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New NOCSAE Catchers Gear Certifications | 2020 Rule Changes

Updated July 3, 2020

By Brian Duryea | @BatDigest

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Here’s what you need to know about the new NOSCAE Catcher’s Gear requirement for high school and college ball.

  • For 2020 high school baseball requires a NOCSAE certified chest protector.
  • The NCAA pushed their requirement out to 2021.
  • The rules are NOT in place for youth (non-high school).
  • Most chest protectors sold in 2018 and 2019 do NOT have the certification. (Some from Evo and All-Star do have them, so check).
  • Evoshield has an undershirt that has a NOCSAE certified protective plate that will give your old gear longer life.

Do I need a new Chest Protector?

Yes, if you are playing catcher in either high school or college, a chest protector with a NOCSAE certified protector is required.

No, if you are playing youth baseball or fastpitch.

Why do I need a Chest Protector?

NFHS and NCAA baseball have explicitly stated the reason for the requirement is for safety and to avoid Commotio Cordis (impact-related heart attacks—which you can read more about below).

The organization that does the certifications also maintains a list of those chest protectors which have the certification. (You can see the full list here).

Here are some of the more popular and notable NOCSAE chest guards that do have the certification. Most manufacturers are on board (early 2020) at this point and have a NOCSAE certified item.

Notable NOCSAE Certified Chest Protectors

Brand Model Ages
Easton Adult/Small Youth to Adult
Force3 Pro Gear Youth to Adult
All-Star S7 Axis Adult
Evoshield Adult Chest Guard 16+
Evoshield Youth Chest Guard 7 to 15
Rawlings Velo 2.0 Adult 15+
Easton Game Time Adult
Mizuno Samurai Adult
Under Armour PTH Victory Adult
Wilson Prestige Adult

At the time of this writing, the above represents the NOCSEA certified protectors we could find. It might not be exhaustive. We do not intend to update this as time goes on. Consider this a starting point for your search.

NOCSAE Catcher's Chest Protector

Above are All-Star catcher chest protectors that have the new NOSCAE certification.

Do current chest prospectors NOT work?

In terms of protection for Commotio Cordis, the test says no. Before the standard, not a single gear item proved enough protection for the heart. Granted, the odds of the problem happening are between slim and none. It is most likely to occur in boys under the age of 14, so a high school and college requirements don’t hit the mark. But do chest protectors on the market give parents a sense of security that is not there?

We’ll let the attorneys and juries answer those questions.

Does that mean the new NOCSAE certification on the catcher’s chest protection is useless?

If NOCSAE certified chest protectors save a single life or youth heart attack, then it is irresponsible to claim the certification is useless—even considering this new standard churns thousands of old chest protectors out of the market and creates a windfall of profit to manufacturers.

Getting a chest protector to perform to a certain standard is reasonable.

NOCSAE Buying Recommendations

If you play catcher, then this season, 2020, will require the new chest gear. So, in short, you need to find an option. Amazon NOSCAE certified gear is always the right place to start. All-Star is still a favorite.

Evoshield Option

One wise option, especially if you love your old gear, is to add an undershirt with a NOCSAE certified plate insert made by Evoshield. It runs much less than a new set and carries with it the same certification required to play at the high school level. (You can find them at DSG).

nocsae catchers gear

Commotio Cordis

A baseball hitting someone’s chest can disrupt the rhythm of the heart and cause a sort of heart attack in a perfectly healthy individual. Although rare, such an event, called Commotio Cordis, is deadly. It is the number one cause of death in youth baseball (a relatively safe sport). Player’s under the age of 14 are more susceptible. This year (2018), one 8-year-old in California fell unconscious after a neighbor was trying to hit pop flies and ended up hitting a line drive into his chest.

Some are luckier. One boy in 2013 was hit by a pitch in the chest, fainted no the way to 1st base, and ended up living because two paramedics were watching the game and responded remarkably fast.

How to Respond to Commotio Cordis

In short, surviving Commotio Cordis is almost unheard of without a swift response. In many cases, even a rapid response will not save their life either. You would do well to speak with your local EMT and league directors to develop a protocol in place for a rapid response. Consider adding a defibrillator to your field house.  Although highly unlikely you’ll ever witness the event, it is still useful to know what to do.

For starters:

  1. For several minutes afterward, pay very close attention to any player when they take a direct blow to the chest. The punch does not need to happen with a baseball. Another player or baseball bat would cause it too. Also, this applies to other sports. In lacrosse, it is more common. But soccer, cricket, football, or any number of flying objects into the chest could cause enough impact to disrupt the rhythm of the heart.
  2. In the event, the player struck in the chest faints or is about to faint, call 911 immediately. A defibrillator on the scene, as fast as possible, might save a life.
  3. Although CPR, from what we’ve read, is not adequate for a heart attack brought on by Commotio Cordis, it is likely the best bet. At the same time, wait for paramedics (assuming you don’t have a defibrillator handy). If you are interested in some other ideas without a defibrillator, you might like this article.

Commotio Cordis is deadly. Response time is vitally important.

Updated July 3, 2020

July 3, 2020

By Brian Duryea | @BatDigest

Share This | Tag us @batdigest
New NOCSAE Catchers Gear Certifications | 2020 Rule Changes


Mack Cullins says:

Does this rule change pertain o middle schools also. 6-7-8 grades?

Brian says:

No. Unless that middle school has a specific clause to adopt that rule. The rule is a High School and NCAA rule only.

darrell Richardson says:

Are the new commotio cordis chest protectors required for Softball also or just Baseball?

Stan Dyer says:

How do umpires verify that catchers without NOCSAE gear are wearing the Evoshield undershirt?

Brian says:

Hey Stan,

There is a mark on the catcher’s gear much like there is a BBCOR stamp on a bat. They should be able to see that if they look for it.

George Whittaker says:

Only the helmet and chest protector need the stamp, correct? Do the leg guards need a stamp too??

Brian says:

The leg guards do NOT need the NOCSAE stamp.

Terry Tucker says:

Where can we find the attachment that fits an existing chest protector?

Brian says:

Attachment? Evoshield has a shirt that has the piece inside the shirt. There is not an attachment sold separately to add to your old gear. At least, as far as we have been told.

Steven Kirby says:

Do you see a rule being adopted for Little League Baseball? We have divisions for 6-8, 9, and 9-12 year olds. We need to purchase some new equipment or we can purchase some used/clearance equipment to save some money. However, we don’t want to go the second route if they plan to expand this to Little League Baseball.


Jagger johns says:

Is my S7 Axis custom chest protector meet the standers?

Melissa Portz says:

Not if it says CP40PRO. We ordered a custom protector from Dicks and upon receiving it noticed it did not have the certification tag. We contacted All Star and they stated this one was not covered. All Star is supposed to be letting Dicks know that they are misleading customers and selling uncertified gear.

Michael F says:

I’ve found a Rawlings arc protector heart guard that’s attaches to an existing non qualified chest protector. Will this be sufficient for an upgrade?

mark says:

So if you buy the undershirt well the high school level allow for old equipment to be used?

Brian says:

Yes. As far as we understand it. The undershirt from Evoshield allows you to use your old gear without the certification because the EvoSheild undershirt has the certification.

Jerry belcher says:

what about softball

Brian says:

No requirement for softball and nothing immediately on the horizon.

Brian says:

The risk of the condition is for boys under the age of 14.

Brian says:

Does this work?

JB says:

I believe in 2010 Thomas Adams, a catcher at the HS level in New Jersey died from commotio cordis after being struck by a pitched ball while catching with a chest protector.

Very rare event, but there are cases.

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