More than any other game in professional sports, football symbolizes courage, bravery and teamwork. As such, football is etched into the American psyche. Football is also one of the most hands-on, rough-and-tumble sports you can play.
Consequently, bodily injuries often come with the territory. With all the tackling that goes on during each game, uniforms are designed to protect vital joints and body parts. While there's no way to make the game free of danger, the bulky, padded gear players are required to wear can seriously reduce the risk of broken bones, cracked knee caps or concussions. According to a 2011 study by The American Journal of Sports and Medicine, there are 60 concussions for every 100,000 games or practices of high school football. Therefore, the following list of items are among the essential things to buy at a football equipment store.
What Equipment Is Needed to Play Football
Out of all the professional sports, football has the most elaborate uniform essentials. The reason for this is simple: Football is a rough and admittedly dangerous sports, and players could easily get injured without all the complex protective gear. While each team has its own colors, the following football equipment checklist covers the basic items that need to be included in all — or at least some, depending on a player's position — uniforms:
- Helmet. The most important item on any football equipment list is a helmet, which protects the head from injury during games and practice. Helmets are designed to protect the head from impact caused by flying balls as well as blunt force from the ground and other players.
- Jockstrap and cup. Protecting the groin is crucial in a game of football, which can be hazardous to any region that incurs severe impact. With a cup worn for protection at all times on the field, there's less risk of injury to this sensitive area.
- Mouth guard. To protect the mouth and teeth during a game, a mouth guard is essential for the field. One hit to the jaw or lips can knock out a tooth, while the jaw could easily get broken during a rough field encounter if not protected by a mouth piece that fits.
- Thigh, hip and knee pads. Arms and legs are placed through various trials on the field that joints aren't naturally built to endure. To ensure the knees and elbows aren't subject to undue force that could break the bones or strain the cartilage, pads along these joints are among the more essential football accessories.
- Shoulder pads. Strong shoulders are crucial in just about any type of sport, especially football. However, no player's shoulders are strong enough to withstand the force of tackles unscathed. With shoulder pads to protect this crucial area of the body, a player is less likely to miss games due to torn ligaments or muscle strain in this area.
- Gloves. As one of the world's most hands-on sports, it's important that football players keep their hands free of injury. Certain players are more susceptible to hand injury than others, including receivers and linemen. For the former, partial gloves that cover the palms allow for easier ball catching. For linemen, gloves often cover the entire hand.
- Neck collars/neck roll. For linebackers and defensive linemen, neck rolls help protect the neck and shoulders when things get rough. Given all the rough and tumble of football, the neck guard can make all the difference between comfort and soreness between games.
- Cleats. Football requires as much traction as possible, the likes of which cannot be gained with ordinary footwear. In addition to providing ankle protection, football cleats have specially grooved soles for utmost traction on the playing field.
No football equipment list would be complete without mentioning that size and proper fitting are important for each item selected. Whether you buy football equipment online or in a store, make sure the above parts are neither too tight nor too loose for a comfortable and safe game.
How to Choose the Right Kind of Football Equipment
The purpose of football gear is to keep the body safe during each game. If any gear piece is loose, worn or defective in any way, it could compromise a player's safety. Therefore, it's crucial to check the size and inspect the quality of any piece of gear before making a purchase. When you buy football equipment online, it's important to verify the seller's reputation and product guarantees:
- Sizing. Not all players are uniform in height and girth. That means it's crucial for each player to have his own measurements taken into account when purchasing football accessories or being fitted for uniform pieces. Make sure any helmet, pad, neck roll or mouth piece you or your son wears is properly aligned to the measurements of the body.
- Quality. As with products in any market, it's important to inspect the football gear from any given manufacturer for quality. When you buy football equipment online, verify the products they sell are new. If you do purchase anything secondhand, verify that the products in question are in optimal working condition. If you're unsure about a particular brand, research the company online for information about their product quality and overall reputation with customers.
- Fitting. The fit of each football uniform piece is crucial for several reasons. By fitting perfectly, there's little risk of a piece falling off in the course of a game and endangering the player. By the same token, a properly fitted piece is unlikely to cause discomfort on the field. Moreover, pieces that fit properly provide maximum protection during the most grueling moments of each game.
- Condition. The protective quality of any piece of football gear is reliant on the condition. If a helmet is old or worn, it's unlikely to provide the same quality of head protection as a newer helmet. Similarly, worn knee pads are unlikely to offer adequate shock absorption during the rough and tumble of a football game.
- By position. You’ll find football shoulder pads in either cantilevered or flat. Cantilevered pads are bigger, which makes them suitable for players such as linebackers, who endure more head-on collisions. The flat pads are smaller and less confining, so they are more appropriate for receivers and quarterbacks. Gloves also differ by position, as linemen need full gloves that cover the hand, whereas receivers need some amount of cutaway in the gloves to allow for more freedom of hand movement.
Football equipment stores generally list the most pertinent information about the measurements of a given item. If for any reason you don't see this information listed on a website or product package, and customer service people cannot answer your inquiry, choose another seller. There's no point wasting money and risking your body on football equipment that is poorly made, improperly fitted or otherwise too worn for use on the field. Parents of young players should be especially concerned. According to a 2009 study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 215,000 children aged five to 14 suffered serious injuries as a result of playing football.
Difference Between Brands
Each brand that makes football equipment prides itself on individualism, yet there are certain characteristics that separate the good from the bad in the overall market. Brands that are known to offer good products are bound by a commitment to quality, which encompasses the manner in which gear is produced, as well as the material that goes into each item. Good products are also put through rigorous tests before they hit the stores. Furthermore, brands that are well esteemed in the marketplace are known for their innovation. Here’s what to look for:
- Quality. The primary difference between reputable and disreputable brands is quality. Some football gear brands make quality their top priority, while others are simply out to make a fast buck with the least amount of investment. Therefore, while certain brands have earned a reputation for offering well-made products that endure the rough and tumble of the football field, other brands are notorious for selling cheap products that either fail constantly or wear out quickly.
- Materials. The key to any piece of football gear that lasts for several years is strong material. From the foam within each pad to the material that holds each neck roll or shoulder pad together, materials need to be strong and durable. Unfortunately, not all brands use the strongest materials, so there are pads on the market that sometimes fail after a few short months of only moderate use. That means it's important to check whether a given item consists of strong, flexible, durable material when you buy football gear online or in a store.
- Testing. Any football product of true value will be tested time and again by the manufacturer for quality assurance. Before any product is shipped out for sale, it's essential that tests be performed for shock absorption and durability. Each time a new line of shoulder pads or helmets are produced, they're put through the test on the field to ensure the materials and design are strong enough to endure the impacts of the game. Granted, not all companies put their products through reliable testing — some do cut corners to save on overhead. But to all the reputable equipment makers, testing is one of the bedrocks of football gear production.
- Innovation. Aside from unmistakable quality, the football product brands that have risen to the top of the market have one thing in common: innovation. As materials have improved over the years, the world's leading brands have produced new and better football gear designs. As a result, players have enjoyed greater comfort, flexibility and protection while out on the field.
Basically, football stores online and brick-and-mortar stores must only carry products that meet the preceding criteria to serve customers well. Each time you buy football equipment in a store you've never visited before, check the quality of the products on the shelves or in the catalog, and familiarize yourself with the most reputable suppliers in the market like Schuylkill Valley Sports.
How Often to Buy New Football Gear
There's no exact time at which a given piece of football gear will be replaced because it all depends on what comes first: the expiration of the item or severe damage that could render the item unusable. However, a good rule of thumb is to replace equipment every three years, regardless of whether signs of wear or damage are present. If an item gets damaged or seems worn at an earlier date, though, it should be replaced then and there. Look for the following:
- Wear. A piece of football gear should be replaced before it wears down. Once a helmet or pair of knee pads lose their shock absorption, the safety value is rendered minimal. Therefore, the pieces to your football uniform should be inspected regularly — at least once per week, if not after each game — for any starting signs of wear and replaced as needed.
- Tear. Once a piece of football gear has torn, it shouldn't be worn. With all the heavy rough and tumble of a given game, it's too risky to step onto the field without adequate protective gear. Even with a small crack, a helmet could get split in two in a blunt impact scenario. Likewise, essentials like cups, mouth pieces and neck rolls can fail in the course of a game if they're not intact from the start.
- Outgrowth. With football teams most often consisting of youth players, bodily growth is a constant factor. Between the ages of 12 and 15, a boy might pass through four different uniform sizes. Therefore, until a player reaches his adult height, he needs to have his height and girth measured constantly so gear pieces can be replaced and refitted as needed. Just keep in mind adult players can also outgrow certain gear pieces due to weight gain or loss over the course of a season.
- Expiration. Regardless of whether an item visibly wears down or winds up torn, it’s a good idea to replace a piece of football gear every three years. Beyond that timeframe, a helmet or pad is less likely to have sufficient shock absorption due to the number of times the item will have incurred blunt impact — and you wouldn't want to land on your knees without adequate padding to soften the blow.
- Design improvements. A piece of football gear could also be rendered outdated due to improvements in design. One example would be football helmets, which entered a new phase of design during the late 2000s with the introduction of air-filled shock absorbers. Simply put, when football equipment manufacturers release newly improved products that offer greater comfort and protection than prior designs, it's time to trade up.
As football's adult followers most certainly know, a few years is a long time in this sport. Players come and go, while underdogs become winners and vice versa. Throughout these changes, gear pieces get worn, torn and sometimes even outmoded. In any case, you'll need to frequent a football store online or in your area every now and then for as long as you or your son remains active in the game.
Other Football Accessories That May Be Needed
In addition to the basic items of a football uniform, other things might be needed before a game or even a practice can commence. Some of these football accessories provide additional protection to the body, while certain items make it easier to maintain the gear and navigate the field. The following items are among those we offer at SV Sports' online football store:
- Cleat cleaner. It's no secret that cleats can get incredibly dirty out on the playing field. Whether the ground is dry or damp, the grooves of each sole can get encrusted with dirt and mud. If too much buildup occurs, it can rob the cleats of their traction, which makes it necessary to have a cleat cleaner nearby.
- Helmet pump. In modern helmets, shock absorption is provided through air padding. Through the rough and tumble of a given football game, the padding can get slightly deflated. With a daily shot of air from a helmet pump, your head has better protection on subsequent rounds in the field.
- Handwarmer. Depending on the time of year or day in question, temperatures can get cold on the field. To ensure hands and wrists don't freeze during long games in cold weather, the handwarmer is a convenient accessory that wraps around the waist. Equipped with horizontal pockets in front, the handwarmer is good for whenever your hands aren't tied to game activities.
- Arm sleeve. Forearms are mostly bare in football, but there are certain weather conditions where this can be uncomfortable. For days when temperatures are cool, an arm sleeve keeps the forearms warm without sacrificing flexibility. Arm sleeves also offer added protection during the football roughness.
- Training cones. When young players are being trained, field markers are necessary to keep things within proper boundaries. With brightly-colored training cones in place, there's no mistaking the boundaries on a football field.
- Football belt. While not often the focus of attention, belts can be a complementary part of any football uniform. The benefits of belts are twofold: to display the colors of the team and to keep football pants from sagging.
When shopping for any of the preceding wearable items such as handwarmers and arm sleeves, be sure to check the measurements. Whether you buy from online football stores or from a local outlet, pay attention to whether an item is made for adult or younger players.
Gear That Is Typically Provided by the Organizations You Play For
People sometimes ask "what equipment do you need to play football?" The thing is, a lot of players find this out once they're accepted onto a team because the basic items of a football uniform are provided by the organization. For high school, college and professional teams alike, it's up to the organization to buy the following football accessories online for each player:
- Jerseys. Football jerseys are provided by the organization in the colors of the team, with each jersey designated by number to the corresponding player.
- Helmets. In addition to helmets for each player, organizations generally have a certain number of spare helmets on hand. On professional teams, helmets are routinely inspected for quality and air pressure. At certain middle schools and high schools, however, helmets have been found to be old and defective. Therefore, it's crucial for parents and young players to press schools on the issue of safety standards for football gear.
- Pads. The padding pieces for the shoulders, hips and knees are provided by football organizations to each player, though each piece must be regularly inspected for quality. If a player has any discomfort with a given pad, the issue should be reported immediately.
As long as a group of football players are part of an organization, most of the items that need to be purchased individually are matters of personal comfort and preference. If you're wondering where to buy football gear that isn't provided by an organization, look no further than Schuylkill Valley Sports.
Why You Should Purchase From Schuylkill Valley Sports
Football shopping can be a bit time consuming unless you know where to buy football equipment all in one place. Out of all the places where you can go to buy football accessories online, Schuylkill Valley Sports has one of the widest selections of top quality products. From footwear and apparel to gift cards and accessories, we carry a vast range of sporting items for men, women and children. To learn more about our inventory, visit our product pages today.