NOCSAE Catcher’s Gear Certification Changes for 2020

Effective as of January 1, 2020, chest protectors used in high school and college baseball must be NOCSAE certified. This rule is not in place for youth players (anyone below high school level), however, knowing this information will allow parents to safely equip their youth player. This rule can be somewhat confusing, so we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about the NOCSAE catcher’s gear certification changes related to chest protectors, including:

What is the 2020 NOCSAE Catcher’s Gear Rule Change?

The 2020 NOCSAE catcher’s gear rule change will see that all high school and college level baseball players will be required to wear a chest protector that is NOCSAE certified for protection against Commotio Cordis. Every catcher’s chest protector made prior to 2019 does not have the certification, so you will most likely need to get a new catcher’s chest protector for the 2020 season. All NOCSAE certified chest protectors will have a stamp that shows it is certified by SEI and NOCSAE for protection against Commotio Cordis.

Changes have primarily been made to the large section of padding in the upper middle of the chest protector, in efforts to absorb and distribute impact to other parts of the chest protector, away from the heart. Again, NOCSAE catcher’s gear is required for high school and college level play in 2020. It is NOT required for youth and little league catcher’s gear.

NOCSAE Catcher’s Gear Rules for High School and College Players

If you are a catcher and playing in either High School or College in 2020, you will be required to wear a NOCSAE certified chest protector. Additionally, a NOCSAE certified under shirt or heart guard may be worn under a non-NOCSAE certified chest protector. However, we recommend going with one of these brand-new NOCSAE certified catcher’s chest protectors, as they will provide the best heart protection available.

NOCSAE Catcher’s Gear Rules for Youth Players

In 2020, NOCSAE certified catcher’s gear is NOT required for youth baseball players. At this time, you do not need to have NOCSAE certified catcher’s gear for youth leagues. But, as youth players get older and get ready to make the jump into high school level play, it is recommended that parents and players are well informed when it comes to NOCSAE standard and certification. In the meantime, however, any one of these youth catcher’s chest protectors can be used by a youth player.

Why Was the New NOCSAE Catcher’s Chest Protector Rule Updated?

The main purpose of the rule update was to determine whether or not a chest protector can prevent Commotio Cordis, as well as other, more minor injuries caused by impacts to the torso.

Therefore, chest protectors must go through a series of tests and trials to make sure that they can withstand a certain amount of force impact, as dictated by NOCSAE and SEI.

With this rule update, players, parents and coaches are provided with assurance that athletes, specifically catcher’s in this case, are properly equipped with the best heart protection possible. As mentioned above, youth leagues are not required to use NOCSAE chest protectors, however, parents may want to look into equipping their youth players with a youth sized NOCSAE certified catcher’s chest protector in order to assure that they too, have the best heart protection available.

What is Commotio Cordis, and How Should You Handle It?

Commotio Cordis (Latin, "agitation of the heart") is an often-lethal disruption of heart rhythm that occurs as a result of a blow to the area directly over the heart (the precordial region) at a critical time during the cycle of a heartbeat, producing what is termed an R-on-T phenomenon that leads to the condition. For catcher's, this most commonly occurs when a ball is fouled straight back and directly impacts the player's chest. The best way to prevent the likelihood of this injury from happening is to make sure the correct, NOCSAE certified, equipment is being used. If you notice a player may have suffered this injury, call 911 immediately in efforts to get a defibrillator on the scene as soon as possible and monitor the player very closely until paramedics arrive.

Did You Know? Facts About NOCSAE Rules in Baseball

  • NFHS (National Federation of High Schools): Starting January 1, 2020, all baseball chest protectors must be NOCSAE commotio cordis certified for NFHS play.
  • NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association): Starting January 1, 2020, all chest protectors used in the NCAA must meet the NOCSAE commotio cordis standard.
  • Little League Baseball®️, Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, and other youth organizations have yet to adopt the commotio cordis chest protector standard.
  • NOCSAE certified undershirts, such as the EvoShield Adult NOCSAE Protective Chest Guard Shirt can legally be worn under a non-NOCSAE certified chest protector.
  • NOCSAE certified chest protectors are only required to be worn by catcher’s in High School and College, however players of any position may consider wearing a certified undershirt (mentioned above) if they feel necessary for their safety.
  • 20 states now mandate there to be external defibrillators at schools due to the implementation of this new rule for 2020.
  • Manufacturers must contract with an independent certifying body, Safety Equipment Institute (SEI), to test, validate and certify that their equipment meets NOCSAE standard for protection against Commotio Cordis. The following manufactures have their very own NOCSAE certified chest protectors and catcher’s gear available at BaseballMonkey:

Catcher’s Gear at BaseballMonkey

In addition to getting a brand-new chest protector that is NOCSAE certified, protective shirts and heart guards that are NOCSAE certified are another great option. They can be used with any one of these catcher’s chest protectors that may not happen to be NOCSAE certified themselves. Remember, youth catcher’s chest protectors do not need to be NOCSAE certified. Now that you know everything you need to know about NOCSAE certification, check out our selection of NOCSAE chest protectors, and any other catcher’s equipment you may need!


This article was originally published on February 26, 2020, and has been updated with new information.