Tyler Flowers, Braves starting catcher, is part of a new company called Force3 Pro Gear, which offers the Force3 Defender mask with “S3 Shock Suspension.” This mask is special because it has shown a reduction in Severity Index in independent testing, and may help reduce the risk of concussions. The product is the brainchild of one of Flowers’ partners, Jason Klein, a 10-year minor league umpire himself. Concussion prevention is something every athlete should be taking very seriously, and this product may be the best mask out there for safety and peace of mind.
We got the full run-down from Tyler Flowers, who was kind enough to sit down with us during Spring Training to explain the Defender Mask. The sound quality was poor, so we transcribed some of it, and you can see Tyler demonstrating the product below.
WPW: What was it that brought the founders to this concept?
FLOWERS: Two of them are former umpires so they’re in a similar position as a catcher… They got tired of getting their bell rung all the time and having to miss time at what they love to do. They figured there had to be a better way so they put everything they had into it—time, effort, money and developed this revolutionary piece. I just chimed in with a couple of suggestions to kind of apply it to a catcher… I ended up with a mask that I put on, it feels the same as every mask that I’ve used in the past, but I know its gonna protect me a little bit better.
WPW: Can this help prevent concussions for catchers?
FLOWERS: At the catching position in particular, you’re at the most risk of having a 100mph ball hit you in the face… With this mask, the term for testing masks is Severity Index and our mask on average reduces that Severity Index by more than 50%. The easy analogy is that 100 mph fastball now feels like a 50 mph fastball. (For more info check out Force3ProGear.com)
WPW: Aside from the safety aspect, how does the Defender mask perform?
FLOWERS: We got it to the point that me putting this mask on versus ones I’ve used in the past is no different… The vision is actually a little bit bigger… To have something that feels the exact same as what you’re used to and can absorb that much more energy and alleviate any concern of having anything significant happen to you, concussion-wise or anything else… that’s a big relief and I think a lot of people will benefit from it. Not just in the sense of being injured, but mentally to kind of eliminate that fear. Especially with kids and parents of kids.
WPW: Its for sale right now. What players should be looking to get something like this? Is it just for big leaguers?
FLOWERS: Definitely not, I think it might even be more imperative for the youth and amateurs out there to protect themselves as best as they can. This is a game we all love to play. A lot of the pro guys are somewhat stuck in their ways, but we’ve already had a lot of interest in pro guys as well. When people see that they can alleviate a concern and protect themselves not just for now but for the future, life after baseball, which is the majority of our lives, you’ve got to take advantage of it. So its kind of foolish to not at least give it a shot and see what you think… I can attest that everyone is going to love it and they’re going to be that much more safe because of it… To eliminate that fear not only for the kids but for the parents, its going be a great value.
WPW: Couldn’t this be introduced to other sports like hockey, too?
FLOWERS: We do have intentions of evolving this technology for other sports. Obviously softball is the easiest one to transition to, but I see no reason why hockey can’t be on the horizon.
Watch the video to see the S3 Shock Suspension system (patent pending) up close. Just from the eye-ball test, doesn’t the suspension system make perfect sense? It seems logical and something that should be considered for any catcher at any level. Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself a little more cushion on impact?
To shop Force3 or see more about the mask, go to Force3ProGear.com. The mask has gotten plenty of media attention aside from WPW and you can check those out here. Tyler has been extremely accommodating to us, and I bet if you are respectful, he may even answer any questions you have about the product. Find him on Instagram at @tflowers25.