As many as 36 million kids play organized sports every year, and while the primary reason for joining these teams is often health and enjoyment, safety is certainly the number one concern. As many as 87% of parents worry about their children being injured during sports games and practice, which is why the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has created specific guidelines to ensure the safety of participating children.
American football can be a particularly dangerous contact sport, so all players are required to wear protective types of youth football gear. All types of youth football equipment — including shoulder, hip, tailbone, thigh, kidney, and knee pads — must meet the standards set by the NFHS and NOCSAE.
Types of Youth Football Gear
- Helmet: The helmet is arguably the most important piece of equipment for a football player. It protects parts of the head from collision with other players, the ground, and the ball. There are various types of football helmets, which differ in padding structure.
- Face Mask: The face mask is designed to protect the face from collisions. It is particularly important in protecting the nose. Like the helmet, the face mask comes in a number of styles and will differ depending on the player’s position because different positions pose different risks.
- Shoulder Pads: Shoulder pads protect the shoulders, back, and chest. Because of the high-contact nature of the sport, these pads take the most abuse throughout the course of a game.
- Hip Pads: The hip and tailbone pad are made out of foam and are held in place by the girdle.
- Thigh and Knee Pads: These are worn underneath the pants. The thigh pads protect the quadricep muscles while the knee pads are made of shock-absorbing material to cover the knees.
- Mouth Guard: The mouthpiece protects players’ teeth and also prevents concussions resulting from blows to the head.
In the United States, 66% of boys and 52% of girls play organized sports. Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of the participating children, so organized teams are always held to a specific set of standards in order to protect the players from harm. To learn more about the types of youth football equipment, talk to your child’s coach or sports organization.