The most necessary equipment for football players is that which gives you the most safety. After that, you’ll want to purchase items that enhance your performance. Regardless of whether you are outfitting someone for youth, scholastic or professional football, the essential pieces of equipment remain the same.
The helmet is the single most important piece of equipment for football players because of the serious risk of head injuries for players. Most people can recover from a sprained ankle or broken bone. Even serious knee injuries aren’t life threatening. Helmets are the one piece of equipment you should not buy used. If you are buying a used helmet or will be given one by your team, make sure it has been certified as reconditioned. Test the helmet with the chin strip snapped closed and your mouth guard in.
Check the facemask to ensure it is not loose, cracked, bent or broken. Check the air system or foam padding inside the helmet to make sure everything is intact. Adding a visor reduces the chances that another player’s fingers accidently go into your eyes during close-contact plays. Buying or examining a re-conditioned football helmet is a serious task. Dick’s Sporting Goods provides a free, detailed guide for buying any type of helmet at its website.
To decrease bruises and the pain caused by hard hits, you will need a variety of protective pads. The largest and most expensive are shoulder pads, which protect not only your shoulder, but your collarbone, as well. Players who block, tackle and hit less, usually quarterbacks and receivers, wear flat shoulder pads, which provide less protection but more mobility. Other players wear cantilevered shoulder pads for more protection. Leg pads fit into slots on the inside of your pants, and protect your hips and thighs. Kneepads go directly over your knees. Make sure any pads you buy fit the pants you will be wearing. If you are playing on artificial turf, elbow pads are essential for preventing repeated burns and scrapes. For added protection of your neck, consider purchasing a neck pad, which you wear between your shoulder pads and helmet. Linebackers or defensive lineman usually use these.
A mouth guard is another very important piece of equipment because it helps prevent you from biting your tongue. You can buy cheaper, stock mouth guards or ones that are unique to you. Some allow you to boil the material in hot water and mold the guard to your teeth pattern for a snug fit. You can also have an orthodontist make you a custom mouth guard.
Consider the surface on which you’ll be playing when you buy shoes. If you will be playing on natural grass in wet weather, you may want cleats. Some football shoes let you attach cleats and take them out, depending on what surface you’ll be playing. If you will only play on turf, you won’t need cleats. High tops give you more ankle support, while mid-cut and low-cut give you more flexibility. Football shoes come in different materials with different construction, based on what position you’ll be playing.