Football Equipment

How to shop for football pads, shoes and helmets

Football is an enormously popular sport, but it can also be dangerous. If you play, it's important that you carefully select your football equipment based on the position you play to reduce your risk of injury while helping you perform your best on the field. There are special considerations to keep in mind when it comes to football pads for each position, and specialized football shoes are also strongly recommended to help you keep your footing on the field.

Football Pads: Positional Considerations

A complete set of football equipment includes shoulder pads, a helmet, thigh pads, knee pads, forearm pads, rib pads, hip pads and neck rolls or collar pads. It's important to use all of these to give yourself the most protection on the field.

Here's what to look for, based on the position you play:

  • Quarterback. A quarterback needs lighter pads that provide excellent mobility. However, it is very important that you protect your shoulders if you're a quarterback, as you'll get hit frequently and injuries can be a problem. Consider shoulder pads made for defensive backs or running backs, as they provide better protection, especially if your team plays a heavy running game and you don't need to throw very far or very often.
  • Skill positions. For these positions, football pads that absorb blows effectively without slowing you down or impeding your range of motion are strongly recommended. Wide receivers, running backs and other players who handle the ball in offensive situations should also wear specially contoured football gloves. This improves grip and reduces the likelihood of fumbling or being stripped of the ball.
  • Linemen. Offensive and defensive linemen need heavier-duty pads. There's less running involved in a lineman's game, so mobility isn't as important as it is for quarterbacks and other skill positions. Choose thicker, heavier shoulder pads to absorb blows.
  • Kickers. While an important member, a team's place kicker sees limited action and doesn't get hit very often. Most kickers use quarterback-style pads that are light and offer excellent mobility.

For football, cleats are the best shoes. Football cleats dig into the turf, helping you keep your footing and turn corners on a dime during play.