Anyone that has ever played catcher will know just how rough and rugged it can be. It hurts, from bending over and making nearly impossible catches, to getting hit with batted balls. It’s not always the most fun job in the world, and if you have ever questioned the tenacity of a baseball or softball player, you might just want to rethink it, at least as far as this position goes. Today, we are going to be talking about leg guards, an essential element that all catchers must have in order to keep them safe and keep them in the game for as long as possible. You won’t make it all season without the best leg guards out there, so we’ll be taking a look at them and breaking it down for you today in our buying guide. We’ll also be bringing to you a top ten list, so sit back (or crouch down) and get ready!
Top Catcher’s Leg Guards Comparison Chart
|Name||Feature||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Easton Junior M7 Catcher’s Leg Guards||Triple knee protection||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Rawlings Renegade Leg Guards||Toe Flap||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Easton Prowess Fastpitch Leg Guards||Two-piece Shin||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Under Armour Professional Adult Leg Guards||Triple knee protection||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Easton Gametime Catcher’s Leg Guards||Triple knee protection||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Easton Elite-X Catcher’s Leg Guards||Reinforced and mobile||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Schutt Scoprion Double Knee Leg Guards||Double knee design||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|All-Star Youth Player’s Series Catcher’s Leg Guards||Double knee design||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Champro Senior Pro Plus Leg Guards||Full wings, full padding||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|MacGregor Youth B64 Double Knee Leg Guards||Double knee design||$||Check Price on Amazon|
Catcher’s Leg Guards Buying Guide
Baseball goes back to a time where life was much more simple than it is now. But that doesn’t mean that they were thinking about the latest and greatest technological advancements that would not only help them get better but also to be more protected. Part of that was the leg guard. As time went by, they realized that a leg guard was essential and that it had to be a part of the entire catcher’s set. Like a jouster without his leg guard, a catcher without one would be a target ripe for the picking, after all. While the function hasn’t changed in nearly a century, new additions have been made to make them more mobile, flexible, lighter, easier to put on and take off, and more protective. Here’s a few notes that have been hallmark moments in the development of the leg guard.
– In 1907, Roger Bresnahan became the first catcher to don anything resembling the current wardrobe, setting the precedent on which others would build.
– As time went on over the decades between Bresnahan and the 1950s, more padding was added to make it more of a comfortable experience.
– In the 1950s, the hinged leg guard was created, allowing more flexibility than ever. They also became lighter and tougher, helping combat spikes that got lodged in the material.
– In the 1990s, leg guards began to hit the market that had adjustable thigh pieces to make it easier to crouch down.
It’s easy to see a clear path of progression here. The leg guard has gone from something cumbersome but extremely necessary to something that is actually comfy, padded, and able to allow someone to work everyday without putting too much untold stress upon them and their beleaguered body.
How Leg Guards Protect
You might think that it’s obvious what leg guards are there to do for you, and while some of that is true, there is a whole lot more that goes into it. Here’s a quick look at some of the things that leg guards will help prevent from occurring on the field of play.
Scraping of the knees
It would be super easy to scrap them on the ground after a wild, low pitch.
The ball is sometimes going to be too fast for a hitter to hit cleanly, and when this happens it can and will come backwards and go in all sorts of directions and venues.
Unfortunately, especially at lower levels, the bat can become a weapon of sorts in the hands of the untrained. ‘Slinging’ of the bat is fairly normal, so leg guards have to be on hand to make sure they keep you protected in that instance.
It’s not quite what it once was in regards to being able to block the plate (then again runners can’t just bulldoze you, either) but it’s still important to have leg guards on just in case you have some sort of collision. You never know when it could occur or what it could occur with, so it’s nice to have that extra support on you.
Sizing Leg Guards
A big, big part of being protected is going to naturally center around how well the leg guards are going to fit. If you have a nice looking shirt that is two sizes too big, will people be thinking how nice you look or how goofy you look? It’s most likely the latter. In much the same way, having an ill fitted pair of leg guards is going to put you in a really awkward position (literally). You’ll have to make adjustments. Being too big will mean you are going to be unable to move as freely or quickly, while being too small is going to be very restrictive.
The way you should begin, assuming you don’t already know your size, is to measure he length between the middle of your kneecap and the top of the ankle. This number, in inches, can be taken and will correspond to models from various brands. A lot of brands will have models that run between a certain number of inches. Other companies will go with ages instead. This range will allow you to pick which is best suited for you. Occasionally, you will run into a situation where you are right on the cusp of making it into that next tier. If that is the case, you might just feel it is worth going with the larger choice so that they can be grown into. If you, however, are right in the middle of the range or toward the bottom, this would not be a good idea to do at all.
Because some of the companies go with ages, you really need to do your best and get your hands on a pair of leg guards before you buy them. You can do this by going to a store and trying them on, or you can even try to borrow someone’s to try on. This is very doable, so if you see someone that is comparable size and you think you might want to go with that brand, then that is a good idea. It’s just such a pain to try to order online without this, though it’s not impossible.
Even if you currently have a pair, you also need to be careful to take consideration when examining getting a new pair. The model could have changed, which might just see the size shift a bit. In addition to that, if you are younger, you could have grown a little and not even realized it. Most of the time you could just move up to the next size in the same brand, but you just need to keep it all in mind when you go from one to the next that it’s not always an automatic.
The point of the leg guard is to do what the name implies, to guard the leg from harm. One of the chief tasks that is has is to make sure that the knee is protected. While it’s vital that you keep the rest unharmed as well, the knee is an especially tricky part of the body. Once you have had one knee surgery or start to develop problems with them, it continues in a vicious cycle. This cycle can end career, so it’s wise to try your best to nip it at the bud to begin with.
One way that companies are approaching this issue is by offering additional support and protection in the knee area. All leg guards are going to have your knee protected, sure, but some are going to be doing a better job of it than others do. For example, a double layered guard is better than single layer, while a triple layer is better than a double layer. What triple knee protection, which is becoming increasingly popular in today’s game, does is practically ensure that no part of the knee is uncovered. It does this not by stacking all three layers right on top of each other but by staggering it a little bit. This makes impacts less, well impactful, but also means that it covers more area. The same idea is in place with double layered guards as well. When compared to guards that have just a single layer, which are very much not in vogue today, these offer more protection by staggering out the material so that it’s not just one line of defense.
There is also some protection that can be done on the inner part of the knees. Depending on the model and the brand, you could see foam- or memory foam- placed inside. This, at least to the naked and untrained eye, is going to seem more like a comfort feature than anything else. But while it does do that, it’s also going to help protect as well. It does this by making the guards more dense and adding to the hard exterior even more. Like the walls in NASCAR, the idea is to make it give a little bit more in order to take the hard, consistent blows that come with catching. If you have a car ram into a wall that doesn’t budge, who is going to hurt more? The car and driver or the wall? The car and its driver, unfortunately.
One area that many people will overlook is the toe and foot areas. A lot of times, particularly in days gone by, this would have been a major afterthought that few would have thought about. But it’s a major part of the arsenal of a modern catcher since the leg guard can and will come down over the top of the foot and protect it from getting hit. Like it or not, this is very much necessary in the game today thanks to the way that shoes are being constructed. While it is true that we have never had the capability to go faster in our cleats, they are flimsily put together compared to olden times. This means you need something else to help protect those fouled off pitches. This is where the toe flap comes into play. It can keep the toes and heel areas nice and safe, virtually making your entire body an armored fortress that is able to move around fairly freely and efficiently.
Baseball vs Softball
You might be wondering what the differences between baseball and softball leg guards are. It must be said that at the end of the day that the two of them are strikingly similar to one another. However, there are some very real differences that should be pointed out, rather than just glanced over. After having gone through focus group and studies, companies have decided to go with a more streamlined guard for fast pitch softball. This means that they are going to have less materials and be lighter than their ‘male’ counterparts will be. This is so that catchers can move just a little bit quicker, which is going to be paramount in softball where runs are generally harder to come upon. It’s also nice since the bases are so close to each other as well, relative to baseball. They will usually have a double layer in the knee and won’t have as much of a toe guard, while many are going to be more narrow, to better fit a girl or lady, than those that are of the baseball variety. So, basically they are the same but different, too!
Don’t Forget The Knee Savers
Knee savers have become another essential part of the equation, and in a guide about leg guards, we would be remiss to not mention them as being crucial as well. Knee savers do exactly what they say, they save your knees. If you have ever crouched down for an extended period of time, I’m talking 30 seconds or so, you will know that it puts a tremendous strain upon the legs, back, and neck. Imagine doing this for an entire game. Thankfully, you no longer have to thanks to the invention of the knee savers. These fits in between the back of the leg guards and the back of your legs and are thick pads basically that allow you a comfortable sit. No catcher, no matter how old or young, should play without them. They will save your knees, literally, from degenerating and will keep you as quick as you can be. Eroding of the knees is already prevalent amongst catchers, causing them to run slower. Just opine on how much slower that would cause them to be without them after years and years of play. These are not, at least normally, sold with leg guards, so you will need to inquire about them from somewhere else. This is not a reason to not get them, however. You, or your child, seriously need them, and you shouldn’t delay this.
The Top 10 Leg Guards for Catchers in 2019 Reviews!
1. Easton Junior M7 Catcher’s Leg Guards
Prepare yourself because you’ll be seeing this name quite a lot in this list. Easton makes the list at #1 with one of the affordable types. The leg guards, however, do not sacrifice protection with a triple layer of it in the knees to help you while crouching and while coming out of it. In addition to that, they have memory foam inside of the knees to help protect those valuable knees all the more. With a large toe guard that stays in place throughout all of your motions, too, you will also be completely covered there, reducing your chances of getting hit. Let it be known that these are made for a very small player, so these won’t do for anyone that is very big at all! They even have metal clips to them to help fastening and keep them in place for a long, durable lifespan.
- Good price
- Very protective
- Excellent for junior catchers
2. Rawlings Renegade Leg Guards
With some more colors to pick from and are a very low price, the Renegade from Rawlings is a good pick for players working their way up to full size. With a reinforced knee, that makes them look very old school, these will be keeping your knee protected without some of that extra bulk that others are bringing to the mix in today’s marketplace. The toe flap does a good job as well, staying in position at all times no matter how quickly you get up or move from side to side. One of the biggest advantages with these is that they are very mobile and lightweight, helping you to get around quicker than with so many. You do sacrifice some of the protection that you get with others, but since these are made with a lower level of play in mind, you should be able to get away with that. Just something to think about as you consider your choices!
- Extremely affordable price
- Old school look
- Light and not bulky
- Not as super protective as others
3. Easton Prowess Fastpitch Leg Guards
Easton returns to the list here, only with a selection for fast pitch softball this time. These leg guards are specially contoured specifically for the female athlete, no longer forcing you to squeeze into or expand into a guys’ size. This is a two piece shin guard with a wrap that fits around the calves and shins easier and covers more area, making sure you don’t get pinged there. With a lighter design due to the double layered protection in the knee and just having generally less materials, you won’t be held back as much as with others that are made for baseball. The two sizes are for higher level softball players, so these aren’t going to be dirt cheap. With that said, they are still well worth the money if you are getting to be a more advanced player and want a real serious pair of leg guards to keep you in the game. If you have had this model before, be aware that they are bigger than previous ones, so keep that in mind and factor that into your decision making process.
- Light and mobile
- Specifically made for females
- Great for advanced players
- On the expensive end
4. Under Armour Professional Adult Leg Guards
Under Armour has slowly been forging its name in the game of baseball, and it keeps up that work with these leg guards that are very much upper tier. The premium price you pay might be too much for some, but you do get a lot of great features out of them. You can play like the big leaguers thanks to having triple knee protection that will practically take away any and all chances of getting drilled there. With a gel knee pad inside, it further comforts you and will also absorb shocks when you inevitably do taking those hard hits to the knee and legs. With extra thickness in high usage areas, they are very much built with durability in mind. You might think that this would make them very hot, but that’s not the case, either, with a lot of ventilation built in to make sure you can breathe on the hottest of days in the blazing summer sun.
- Three layers of knee protection
- Comfy and shock absorbing
- Breathes very well
- Very, very expensive
5. Easton Gametime Catcher’s Leg Guards
In the medium price range is another baseball selection from Easton that will keep you happy with both performance and price. Wit ha reinforced triple knee system, it’s going to fully cover the knee. While it’s not going to be as mobile as the UA above, because of the more rigid design there, it’s still going to protect and support like the previous pair did. With a wider knee area, it will be more stable in your crouch and can also accommodate slightly ‘bigger boned’ catchers as well, a real bonus that shouldn’t be overlooked. The knee area has stitched padding to increase your comfort, and the entire shell, despite how it might appear, is made with vents built in to allow better breathability. Not all of the cheaper models include a lot of this, so it’s nice to see if you are stepping up a level or two in the game. Eve the liner inside is made out of breathable EVA, which is also comfy, to increase your enjoyment.
- Good value
- Very stable in the knees
- Very breathable makeup
- Not quite as agile as others
6. Easton Elite-X Catcher’s Leg Guards
The final Easton on our list represents a step up in price to the last offering, though this one is going to offer many of the same things. Unlike the Gametime, this has triple layered knee protection that differs in that it’s the kind that is more easily movable in. This, along with a reinforced thigh area is going to not only make it more secure but will also improve the fit for each specific player. Also like the previous listing, it has a wide knee to help stability and to also block a few extra balls you might not otherwise be able to get to. With good ventilation both inside and out, as well as a nice toe flap to keep batted balls away there, too, it’s a good choice all around. It does cost quite a bit, though they aren’t the most expensive, so that’s one detraction you might be concerned with.
- Reinforced and mobile
- Stable in the knees
- Excellent, secure fit
- More expensive than most
7. Schutt Scoprion Double Knee Leg Guards
Depending on the size and color, which the list of choices is nearly limitless, you can get a really good deal on these. One of the calling cards of the Scorpion is its maneuverability. They have engineered these to be much more flexible than many on the market, letting the youth catcher move around easier. With so many mistakes being made at those levels, that’s a definite must have for you to have. With a thinner style in the shins, this makes them lighter while still being protective enough to get you through an entire game. It is also a more flat design than most of the others out there, which makes them more predictable to read bounces off of.
- Flexible due to thinness
- Lighter and mobile
- Flat design makes job behind the plate slightly easier
- Not as protective as some
8. All-Star Youth Player’s Series Catcher’s Leg Guards
All-Star is a big player in the game of baseball, and it’s come out here with a good starter pair of leg guards for the youth player. With a good price for a beginner to pay, it’s not going to set them back much at all and will keep them happy. One way it does this is with the numerous vents, 38 in total, that allow maximum breathability. This increases overall comfort, and combined with a double knee design, it’s going to be pretty easy to move in. It’s not going to offer you unheard of amounts of protection, but it’s going to get the job done for you at the most junior of levels without causing you too much fuss. It looks and feels like that of a big time pro but you don’t have the same price or quite the same support, either. But to be fair, you don’t really need it just yet!
- Looks and feels like pro grade
- Very, very good ventilation
- Good price
- Not superbly protective
9. Champro Senior Pro Plus Leg Guards
At a similar price point comes this offering from Champro, which his a good choice as well for the more junior player, despite what the name might imply. With perforated foam and a removable lining, it’s going to be great at airing your legs out and also keeping you comfy. It fits well with four straps to secure them in place, though it’s going to take a village to prepare your youngster for the field in all likelihood. With two layers of knee protection, it’s adequate for the younger player and allows him to move around a little bit better. One thing to keep in mind is that they have been known to send the wrong color out, so that is a little bit annoying and might be something you need to think about.
- Reasonable price
- Great breathability
- Just enough protection without going overboard
- Wrong color has been shipped out
10. MacGregor Youth B64 Double Knee Leg Guards
Rounding out the list is this offering from MacGregor, which is another in the affordable category. With three colors to pick from, you can count on them making your youth star happy. With two layers of protection in the knee, it’s not going to be too cumbersome for them to move in. With a newly designed system for ventilation, they are much improved and will be better in terms of breathability than in past iterations. With a shock absorption system inside, they will even pad in there to help deal with the blows when they eventually take place. The ankles are fully protected here, adding a lot of support without the extra weight, making it an ideal choice for a first year player or someone that doesn’t want to pay much for a one season pair of leg guards. Be careful, because they only sell one guard, not a pair, making it very frustrating for some buyers.
- Improved breathability
- Full ankle protection
- Decent price
- Only one include in the price
Conclusion And Final Catcher’s Leg Guards Recommendations
Baseballs and softballs hurt. They just do. No matter what we have tried to do, this fact has not changed. So, in order to fight back against their destructive nature, we have designed ourselves a mobile fortress, if you will. Part of that protection is the leg guard. Without it, you are left vulnerable as could be. Your kneecaps, your shins, and then all of those muscles are left unguarded. It’s not a pretty sight to think about. After today, however, you will have a much better understanding of what it is that you need to combat this from happening to you. You will now be best served to make the very best decision so that you can play as pain free as you possibly can!