Head injuries in baseball and softball most commonly occur when a player is hit by a batted ball, yet protective masks in baseball are not nearly as common as they are in softball, that is because baseball players are not exposed to the same risks as softball players.
To understand what those risks are, you must understand how the games differ from one another.
The Playing Field
One of the biggest differences between the games is the playing field, softball fields are smaller than baseball fields, and as a consequence, the distance between the batter and home plate is smaller. This means that softball hitters have less time to react in time to the pitch, something that may increase the risk of head injuries if proper protection is not worn.
The same applies to the infielders and the pitcher, the short distance between them and the hitter may not give the players enough time to react to a line drive.
Softball bats are made out of aluminum or some sort of metal composite, while baseball bats are often made out of wood, and metal is rarely used. The exit velocity of aluminum or other metal bats is a lot higher than that of wood, that is because metal is much more elastic than wood, when a metal bat hits the ball, the energy stored in the bat is transferred to the ball much more efficiently. Thus making the players more susceptible to injuries, especially when the smaller playing field is taken into consideration.
Head injuries in softball are more common than in baseball. Players with a history of concussions, traumatic head injuries, or a family history of dementia, will often choose to wear a protective mask to prevent additional blows that may increase the risk of permanent damage or other complications later in life.
Repeated head traumas increase the risk of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a progressive brain disease that can lead to dementia, depression, and other complications.
Choosing A Mask
There are several types of masks available on the market to softball players, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The most important factor is the safety the mask provides, the mask should offer full coverage of the head, and should be made from a durable material. Another factor to consider is fit. The mask should fit comfortably without impeding vision or breathing.
Because of the playing field and bats used in the game, softball players are particularly prone to head injuries. Head injuries are not a laughing matter, they can cause permanent brain damage or other serious problems such as dementia or CTE later in life.
If you are a softball player with a history of head injuries or related risk factors for CTE or dementia, you are advised to take extra care when playing the game and to wear a protective mask while playing. You should also get to know the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries so that you can get medical attention when necessary.