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Shoulder Pads

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The shoulder pads give football players the characteristic broad-shouldered look, but they also serve a much more important purpose. The pads are an excellent form of body-amour, which allows the wearer to collide with others at high speed, with little chance of injury. Ask any football player and he will tell you, that he loves his pads. Because they give the wearer the security and feeling of power that it takes to play this game. 



Modern shoulder pads consist of shock absorbing foam padding, covered by a hard plastic shell. The pads are strapped around the chest underneath the armpits, with elastic or vinyl straps to secure at tight fit. When a player hits something, the impact is spread throughout the shoulder pad, and the player will hardly feel anything.



There are a number of different pads designed with the football positions in mind. For example a quarterback or defensive back need light flexible pads, that don’t hinder their movements. Whereas a lineman may well need some extra protection and firmer pads, that don’t give opponents anything to hold on to. So when choosing pads it is important to keep the position in mind, as well as getting the correct size.


The Quarterback should look for a lightweight pad that won’t ride up high to limit your head movement or field of vision. It is also very important that the throwing motion is not restricted.


If you play defensive back, tailback or wide receiver, you want a pad that’s lightweight and won’t slow you down, while still absorbing the hits that you will take. These pads also are designed to provide flexibility and unrestricted movement.


Positions with regular contact; Fullbacks, linebackers and tight ends, should consider pads that use a plated front rather than laces. Plated fronts do not require as much adjustment after each hit. Some pads also come with vinyl buckles instead of elasticized straps to more securely fasten the pad under the arm.


If you are a lineman who plays in the trenches, you need a streamlined pad that uses fewer flaps and epaulets (the flaps that extend over the shoulder area) to prevent other players from grabbing and pulling on your pads. Linemen pads often use vinyl buckles to keep them more securely fastened.


As for elastic straps vs. vinyl buckles, consider that elastic needs to be adjusted and replaced after heavy usage. However, elastic may be preferred since it expands and contracts more easily than vinyl buckles when you breathe.


Finding your Size

To determine the size pad that best suits you, stand up straight with your arms at your side. Measure across your back from where you feel the shoulder bone on one side to where the bone extends on the opposite side (Round up to the next half-inch.) For youth pads you will also need to factor in chest size and weight.