Despite the name, a softball is not soft.

Every year, hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. treat thousands of kids for softball related injuries.

Softball Injuries to the Head are Involved More Than any Other Part of the Body.
Most of these are head injuries in kids who were not wearing a helmet.

Good quality, double-eared helmets with face masks should be worn to protect the ear and temple region against ball impact.

Catchers should also wear a helmet with full face and throat protection. Helmets and safety equipment for catchers have brought about reductions in injuries.

Softball has traditionally required much less safety equipment than sports seen as being more high risk, like football and hockey.

Younger, more inexperienced players are more at risk of injury. Kids who haven’t played much will not have the skill to avoid being hit by a thrown ball.

It’s unfortunate that many players learn this reflexive skill only by narrowly missing or getting hit by a pitched ball.

Getting a hit to the head with a ball is one of the most serious injuries a child can suffer playing ball.

Players should wear a batting helmet when batting, running bases, or waiting to bat.

Softball helmets with masks are becoming increasingly common.

Some youth leagues require players to wear helmets with face guards to reduce injuries to eyes, noses, and mouths.

Buying the Right Softball Helmet

When it comes to buying protective gear for softball, the helmet is certainly the most important piece.

Each manufacturer makes high and low end helmets and each will protect you, but it is important to choose the right helmet for your level of play.

NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) is the safety regulator for helmets. Evey softball helmet on comes with a NOCSAE certification sticker.

The materials that a helmet is made out of will determine the price of the helmet.

More expensive helmets are made with high impact padding for energy absorption. They also have soft padding for comfort.

Basic helmets generally only have the soft padding that somewhat absorbs impacts. For players at high levels of play, such as high school and beyond, it is important to get a helmet with a form of high density foam to prevent injuries.

Most helmets come with two ear flaps. It is possible to get single ear flap helmets that the professionals wear.

Single ear helmets are not recommended for younger, more inexperienced players.

They offer less protection. More experienced players may prefer a single ear helmet as they are slightly lighter and the player can hear everything more easily.


Softball Helmet Sizes

The most important thing to think about comes before fitting the helmet. You must make sure to buy the correct size helmet and then fit it correctly.

When buying a helmet for your child you can find some child helmet size age charts.

Some charts are age based. You might see a chart about buying a helmet for a 10 year old or a helmet for a 5 year old, or for whatever age your child is.

We do not recommend following this information, especially if this is the first time you are buying a softball helmet for a child.

The most effective and safest way to decide on the right size helmet for your child is to measure their head.

This will give you the approximate size to look for. To do this take a fabric measuring tape and wrap it around the head about 2 cm (1 inch) above the eyebrows.

Measure from here, making sure the tape is level all the way around.

If you don’t have a measuring tape use some string instead.

Mark or cut the string and then straighten it out next to a tape measure or ruler to get the circumference.

The helmet is appropriately snug when your child can shake and roll their head without the helmet moving around.

The front of the child’s helmet should be aligned just above their eyebrows.

If it is tilted backward and you are seeing large expanses of their forehead, it needs to be adjusted.

You want the helmet to be comfortably touching their head all the way around.

It should be level and stable enough to resist even violent shakes or hard blows and stay in place.

It should be as low on the head as possible to maximize side coverage, and held level on the head with the strap comfortably snug.

It should not be worn on the back of the head because the forehead will be exposed. The chin strap must be in place and buckled up.

The helmet will be practically useless if the chin strap is not fastened.


Why Do Some Softball Helmets Have Masks?

Some softball helmets come with a mask, others do not. Often the masks are removable and you can swap them for different designs.

A mask provides extra protection from being hit in the face by the ball.

This can prevent broken teeth, black eyes and other facial injuries.

Some players prefer not to wear a softball helmet with a mask because they say it impairs their vision. Like much safety equipment some compromise exists.

If you want maximum protection you will have to persevere with a new helmet.

In time you will most likely find the protective mask barely hinders your vision and you can play with more confidence knowing your face is well protected.

The mask should have a separate certification sticker if it is detachable.

Softball helmets with masks incorporated into the helmet do not require a separate certification.

If you are buying a mask separately you must make sure it has the correct certification.


Owning a Personal Softball Helmet

Teams usually provide helmets, they are required to by most leagues. You have no way to know how the helmets are treated, cared for or how often they are cleaned.

Owning a personal helmet is the safest and most hygienic option.

Any helmet can become damaged and weakened if they are thrown or dropped, and we have all seen that happen.

Any impact on a helmet can compromise its structural integrity.

This can make the helmet potentially ineffective on subsequent impacts.

Owning your helmet, or helmets for your kids means you can ensure they are well looked after and not mistreated.

When you buy a softball helmet for your child make sure to spend time with them to explain why the helmet is important.

Teach them how to look after their helmet and treat it well.

Explain to them how the helmet will be ineffective if they drop it or damage it in other ways.

Having a bag for the helmet will make it easier for your child to carry.

They may tend to carry their helmet by the chin straps otherwise.

Doing this the chin strap will most likely loosen and be more difficult to adjust so the helmet fits properly.

A helmet that is not fastened well and properly fitting is not going to provide adequate protection in the case of an impact.

Hygiene can become an issue if softball helmets are not cleaned properly and regularly after each use.

The build-up of sweat will cause them to smell bad. Transference of head lice in shared helmets can also be an issue.

Providing your kids with their own softball helmets means you can be sure the helmet fits properly and is well cared for.

Your kids can also customize their helmets with decals to make them individually cool.

All ball sports can be dangerous. Owning a good quality, well-fitting helmet you know is looked after properly will provide a greater feeling of security.