Fourth and goal from the one. Each breath sends a thick cloud of warm breath billowing through the cold autumn evening. “Forty-two, Forty-two,” yells your quarterback as the wide receiver on your left breaks formation and starts in motion. In seconds it's as if the world was put in slow motion while you charge past the QB handing off to the tailback. The guard and center struggle to hold their men as a linebacker charges to plug the gap. You lower your left shoulder catching him right under the pads, allowing the tailback to scamper in untouched. That's the game.
While athletes in most major sports do whatever they can to avoid physical contact, hitting is what football players revel in. But the clash of titans isn't without risks, and wearing the proper safety equipment is crucial. Helmets and shoulder pads are a necessity for all players at just about every level, but past that, padding is largely a decision each athlete needs to make based on position, experience, and comfort. From the neck to the knees, there are pads available for various parts of the body, all protecting specific areas that may or may not be of interest for various position players.
Shoulder pads are one of the more crucial pieces of football padding, and are required at all levels. They are designed to conform to the unique requirements of each position, which you can read about in detail below. Positions that require more range of motion have lighter, less restrictive padding, while positions that engage in more contact will have heavier pads. Whichever type you need, they can be found in youth and adult sizes. Check this useful article at Ebay for more sizing information.
* Quarterbacks have distinct needs when it comes to shoulder padding.
* One of the most important factors is finding pads that don't inhibit your throwing motion.
* Make sure the pads are lightweight so that they don't weigh you down.
* The pads should sit low enough to not inhibit your head movement or field of vision.
* For running or option quarterbacks, the added protection provided by running back or defensive back pads might be a good choice.
* For defensive backs, running backs, wide receivers, and option quarterbacks, the two main factors in selecting pads should be weight and range of motion.
* You may have to make a compromise between having something lightweight or something with full protection.
* Remember that the heavier the pads, the more weight you'll be carrying.
* Restrictions in range of motion will make it more difficult to catch balls above your head.
** Running backs should typically chose padding over mobility.
** Receivers should typically chose more mobility over more padding.
** Defensive backs should base this decision on their specific style of play, with bigger hitters going with more padding, and corner backs looking for less protection.
'''Fullbacks, Linebackers, and Tight Ends'''
* The duties of fullbacks and linebackers dictate that they hit or be hit, so they need more padding than other positions.
* Range of motion isn't as big of a factor with these positions, so going for the extra padding is a good choice.
* Tight ends have various responsibilities in different offensive schemes and should balance these varying needs for range of motions and padding accordingly.
* Plated fronts hold better and should be considered rather than laces.
* Vinyl buckles are also an option. They are not very forgiving though.
* Elasticized straps expand as you breathe, but they need more frequent adjustment.
* Linemen need a well fitting pad that doesn't leave any room for the enemy to grab your pads. That means fewer flaps and epaulets.
* Linemen pads use vinyl buckles instead of elastic, plates, or laces.
* Elastic straps are flexible allowing for better movement but need to be replaced with heavy use.
* Punters and place kickers can use quarterback pads, or anything else lightweight and easy to move in that offers full range of motion.