YOUTH BASEBALL EQUIPMENT
"Practice makes you better... not expensive gear." - Coach Jon
Every player must have their own helmet, bat, glove, pants, and cleats (or sneakers) that meet the following specifications. If you need financial assistance with equipment, please email us and we will do our best to help.
Every player must wear an approved, proper-fitting batting helmet when batting, on deck, and in the batting cage. Sharing helmets is not permitted. Helmets must meet NOCSAE standards (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment). We allow helmets stamped with approval by NOCSAE, Little League, Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth, USSSA, NFHS, or NCAA. Color and design are up to the player and don't affect safety. Most important, helmets should be worn with the brim low on the forehead but above the eyebrows, and should not slide or move around when a player shakes their head side-to-side or up-and-down. Different brands are sized differently... helmets should tried on to get a good fit. Helmets can also be fitted with a cheek guard or face mask (see below). Don't buy a used helmet unless you know for certain it has never received a hard impact. Once a helmet has absorbed a hard impact, it should be replaced. Review the CDC's Helmet Safety guide.
For leagues, including the North County Youth League, Little League, and Cal Ripken leagues, only bats with the official USA Bats stamp or the USA Tee Ball stamp (Tee Ball only) may be used. Some travel baseball organizations still allow the prior standard with the "USSSA 1.15 BPF" stamp but they are not allowed for league play. More money is wasted on bats than all other baseball equipment combined. Manufacturers advertise and try to convince players and parents that more expensive bats produce better results. Unless you are an elite player looking for a 1% edge, more expensive bats don't help. Even if the most expensive bats do perform slightly better than less costly bats (not proven), the vast majority of players lack the skill and strength to extract that small difference. Used bats are fine, as long as they have no dents or flat areas. So what matters when choosing a bat? Length, weight, and balance are the most important elements.
Approved Stamp - In nearly all leagues, including North Palm Baseball, youth bats must meet the "USABat Standard" and have the USA stamp, and for tee ball all bats must have the USA stamp and text stating it is approved for use with tee ball baseballs. These standards began in 2019 to give youth bats uniform performance characteristics (similar to wood bats). Some travel baseball organizations still allow the prior standard with the "USSSA 1.15 BPF" stamp but they are not allowed for league play.
Length and Weight - This is the most important factor. Get the right length for your player's height and the lightest weight for that length, unless the player is strong for his age/size (top 20% or so) then you can get a bat an ounce or two heavier. Bats are sized using two number... length in inches and weight in ounces. So a 28/18 bat is 28" long and weighs 18 ounces. It is also called a "drop 10" because it's weight in ounces is 10 less than the length in inches (so a 28/16 would be a "drop 12"). Click the link to view the justbats.com bat sizing tool or use one of the many charts available on various websites.
Balance - most youth bats are "balanced" meaning the weight is balanced along the length. Some are "end loaded" to varying degrees. End loaded bats are for power hitters who are very strong and are not ideal for most players. A bat's description will often state which it is, but if you are unsure then the detailed description on a website like justbats.com will usually inform you.
Barrel Size - can be 2 1/4, 2 1/2, or 2 5/8 inch. Generally, the larger the barrel the greater the hitting area and slightly increased chances to make solid contact.
Materials - Bats can be constructed of metal alloy, composites, wood, and even bamboo. Some bats have a composite handle and a metal barrel. In general, metal bats are ready to provide maximum performance right out of the wrapper while composite bats often need a 100 or more hits in practice to break in and perform best. Notably, composite bats can break when used below 60 degrees (cold weather makes the ball less elastic).
Graphics - Players often choose bats based on how they look, which is fine as long as the bat is the proper length, weight, and balance for them.
Every player must wear a glove when playing in the field. Players wear a glove on their non-throwing hand. The type of glove depends on a player's position, preferences, age, size, and ability. A glove can cost as little as $20 to as much as $500 or more. There is no need to buy an expensive glove for a youth player, especially since they often must be replaced each year as the player grows. Plus, higher end gloves use thicker leather that is more difficult to close and requires extensive break-in, while inexpensive youth gloves are often "game ready" when you buy them.
Type - Size is measured in inches, but advanced gloves are smaller for the infield and pitchers but larger for outfielders. There are specialty gloves for first base (not really necessary for recreational baseball) and for catchers. Leagues usually provide each team with a catcher's mitt. For most recreational players, a general purpose, multi-position glove is best. The webbing can be closed (solid), H or T post, or basket weave. None is better than the others; it's personal preference. Pitchers tend to prefer solid webbing to obscure the ball, while outfields tend to prefer post styles so they can use their glove to shade the sun but still see the ball. Infielder preference varies.
Size - the player should be able to put their hand into the glove down to their wrist so you know it isn't too small, and the knuckles on their hand should be inside the glove so you know it isn't too big. They should be able to close the glove easily to make catches.
Break-in - Unless your player is advanced, avoid gloves that require a long break-in period. Never steam a glove, instead apply a light coat of glove oil ($5 or so) then pound a ball into the pocket repeatedly. Play catch and repeat this process until the glove is easy to close. Keep the glove out of the rain when not playing and it's a good idea to keep a baseball in the pocket to help the glove retain its shape.
We recommend rubber cleats (metal and hard plastic are not allowed), but sneakers are permitted. Cleats generally provide better traction on dirt, grass, and mud and may have thicker, more rugged uppers for better protection if hit by a ball. Players should be careful and not run when wearing cleats on hard surfaces (sidewalks, asphalt, concrete, etc.) because they can have significantly less traction. Fit matters far more than looks, color, brand, or style.
Baseball pants come in two styles; full length and knicker (just below the knee). Neither is better; it's personal preference. Full length baseball pants extend to the ankles and may have elastic at the bottom or not. Knickers extend just below the knee with elastic around the leg bottoms to hold them in place, and require knee length socks. Players can wear any color pants and for games but gray is our league standard (generally easier to get out the infield dirt stains or not show them as much).
OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT & PROTECTIVE GEAR
This list includes some optional equipment and protective gear, but it is not intended to be comprehensive or provide recommendations. If a parent choses to have their child use any equipment or protective gear beyond that required by NPBB, then the league and coaches are not responsible for ensuring that any player uses that equipment at any time.
EQUIPMENT BAG or BAT BAG
There are a wide variety of baseball bags, and in the high school and college levels some players even prefer using an ordinary gym bag. Catchers generally use larger bags with wheels because they have more gear. Although bags with wheels seem like a good option, they can be difficult to pull over grass or rough ground especially by younger players. Backpack bags with a sleeve for a bat and pouch for a water bottle are a good option.
Compression shorts with pads on the sides, worn under baseball pants, and designed to protect against abrasion when sliding. Some have a pouch for a protective cup. They can be worn in place of other underwear or shorts. They often retail for $20-$40 but can be found online for $10 or less.
CHEEK GUARD OR FACE MASK
Cheek guards and face masks screw into screw holes on helmets to provide additional protection. Some helmets come with a guard or mask preinstalled. Cheek guards cover the side of the player's face that faces the pitcher while a face mask covers the entire face.
A moldable rubber mouth guard (usually only a few dollars, although advance models can be much more expensive) worn when in the field and batting may protect against mouth/teeth damage if a player is by the ball or anything else. Some studies suggest a properly fitted mouth guard can also reduce the risk or severity of concussions from an impact. Players should have something, as simple as a ziplock bag, to keep the mouth guard clean in the bag between uses. We recommend all players wear a mouthgard, especially when batting and playing infield.
A hard plastic cup worn over the groin to protect against impacts. It typically has foam around the edges for comfort. It is often worn inside the specifically designed pouch in athletic compression shorts or baseball sliding shorts. We recommend that all players wear a protective cup, but it is required when playing the catcher position.
Some players gain confidence by wearing soccer style shin guards under their uniform pants or long socks. Their fear of being hit by ground balls diminishes, and that can be a key to improved performance and fun. Plus, no one even realizes the player is wearing them. They can also add some extra protection when fielding, pitching, or batting.
These are thin leather or man-made material (sort of like driving gloves) usually with velcro on the wrists to adjust fit. Players often like to wear them because many professional players do. Batting gloves can make it more difficult for young players to grip the bat firmly enough, but they do protect hands if the player is hit by a pitch (especially from being cut by the ball's seams).
INSIDE THE HAT HEAD GUARD
A thin liner for a player's hat, typically worn by pitchers to protect against an unexpected line drive hit back at them. Studies suggest this type of protection may reduce the severity of injury from impact. We recommend that all players wear this protection when pitching.
Elbow guards can protect a player's arm that faces the pitcher while batting, and give the player added confidence via lessened fear of being hit by a pitch.
Padded shirts are made for football players, including youth players, but some baseball players use them to lessen the impact of being hit by a pitch. However, on hot or humid days they can be uncomfortable.
The North County Youth Baseball League is program of North Palm Beach Baseball, Inc, a Florida nonprofit not affiliated with any municipality or other baseball program.