Archive for February, 2011

Baseball/Softball: How to Choose a Batting Helmet

Baseball Helmets

One of the leading causes of sports related injuries among children, teens and adults is ill-fitting gear or wearing none at all. Baseball can be quite dangerous. If your head lacks proper protection, it can even be fatal. Just consider for a minute the speed and force in which a baseball or softball is actually thrown (even in Little League) and you will realize the damage that can be done by a ball hitting you in the head. Our heads are pretty tough, but were never meant for THAT.

No matter your age or playing level, a batting helmet should be worn whenever you are at the plate. You just never know when a wild fastball will be thrown your way. We’ve all heard the complaints of helmets being uncomfortable, leading a player to skip its use if not mandated by league rules. Chosen properly, a helmet should not be uncomfortable at all. Read on to learn how to buy a proper batting helmet.

When you’re shopping for a batting helmet, you want to consider several things before making a purchase. A batting helmet should cover the back, top and sides of your head.

They should also cover at least one ear. For right-handed batters, the left ear should be covered and vice versa for left-handed batters. This protects the ear that will have a ball coming towards it and allows the batter to hear the umpire with their other ear. There are also batting helmets that cover both ears available as well. Learn the helmet requirements from your league. Some leagues have strict helmet specifications, and failure to adhere to them may result in removal from a game.

The batting helmet should fit securely on the head without squeezing the head. It should not move when your head is turned from side to side and should be easy to take on and off as well. A secure batting helmet should not fall forward over the eyes. Whether you are buying a helmet in a store or online, be sure to take a measurement of your head’s circumference at its widest point. A secure fit is important in a batting helmet, as it could cause more damage to a player if it were to get hit by a ball.

But all helmets are not created equal! The cheapest batting helmets are made of plastic with a protective layer beneath while more advanced batting helmets are made of durable polymers. The foam interior of the helmet is a safety must-have. This padding keeps the head away from the outer shell of the helmet in case of impact. Save money elsewhere, but don’t skimp on the batting helmet that you choose. You are buying safety and in this case, you really do get what you pay for. Find a brand name you trust and do the research on that particular helmet. Be sure the shell is made of quality materials and the foam padding is thick and durable.

Batting helmets were not required in the MLB until 1971. Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs was the first to wear an earflap helmet in the game. Today, all batters, base runners, bat-boys, bat-girls, and catchers are required to wear a batting helmet. Catchers and bat-boys and girls usually wear a flapless batting helmet with no ear protection. After the recent death of Tulsa Drillers first base coach Mike Coolbaugh, many base coaches are electing to wear batting helmets as well. Coolbaugh was hit in the head with a line drive.

Softball Helmets

Buying a softball helmet, whether for fast pitch or slow pitch, please consider the tips for proper fit above. Using a helmet that isn’t up to NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standards can cause you to be ejected from the game, or worse yet, it may lead to serious injury.

Softball helmets are made of impact-resistant molded ABS plastic. They are solid one-piece helmets with interior foam padding. Many have face guards in front with straps that secure them to the head.

Ponytail batting helmets do just what their names says… they allow room for a girl’s ponytail. More comfortable than the standard softball batting helmet, it fits better because female baseball and softball players don’t have to cram their ponytail into it.

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Lacrosse: NFHS Boys Lacrosse 2011 Uniform Rules


The National Federation of State High School Associations has amended the rules for uniforms:

1. Jerseys shall be of a single, solid color.
2. The jersey shall completely cover the shoulder pads.
3. Jerseys shall be of contrasting colors for opposing teams. The home team shall wear light jerseys and the visiting team shall wear its dark-color jerseys. The visiting team is responsible for avoidance of similarity of colors, but, if there is doubt, the referee may require the home team to change jerseys.

1. Collar, cuffs and waistband may be of contrasting colors, but not more than 2 inches wide.
2. Side inserts (no more than armpit to waistband) may be of contrasting color(s), but no more than 3 inches wide.
3. Contrasting colored piping not to exceed 1/8-inch wide is allowed.

1. Numbers shall be centered vertically and horizontally and at least 8 inches tall on the front and at least 12 inches tall on the back.
2. Numbers may contain contrasting color trim(s) not to exceed 2 inches (the number shall contrast with the body of the jersey).
3. Duplicate numbers on jerseys shall not be permitted on the same team.

1. All players on the same team shall wear uniform shorts of the same dominant color.

1. A visible manufacturer’s logo/trademark may not exceed 2¼ square inches and 2¼ inches in any direction on the jersey and/or pant/short. Beginning in 2010, no more than one manufacturer’s logo/trademark or reference on the outside of each item. (The same size restriction shall apply to either the manufacturer’s logo/trademark or reference).

NOTE: An American flag, not to exceed 2 by 3 inches, and either a commemorative or a memorial patch, not to exceed 4 square inches and with written state association approval, may be worn on the jersey provided neither the flag, nor the patch, interferes with the visibility of the number.

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Hockey: Icing Rule Explained

Hockey is a game of tremendous speed and constant contact. It’s also a game of strategies and techniques that can give a team an advantage. But these strategies are not always without consequence. The three major NHL rules that limit the movement of the puck are icing, off-side, and out-of-play. For now, we’ll concentrate on icing.

    What exactly is icing?

Basically, icing is a tactic whereby a player on his own side of the red line dumps the puck to the end of the ice from behind the center ice red line. If the puck crosses the opposing goal line untouched, and is then retrieved by an opposing player, icing is called. Considered a delaying tactic, it results in a stoppage in play and a face-off in the offending team’s defensive zone. The purpose of the icing rule is to encourage continuous action.

When the conditions of “icing the puck” have occurred, the referee will blow his whistle and raise his non-whistle hand over his head. Play stops and a face-off is held in the defensive zone of the team that iced the puck. The back official will then move to the face-off spot and give the icing signal.

    Why is icing a problem?

The icing rule was introduced by the NHL to prevent teams from wasting time when they were ahead late in the game, especially if the score was still close. The rule was designed to prevent a team from “dumping” the puck into their opponent’s zone in order to use up the clock or to avoid playing defense.

Before the rule, teams that were stuck in their own defensive end for too long would ice the puck just to be able to make a line change and switch out tired players. In 2005, the NHL modified the icing rule to state that the five players on the ice for the offending team must remain on the ice for the subsequent face-off. The modification resulted in fewer icing incidents since the severity of the penalty outweighed the benefit.

Please Note: The icing rule for non-pro hockey varies by league. Most leagues enforce a “no-touch” icing, in which icing is called and play is stopped as soon as the puck crosses the goal line, regardless of whether or not an opponent touches it.

    Exceptions to the rule…

One exception to the icing rule occurs when a team is shorthanded. During power play situations, the shorthanded team is allowed to dump the puck without an icing penalty being called. Icing can also be waved off if the referee determines that an opposing player could have touched the puck before it crossed the goal line.

In the NHL and AHL, a player on the opposing team other than the goaltender must touch the puck to cause the stoppage of play. If the puck is first touched by the goaltender or a player on the team that iced the puck, icing is waved off (cancelled) and play continues.

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