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Are Knee Savers Good or Bad?

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Written By
Xan Barksdale

Xan Barksdale Knee SaversI wish I had a dollar every time someone asked me about Knee Savers…I’d be on my way to Fiji right now!

In this post I want to share with you the truth about Knee Savers and to go over some of the common myths.  Let class begin…

Do Knee Savers Make You Lazy?

This is by far the most common question I receive.  Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who think that wearing Knee Savers means the catcher must be lazy.

Wearing a particular hat doesn’t make you smart, wearing running shoes doesn’t make you fast, and wearing Knee Savers doesn’t make you lazy.

There is no magic equipment out there that can change your work ethic, hustle, or desire to win…for the positive or the negative.  Being lazy or not is a characteristic of the player regardless of what they’re wearing.

If we took this to Myth Busters they would say that this myth is ‘BUSTED.’

Are Knee Savers Bad for Your Knees?

There’s a myth out there that says Knee Savers are not only useless in preventing knee injuries, they’re actually harmful.  How could a product with a name like Knee Savers actually be bad for your knees?

Critics say that when Knee Savers are worn incorrectly they create a wedge between the femur and tibia (the large leg bones) and this causes added stress on the knee joint.

I will be the first to say that Knee Savers do not need to be worn on the upper part of the shinguards (right below the knee), but they should be worn on the lower two straps so that the top of the Knee Saver is around the bottom of the calf muscle.

However, there is no evidence to support that Knee Savers can increase the risk of injury.

I’ve spoken to many doctors, trainers, and physical therapists about this and I haven’t come across anyone yet who thinks that they could negatively impact a catcher’s knee health.  If you find someone who does please send them my way, I’d love to have a chat with them.

Why Don’t MLB Players Wear Knee Savers?

A lot of people are under the impression that Major League catchers don’t wear Knee Savers…a lot of people are wrong!  I recently did some intensive research for an article titled Catching Equipment that the Pros Wear and found out that 47% of starting catchers in the MLB do wear knee savers.

Now, I watch a lot of baseball and I’ve known for years that Knee Savers are more mainstream than a lot of people think, but even I didn’t realize that it was almost 50/50.  In my opinion, that says a lot…almost half of Major League Baseball teams’ starting catchers are wearing them.  I’m quite certain that the coaches, managers, and front office have done their research as to whether they’re helping or hurting their catchers.  I’m also quite certain that there is a 0% change that MLB teams would let their catchers wear them if they thought that there was a chance that they were doing more harm than good.

If that stat surprises you be sure to check out the article I mentioned above…there will be some other shocking stats in there too: Catching Equipment that the Pros Wear

Does Coach Xan Let His Players Wear Knee Savers?

I believe that each player should be treated individually so I don’t take the cookie-cutter approach to coaching.  No two players are exactly alike and they shouldn’t be coached exactly alike.

With that said, some of my catchers wear Knee Savers and some don’t.  I personally think that it should be a personal choice for catchers who are 100% healthy.  That means catchers who don’t currently have any knee issues, catchers who don’t have a history of knee injuries, and catchers who aren’t at “high risk” of having a knee injury have the freedom to choose if they’d like to wear Knee Savers or not.

For the guys that are completely healthy I let them choose…

The players who have had a history of knee complications don’t get the luxury of making that decision themselves…I make it for them!

Anyone who has a history of knee injuries should be wearing Knee Savers.  There is no reason not to and it’s a preventative measure that responsible coaches should help make their players make.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this article and if you wear Knee Savers or not!

Written By
Xan Barksdale

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Cassie Mincey

I just learned a ton from this little article that I never knew! Thank you

Xan Barksdale

I don't think that because a child has a tendency to squat instead of sit that it means they are predisposed to be a catcher. There is A LOT more to being a catcher than just squatting. But, if she enjoys catching then by all means encourage it!

Mom21

I have a 7 year old daughter who will be starting coach pitch softball next month. She has ALWAYS had a natural squat position that she’d rather sit in as opposed to just sitting on the floor. When she goes to brush her teeth int the morning I often find her squatting on the edge of the sink, barefooted and brushing her teeth. I used to worry she’d fall off, but she’s so good at balancing I don’t worry anymore. Same in the kitchen. If she helps me with baking or dishes, she’s usually squatting. Lol. I call her my little monkey. So I told her dad who played baseball as a kid all the way through college that I think she’d make a great catcher because of her natural squatting position and he says it will ruin her knees. He had a lot of knee injuries in sports but he wasn’t a catcher. What do you think? Would it be worth looking into since she comes by that position naturally?

Clara Williamson

My Son is will be 13 in 3 months and has been catching for about a seasons now. We just recently ordered him a new Catcher Gear set. He asked specifically for Knee Savers. He said they have always helped him with his stance and helps him have more balance. We ended up purchasing a $320 set because it had Knee Savers and cheaper ones didn't. To us it was well worth it to help him, and hopefully prevent injury in the future. He is Primary Catcher, and so far in his Ozone league he is one of the few that have alot of experience... Alot of the newer Catcher's don't like them. To me the fact that he does just proves more that as time goes on they, even as young teens can tell what's more comfortable and beneficial to them. I am hoping some of the other Catcher's will catch on how beneficial they can be! Thanks for this article, very informative!

Laney

Thanks. I am new to catching and I think this helped a lot. Know I understand what they are and if they are bad or good. I do not think I will get any because I am used to not having them .

James

They were designed and Patented by a Doctor in the state of Maine.. He did extensive research on it before putting them out to the public.. So I am more then positive they Help save the knees instead of do Harm..

Nolan

I was at me nephews pony league game. I noticed that the catchers we’re getting really tired and exhausted. Keep in mind the catchers I’m talking about or six years old and new to the game. I asked someone “why don’t they get that kid some knee savers”. To help him with his stance and positioning. I also figured it would help the kids with the tired/exhaustion factor. When I used knee savers it gave me more supports and I didn’t have to use “all” my muscles and effort. I basically felt sorry for the little guys and thought knee savers was the answer. The coaches just didn’t have them available so I understand why they weren’t using them. I started Talking to some parents, and a few of them were telling me about how knee savers actually hurts your knees and called his injury. I have never heard this and then came across your article. You article answered some questions but let me know what ya think.

Chester

I agree with everything except for WHERE the knee saver should be worn. Wearing the knee saver as low as the author mentioned does nothing more than fill the visible gap with a triangle wedge. There is almost always a space between the catchers calves and butt, and wearing them low just fills this gap without providing any support. Wearing them higher up actually does something. They hold you up without you needing to support yourself with your knees. I’ve worn them everywhere you can, and highest up feels best.

Grant

Thank you sooooo much this article has helped me so much I have knee problems so I guess I am gonna get some. Thank you

Frank

Knee Savers are amazing. I started wearing them early in HS and continue to wear them as a 31 year-old in an adult league. I find they make the "primary" and signal-calling stances much more comfortable, and allow for more energy to be saved for while I'm in my "secondary" stance with runners on base or two outs. Basically they allow my lower half to be more relaxed in my "primary" stance so that the explosiveness needed in the "secondary" stance doesn't get sapped over the course of 9 innings behind the dish. I wear them on the bottom two straps of the shinguards, and they do not hinder my ability to block the ball.

Beth

My son is 19 and has been catching for 12 years. He started wearing knee savers in high school. Not because he was injured or dealing with any knee pain, but because it was that he realized he wanted to be catching for a long time and wanted the best chance to extend his playing career. He is now catching in college and still wearing his knee savers, in spite of some razzing he gets from his teammates. However, he is probably one of the least lazy kids on the team, and no one gets in his face about that!

Catcher's_Mom

Docs at Boston's Children's Hospital (one of the best in the country) recommend knee savers to prevent injury and especially for those recovering from injury (catcher's tend to get a more advanced form of OCD). Young players are very susceptible because their growth plates are still open. It's a devastating injury that takes a year if not much more off of an athlete's sports life. Read here for a Children's patient profile, including a link to a study done at Children's: https://tinyurl.com/y7nb3emv

Bart

Thanks for the article, my 12 year old daughter has been a catcher for three years and has been wearing knee savers from the start. I have heard many coaches say, just as you have said, it makes them lazy. We took them off for a few months and my daughter complained of her knees hurting, not sure if it was psychological or not but they went right back on. Thanks for the article, I bookmarked it to send to other coaches when the say it makes them lazy.

Chase

Hi I am now a sophomore in highschool and I have strong fundamentals and skills in blocking receiving and throw downs but my arm is not the strongest. How can you strengthen the arm from stretches to long tossing program ?

Bradley Rudisill

There are pros and cons to any product out there. I totally agree there is no product out there that makes a player lazy that is an attitude that they choose. I have seen it at the lower levels where catchers won't set up properly in their secondary stance but chances are they haven't been taught, the knee savers didn't force them to. I'm glad there are guys like Xan that are willing to educate the masses on the finer points of catching. Thanks for all you do for baseball and the development of catchers!

Larry

Hey coach! Just got done reading your article on knee savers and was glad to here how many mlb players wore them. My 12 year old son has them but doesn't wear them because he doesn't see the other guys wearing them. Are there truely benefits for wearing them? I have bad knees from work and wouldn't mind them for me:) but want to ask if I should insist on him wearing them or not.

Coach Xan

Dan, not exactly sure I'm following the point you're trying to make?

Dan

You state, "...almost half of Major League Baseball teams’ starting catchers are wearing them." Meaning that over half do not. I have no strong feelings in youth players if they are worn correctly and proper catching stances are preserved. With so few youth coaches able to correctly coach their catchers those are two big, "ifs."

Josh Greer

My concern with knee savers (other than when worn improperly) is when the catcher needs to be in the block position. I feel they can inhibit the body from getting fully down and/or create that wedge action that you discussed earlier. I work with my catchers to get down in the dreaded "w sit" position, with the toes pointed out (and I generally catch a lot of flack for it by moms who say that "w sit" is the devil). Weaver teaches keeping the feet in and under the body. I'm wondering how the knee savers work with the feet in. I'm assuming not well. Good article!

Coach Xan

Hey! No, this pic was my senior year in HS. Awesome, I'm glad she's getting some good info from it. Tell your family I say hello!

Coach Xan

No problem, glad you liked it! Please feel free to forward it to anyone who might like reading it. Thanks!

Mitch sanders

Xan was this pic at Holmes. By the way I love reading your post my daughter is catching for her travel team and I get a lot of helpful info from your post

Austin

Thanks for this article. I coach catchers at a 5A high school just north of Houston. I've had this question asked many times by parents (usually of freshman). I always responded with something similar. I myself never wore knee savers until I tore my meniscus. From that point on I always had them. Again, thanks for the article!

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