Performance

Parents’ Guide to Head-to-Toe Football Gear

By Geoff Griffin

At one time, the question of what football equipment to purchase focused on performance and effectiveness. Over the last few years, with rising concern about the long-term effects of brain trauma, the focus has moved to safety and protection, particularly in the area of head injuries. Football equipment companies have spent recent years focusing their efforts on creating products that combine safety and performance. Consider the following five products for outfitting your youth football player for the coming season. Three are focused on safety, while two will let your kid look like a pro on the turf.

Helmets

Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet

This youth football helmet (also available in varsity sizes) came about after Riddell combined their research of over 2 million on-field data impact points and the latest in helmet technology to create a product that earned 5 stars (the best possible rating) from Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings. SpeedFlex is part of Riddell’s “Smarter Football” initiative which has also led to the development of other safety products and equipment grants to programs around the country to try those products. Flexibility is the main goal as the shell, face mask and face mask attachment system reduce the amount of force that is transferred to the athlete. Five-point custom inflation allows for air inflation and a custom fit in the crown, back, side, jaw pads and occipital lock, improving both fit and security

Riddell.com | $324.99
Beam.vt.edu/helmet

Mouthguards

Prevent Biometrics Head Impact Monitor Mouthguard

Parents, coaches and teams can know in real-time not only when a player has suffered a head impact, but also the force, location and direction when using this mouthguard system. The Prevent Biometrics system places a traditional mouthguard within a mouth-shaped, flexible, shock-resistant circuit board that is able to measure head impacts. The mouthpiece has wireless syncing technology so that a parent, coach or trainer can download an app on their phone and see when a player has a head impact. Adults can pre-set an impact threshold that will provide a warning when an impact reaches a certain level, and team personnel can immediately pull the player for treatment protocols.

Boil and Bite Mouthguard | $99
Custom Fabricated Mouthguard | $299
PreventBiometrics.com

Shoulder Pads

Schutt Mid Flex 4.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pads

While shoulder pads are made for specific positions at the higher levels of football, at the youth level, players might not have a specialty yet. The Schutt Mid Flex 4.0 is designed to let them try a number of different spots. The highly rated Mid Flex 4.0 combines dual density padding for protection along with breathable mesh and vent holes to keep players cool and comfortable. The arch design on the back allows for freedom of movement while still cushioning against impact..

www.schuttstore.com | $95.99

Cleats

UA Hammer Mid Rubber Molded Jr. Cleats

Under Armour has taken over the sports world with their clothing but has also made a splash in youth football with their UA Hammer Mid Rubber Molded Jr. cleats. Available in youth sizes 2-13 and adult sizes 1-7, the lightweight 9.5 ounce shoe has rubber molded cleats that give good traction on a variety of natural and artificial surfaces. The high-top style provides for extra ankle support. The synthetic upper portion of the shoe is durable and supportive, but most importantly to the player in your life, looks so cool everyone will think he’s faster than he really is.

UnderArmour.com |$44.99

Gloves

Nike Vapor Jet 5.0 Gloves

Anyone who handles the ball, particularly receivers, will want to get all the control they can on the pigskin with a set of Nike Vapor Jet 5.0 football gloves. The unique combination of breathability and grip comes in black, red, blue and white, with the famous “Swoosh” on the back of the hand. Nike’s “Magnigrip” is a tacky, coated, surface that covers both the fingers and palms of these gloves. The breathable mesh on the back lets hands stay comfortable between plays. There is lightweight padding to cushion the thumb and an adjustable closure strap.

Nike.com | $35