How to Fit Football Equipment

Fitting Football Helmets

For the best fit the athlete should wet down their hair to recreate a practice/game situation. As the athlete sweats the hair becomes wet and the fit of the helmet may change.

The athlete should be instructed to read the WARNING label on the helmet and be sure they understand what is stated on the label. The athlete's head is next measured with a cloth measuring tape one inch (1") above the eyebrows and around the largest part of the head.

Fit the athlete with the appropriate shell (S, M, or L), have the athlete pull the helmet out by the ear holes and roll the helmet onto their head.

The helmet should sit on the head 1" above the eyebrows and the jawpads should fit snugly against the cheeks. Jawpads come in various sizes and can be interchanged between helmets.

The chin strap should be fitted next. To do this, place the chin strap on the chin and adjust and attach the front straps. The straps should fit snugly with no slack. Fit the back straps in the same fashion. Air should be inserted into the bladder(s) of the helmet for fitting purposes via a Hand pump. The helmet should fit snugly but comfortably.

At this point the helmet should be rotated. Holding the sides of the helmet, have the athlete hold their head still and rotate the helmet while watching that the helmet does not slide on the athlete, but the skin of the forehead moves with the helmet. Also be sure that the jawpads fit snugly.

The player should inspect their helmet everyday for proper fit and maintenance. Start by looking inside the helmet for any cracking in the air bladders, or padding. Inspect the outside for any loose screws. The athlete should press down on the top of the helmet to be sure there is enough air in the helmet, and be sure the helmet does not slide but moves with the athlete. The chin strap should also fit snugly with no slack.

Athletes should ALWAYS wear their mouthguards! Mouthguards are a protective device and should not be altered to decrease their protective properties.

Fitting Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads are designed to protect the shoulder joint. The typical point of impact is at the AC joint (acromioclavicular joint). Therefore, the pads should be fitted properly to provide protection for the shoulder.

The athlete should stand facing away from the staff member. The athlete is measured from shoulder to shoulder, the tip of the left humerus to the tip of the right humerus. This measurement is the guide for what size pads the athlete should wear. Sizes go by numbers (number of inches = shoulder pad size). Pick a pair of pads and have the athlete put them on.

Fitting Neck Rolls

Neck rolls should be used for protective purposes not for a look that the athlete is going for. The neck rolls can play a valuable role but should not be relied on to protect the athlete from injury. Safe play and execution of proper technique are the best defenses against injury.

If an athlete has a preexisting condition that would require a neck roll the athlete should be fitted by a staff member with experience with the fitting and attaching the neck roll to the shoulder pads. The neck rolls should be fitted in their positions.