Football helmet buying guide
How to buy a football helmet
Football is a traditional American game that involves strategy, rough contact and finesse in execution The game has existed in the U.S. since the late 1800's and has evolved in its rules, professionalism and its safety equipment. Football helmets, invented in the 1920's, are the centerpiece of the football safety today. Like other team sports gear, football helmet styles have evolved with the game and help prevent life-threatening injuries. There are many different helmets available to choose from, and knowing how to buy a football helmet can help you find the best helmet to buy for your needs
>> Who will be using the football helmet?
When making football helmet comparisons, you'll notice the type and size will vary, depending on whether or not the helmet is going to be used by youth or adult players. Youth players typically play either flag or two-hand touch football, so they will require a lightly padded helmet, if they use one at all, since there is very little chance for high-impact collisions during the game. Adult players playing full-tackle games will benefit greatly from choosing the top-rated football helmets to provide the maximum amount of protection in case of hard hits.
>> Consider football helmet designs
Most helmets are made up of three parts: the shell, the face mask and the padding. The shell of the helmet is the hard outer area, and it's usually available for purchase in a wide variety of colors and designs. It's likely, though, that your team has a standard shell design. The face mask is the frontal part of the helmet and typically consists of several small bars that offer increased protection levels.
Typically, there are only two options when it comes to the padding. Padding for the helmet will either be inflatable or pre-sized and interchangeable. Inflatable pads inside the helmet are pumped to ensure that it stays firmly in place as you move your head. If the helmet uses pads, they will come in different sizes to customize the fit. You always have the option to purchase either thicker or thinner pads in order to create a better fit.
Interchangeable padding is usually made of one of two types of materials:
Thermoplastic urethane (TPU) foam
- Doesn't require compression time or a "break-in" period, as opposed to regular foam
- Absorbs a significant amount of shock upon impact
- Offered by select brands
Vinyl nitrile foam
- Efficient shock absorption
- Comfortably protects the athlete
- Might need to break in, so padding is not too tight against the head
>> Determine the desired level of facemask protection
When learning how to buy a football helmet and football equipment, it's important to determine the desired level of facemask protection. Different types of football helmets offer varying levels of protection. Helmets that offer only oral protection provide players with a wide field of view. Running backs and tight ends can benefit from helmets that offer both jaw and oral protection. These types of football helmets offer additional protection for when the player is both blocking and hitting during the game. In addition, football helmet styles with nose, jaw, and oral protection are best suited for linemen and other players that constantly experience hard hits during play.
>> Ensure the proper fit of the football helmet
A helmet must fit your head properly to provide adequate protection. Realizing this, manufacturers provide a wide range of helmet sizes. Take the time to make an accurate measurement of your head, and then cross-reference the measurements with a size chart to ensure the correct fit. To measure your head, simply take a measuring tape and wrap it around the head approximately one inch above the eyebrows and record the circumference. Once you have recorded this number, you can begin shopping for football helmets. When you try on helmets, make sure it rests just above your eyebrows and you can swing the head from left to right without the helmet sliding out of place.
>> Consider certification
Each football helmet in the United States should have a NOCSAE certification. This stands for the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. The NOCSAE is a voluntary organization that has developed standards for a variety of sports protective equipment. While this is not necessarily required, the seal confirms that the helmet has met minimum safety standards for athletic wear. Helmets that do not bear this symbol are generally not recommended for use on the field.
>> Are additional accessories needed?
The use of additional accessories will increase your protection, helping you stay healthy and compete effectively. If you choose to purchase a helmet with inflatable pads, then you'll also need to purchase a helmet pump. Mouth guards rest inside of the mouth and protect the teeth and gums from injury during impact with other players or the football. Chin straps are both affordable and easy to use, and help to keep the helmet in place during rigorous play. Eye shields placed inside of the facemask are the newest accessory. They're gaining in popularity, both because they give players extra eye protection and can reduce glare while still allowing a clear line of vision.
With the information in this football helmet buying guide, you can find the right helmet. Make your decision based on your specific needs and estimated impact levels in order to determine the best football helmet for you.