Purchasing equipment for youth sports can be intimidating, especially if your son or daughter is the first in the family to get into a new sport. It helps to do a bit of research before getting to the store because that way you’ll know what the sales staff members are talking about, and have an idea of what you're looking for. This basic guide to youth baseball gear will help you choose, fit, and maintain your equipment, which will include gear like:
Uniforms, including pants and jerseys
Choosing and Cleaning Cleats
There are many options when it comes to cleats, but for youth baseball gear, you don’t have to worry about particular types or position-special cleats. Instead, focus on support, safety, and performance. Most baseball leagues for youngsters only allow plastic cleats, so just make sure the ones you buy are comfortable and fit properly.
To get the most life out of your child’s cleats, ask him or her to reserve the cleats for the dugout and field. Make sure mud and dirt get cleaned off after each use and let them air dry after every game or practice.
Buying the Right Bat
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind when purchasing a bat for youth baseball is that it may have to meet league regulations. Youth leagues often require that bats are stamped with the logo of an official supplier because this indicates the bat meets requirements for length, material, barrel size, and that it has a knob.
When deciding the size of bat, you need to compare your child’s height, weight, and age against what the bat’s designed for. A heavier bat is acceptable if your child can swing it easily while a shorter bat with a thinner barrel will decrease the bat’s weight.
Getting Outfitted for a Glove
Once kids are old enough to specialize in a position, it’s time to start considering the right glove. For starters, choose a glove based on whether your child plays infield, outfield, catcher, or pitcher. The material is another choice you’ll have to make, and that means deciding between cowhide (varied quality), pigskin (cheaper but less durable), and synthetic (soft, inexpensive, and durable). In terms of sizing, it’s important to buy a glove that’s comfortable, and that fits now, not one that will fit next season.
When it comes to helmets, you have to balance safety, comfort, and budget. Cheaper and lower-end helmets can be just as safe and comfortable as expensive ones but look for accredited safety approval ratings. Before going to try on helmets, measure your child’s head, so you have an idea of the size you're looking for. Measure the circumference of the head just above the ears. Under 22 inches is a size small or extra small, in the size six range. Anything above 22 inches gets into sizes medium, large, and extra-large, and those are the size seven and eight ranges.
Finding a Uniform
Baseball pant options could provide you with a lot of choices, including whether to go with long, ankle-length, or calf-length pants. You may also have the option of different styles, including baggy, pinstripe, piped adjustable inseam, or graphite gray. Jersey sizes tend to come in numbered sizes (as opposed to small, medium, and large), and for youths, the most important measurements to know are the chest and waist.
Before hitting the sports store or filling your online shopping cart with youth baseball gear, it’s best to know what equipment you need and to have an idea of what you're looking for regarding material, size, and quality.
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ABOUT CAMMI GRANATO:
Cammi Granato is a former captain of the United States women's national ice hockey team, Olympic gold medalist and one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010. She currently works as a scout for the NHL’s Seattle Kraken organization.
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