Boys who play football are almost always outfitted by their parents in the latest and greatest safety gear in order to protect the child’s growing body. Traditionally, however, kids who play baseball are not considered at risk of serious injury and therefore they lack the safety gear of their football playing counterparts.
Safety gear is definitely a good idea for children involved in youth baseball, because baseball injuries can almost always be prevented with appropriate equipment. Here are some pieces of equipment that are definitely worth the investment:
Mouth Guard – You can pick up a handful of mouth guards for about ten bucks at any local sports store. Generally, you will need to place the guard into hot water for a few seconds before placing it into your child’s mouth for a personalized snug fit. Getting hit in the mouth with a line drive is definitely not fun; however the potential of lost or broken teeth can be avoided with a tiny investment.
Eyewear – In most places, protective eyewear is not required for youth baseball players. But, because baseball fields are made of dust it is definitely not a bad idea to purchase goggles or other eyewear for your child.
Shoes – Protect your child’s feet by purchasing brand new baseball shoes (cleats) for each child prior to the beginning of the practice season. This will allow for the shoes to have a perfect fit for the child’s feet and it will also allow adequate time for the shoes to be broken in correctly before game time.
Sliders – If you are unfamiliar with slider shorts, you really need to take a look at this innovation that is saving little legs everywhere from scarring and brush burns as a result of base sliding. Made from a spandex-like material, these pants or long shorts help to keep skin from coming in contact with the field during a slide into base.
Batting Helmets with Face Guards – If you child tells you that he or she look stupid with a face mask on their batting helmet – remind them that it is better to wear the face guard than it is to recover from a broken jaw or cheekbone fracture. These are some of the leading injuries resulting from baseball bats and rogue pitches.
Protective Cup - While it is assumed that catchers will wear a cup, in all honesty, at the very least, every infielder should also have this vital piece of safety equipment during every game and practice. All it takes is one bad hop to cause an extremely painful - and easily preventable - injury.
HeartGard – This is a relatively new piece of safety equipment that is becoming more and more popular among parents. The purpose of this pad is simple – to protect the heart of the child wearing it.
In addition to these specific pieces of equipment, as a parent you can help to increase the safety of all of the children on your team by helping out pre-game. Taking a walk around the playing field and outfield prior to the game will enable you to help look for sharp rocks, holes and even broken glass that could penetrate the shoe of any player.
You also need to stress to your child the importance of paying attention to the game around them and how to best protect him or herself from getting hurt during the game. Encourage your child to warm up properly prior to baseball practice or a game. And, always make sure that your child is wearing the safety gear that you have purchased for him or her.