Umpire equipment is as unique as the person using it. The equipment is available in various shapes, weights, and dimensions to accommodate umpires of various skill levels. In this guide, you will learn how to choose the best equipment for you, as well as discover the distinctions between the many types of equipment. The most expensive equipment doesn’t always prove to be the best fit for the individual.

Face Mask and Helmet

Your face and head are without a doubt the most crucial areas of your body to safeguard as an umpire. This assures you to remain concentrated on the field and stop worrying about being hurt by a tipped ball.

The first step is to determine which mask style is ideal for you. The traditional face mask and the hockey-style helmet are the two types of masks.

Due to its longevity and umpires’ reluctance to adopt a new design, the traditional mask remains the more widely used of the two. The hockey-style helmet is still very new to the world of umpires, but it is gradually gaining acceptance. The following are the primary distinctions between the two masks:

Weight

Compared to the hockey-style mask, the traditional mask is significantly lighter. Even if the weight difference is only one or two pounds, putting it on your face for several hours a day makes a big effect. The hockey-style mask distributes weight more evenly across the full head, rather than just the face.

The mask’s materials and padding are the most significant weight factors. To boost strength and visibility, the cage’s metal is frequently hollowed out and formed in an oval, round, or square.

Depending on the manufacturer, the masks’ weights might vary and can be made of steel, magnesium, or titanium. Leather and fabric are the two basic types of cushioning. Although each maker uses a unique fabric, they are always lighter compared to their leather equivalents.

Protection

Because it covers a greater portion of the head, the hockey-type mask offers greater defense than the traditional one. The hockey-style mask guards against some of the less common injuries that might occur when officiating, like a broken bat or a foul ball off the turned head.

By providing additional protection on the side and back, the hockey style does not sacrifice any frontal protection. Traditional masks often feature extended chin and ear protection, which is something to keep in mind.

This provides additional protection while maintaining the mask’s comfort. There are also a variety of attachments available to enhance the protection of both types of masks, such as a throat protector.

Comfort

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Personal preference determines how comfortable certain helmet types are. As there are fewer touch points with the traditional mask, it feels lighter on your face. The hockey mask wraps over the entire head, distributing weight more equally.

It draws the mask nearer the face because it completely encircles the head. This provides a wider field of vision. Several of the traditional masks are also available in a low-profile design that produces a comparable result.

Each mask style also allows for a great deal of size flexibility. The most adaptable style is typically the conventional one. The usual traditional mask features three points of adjustment: left and right side straps, as well as a top strap.

The same adjustment points apply to the hockey style, but there is also the option of using Velcro to move the chin cup higher, lower, closer, or further.

The padding’s material is a key factor in comfort as well. Although the leather pads have a longer lifespan and better form fit, the fabric material tends to absorb sweat better. The leather can be any type, including calfskin, full-grain leather, and cheap mix leather.

Chest Protector

The umpire’s chest protector is the second-most crucial piece of gear. Many crucial body parts are in this area, which is also where umpires are frequently struck by foul balls.

You can use the manufacturer’s measurements to determine what size best fits you. For optimal protection of the collarbone, shoulders, and ribs, it’s crucial to wear the right size chest protector.

Sizing

Start from the base of the neck and measure straight down toward the belly button for chest protection. It’s vital to keep in mind that you should only wear the chest protector as far as you are comfortable with—not always to the belly button.

Most umpires measure down to their lowest ribs. Since ribs can easily be fractured or injured by a foul ball, it is crucial to make sure that the chest protection covers this part. The straps on the rear of the pad are highly adjustable, allowing the pad to be securely fastened.

Most middle-range to high-end chest protectors come with the option of an extensible piece of padding to protect the stomach area. These additional padding options can also provide additional arm and shoulder protection.

Neck fitting and shoulder protection are other factors to take into account when sizing a pad. These two measurements can be easily calculated based on your personal choice for fit even though manufacturers do not supply sizes for them. The neck should be snug enough to safeguard your collarbone yet comfortable enough to prevent pain.

Protection

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Chest protectors come in two primary categories: hard shell and soft shell. Hard shell protectors have a hard outer shell with a substantial amount of padding behind it.

Since it offers the greatest level of protection, practically every umpire uses this cushioning. Soft padding and a hard inner shell serve as the protection for the soft shell protectors. Most umpiring below the high school level prefer to wear soft shell chest protectors.

Chest protectors with hard shells are typically heavier than their soft shell counterparts. This allows them to provide enhanced protection. Because of their reduced weight and greater range of motion, soft shell protectors are more comfortable. Moreover, soft shell pads typically have better ventilation than hard shell pads, allowing them to stay cooler.

Leg Guard

Leg guards, often known as shin guards, are similar to chest protectors in that they protect more than just the shin. The new leg guard designs also offer protection for the ankle, knee, lower thigh, and foot. Every umpire at every competition level can get leg guards to suit their needs.

Sizing

The length of the leg guard is measured from the top of the ankle to the middle of the knee.  It is crucial to get the correct size because a leg guard that is too short would expose the ankle and shin on the bottom. It won’t be easy to wear and squat in if it’s too long.

Protection

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Leg guards come in triple knees, double knees, and single knees. The best leg guards and those that provide the most protection are the triple and double knee guards. They have more cushioning in the knees to absorb impact.

When squatting down, the extra-hard shell on the outer is intended to fill the space between the other shells. The more gap coverage there is, the less likely a ball will get through an open place. The single-knee leg guards are made to be extremely light and low profile. They are ideal for lower-level competition.

The lower thigh and the upper knee are likewise protected by the triple leg guard. The majority of leg guards include a retractable toe guard. that protects the top of the foot. Umpires who wear plate shoes can remove the extra protector with Velcro or a snap.

Protective Shoes

Although they are part of the uniform, umpires’ shoes are a vital measure of protection for umpires behind the plate. Umpire shoes come in two varieties: base shoes and plate shoes.

The base shoe consists of cozy turf shoes in all-black. The toe plates of the plate shoes are normally steel-toed and have a hard sole. In addition, the leather pad on the plate shoes covers the space between the steel toe cap and the leg guard’s base, protecting the top of the foot. Plate shoes are recommended at all umpiring levels.

Shop for umpire equipment today at Ump Junk! You may call us at 210-364-1110 for your inquiries.