The job of a baseball batter can be rather hard and even dangerous.
Pro batters, on a daily basis, face pitches going up to 100 miles per hour and have only a split second of a time to react.
So, protective equipment is a must if they are to avoid injuries and have a long and successful career.
Most people are familiar with the major parts of protective gear such as helmets or hand, elbow, shin, and leg guards.
Their purpose is rather obvious and easy to understand.
However, there’s another small piece of protective equipment that often leaves fans wondering how and why it is used.
As the TV camera zooms in on the batter, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of them are wearing a small thingy on their thumbs.
Below, I’ll explain what do batters wear on their thumb and how this tiny item helps their game.
What do Batters Wear on Their Thumb?
The thing batter wear on their thumb is actually a small piece of soft plastic called the thumb guard.
The thumb guard was initially designed to reduce the sting of the bat when the ball hits too close to the hand.
However, over time, they have also proven to be useful for improving the batter’s performance.
Simply put, the thumb guard is a small plastic piece featuring a thumb hole.
It covers the extra gap between the thumb itself, or more precisely the oval-shaped cupped hand, and the perfect cylinder of the bat’s barrel knob.
The thumb guard, or the thumb ring, provides a cushion that enhances the grip of the bat and reduces the risk of bruising and hyperextension to the thumb and palm bone.
Nowadays, the thumb guard has become an essential part of the batter’s protective gear, especially for players over the age of 12.
Why Do Baseball Players Wear Thumb Guards?
Using thumb guards provides multiple benefits to the players wearing them.
First of all, it reduces the recoil force created when the ball connects with the bat at a high speed.
This recoil results in a shock and vibration which put a serious strain on the batter’s hand.
The thumb guard absorbs most of this force and reduces force on the hands and the injury risk.
This way, there are fewer chances of stinging or bone bruising when the batter is jammed with an inside pitch.
In addition, the thumb guard bridges the gap and fills out the space between the cylinder handlebar of the bat and the palm leading to a better and more firm grip for the batter.
All this helps the batter, at any level, hold the bat properly.
Both pro batters and beginners use thumb guards to improve their swing, batting speed, and technique.
How Do You Use a Pro Hitter Thumb Guard?
- Used by top pros.
- Fits both right and left handed youth size batters hands
- Prevents bone bruises if batter is jammed with inside pitch.
- Made from durable, rubber-like resin.
- Creates correct grip technique.
Last update on 2022-08-12 at 03:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Pro Hitter thumb guard is, without a doubt, the most popular and the most frequently used among this type of protective equipment.
It provides a solid level of protection for thumb and palm bones, is very efficient in improving the batter’s technique, and is fairly easy and simple to use.
The Pro hitter thumb guard fits on the top hand when batting in a way that the rounded side of the guard is placed in a web between the index finger and the thumb.
It can be used both on the right and left hand.
When the ball connects, the bat moves back to this webbing which causes the loss of a full connection between the bat and the hand.
Thumb guard fills this gap and allows players to grip the bat properly, with their fingers, rather than the palm of their hands.
Do Catchers Use Thumb Guards?
Besides batters, players at other baseball positions have also found thumb guards to be rather helpful.
This is especially true for catchers, who are always at risk from thumb injuries and hyperextension from tipped foul balls.
Plus, their thumbs have to withstand the constant impact of hard throws coming their way.
There’s even an injury known as a catcher’s thumb.
This is where the thumb guard is of great help, as it helps disperse the impact to the hand and thus reduce the potential of injuries and bone bruises.
However, thumb guards for catchers differ from those made for batters.
The catcher’s thumb guard is delivered in a gel format and meant to fit into the catcher’s glove and be glued in, so it doesn’t restrict the movement.
When opened and placed inside the glove, in about 20 minutes, they become hard and create a protective shell for the thumb.
A thumb guard is a relatively small, easy to use, and rather inexpensive piece of protective equipment.
However, it provides significant advantages which is why it’s used by more than 50% of professional batters and numerous amateur and young players.
Additionally, due to its small size, it doesn’t restrict the movement nor does it provide an unnatural feel while holding a bat.
A lot of batters, especially those at the beginning of their careers, often overgrip the bat and keep it too deep in their palms.
Using the thumb guard helps them learn how to hold the bat properly, and provides a tighter grip.
At the same time, it reduces strain on the hand and minimizes the possibility of an injury.
If you pay a little more attention next time you watch a baseball game, you’ll probably be surprised by how many players are using this handy piece of gear.