part of the head uncovered, thus allowing the head to breathe and keep the player cooler behind the plate.

Traditional Two-Piece Catcher’s Helmet

While the traditional two-piece catcher’s mask can keep the head cool, it also leaves areas exposed to potential harm. The front area of a two-piece mask helps protect a player similar to the level of a hockey-style catcher’s mask. However, the uncovered sides and limited protection in the back leaves a catcher susceptible to a hitter’s backswing.

Another difference in the two styles is the visibility. A traditional two-piece mask is going to rest further from the face when compared to the hockey-style helmet. This can be both a positive and a negative. Some catchers want their mask away from their face while others want it as close as possible to maximize their vision on the field. Because the two-piece mask sits further from the face, the field of vision is slightly less than that of a hockey-style helmet.

The two piece mask certainly comes in expensive options; however there are far more affordable options in the traditional mask-style when compared to the hockey-style mask. When looking for a mask with a traditional look, decent protection, and plenty of breathability, a two-piece catcher’s mask might be for you.

Pros:

  • Traditional look
  • Lower cost
  • Breathable
  • Easy to take off

Cons:

  • Less protection
  • Reduced visibility

Some of the top manufacturers of traditional two-piece catcher’s masks are All-Star, Under Armour, and Rawlings.

Hockey-Style Catcher’s Helmet

The hockey-style catcher’s helmet was first used in the Major Leagues at the end of the twentieth century. Since its first appearance, the safety and technology of the hockey-style helmet has made it very popular across all levels of baseball.

The complete coverage of the head provided by the hockey-style helmet not only protects catchers well from the ball, but also protects them from a hitter’s backswing. Due to the active nature of the catching position, the increased safety of the hockey-style helmet has made it mandatory by some youth organizations.

Hockey-Style Catcher’s Helmet

Generally speaking, the overall cost of a hockey-style helmet is going to be greater than the cost of a traditional two-piece mask. With the extra cost, you are getting a helmet with greater protection and potentially greater durability. The one-piece mask is a great option for the player looking for a safe, durable helmet with that hockey-style look.

Pros:

  • Maximum protection
  • Greater visibility
  • Hockey-style look
  • Stays on head during throws and collisions

Cons:

  • Higher cost
  • Less breathable

Some of the top manufacturers of hockey-style catcher’s helmets are All-Star, Under Armour, and Wilson.

Final Thoughts

The decision over whether to go with a hockey-style one-piece helmet or a traditional two-piece mask is all a matter of personal preference. Another factor that could play into the decision is what organization you play under. If the organization requires a helmet with ear protection, your options are limited. However, if you have free reign over the style of helmet you will be wearing, a bit of research may be needed to find the perfect helmet for your game.

If you have any questions about catcher’s helmets/masks, please contact BaseballMonkey Customer Service at (888)-771-3111.


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