We believe that the All-Star Vela Pro series is a perfect set for advanced & competitive catchers. At a reasonable price point, this gear has quite a bit to like!
The MVP2500 helmet that comes with this set is top of the line and should keep your head protected in all the right spots. It is built using an forward-thinking design and uses high impact resistant ABS plastic to ensure your noggin is kept safe. In addition, for another layer of safety, the back panel has been better designed to ensure that straps are always fastened in place.
Next comes the chest protector, which is built from the famous All Star System 7 series. What is nice about this chest protector is that it has been designed to be a bit narrow in the shoulder area to fit the female player a bit better. In addition, the narrower shoulder area provides the catcher with increased mobility and therefore better coverage. Within the chest protector itself, specific high protective plates have been placed into the more prone areas (i.e. throat, collar bone and chest).
The last piece of the Vela set is the System 7 leg guards. The best features of these leg guards are their versatility. Some catchers like to wear shorts, especially when the weather gets warmer. Using the DeltaFlex harness allows for this as the straps do not dig in like they normally would. In addition, the leg guards should provide excellent mobility.
Overall, this is a great set worthy of any fastpitch player.
2- Easton Prowess
The next set of fastpitch catcher’s gear we wanted to feature was the Easton Prowess series.
This set is perfect for age ranges of approximately 12 to 15 and is a great middle of the range set for those that don’t need to full bells & whistles offered by more expensive sets.
The best feature in my opinion would be the Prowess chest protector within this set. One of the main reasons for this is how it provides catchers with their own custom fit with its four strap system. Back in the days when I used to catch, I found the equipment to be rather bulky and the chest protector was often my biggest hindrance. In addition, the Prowess chest protector is designed to be a two-piece system. This allows the upper part of the chest and the lower part to move free from each other.
The next feature to overview is the Prowess Qwikfit leg guards which, as their name describes, are quick and easy to fit around your shin area. Using a two-piece shin design, the leg guards are able to wrap around to provide better coverage and more comfort. Speaking of coverage and protection, the Prowess leg guards also have a newer memory foam that have been placed around the more prone areas that can become exposed when blocking or throwing someone out.
The final piece to the puzzle is the Prowess helmet. Similar to other models we have looked it, the Prowess is also built using high protective ABS plastic for increased durability. Another nice feature is that the Prowess has an advanced ventilation system to keep you cool and hopefully less sweaty on the really hot, sticky days!
Overall, the Prowess series is a great middle of the road option from a fantastic brand name!
3- Under Armour Victory Series
The next set of gear comes from another popular line. You’ve probably seen the “Protect this House” line made by Under Armour…well this is the version for fastpitch catchers.
Under Armour is often regarded as one of the top equipment producers as they put in a ton of effort into research, and design to hopefully create more innovative and better products. We think any catcher would enjoy wearing the Victory Series.
The Victory Series chest protector looks to be a true winner. One of the main things it should do well is the ability to deaden softballs on impact. So if you’ve got a little bit of a wilder pitcher on the mound, this should help keep passed balls from occurring as much. Like the Prowess, there are four different points where adjustment can occur providing you with a nice and snug fit. In addition, Under Armour has augmented this further by providing catchers with two light adjustable shoulder extensions specifically made for female players.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at the helmet included in the picture above, it just looks high quality and polished. In addition to looking nice, it should be sturdy as well as it too contains high impact ABS plastic allowing it to take more punishment (although we hope that does not happen). The helmet also included advanced cleaning features so the lining around the chin and head area do not stink so easily.
The last piece in this set is the double knee designed leg guards. According to the specification list, these professionally designed leg guards also contain high impact plastic including really thick pieces in the high usage areas. Within the knee area, and extra gel pad has also been provided to provide even better impact protection.
Overall the Victory series is a great middle to high end set and should be on your radar as well.
One of the most popular sets for 2018 is the Mizuno Samurai G4 fastpitch series which is available in Adult, and Intermediate sizes. Despite being named “G4”, the set comprises of the G3 chest protector, G3 leg guards, and the G4 helmet.
G3 chest protector: shaped to specifically fit a woman’s body, the Samurai G4 uses many advanced level features including reduced rebound technology to keep blocked balls closer to your body. With a newer design, Mizuno has reduced the weight of the previous version even further allowing you to remain mobile and always in control. With a personalized neck pad, this chest protector has even more bells & whistles than ever before.
G3 leg guards: the top feature of the G3 series is the new K-Pad that has been added to the knee area. This patented product can be removed if desired but provides a much better fit surrounding the knee area. For even more quality, the leg guards feature stainless steel clamps to avoid any sort of breaking in the near future.
G4 helmet: With 3 levels of high quality EVA foam surrounding your head at all times, you can rest assured you will be safe. Another item that makes the G4 helmet so advanced is its ability to ventilate and keep the catcher comfortable at all times. After all nothing is worse than a humid day with your head stuck inside a mask!
Nothing completes a softball catcher’s arsenal better than a nice sturdy chest protector. The chest protector is one of the most recognized pieces of equipment across any sport and serves a very important purpose. I couldn’t imagine how bad it would hurt to be hit by a foul ball squarely in the chest. In fact for some, it could be fatal especially if it hits around the heart area. Some keys for finding the right chest protector include:
Always make sure to find a chest protector that fits around your full body. This is especially important in women’s softball as there can be many different body sizes and shapes.
Just like a hockey goaltender, a catcher could equip themselves with the bulkiest chest protector possible and be fully protected. But if you can’t move, you are hurting your ability to play at a high level.
Many chest protectors today come with numerous layers of protection throughout the entire chest protector. Make sure you avoid wearing gear that feels flimsy and worn out.
The Easton Mako chest protector is probably one of your best bets. For one it is already very popular based on the reviews that have come in from others, and secondly it comes from a great brand known for the strong catchers gear they produce. And not limited to catchers, Easton gear can also be found on our best softball bats, and best softball gloves pages.
So what makes the Mako itself a better option that say some of the others? Here are a few reasons:
Female specific fit – the Mako features a female specific design unlike some of the other models you’ll find (or possibly have used). This specific design matches a females body and therefore provides a better fit and more importantly gives more protection.
Better fit – As you can see in the image, the Mako comes equipped with a couple of side clips making it easier to adjust. These clips also allow the catcher to remove their chest protector with more ease. Instead of having to loosen the straps and pull it over your shoulders, all you need to do is release the clip on each side which should provide ample space to slip out.
High quality foam – On the inside, the Mako uses foam that promises to be able to withstand the highest levels of impact. This foam also should help in rebound control as if by chance the ball hits your square on the chest it is supposed to deaden slightly and hopefully land right in front of you.
The Easton Synge series has been around for a while and offers a nice option for those looking to spend a little less money than the Mako described earlier. Although it does not include as many advanced features there is still a lot to like about this model and I would venture to say it would be perfect for most levels of catchers. It’s main features include:
Designed to meet a woman’s needs – in other words instead of being designed for the male body, the Synge conforms perfectly to female players. This provides more protection and also a better fit.
Choice of seven different colors perfect for any team
Lightweight – A big bulky piece of equipment is no fun. In the chance you need to run around, having a nice light weight piece of gear can make the difference between helping your team or helping the other team get out of their jam.
Custom fit – Both the shoulder pads of the Synge can be removed and along with the three different adjustment levels that can be made to the back, a nice custom fit should be achieved for any catcher.
Moisture management system – If you’ve played catcher before, you’ll know how much of a pain it is when you are sweating and can’t concentrate on the game. The Synge uses Airflow Release Channel technology that keeps the catcher cool and dry no matter how many innings you need to play.
You can’t underestimate the value of a proper fitting set of leg guards when playing the position of softball catcher. Although most people will think of soccer first when they think of leg guards, it should go without saying that a softball catcher can use them in the exact same way. The shin area is one of the most critical as the catcher sits in a prone and uncomfortable position which in turn leaves the shin area exposed. Leg guards protect the catcher from runners sliding into home, and from passed balls or foul tips.
When purchasing a set of leg guards, one should look for the following features:
Protection: Finding a set of leg guards that offer full leg protection is key. Many often do not protect the entire knee area which is why some top companies use a triple knee protection design.
Mobility: Let’s face it, every once and a while a catcher needs to move and run around. The best set of shin guards leave the catcher not even noticing them while running.
Comfort: Sitting in the catcher stance for long periods of time can cause lots of strain. Leg guards that offer further padding to assist in the area of comfort are best.
Regardless of whether you are new to the Fastpitch game, or you have been playing for quite some time now, odds are you need some form of leg guards that can provide the protection you require, without constricting your movement. Designed to provide the protection you need, without emptying your wallet, the Easton Mako series provides all that and more at a budget friendly price. The main benefits listed with these leg guards include:
Choice of four of the most popular team colors
Armor riveted PE shin plate for long lasting performance
Removable soft cushion foam lining
Lightweight without sacrificing on protection
Available in one of four popular team colors, this model comes equipped with an armor riveted PE shin plate design that ensures this model will stand up to whatever you can throw at them. It features a lightweight shin, knee and toe plate that is designed specifically to protect you from ball impacts. This model also comes equipped with a removable soft cushion foam lining designed to keep you comfortable no matter how long the game may go on for. These guards are designed for movement, ensuring you are able to move quick enough to make nearly any play that comes your way.
Whether you play for fun, or play to win, the equipment you wear can certainly be a factor for whether your team wins or loses. If you have ever had to use hand me down or older equipment in the past, you probably know how uncomfortable it can be to try to move. Although you don’t always think of a catcher as being the most mobile of positions, it certainly can make the position difficult when you have little to no mobility and are unable to help your team. The Mizuno Samurai G3 fastpitch series leg guards are designed specifically with women in mind and provide comfort, performance and durability in an easy to wear package. The main features include:
Triple knee cup – The triple knee cup included should provide a great amount of protection. The design promises to provide more flexibility so that even when you are in the crouch position, you can feel safe from any sort of liner or impact to the knee area
Choice of seven different colors to match any team
Patented K-PAD – Another great feature in terms of protection is Mizuno’s own patented removable K-PAD. Resting on the inside right against your knee it promises to provide a more snug and comfortable fit while still keeping the entire knee safe.
More protection along the shin – in some cases leg guards do a great job at protecting the knee area but can sometimes leave the shin a little vulnerable. The Samurai G3 series has really thought bout everything and has added more along the shin so that you do not need to worry about any foul balls hurting that area.
If you are thinking of stepping behind the plate to play the position of catcher then you must have a strong and durable helmet. You can go a little less expensive in some of the other areas, but I do not recommend leaving your head vulnerable. With fast ball speeds (especially in fastpitch softball) there is a great risk of substantial injury to the head area by both passed balls and with foul tips. With concussions so prevalent in today’s world, it is crucial to select a helmet (or mask) that will keep your head protected at all times.
When thinking about picking up a brand new mask one should consider and look for the following:
Ensure that the helmet you choose provides a sufficient amount of protection. Many standards exist which leagues follow so be sure to check the regulations required by your league.
A clear field vision is critical to the catcher position so that they can see everything around them. Having a helmet that sits directly in the eye sight can cause issues playing the position.
Carrying extra weight on top of the neck can cause many strains. Ensure that the mask is light enough so that you don’t feel a strain in your neck.
If you prefer a more traditional style of catcher’s helmet designed specifically to fit players of all ages then look no further than the Easton M7. Available for purchase in one of seven popular team colors, this model features a traditional hockey mask design with an outer shell that is made entirely from a resilient ventilated ABS plastic. This model is designed to meet all NOCSAE standards, and features multi-layer high tech foam that is designed to help reduce ball rebounds. The main features of the Easton M7 are:
Choice of one of six popular team colors
NOCSAE approved – honestly I could tell you how well this helmet will keep your protected but just knowing that it is NOCSAE approved should make you feel comfortable.
Ventilation system – one of the worst feelings as a catcher is being sweaty and not being able to do anything about it. Although no helmet can keep you sweat free, there are many that have systems in place to make you feel fresher by bringing cooler air inside your helmet and taking the bad air out. The M7 includes one of the more advanced system and includes 18 ventilation ports to get as much air in as possible.
Streamlined design – As mentioned in our intro to this section, catchers masks can leave your neck with a bit of a strain especially when too heavy. The M7 has made big strides in helping that hindrance by providing a streamlined construction that promises to fit more snug to your head. This snug design will allow the helmet to move with your head and hopefully in turn eliminate that awful neck strain.
We’ve already shown off the Easton Mako series a few times on this page, and we believe for good reason. This “fastpitch grip” helmet contains the same features of the ever popular Mako series. This gear was quick out of the gate last year and quickly become one of the more popular options available to catchers. Although specific to baseball, there were many different catchers in the Little League World Series tournament using this gear and hence one of the many reasons it became so sought after. Some of the main features and benefits you can receive include:
Comfort – like the M7 described earlier, the Fastpitch grip helmet should provide all catchers with a nice snug fit. Although some catchers prefer loose helmets, the large majority want it to feel almost like a facemask in that it conforms directly to your head area. When you have a nice fitting helmet, you’ll be able to make plays easier and hopefully not notice it as much when you have to run or crouch during that long at bat.
High level of protection – The outer shell of this mask is built with high strength ABS plastic which should be able to withstand any sort of impact. Although I certainly hope you don’t end up taking a foul ball to the head, if it does happen you should feel quite confident that the only issue you’ll have when wearing the Fastpitch series is slight nervousness. In other words, your head will still be protected by the mask. Plus it meets NOCSAE standards, and they wouldn’t stamp their name on just any mask.
Air circulation – Like the M7, the Fastpitch series also features carefully place vents throughout the helmet which helps in managing sweat and moisture. The last thing you want as a catcher is your sweat dripping all down your face and into your eyes as it would effect your game immensely.
Field view – Another item to look for in a helmet is one that provides a good view of the entire field. Let’s face it…a mask will never provide you with the same view as you’d have without it. However, many models like the Easton Fastpitch series have made it easier to see as much of the field as possible so you can make all the plays you need.
One of the more asked questions I hear is “isn’t all of the gear the same”? Although each set you’ll see will look shiny and new, i’ve learned there is quite a bit to research involved when looking into this particular equipment.
If you think about it, there is no one else on the entire field that has to wear this much gear so it better be comfortable. Catching is probably the most dangerous position on the field as well as they’ll be involved in just about every play and receive the ball the most.
Sitting right behind the batter I could not even begin to imagine how nervous I would be if I took a liner right off my mask, chest, or knee. So although it may be quite a pain, it certainly is worth the effort to find the right equipment to keep you fully protected, comfortable, while still allowing you as much mobility as possible so you can do your job.
I hope that you have enjoyed my overviews of the different softball catchers gear available. As alluded too earlier, this position can be tricky to find the right gear for but the main things to keep in mind are protection, comfort, and mobility. We believe that any of the choices on this page will provide all of that and more.