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SGMA/NOCSAE Baseball/Softball Fielders Protective Headgear Draft Standard

Date: 11/5/10

NOCSAE, in cooperation with the SGMA, convened a meeting last week (October 28th) at the Southern Impact Research Center (SIRC) in Knoxville, Tennessee to present the draft standard for protective headgear for infielders and pitchers for baseball and softball to companies and parties interested in learning about the draft standard.
USA Baseball, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and the NCAA had requested that NOCSAE create a standard for protective, defensive headgear. The NFHS and the NCAA have indicated a number of states are allowing protective headgear to be worn in games by fielders and they want a NOCSAE standard for consistency in equipment. USA Baseball has also specifically requested protective headgear designed to deal with catastrophic injury prevention for fielders.
Dave Halstead, NOCSAE Technical Director, reviewed the process of developing a NOCSAE standard and how a standard is adopted.  He presented a study of the epidemiology of baseball defensive players’ injuries over last 20+  years. The epidemiology indicates that while injuries to the head and face are relatively rare, they are serious when they occur. A PDF is attached explaining NOCSAE procedures and the epidemiology information.
The NOCSAE standard, as drafted, deals primarily with catastrophic injury protection for the head. There is a second section to the standard which specifies standards for face guards. The standard does not require a face guard, but should one be used, it must meet the standard as proposed in the NOCSAE document. The draft NOCSAE standard is attached.
There was some discussion that this standard would make the current batting helmet standard obsolete. The NOCSAE draft standard for a fielder's headgear has higher impact speed requirements.  It is NOCSAE's position, based on the assumption that the fielder's headgear would be an individual purchase and if handled with the same standard of care as a batting helmet, would likely not survive regular wear and tear which you get from it being picked up and pushed around dug-out, travel to tournaments, etc. Also, there is a provision in the draft standard that allows the fielder's helmet to be a one-impact helmet, potentially allowing greater design flexibility.
Stand-alone face protectors (no head protection or covering of the cranial vault) were discussed as a possibility in leagues where children are using the reduced injury or low compression balls. NOCSAE has no position on this, but is not opposed at this time to this option. There may be a use for such a product, whereby the players’ cranial vault is not at risk since the ball, by its low compression takes this concern out of the equation.
The draft standard is now available on an informal basis for comment. Please contact Dave Halstead (daveh@soimpact.com) at SIRC to express your comments. The standard will be considered by the NOCSAE board in January of 2011. Under NOCSAE's normal process, if the NOCSAE board approves the standard, it will move to a ‘formal proposed status’ and there will be a one-year comment period. The NOCSAE board will again consider the standard in January of 2012.  At that time, NOCSAE will possibly move it from ‘proposed’ to ‘final status.’  Historically, NOCSAE standards go into effect one year from that date, but governing bodies can specify an immediate implementation of a NOCSAE standard once it is moved to ‘final status.’ 

  • Click here to view a copy of the draft standard
  • Click here a PDF of the presentation from the meeting.

Please contact Gregg Hartley if you have any questions. He can be reached at 561.543.7789 or hartleyassociated@me.com.

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