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Protective Gear

Protective Gear

     During the game of football, players must protect themselves from the often violent bodily contact that characterizes football. Players wear protective gear, including lightweight plasticized padding covering the thighs, hips, shoulders, knees, and often the ribs, forearms and hands. Players also wear plastic helmets with guards that cover most of the face.

Please click here for our section on Helmets.

     Another piece of gear that a player can use to protect his head and neck is a neck roll. This foam roll fits around the back part of the jersey's neckline, and is its purpose is to protect the head from being pushed too far backward or to lessen the blow when the head is snapped backward.

     There are four pieces of equipment that protect the player's body which include shoulder pads, hip pads, thigh pads, knee pads.

     The shoulder pads are probably the most intricate pieces of equipment that the players wear. Shoulder pads consist of a hard plastic shell with foam padding underneath. The pads fit over the shoulders and the chest and rib area, and are secured with various snaps and buckles. Shoulder pads are what give football players their "broad-shoulder" look.

The shoulder pads do two things for the player:

1) They absorb some of the shock of impact through deformation. The pads at the shoulders are strung on tight webbing and deform on impact.

2) They distribute the shock through a larger area so there is less pressure at the point of impact.
To help protect the ribs, there is hard plastic in the front and back, as well as a flak-jacket extension used by players with a lot of exposure. For players like linemen, special attachments make the pads harder to use as handholds. The interior of a set of shoulder pads is padded with foam

     The shoulder pads are covered by a jersey. Without the pads, the jersey is usually pretty big on players. But the jersey is cut so that when the player suits up with pads, it is tight-fitting.

     Below the waist, the players choose pads depending on their position and injuries. A fully suited player would have several types of pads, including hip pads, knee pads and thigh pads. Hip pads protect players' hip and pelvic bones in hard falls. Thigh and knee pads are inserted into pockets on the inside of the player's pants prior to suiting up.