Jan 29, 2015
Protecting Pitchers

By Patrick Bohn

In previous baseball seasons, pitchers looking to wear protective headgear could only design their own. Easton-Bell has now introduced a prototype for a new pitcher’s helmet it hopes to have ready for sale before the 2012 spring campaign begins.

Easton-Bell refers to it in-house as The Dome–a custom-designed pitchers’ helmet that fits comfortably over a baseball cap. The helmet is a 5.5-ounce padded band that surrounds and protects the sides of a pitcher’s head. The size can be adjusted via an elastic band on the back of the helmet, similar to the strap found on ski goggles. The shell is made from expanded polystyrene, a lightweight material that is capable of absorbing high amounts of energy.

The company came up with the design after analyzing the movements of more than 5,000 Little League pitchers to determine which parts of a player’s head were most exposed when their throwing motion was completed. While player safety was the paramount concern, Easton-Bell also wanted a helmet that wouldn’t affect a pitcher’s mechanics or his ability to keep cool during hot weather.

The helmet was unveiled in early March at a ceremony attended by Stephen D. Keener, the president and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball. Keener hopes use of the helmet gains traction at a grassroots level. “This type of product needs to be introduced at the youngest levels of youth baseball,” he said at the unveiling. “What we’re talking about is saving kids’ lives. These injuries are rare. When they do happen, they are very traumatic, catastrophic.”

Despite the potential safety benefits, not everyone thinks the helmets are a good idea. “I can be honest and say if it’s not mandatory, I’m not going to force my kids to do it,” Pro Performance Baseball Director Ernie Galusky told WDTV.com. “I think everybody should be all for safety, especially with as much attention as the concussions and the head injuries have been getting lately in all the sports, but at the same time I think we can go overboard, and I think this is one of those things where we are going overboard a little bit.”

Bob Kittle, Head Coach at Cabrillo College, agrees. “I think this is overkill,” he told the San Jose Mercury News. “Pitchers do not need to wear helmets, especially with the new regulations of the bats which measure exit speed.”

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning.

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