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Getting ready to start playing contact football? Well, you are going to need to protect yourself
from serious injury. Although football can be dangerous, there are a few mandatory pieces of
equipment you must have to keep vital parts protected, and allow everyone to fully enjoy the
great sport of football. The NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic
Equipment) is in place to ensure that everyone stays safe. We have listed the five critical pieces
of gear your child will need to stay safe and have fun.
Helmet (including mouth guard)
There are a few regulations when it comes to helmets that most people may not know, and
many do not follow as strictly as they should. For starters, every helmet MUST have a NOCSAE
Seal of Certification sticker on the back. Secondly, helmets should be reconditioned annually by
a licensed NAERA (National Athletic Equipment Reconditioning Association) technician. Players
should inspect their helmets, and face cages before wearing them each and every time.
Helmets should be replaced every three years, or if they are cracked in ANY way.
Cages should be replaced if bent, cracked, or rusting. Mouth guards must be worn, and should
be attached to the face mask. They should be fitted properly to protect the teeth and jaw. Mouth
guards help to prevent head injuries as well, by reducing further trauma to the brain from
impact. Helmets are the most critical piece of gear because it protects your brain, which is the
most important part of your body. The other parts are important too, and will be adequately
protected, but the head is of grave importance where fullcontact sport is concerned.
Proper footwear is invaluable to keeping your feet firmly secured to the turf during the games
and practices. Losing your footing can cause muscles, tendons and other vital moving parts to
be damaged, torn or strained. They also protect the feet against injury from being stepped on by
other players wearing cleats.
Shoulder Pads (with neck collar/roll)
The position your child will be playing will determine the type of shoulder pads that you will
need. There are two types of pads, cantilever and flat. The cantilever or multilayered pads are
larger, and designed for playing high impact positions such as linebackers, and linemen. Flat
pads are reserved for quarterbacks, kickers, and receivers who need more range of motion to
be successful in their highly skilled positions, but still need adequate protection against injury.
Leg & Hip Pads
These pads fit inside the player’s pants to protect the hips and thighs during tackles. These
pads are relatively small compared to the level of protection provided by shoulder pads and
helmets, but they are still important in protecting against fractures, bruised, and tissue damage.
Athletic Cup (jockstrap)
Last but certainly not least, is the athletic supporter, the cup, the jockstrap. These aren’t just for
the boys either. Everyone needs to protect his or her reproductive organs from injury. They are
very fragile and need special equipment to make sure no permanent damage is done.
The name of the game is FUN, but it is never fun to get injured. These five pieces of youth
football gear will help keep you protected in the best possible way. Prevention is the best
strategy because injuries do happen, that is the reality of a full contact sport or even noncontact
sports. The governing bodies of youth football in the USA have made it mandatory for our
children to be properly equipped to play the game America loves so much.