Should Fastpitch Softball Pitchers & Infielders Wear Fielding Face Masks?
Last Update: 12/16/2013
Should Fastpitch Softball Pitchers and Infielders Wear Fielding Face Masks?
Should Fastpitch Softball Pitchers and Infielders wear protective face masks? The governing bodies of Fastpitch Softball (ASA, ISF, ISA, Little League, NCAA, NFHS, NSA and USSSA) all leave the decision of wearing protective fielding face masks to the the participant. For example, here is USSSA’s position from its statement on the “Use of Protective Equipment”:
“As a general rule, USSSA continues its long standing policy of permitting baseball and softball players to determine the use of the protective equipment when they deem it ppropriate……Thus, USSSA encourages players to utilize any protective equipment that they deem appropriate. Such protective gear will be allowed in USSSA sanctioned play, unless by rule or by director/umpire ruling such protective gear is disallowed as unsafe or as providing an unfair competitive advantage.”
Virtually all people who support the use of protective fielding face masks for pitchers and infielders cite anecdotal evidence. The only hard evidence was presented 20 years ago by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission reported in 1991 that more than 100,000 cases of facial trauma occurred in children younger than 14 years while they participated in sports activities with a surprisingly high incidence of female pitchers that are hit with a batted ball. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report, 49% of the reported facial injuries occur in fielders. Batters receive only 11% of the injuries while pitchers receive 7% and runners receive 2%. 31% of facial injuries occur in warm-ups or practice.
The arguments against wearing protective fielding face masks for fastpitch softball pitchers and infielders seem superficial:
- They are uncomfortable.
- They cause sweat to get in my eyes.
- They don’t look good.
- All sports have risks associated with them.
- Don’t force everyone to wear it because of a relatively few injuries per year.
The Coach isn’t going to list all of the bad things that can happen off of a hard hit line drive or a bad hop on a sharply hit ground ball. When a ball hits the face, usually the ball wins. The Coach has seen faspitch softball players carted off the field that have been hurt by batted balls. Can players get used to wearing them? Of course. Batters did, lacrosse players did, hockey players did.
Should you spend the $40 or so to protect your daughter or players from the small chance that she’ll get hit by a hard hit ball?
The Coach would and recommends his High School and Travel fastpitch softball pitchers and infielders wear one.
But it’s up to you.
The Coach offers an independent look at Fastpitch Softball Pitcher and Fielder Face Masks and has no affiliation with any Fastpitch Softball Fielding Face Mask manufacturer or vendor.