Baseball Head Injuries: Is There a Pitchers Helmet?

Over the past 2 years the life threatening word keeps popping up…the “Come-Backer”. Brandon McCarthy, Aroldis Chapman, Alex Cobb,

Doug Fister, J.A. Happ and Dan Jennings are all MLB pitchers that have been struck in the head with a come-backer that could have benefited by wearing a pitchers helmet.

All suffered a head injury with various levels which would lead to a brief rise in the discussion of whether or not pitchers should wear pitchers helmets. The images and video that would go viral around the net are disturbing.

Is There a Viable Pitchers Helmet?

I know I can’t be the only one thinking this, but, is there a viable pitchers helmet on the market today? Well, I couldn’t find any. In fact, I came across this tweet from Brandon McCarthy:

So maybe the answer is not some giant pitchers helmet but some sort of padding logically placed to reduce the risk of catastrophic injury. I came across the SST Head Guard. It seems like a simple solution for pitchers to at least decrease the risk of major head injury. I had the “ah ha!” moment when I saw it on the net. It is inserted into the sweat liner located on the inside of the hat. Made from Carbon Fiber and Kevlar, the SST Head Guard protects the exposed side of the head from impact due to a pitcher’s motion and natural reaction.

SST Head Guard In Hat

I had to contact the company, find out more and spread the word. Here is the interview that I had with owner Matt Meier.

What was it that gave you the idea to invent the pitcher’s head guard?

SST BaseballI can trace my idea for this product back to a personal experience I had when I was 13 or 14 years old. I was pitching in a district All Star tournament when I was struck on the knee by a batted ball. After the initial impact, the ball bounced from my knee and struck me square in the jaw which caused a very brief black out. From there, I remember opening my eyes with about a half dozen people asking me if I knew where I was and how many fingers they were holding up.

Over the years since then, the idea for a head guard kept evolving in my mind as the number of MLB pitchers suffering batted ball head injuries started to pile up; becoming well documented with the growth and reach of sports media.

Are there any statistics on come-backers and head injuries?

Our research revealed that on average there are 170,000 baseball related head injuries each year. Greater than 80% of these injuries were experienced by fielding position players. Approximately 40,000 of injuries required emergency room care.

High level pitchers have a maximum reaction time of 400 milliseconds to complete a defensive move when reacting to a batted ball. This translates to a batted ball exit velocity of 137.8 feet per second or 93 miles per hour. Still developing youth pitchers need additional reaction time. Skull fractures can occur at a ball exit velocity of approximately 85 feet per second or 58 miles per hour.

How many pitchers are hit by come-backers each year that may have had reduced injuries if they were wearing the Head Guard?

Exact numbers regarding how many pitchers would have been helped by using SST Head Guards are difficult to predict. Our main focus and concern is with the potential of fracture and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, resulting from lateral impacts to the side of the head. TBI can occur when an impact has a “shaking” effect on the brain. Video footage of these impacts including Brandon McCarthy, JA Happ, and Dan Jennings, just to name a few, show that the guards would have absolutely helped in reducing the severity of injury.

Where can I purchase a Head Guard?

SST Head Guard Package
Our products can be purchased exclusively at

Can softball players use it?

SST Head Guards can be used by softball players. Rather than being placed in a hat, the guards can be attached to the straps of an existing facemask; providing additional coverage to the side and temple regions of the head that current masks do not.

How long did it take to perfect the product?

It took us 3 years to get to the point where we felt really good about bringing it to market. We put the guards through numerous design changes and experimented with several materials; all in an effort to balance protection as well as physical and mental comfort. Mental comfort in that we believe you don’t have to look like Super Mario to reduce the risk of injury.

While we love and believe in our product, we recognize that the perfect product will never need another technological advancement or improvement. You can make the argument that no product on Earth is exempt from improvement. Therefore, we are continuously looking for ways to improve and advance all current and future products that provide protection.

Is it made in the USA?

100% Made in the USA and always will be.

What kind of testing did you put your guards through? Findings?

Testing was probably my favorite of the development process. We put the guards through a very comprehensive set of tests that compared the effects of variable speed impacts with and without SST Head Guards. To capture these effects, we used equipment that records thousands of data points per second. Each data point measured the level of force experienced at that specific moment. The testing consisted of baseball impacts on a dummy head form ranging from 49-93 MPH. After combing through hundreds of thousands of data sets we were able to determine that using the guards cut the level of force in half when compared to impacts without the guard.

Are their any MLB players using the Head Guard?

Houston Astros starting pitcher Collin McHugh, who finished 4th in the AL Rookie of the Year Vote, was the first MLB player to wear our product. Collin has been able to get several of his fellow pitchers to try it out, who are currently working it into their routine for the upcoming season.

Are there any big name colleges or youth teams using the Head Guard?

For the upcoming Spring season, we have several teams in youth leagues and travel associations due to start implementing the SST Head Guard including USSSA Baseball, South Carolina Baseball Network, and numerous Little League Districts. We have several individuals from NCAA Division I, II, and III who will be using our product for the upcoming season as well.

How can you see your head guards affecting the game in the future?

Our goal is to be part of a solution to a problem that consists of safety without inhibiting performance.

Head injuries and the resulting consequences are still a relatively young science. It wasn’t that long ago since we learned that head injuries can cause mental and physical health complications 10, 20, 30 years later. Today’s athlete, especially the ones who collect a paycheck, most often do not want to risk reducing performance on account of wearing additional gear. If we can bring something innovative that covers both bases then we will have played a part. And that feels good. Not to mention providing some peace of mind to numerous parents and coaches along the way.

Do you sell other head guard products for different applications?

We carry a concussion reducing helmet padding designed to add an additional layer of protection. It features a peel and stick adhesive backing for easy installation.
We are also working on applications for other sports, so stay tuned!

Where can I purchase a Head Guard?

Our products can be purchased exclusively at

In Conclusion…

If I had a son pitching at the high school or collegiate level, you bet he would be wearing one of these guards under his cap.

Stay on plane…

About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.