Football Shoulder Pads

Football Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads are one of the staple pieces of equipment in the game of football. Shoulder pads have changed a lot over the years and are required in modern football. No matter what position you play, shoulder pads will provide numerous safety benefits.

Benefits of Football Shoulder Pads

Football is one of the most physical and dangerous sports in the world. Due to this fact, football players need protective padding that defends them from collisions and hard contact. Shoulder pads are a piece of protective equipment that covers the shoulders, chest, and upper back. They are usually padded with a hard protective shell in order to provide the best impact resistance. They often resemble shoulder pads found in other sports such as hockey and lacrosse.

Shoulder pads are available in a range of designs and specifications. They vary in shape and size depending on different position groups and can even come with additional supports for the torso or shoulders. They also differ in range of motion and amount of protection. While shoulder pads do not always protect football players from sustaining injuries to the upper body, they significantly reduce the risk of injury. 

Things To Consider

When looking for football shoulder pads, you'll want to consider the following:

  • What position do you normally play?
  • How often are you playing football?
  • How much are you willing to spend on football shoulder pads?

What are you looking for in shoulder pads?

  • Lightweight
  • Maximum protection
  • Allows full range of arm motion
  • Position-specific
  • Affordability

Types of Football Shoulder Pads

Football shoulder pads are offered in a variety of models, with each style being designed specifically for different positions’ respective needs.

Quarterback and Wide Receiver Football Shoulder Pads

Quarterback and wide receiver shoulder pads are typically the sleekest type of shoulder pads. These pads focus more on agility and range of motion than providing the most impact resistance, with the intention of catering to quarterbacks and wide receivers who prioritize mobility over protection. These shoulder pads are usually very lightweight and flexible. 

Offensive Lineman and Defensive Lineman Football Shoulder Pads

Offensive and defensive lineman shoulder pads are usually the biggest type of shoulder pads. They are very heavy and offer a lot of protection against collisions. These pads are designed for much larger players and provide ample protection without sacrificing a lot of mobility. 

Running Back and Defensive Back Football Shoulder Pads

Running back and defensive back shoulder pads are a middle ground type of shoulder pads. Defensive backs will often make tackles and are more physical than wide receivers. Meanwhile, running backs get hit a lot and do not need as wide of a range of motion as wide receivers. These pads are designed to withstand a lot of force while still remaining lightweight, making them ideal for both running backs and defensive backs.

List of Football Shoulder Pad Brands

The most popular brands that produce football shoulder pads include Douglas, Ridell, Schutt, and XTech.


Douglas specializes in making protective padding and select equipment for football, baseball, and softball. They make all different types of football shoulder pads, and even make a protective back plate to attach to their pads. Their shoulder pads come in different collections, with each collection having every type of shoulder pad.


Riddell makes all different types of protective football equipment. They make both youth and adult shoulder pads, which come in many different sizes and colors. Their shoulder pads can range from as high as $450 for the most advanced pads to $60 for beginner level pads.


Schutt makes protective equipment for a few different sports. One such piece of protective gear is their shoulder pads, which come in a few different types, price points, and are made for different skill levels. Many of their shoulder pads can be customized with different pad and trim colors.


XTech specializes in making protective equipment for football. They make an all-purpose type of shoulder pad but also provide the option to build your own shoulder pad. The customizable shoulder pads allow you to choose your own type of shell structure, and also add on a few accessories.


How do you figure out what size football shoulder pads are right for you?

In order to figure out what size shoulder pads you need, you will need to measure your chest and shoulders. Based on these measurements, look for a size chart that correlates to your specific numbers. When trying on the shoulder pads, make sure that the pads cover chest and upper back without limiting range of motion.

What shoulder pads do NFL players use?

NFL players wear a variety of different shoulder pads, with the main differences coming down to what position they play and what brand they prefer. They will usually use the type of shoulder pads that correlates to their position. While any brand of shoulder pad is allowed, XTech shoulder pads are popular amongst NFL players.

How much do football shoulder pads cost?

Football shoulder pads can range anywhere from $60 to upwards of $500. Youth shoulder pads, and those made for a lower skill level, will usually cost on the lower end of that scale. Adult shoulder pads made by premium brands such as Riddell, Douglas, Schutt, and XTech will likely cost between $200-$500.