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The helmet is easily the most important piece of equipment for a football player. If there were no helmets the game would be played in a different way – milder and less intense. The helmet allows the hard contact that defines American football – and it has become an iconic symbol of the sport.


Back in the early 1900s the helmets were made of padded leather and did not have any facial protection. This started to change in the 1950s when the first plastic helmets were introduced. In order to prevent the many broken noses and teeth, metal bars across the face were introduced. This protective device has evolved into the facemasks we see today.

The helmet itself has also undergone a variety of developments, from added air padding inside the helmet, to four point chinstraps that ensure a tight fit. The newest models on the market offer very advanced shock absorbing techniques that significantly reduce the risk of injuries and concussions.


When choosing a helmet keep in mind that you are investing in protection for your most vital body part, the brain. Therefore you should choose the model carefully, and make sure that you get tight fitting size, with a facemask that fits your position and role on the field.


Types of helmets

Today’s football helmets offer superior protection for the head and come in a variety of models with different padding systems. It is important to know the different components when purchasing a football helmet.



These typically use a different type of plastic than adult helmets, such as ABS, which is plenty durable, but less expensive than tougher plastics used in adult helmets.



Adult helmets generally use a Lexan Polycarbonate shell, a very resilient material.


Air Systems

The top model helmet manufacturers offer models with an air system liner. This is designed to return the air system to its original state after a collision much more rapidly than foams or straps. Air systems withstand repeated blows better than helmets that use just foam pads. In addition, air systems are generally more comfortable and provide for an easy fit since air can be adjusted to tighten the helmet to your head’s specific shape.



Helmets come with a series of pads, usually foam, that further cushion the head, jaw and nose. These pads usually come standard with any helmet that you buy. Most pads are designed specifically for each helmet model. Pads include front and back sizes to adjust the helmet’s fit. You can find pads with different thickness, ranging from 1/2 to 1 inch, to allow you to select the firmness that you prefer.


Further options

You may also opt for further protection, in the form of a plastic visor to screen your eyes. Also available are hard cup chinstraps, which give you a more comfortable fitting strap, as well as added protection for your chin and jaw

Chinstraps perform two functions. First, they protect the chin area, with a cup that fits snugly underneath and around the chin. Second, the straps snap onto your helmet to hold it firmly on your head. That’s why it’s crucial to keep it centered and without slack.


Finding your Helmet size

Have someone help measure you with a measuring tape at 1” above the eyebrows to determine the size of your head. This then will correspond to the sizes offered in helmet models.


The front of the helmet should sit 1” above your eyebrow. This is the point at which the head was measured and is the point at which you can encompass the largest percentage of head mass.

When pressing downward with the fingers interlocked on the top of the helmet, the pressure should be on the crown of the head and not on the brow.


The chinstrap should be exactly centered and without slack to anchor your helmet properly Remember that the different manufactures helmets are not build the same way. The inside shape vary depending on brand and model. If possible it’s always a good idea to try the different models in the club or to call or write American Sports Outlet for more information.



NOCSAE stands for the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, a voluntary organization that has developed standards for a variety of sports protective equipment. Any helmet that bears the NOCSAE seal shows that the manufacturer has met the standards at the time the helmet was manufactured.