Thursday, September 23

Football equipment
By Dr. John Bergfeld and Dr. Jason L. Koh
Cleveland Clinic

Required equipment for NCAA football includes a NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) approved helmet, soft pads at least 0.5 inch thick, shoulder pads, hip pads, thigh pads and a mouthpiece.


Only a properly fitting helmet can provide appropriate protection. Helmets are made of a hard plastic shell and a suspension or padding system to absorb impact. The helmet should be inspected for cracks and defects, especially around the screws and rivets.

The helmet should be placed on the head by spreading the ear holes apart with fingers, and should fit snugly enough that a thumb can't be placed between the lining and the helmet, and only rotating slightly when the head is turned. The front lip of the helmet should be about 1 to 2 finger breadths above the eyebrows. An even pressure on the top of the head should be felt if the helmet is pressed on top. The back rim of the helmet should cover the occipital bone, but not pinch the neck. Jaw pads should fit snugly; the chin strap should be tight on both sides so the helmet can't slide

Football Helmet Fitting

Before fitting, you should have the athletes' hair cut at the length it will be throughout the season. Also, wet the hair down before fitting helmet. This will insure a proper fit.

Inspect the Helmet

Make sure the helmet is certified for the upcoming season. A sticker on the inside shell of the helmet will have the year it is certified for.

  1. First, make sure the ears are in line with the ear holes of the helmet. Next, make sure the front rim of the helmet is not more than two finger widths above the eyebrow.

  2. Make sure the helmet covers the base of the skull. Be sure that the back rim of the helmet does not cut into the back of the athlete's neck.

  3. Proper cheek pads are important in preventing side motion. This can be checked by holding the face mask and trying to turn the helmet side to side. Proper size cheek pads will not allow the helmet to rotate laterally. Also, while holding the face mask, move the helmet forward and backward to see if the helmet slides high on the forehead or down over the eyes. This would indicate an oversized helmet.

  4. Applying pressure to the top of the helmet, the coach or athletic trainer should check for minimal movement downward. Again a great deal of shifting may indicate too large of a helmet for the athlete. Or, too small if the helmet "pops" up off of the athlete's head. Last, check to make sure the chin strap is tight and centered on the athlete's chin.

Shoulder Pads

The distance from shoulder to shoulder should be measured, and the correct pad size selected from the manufacturer's chart. The pads should meet but not overlap. Loose pad straps can chafe, so they should be secured. There should be 1 to 2 finger widths between the neck and the pad. The pad should reach down in front to the nipple, and out to just beyond the shoulder. There should be minimal movement when shifted, and the arms should be free to raise overhead.

The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No one should act upon any information provided in this website without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician.

 More from ESPN...
Disclaimer: Please read