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Catcher's Thumb | What It Is And How To Prevent It

Here is an experience that many catchers have endured over the years…
You’re cruising through a game behind the dish. Your starter is absolutely shoving from the bump. Even better, you've got a couple of hits to your game ledger.
The top half of the last inning should be a breeze as your squad is up by a handful. First batter arrives at the plate. The first delivery is a tight breaking ball that batter barely grazes with his bat...right into the thumb portion of your mitt. The pain is searing and you know what just happened.
You’ve been thumbed.

The JustGloves Blog

What is catcher’s thumb?

To answer scientifically, Dr. Marius Negru offers a very detailed explanation on his website
"…the injury commonly known as catcher’s thumb is the “hyperextension of the upper interphalangeal joint of the thumb…Sometimes, this “super sprain” also pulls the extensor tendon away from the bone (this is known as an avulsion), which causes the thumb to stick in a slightly flexed position.”

But to describe it in a more “baseball” manner, it is when a catcher receives either a pitched ball or fouled baseball directly into the thumb portion of their mitt. It causes the thumb to bend back severely. Due to this injury, a catcher experiences significant pain on their thumb when receiving pitched balls into their mitt.

Further, Dr. Negru confirms the frustration of the injury by mentioning that it can take up to 6-8 weeks to heal correctly. And there is even a chance that surgery may be necessary for the injury to heal.

How can catcher's thumb be prevented?

You can go about preventing catcher’s thumb by being conscious about the way you receive certain pitches and/or by using a thumb guard when handling catcher duties.
Catching Made Simple made a great YouTube short explaining the way that you can alter your receiving technique on pitches down in the zone to try and prevent the injury…
And in addition to altering your technique, there are pieces of equipment, known as thumb guards, that exist to stabilize the upper interphalangeal joint of the thumb and prevent it from hyperextending when receiving a pitch.
Two popular thumb guards are the following:
  • Xan Barksdale's Catcher's Thumb - Some might call this one the OG of catcher’s thumb guards. It comes as a hard, rectangular piece of casting material that will protect your thumb while catching. You’ll stencil the shape that will best fit your hand and cut the casting material accordingly. Then you’ll get the material malleable with hot water. After molding it to your hand, you can trim excess areas of the material and the guard is ready to go! An awesome feature of this guard is that if you need to mold it again down the road, you can just add it to hot water again. Watch the tutorial for Xan’s thumb guard.

  • EvoShield Catcher’s Thumb Guard - The EvoShield version of the thumb guard is also designed to be custom molded to your hand. However, instead of using heat to mold the equipment to your hand, this one comes in an airtight package and once the material is exposed to air, it is able to be molded to your hand. Once you get it shaped on your thumb, you wrap it in gauze and let it sit for 10 minutes. Next, you keep it wrapped in gauze and put on your mitt for 10 additional minutes to get the best fit! Here’s the EvoShield fitting tutorial.

Do any catcher’s mitts have extra thumb protection added internally?

Yes, some do have internal protection to keep catchers from getting thumbed. Two excellent models to view are the following:

1) Wilson A2000 M2 33.5" Baseball Catcher's Mitt (WBW100977335)

The Wilson A2000 M2 33.5 Inch Baseball Catcher's Mitt

Get The Wilson M2

This Wilson mitt is designed with extra leather built into the form of a thumb cast that exists within the thumb slot of the mitt. The “leather thumb cast” actually extends out of the hand slot to help prevent the hyperextension of the thumb. And if you wore the EvoShield thumb guard with this mitt, you may even be able to provide double protection against getting thumbed by a pitch or foul tip.

Customer Comments on the Wilson M2:

“If you are in any way concerned about being thumbed (it is not fun)… this glove feels very similar to wearing a thumb guard inserted into the glove but in a very comfortable and durable way!” - JG Customer, Craig Johnson


2) Mizuno Samurai 33" Youth Baseball Catcher's Mitt (GXC95Y3)

The Mizuno Samurai Youth Catcher's Mitt

Get The Mizuno Samurai

Similar to the model of mitt shown previously, this Samurai mitt from Mizuno is built with a specially designed thumb slot that receives extra padding and it feels like you are putting your thumb into a cast inside the mitt. If you have a youth player who may already be struggling with a case of catcher’s thumb , then this is the mitt for you!

Customer Comments on the Mizuno Samurai:
“There's no better youth catcher’s mitt on the market. Mizuno could easily sell this glove for $120+. The thumb cast is brilliant.” - JG Customer, Coach G

We hope that you can leave this blog post with an all-around comprehension of catcher’s thumb and the best preventions against it. If you’re still needing help making a catcher’s mitt purchase, then definitely reach out to one of our Glove and Mitt Experts! You can email here or start a LIVE CHAT now!

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