Here’s what you need to know about the new NOSCAE Catcher’s Gear requirement for high school and college ball.
Do I need a new Chest Protector?
Yes, if you are playing catcher in either high school or college, a chest protector with a NOCSAE certified protector is required.
No, if you are playing youth baseball or fastpitch.
Why do I need a Chest Protector?
NFHS and NCAA baseball have explicitly stated the reason for the requirement is for safety and to avoid Commotio Cordis (impact-related heart attacks—which you can read more about below).
The organization that does the certifications also maintains a list of those chest protectors which have the certification. (You can see the full list here).
Here are some of the more popular and notable NOCSAE chest guards that do have the certification. Most manufacturers are on board (early 2020) at this point and have a NOCSAE certified item.
Notable NOCSAE Certified Chest Protectors
|Easton||Adult/Small||Youth to Adult|
|Force3||Pro Gear||Youth to Adult|
|Evoshield||Adult Chest Guard||16+|
|Evoshield||Youth Chest Guard||7 to 15|
|Rawlings||Velo 2.0 Adult||15+|
|Under Armour||PTH Victory||Adult|
At the time of this writing, the above represents the NOCSEA certified protectors we could find. It might not be exhaustive. We do not intend to update this as time goes on. Consider this a starting point for your search.
In terms of protection for Commotio Cordis, the test says no. Before the standard, not a single gear item proved enough protection for the heart. Granted, the odds of the problem happening are between slim and none. It is most likely to occur in boys under the age of 14, so a high school and college requirements don’t hit the mark. But do chest protectors on the market give parents a sense of security that is not there?
We’ll let the attorneys and juries answer those questions.
Does that mean the new NOCSAE certification on the catcher’s chest protection is useless?
If NOCSAE certified chest protectors save a single life or youth heart attack, then it is irresponsible to claim the certification is useless—even considering this new standard churns thousands of old chest protectors out of the market and creates a windfall of profit to manufacturers.
Getting a chest protector to perform to a certain standard is reasonable.
If you play catcher, then this season, 2020, will require the new chest gear. So, in short, you need to find an option. Amazon NOSCAE certified gear is always the right place to start. All-Star is still a favorite.
One wise option, especially if you love your old gear, is to add an undershirt with a NOCSAE certified plate insert made by Evoshield. It runs much less than a new set and carries with it the same certification required to play at the high school level. (You can find them at DSG).
A baseball hitting someone’s chest can disrupt the rhythm of the heart and cause a sort of heart attack in a perfectly healthy individual. Although rare, such an event, called Commotio Cordis, is deadly. It is the number one cause of death in youth baseball (a relatively safe sport). Player’s under the age of 14 are more susceptible. This year (2018), one 8-year-old in California fell unconscious after a neighbor was trying to hit pop flies and ended up hitting a line drive into his chest.
Some are luckier. One boy in 2013 was hit by a pitch in the chest, fainted no the way to 1st base, and ended up living because two paramedics were watching the game and responded remarkably fast.
In short, surviving Commotio Cordis is almost unheard of without a swift response. In many cases, even a rapid response will not save their life either. You would do well to speak with your local EMT and league directors to develop a protocol in place for a rapid response. Consider adding a defibrillator to your field house. Although highly unlikely you’ll ever witness the event, it is still useful to know what to do.
Commotio Cordis is deadly. Response time is vitally important.