The helmet is the most essential piece of protective equipment in tackle football. Football helmets cover the player’s head and face, and minimize the risk of suffering concussions or other head and facial injuries during football games. We will discuss the basics of football helmets, their benefits, types, and popular brands.
Benefits of Football Helmets
The main use of football helmets is to protect players’ heads and facial areas. They are typically used in tackle football games. The helmets protect player’s heads from player contact and helmet-to-helmet impact during a game or practice.
Football helmets have a hard plastic or polycarbonate shell with interior padding to protect players from contact to the head. Helmets also include multi-bar facemasks and a chinstrap to protect the front of the player’s face.
Over the years, football helmet designs have become more advanced to reduce the frequency of concussions and CTE suffered by football players. While the technology has come a long way, helmets are not a guarantee against head injuries in the sport.
Things To Consider
When looking for a football helmet, you'll want to consider the following:
- What size football helmet do you need?
- How much are you looking to spend on a football helmet?
- What position do you play?
- What level of football are you playing?
What are you looking for in a football helmet?
- Lightweight design
- Maximum protection
- Youth league use
- High school or college league use
Football can come in many different forms, shapes, and sizes. The main types are hardshell, softshell, adult, and youth football helmets.
Hardshell helmets are the most common form of football helmet used in tackle football. These helmets are made out of a hard plastic material and include an outer shell, interior padding, multi-bar facemask, and chinstrap. The sizes of hardshell helmets depend on the brand and the size chart they use. Hardshell helmets have a wide price range and typically cost anywhere from $75 to more than $500.
- Available in a variety of brands and models
- Absorb impact
- Provide essential protection to head
- Utilize advanced anti-concussion technology
- Wide price range
- Different size charts by brand
Softshell football helmets are predominantly used in flag football and other forms of flex football. These helmets provide an extra level of padded protection around the head. Softshell helmets feature an outer shell composed of foam, a breathable lining around the head, and a chin strap to ensure the helmet fits the player’s head. Softshell padded helmets typically cost anywhere from $20 to $40.
- Light and breathable softshell
- Inexpensive piece of equipment
- Built to absorb impact
- Only worn in non-tackle football
- Not as protective as shell helmets
Adult football helmets are the most common size of helmet designed for professional, collegiate, and high school football players. Adult helmets come in 4 different sizes based on head size and circumference measurements. These football helmets are made out of a polycarbonate material that is both strong and durable. This is a hard plastic material that can withstand contact during high-level football competitions. Adult football helmets are considerably more expensive than youth helmets and cost anywhere from $100 to $900.
- Withstand repeated contact
- Used in the highest levels of competition
- Material has solid compressive strength
- Expensive piece of equipment
- Offered in fewer sizes than youth models
Youth football helmets are helmets designed for players 13 and below in middle school and pop warner leagues. Youth football helmets typically come in 6 sizes from xx-small to x-large and are measured by head size and circumference. Youth sizes come in lower scales with smaller chin straps and thicker jaw pads compared to adult sizes. Youth helmets are made out of lightweight and durable ABS plastic that offers lasting protection to smaller players. Youth football helmets can cost as low as $75, but up to $200 depending on the model of the helmet.
- Made out of lightweight and durable plastic
- Balance of lightweight and protection
- Cheaper than adult models
- Offer more sizes than adult models
- Limited helmet models
- Only suitable for kids 13 and under
- Not designed for high-level competition
There are a few brands to choose from when looking for football helmets. The most common football helmet brands are Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith.
Riddell is one of the premier football equipment manufacturers, offering football helmets in two different models with several modifications in both youth and adult sizes. Riddell helmets are known for their flexibility and comfort, making them one of the most popular options among professional and collegiate football players. Riddell was the official helmet of the NFL until 2014.
Schutt is another major football equipment manufacturer. Schutt offers several football accessories, including football helmets in both adult and youth sizes. Their helmets come in three distinct models with multiple modifications. Schutt is the second most common football helmet brand among professional and collegiate football players.
Xenith is a prominent football equipment manufacturer that specializes in helmets, shoulder pads, and facemasks. Xenith’s main goal is to provide an advanced level of protection to players. Xenith manufactures helmets for both adult and youth sizes in three different models. They are a newer equipment manufacturing company compared to other popular companies like Riddell and Schutt.
When did players start wearing helmets in football?
In 1869, George “Rose” Barclay became the first player to wear some form of headgear by using straps and ear protectors during a game. The first iteration of helmets came in the 1920s when players used leather helmets without face masks. These offered little to no padding and protection. In 1939, Riddell became the first company to create a plastic football helmet with a face mask to protect against head injuries. The NFL began requiring leather helmets in the 1940s, but shifted to plastic helmets in 1949 and would later add single face bars in the 1950s. Helmets have continued to evolve throughout the years to provide players with enhanced protection against various head injuries.
How often should you replace your football helmet?
Football helmets are a critical piece of equipment that can help protect players against concussions and other injuries. Helmets should generally be replaced every two years but can last up to ten years. The lifespan of a helmet can vary depending on the levels of impact and wear you may inflict on your helmet during football season. Helmets should be inspected every week to ensure they do not have any cracks or other serious damage.
How tight should your football helmet fit?
When looking for a football helmet, you want the football helmet to match your age group and level of competition. Football helmets need to fit snugly. If the helmet is not tight enough on the player’s head, it will slide and shift around while they are running during a game or practice. The helmet should be difficult to remove at first, but the player’s helmet will adjust to the shape of their head over time. Most football helmets can be tightened with a pump to inflate the helmet’s interior pads.