Playing catcher in baseball is demanding both physically and mentally. Thankfully there is equipment out there that can help protect our catchers and keep them on the field longer and with less physical ailments. One such piece of equipment many catchers eventually look into and use is a catcher’s thumb guard. We will go over some of the options for thumb guards and help you decide what may work best for your catcher.
Although each of the below options work, our favorite, and most accessible in terms of price and store locations, is the EvoShield Thumb Guard. If you want something that feels a little more conventional then the All-Star inner protective glove is a nice fit too. Both are available in youth sizes and have a somewhat reasonable price.
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Catchers take a lot of abuse behind the plate and one body part that is particularly prone to injury is their hands. A catcher’s thumb guard is typically a piece of protective material slid over their catching thumb. A catcher’s thumb can be continually pounded by especially hard throwing pitchers but is also in danger of hyper-extension from foul tipped balls driving the thumb backward farther than intended.
Though a catcher won’t normally need a thumb guard until around age 12 and up when pitchers mature more and begin to throw harder it is possible younger catchers may need one to help handle hard throwers. Younger than 12 or 13 won’t see very many foul tipped balls straight back for that to be much of a problem.
Probably the most common thumb guard you’ll see is the EvoShield thumb protector. One reason being is that they are fairly easy to find both online and big box stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods. Another reason is that they are relatively inexpensive coming in around $20 for one. They are also straight forward and fairly easy to use.
If you are unfamiliar with EvoShield’s long list of respected protective products let me explain briefly how they work. EvoShield protective devices come in a sealed foil package in gel form that once you open you form the device to the players body part they are protecting and it hardens into a protective shell that hardens in about 20 minutes and fits your player well.
While it is not difficult to form the thumb guard to your catcher I do recommend watching EvoShiled’s how to YouTube video for a visual example taking out any of the guess work.
The Catcher’s Thumb is another thumb guard available to catchers though they may only be able to find it online. It uses a plastic like material that is dipped in water to become malleable and then fitted to the thumb. The process is a little more intricate than the EvoShield as it requires making a template of part of your hand, cutting the material, fitting and then trimming the material up for best fit. Once harden it protects well but if you trim too much you may be left without a usable product and out the $35 that it costs.
The Endoskel is a thumb guard that takes a different approach than the wearable thumb guards. The Endoskel is a aluminum/alloy composite that is covered in foam and rubber for comfort. The Endoskel is a single piece that instead of wrapping around the thumb is slid into the glove’s thumb hole and tied in place. The Endoskel remains in the glove so it removes the risk of the player losing his thumb guard, which we all know is a high probability with younger ball players. The Endoskel is competitively priced at $30.
If you’re looking more to take the sting out of your catcher’s hand from a big heater and not as worried about foul tips there are a few other options to consider. There are a few companies making protective gloves with extra padding specifically for fielding. These gloves are similar to batting gloves but with extra foam in the high impact areas of the hand.
All Star is making a couple options. First they have their D30 protective inner glove styled like a batting glove with extra padding to be worn inside the catcher’s glove. The D30 retails for around $22. They also have their D30 protective glove sponge which is a foam finger that slips over the index finger for protection, though it does nothing for the thumb. It retails for around $10.
There are other companies producing similar protective gloves for wearing inside the catcher’s mitt including Palmguard glove for $30 and an Adidas version that costs $25.
Some companies have seen the need for extra padding in their catcher’s mitts and are producing gloves with extra foam built in the help handle the sting of a good fastball. Rawlings offers a few varieties of mitts with extra padding inside. It can be a little tight to fit an actual thumb guard into the glove also though if more protection is needed.
One very interesting option though is a new 2018 model by Wilson. The Wilson A2000 SuperSkin M2 is a model built with Ivan Rodriguez’s input regarding thumb injury prevention. The M2 is a catcher’s glove with the thumb guard built right into the glove in the form of extra leather padding for both the wrist and thumb. The drawback is the $260 price tag. Though if you are already in the market for a new higher end catcher’s mitt it should be one to consider.
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