Whether you are an arm chair quarterback that likes to throw the pig skin around with the boys on the weekend or you are playing varsity ball the right helmet can really make the difference.
Recently the amount of news that has been out there about football injuries and brain damage has been really alarming.
Protecting your noggin from blows is very important. Grabbing any old helmet and putting it on is not going to give you the protection that you need during the game and years down the road.
There are only so many jolts your brain can take before it starts to show the symptoms of someone that has taken too many hits.
Picking the right helmet can mean a great deal of risk reduction when it comes to injuries. The majority of injuries caused by football can be avoided with the right equipment.
Youth’s that are playing football should not use adult helmets, they are too heavy and will not provide them with the right fit nor adequate protection.
What are Football Helmets Made Of?
Football helmets started out made of leather. Initially it was not really even tough leather but as you can imagine that did not work out well for the players. Eventually a tougher leather helmet was designed but that did not last very long either.
Over the years the types of plastics changed and football helmets became tougher. There is a balance in football when it comes to helmets that has to be respected.
It is not only the player that is wearing the helmet that has to be considered but the other people on the field that are getting knocked around by the helmet wearer that has to be considered.
Football helmets have to be strong enough to protect the players from head injuries but light enough so that they are not hurting other players as well.
Today best football helmets are made of a strong polycarbonate plastic outer shell and thick foam padding on the inside that is covered in vinyl for enhanced comfort.
Research is a big part of producing better helmets. Currently there is research regarding a new one piece helmet that combines the helmet and the shoulder pads.
It is thought that this design will more effectively distribute the blows to the head in an effort to reduce head injuries.
There are a few things you should consider when you are shopping for a helmet for yourself or your child. Read below for the things you SHOULD do and the things you SHOULD NOT do.
Don’t Be Cheap
There are a lot of good helmets out there but to be honest you are going to have to spend a few bucks to get a really reliable helmet that does its job. The price range on helmets ranges greatly but you do want to stay at least in the mid-range to ensure that you get a great helmet.
Look for the Seal
Look for the NOCSAE seal on the helmet you plan on buying. The NOCSAE seal is affixed to equipment that is approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment a US organization that concerns itself with the safety of athletic equipment with the goal of reducing overall injuries in sports.
If the helmet has the seal there is a good bet that it is a safe option.
Never Buy Used Equipment
It can be tempting to buy an expensive helmet at a discount by buying it used but it is a bad idea. Unless the helmet has been reconditioned by a pro that is certified by the NOCSAE don’t even think about it.
The polycarbonate can be fractured on the inside and you will never know until you are hit head on and the helmet fails. It is just a better idea to buy new.
The Chin Strap
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the chin strap is a way to tighten the helmet. It is not. The chin strap is there to ensure that the helmet does not go flying off during field time but it is not meant to tighten down the fit.
The chin strap should just keep the helmet on your head. Your helmet should feel snug without the chin strap fastened. Don’t buy a helmet that you have to tighten down using the chin strap.
The Right Fit
The upper part of the helmet should be about an inch above your eyebrows. The helmet should feel snug but not tight. Of course a little tighter is better than loose but it can be just as dangerous to have a helmet that is too snug.
Measure the circumference of your head around your forehead which is typically the widest part and use that as your guideline. Head shapes are different so you may have to try on a few helmets to find the one that feels perfect to you.
If you are in between sizes go with the smaller sized helmet.
Test Out Your Helmet
Helmet shopping is not something to do alone. You will need someone with you to test out your helmet for fit. Pull the helmet on and have someone palm the top of the helmet and apply pressure.
You should feel the pressure distributed evenly at the back of the helmet and the front of the helmet. If the helmet slides forward or back it is the wrong helmet.
Have someone pull on the face mask from left to right, the cheek pads should not slide during the process. Your head and helmet should move in unison. The helmet should not be allowed to be moved from side to side while your head stays stable. If it does than you have the wrong helmet.
The helmet should not slide up down or from side to side.
Ask for some professional help. If you are in a sporting goods store there should be an employee on staff that can help you to get fitted for your helmet.
Take the time to find the right helmet whether it is for you or your child. Your brain is depending on you.