There is no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet, but the appropriate sports gear does provide a level of protection against serious head injury. In an ideal world, your child avoids all hits to the head completely, but in a game like tee-ball where balls are flying, bats are swinging, and children are colliding, anything could happen. Your kids are having fun and getting exercise, but they’re also one false move away from a traumatic brain injury.
Tee-Ball Helmet Basics
No matter what sport your child plays, be it tee-ball, softball, baseball, or otherwise, the batter’s helmet should fulfill several different requirements, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Make sure the helmet is well-maintained: While sports equipment can be costly, especially when you have children who grow quickly and need to have uniforms and gear replaced often, don’t settle for a hand-me-down helmet. Purchase a brand new helmet and maintain it by storing it carefully and checking it regularly to ensure that it is in good condition. Look for damage to the helmet after every use to ensure that it is not cracked, broken, or missing any parts or padding. The padding should also be secure in the helmet and not loose so that the head gear continues to provide maximum protection.
- Choose an age-appropriate helmet: Sure, little kids look awfully cute running around in clothes that are too big for them, but young ball players are at risk for injury when their helmet isn’t fitted precisely to their head. Purchase an age-appropriate helmet that is just right for your child. Helmets fit differently depending on brand and model, and each type of helmet typically has its own set of fit instructions and sizing charts. The best course of action is to take your child along when purchasing the helmet so he or she can try them on for size – you want the helmet to be snug but not so tight that it’s painful.
- Wear the helmet consistently: A helmet is only helpful when it is worn properly and at the appropriate times. This is the responsibility of the player, parents, coaches, and game officials, but be sure to instruct your child on the absolute importance of protecting themselves while playing their favorite sport.
- Wear the helmet correct: The batter’s helmet should fit snugly all around your child’s head, with no spaces in between the padding and their head. There should be nothing worn under the helmet, including a baseball cap, that could prevent the helmet from fitting properly. A batter’s helmet should not be too high or low on the player’s head – this positioning can be confirmed if you check that the ear holes are lined up with the player’s ears and that the bill of the helmet is parallel to the ground while your child is looking straight ahead. The bottom of the pad that is located inside the front of the helmet should be situated one inch above your young athlete’s eyebrows. There should be no obstruction of vision in any direction.
- Confirm that the helmet is appropriate certified for use: A batter’s helmet should be labeled with the date of manufacture (helpful information in case of a recall), and say “NOCSAE 1 certified,” which means the helmet has been tested and meets safety standards.
Playing tee-ball is a great introduction to athleticism, teamwork, and a love of sports for a young child. But every sport comes with risks, and head injuries can easily occur in tee-ball, especially when young athletes who are still mastering their athletic skills are playing together. Helmets offer an extra level of protection when it is needed most.
About: David Christensen is a brain injury attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He helps victims with traumatic brain injuries receive compensation and benefits after an accident.