Understanding Key Measurements for Football Pads
When it comes to finding the right football pad sizes for youth players, one of the most important factors is understanding the key measurements involved. Unlike adult pads that come in standard sizes, youth pads need to be specifically fitted to each young athlete. Taking accurate measurements and consulting youth size charts for shoulder pads, helmets, thigh pads, and other gear will help ensure your child’s equipment provides a comfortable, secure fit.
Shoulder pad size, for example, is determined by measurements such as chest circumference, shoulder width, arm length, and torso length. Helmet sizing relies on head circumference as well as the player’s head length and width. Thigh, knee, and hip pads are sized based on waist, hips, thighs, and knee caps. There are many intricacies involved!
While standard measuring tapes and fitting guides provide starting points, it’s highly recommended to get your child professionally fitted by knowledgeable sporting goods staff. They can use adjustable pads and their expertise to dial-in the appropriate size based on your child’s unique proportions and body shape. An ideal fit means the pads will stay in place during intense gameplay, reducing the risk of injury.
Don’t rely on height and weight guidelines alone when picking sizes, as each youth player grows differently. Two kids may be the same age and height but have vastly different torso, shoulder, and head sizes. Take the time to measure accurately and make any necessary exchanges to get the right pad sizing. Proper equipment sizing is crucial to keeping young athletes comfortable and protected on the field.
Finding the Right Shoulder Pad Size
Shoulder pads are one of the most important pieces of protective gear in football. Finding the right shoulder pad size is crucial for the safety of youth players. The shoulders and collarbone area are very vulnerable to injury, so having properly fitted pads is essential.
There are several measurements that go into identifying the proper shoulder pad size:
- Chest circumference – measured just under the armpits around the fullest part of chest
- Shoulder width – measured across front of shoulders from tip to tip
- Arm length – measured from collarbone to wrist bone
- Torso length – measured from collarbone notch to waistline
Using a soft measuring tape, carefully measure your child while they are wearing their shoulder pads. Compare the measurements to size charts from the manufacturer to identify the right fit. Keep in mind that the shoulder pads should be snug but allow full mobility of arms without exposing the shoulders.
The ideal shoulder pad will completely cover and extend slightly beyond the shoulder joints for maximum protection. Straps should fit comfortably over the shoulders without cutting in or slipping. Most pads are adjustable at the neck, shoulders, and back to customize the fit.
Since youth players grow rapidly, consider adjustable or hybrid shoulder pads that allow some sizing modifications. It’s a good idea to get professionally fitted at a sporting goods store annually, as one year’s size may not properly fit the next. Don’t simply size up last year’s pads without measuring first.
Well-fitted shoulder pads will reduce the risk of shoulder separations and dislocations while allowing freedom of movement. Take the time to find the right size as protection is the top priority for growing athletes.
Factors That Affect Football Helmet Sizing
Finding the right helmet size is crucial for providing proper protection for young football players. Unlike other protective gear, an ill-fitting helmet can significantly increase the risk of concussions and head injuries.
There are several key factors that go into selecting the proper youth football helmet size:
- Head circumference – measured around the widest part of the head above the eyebrows and ears
- Head length – measured from the forehead to the back of the head
- Head width – measured across the widest part of the head from temple to temple
- Position – skill players often prefer lighter, low-profile helmets
- Type of facemask – youth facemasks are sized separately from helmets
- Helmet brand/model – sizes vary between manufacturers
Using a soft tape, carefully measure your child’s head circumference starting above the eyebrows and wrapping around the back of the head. Compare this to the helmet brand’s size chart, which is often listed in inches or hat sizes. Keep in mind that helmets cannot be sized up or down more than 1.5 sizes from the measurement.
It’s ideal to visit a specialty sporting goods retailer and have your child’s head measured by an expert. They can also assess head shape and recommend appropriate helmet brands and styles. The helmet should fit snugly all around without painful pressure points. A loose helmet can lead to dangerous movement during hits or tackles.
To account for growth, some brands offer hybrid or adjustable helmets with removable padding and liners to modify fit. Get re-fitted annually as one size does not necessarily carry year-to-year. Take the time to find the right helmet size for optimal protection and safety.
Choosing Thigh, Knee, and Hip Pads That Fit
In addition to shoulder pads and helmets, properly fitted thigh pads, knee pads, and hip pads are essential gear for safe play. Taking the time to find the right sizes for these pads can make a big difference in your child’s comfort and protection on the field.
Here are some tips for sizing these pads:
- Thigh pads – measure upper thigh circumference and compare to size chart
- Knee pads – measure circumference directly above knee cap
- Hip pads – measure waist/hip circumference and width between hip points
Thigh pads should fit snugly around the upper thigh without limiting mobility. Look for adjustable straps and extension panels to customize the fit. Lightweight, low-profile pads are preferable for speed and agility.
Knee pads should sit centered over the knee cap without slipping. They need to stay in place when running and cutting. Adjustable knee pads allow you to modify the circumference for comfort and security.
Hip pads fit directly over the hip bones to protect this vulnerable area from impact. Measure across the widest part of the hips to find adequate coverage without impeding motion. Pads anchored by belts or adjustable straps will move less during play.
Since young players grow rapidly, consider sizing up if your child is approaching a growth spurt. Adjustable pads with removable extensions or swappable components allow you to modify the fit from season to season. Get annually fitted for all protective gear as previous sizes may no longer provide the right coverage.
Taking measurements and dialing in the fit for thigh, knee, and hip pads ensures young athletes have full flexibility and range of motion on the field.
Finding Workable Elbow Pad Sizes
While less bulky than shoulder pads, properly fitted elbow pads are still important for protecting young football players. Finding the right elbow pad size ensures they stay in place and provide optimal coverage during play.
The key factors for sizing elbow pads are:
- Arm length – measure from shoulder to wrist
- Elbow circumference – measure the fullest part of the elbow
- Forearm circumference – measure several inches below the elbow
Compare your child’s measurements to the manufacturer’s size chart and allow room for growth. Pads should fit snugly without restricting blood flow or mobility. Sliding elbow pads offer more flexibility but less stability than fixed pads.
Consider breathable compression sleeve options for better moisture wicking. Adjustable straps help customize the fit as your child’s arms grow. Make sure pads cover and extend slightly beyond the elbow joint for maximum protection.
The upper arm, elbow, and forearm receive a lot of contact in football so proper padding is key. Even with long sleeve jerseys, fitting elbow pads reduces abrasions and protects from hard hits and bruises.
Check for slipping, bunching, or discomfort when your child practices wearing the pads. Swap out sizes as needed each season to maintain a comfortable fit that allows free arm movement while providing reliable impact absorption.
Take the time to get the elbow pad size right so they can focus on play without restrictions or distractions.
Determining the Right Girdle/Pant Size
The girdle or pant component of football pads plays an important role in protection and comfort. Taking time to find the right girdle/pant size ensures the lower body gear fits properly and stays secure during intense gameplay.
Key measurements for selecting the proper girdle/pant size include:
- Waist circumference – measured at navel level
- Hip circumference – measured at widest point
- Thigh circumference – measured a few inches above the knee
- Inseam length – crotch to floor with shoes on
Compare your child’s measurements to the manufacturer’s size chart for the girdle or pant model. Keep in mind many youth sizes come in height ranges as well. The gear should fit snugly at the waist and thighs without limiting mobility.
Consider adjustable side panels or extension belts to get the right custom fit. Integrated thigh, knee, and hip pads should center properly over those contact points. If pads are shifting or the girdle is loose, go down a size or tighten adjustment straps.
Breathable compression material for the girdle helps regulate temperature. Make sure the pants allow full leg extension when kicking without overstretching. Properly fitted gear transfers impacts through the pads keeping the body protected.
Take time initially and as your child grows to find the right girdle and pant size for comfort, coverage, and confidence on the field.
Recognizing When Pads are Too Big or Small
Finding the right pad sizes for youth football players goes beyond just measurements. It’s also important to recognize during fitting and use if the gear is too big or too small for proper protection and comfort.
Here are signs that pads may be too large:
- Shoulder pads shifting or sagging on shoulders
- Helmet rocking back and forth or wobbling
- Thigh/knee/hip pads sliding down legs
- Elbow pads loose around the arms
- Girdle or pants sagging, needing frequent hitching
And indicators that pads may be too small include:
- Shoulder pads impinging arm motion
- Helmet creating pressure points or headaches
- Thigh pads pinching around thighs
- Knee pads won’t stay centered over cap
- Hip pads sit on top of hip bone
- Elbow pads uncomfortably tight
- Girdle uncomfortably binding legs or crotch
Ideally, pads should fit snugly without limiting mobility or flexibility. They should stay in proper position during intense play. Don’t ignore signs of poor fit, as improperly sized gear provides less protection.
Consult coaches and sporting goods staff for guidance on achieving the right pad sizes for your child. Take the time to optimize fit and safety.
Consulting Your League’s Size Rules and Guidelines
When determining the right pad sizes for your youth football player, it’s important to consult your league’s specific rules and guidelines. Many youth leagues and associations have sizing requirements and restrictions to ensure young athletes are properly equipped.
Key things to check on sizing include:
- Helmet certification – leagues often mandate NOCSAE-approved helmets
- Shoulder pad standoff – distance from body regulated
- Hip pad maximum width – padding width limits
- Thigh pad thickness – maximum thickness allowed
- Knee pad specifications – size and construction limitations
Your league may also prohibit altering protective gear like cutting pads or drilling extra holes. Certain adjustable pads may not comply with sizing rules so check before purchasing.
In addition to safety considerations, many youth leagues aim to ensure competitive balance by regulating protective gear sizes. This helps minimize size and strength advantages.
Review your league handbook or policies to identify any youth gear size restrictions. While you want a comfortable custom fit, make sure to comply with league guidelines as well. Discuss any questions or concerns with coaches and league officials to keep your child safe and eligible to play.
Getting Professionally Fitted for Pads In-Store
While sizing charts and measuring at home provide starting points, it’s highly recommended to get your youth football player professionally fitted for pads at a sporting goods retailer. The expertise of staff ensures proper sizing for optimal protection.
Here are some benefits of in-store professional fitting:
- More accurate sizing assessment
- Identify best gear brands/models for your child
- Try on multiple sizes and styles
- Ensure proper coverage and alignment
- Evaluate comfort and mobility
- Discover necessary accessories
- Learn proper fitting at home
Specialty football stores have staff dedicated to equipment fitting. They regularly work with parents to dial-in sizes for youth athletes of all ages. Take advantage of their knowledge so your child’s pads perform properly.
Be prepared with your child’s measurements and any sizing issues from previous seasons. A professional fitting before each season can catch growth spurts and account for body composition changes.
Getting fitted in-person also allows you to inspect gear quality and educate yourself. Proper sizing is about both measurements and comfort. An expert’s eye helps remove guesswork and potential mistakes.
Make time for an annual professional fitting to keep your young athlete confident and protected on the field.
Ordering Pads Online – Size Charts and Returns
While in-store fitting for football pads is ideal, ordering equipment online has become more common as well. Taking some key steps helps ensure proper sizing when purchasing protective gear online for your youth player.
Tips for ordering pads online:
- Carefully measure your child and note sizes of current gear
- Consult manufacturer’s detailed size charts
- Read product reviews and sizing feedback
- Order 1-2 trial sizes if uncertain
- Review return policies before purchasing
- Allow time for exchanges if needed
Many athletic retailers today provide extensive sizing information and charts online to aid buying. Measure your child thoroughly and compare to multiple size guides to triangulate the right fit.
If unsure between sizes, order both and return one using the retailer’s return policy. This allows your child to try the gear on for fit. Expect that some exchange may be necessary.
Read feedback from customer reviews about how the gear sizes. Things like “runs small” or “sizes large” will help you determine best fit.
Allow enough time when ordering online to handle any necessary returns or exchanges. Get the order placed early so your child has properly fitted gear ready for the start of season.
Adjustable Pad Options to Accommodate Growth
Finding the right pad sizes for youth football players can be tricky as kids grow rapidly. Opting for adjustable pads and gear components is a smart approach to accommodate growth from season to season.
Some adjustable pad features include:
- Hybrid shoulder pads with removable padding
- Helmets with inflatable air bladders for custom fit
- Segmented thigh/knee pads with added extensions
- Strap connectors on girdles to expand size
- Extra paneling on pants to let out length
Look for shoulder pads with removable padding cartridges around the chest, back, and shoulders. This allows you to modify interior fit even as the exterior plastic shell remains the same. Quick release buttons make on-the-fly adjustments easy.
Inflatable air liners in helmet interior padding allow micro-adjustments for snugness and comfort. Adding or releasing air with a pump custom tunes the fit.
Thigh and knee pads that snap together in segments make sizing up length effortless as legs grow longer. Hip and thigh girdles often have belt or strap extenders to expand the waist/hip fit.
Adjustable pads extend the useful life by a season or two, saving you money. Look for youth gear with adaptable features to accommodate growth and get the right fit year after year.
Hand-Me-Down Pads – When They Work and Don’t
Parents looking to save money often consider using hand-me-down football pads when equipping their younger child. While pads can sometimes be handed down, there are also risks involved that must be assessed.
Hand-me-down pads may work IF:
- Age/size difference between siblings is minimal
- Padding is removable/adjustable to customize fit
- Gear passed down is only 1-2 seasons old
- Older sibling took great care of equipment
- No signs of damaged parts, cracks, or deterioration
However, avoid hand-me-downs IF:
- Considerable size/weight differences between siblings
- Pads are more than 2-3 seasons old
- Unknown if gear took heavy impacts
- Padding quality is degraded
- League safety certifications have changed
Always carefully inspect older pads for any signs of wear, checking padding, plastic parts, straps, and snaps. Try on to assess fit and mobility. If in doubt, invest in new gear specifically fitted for your child.
While hand-me-downs can save money, compromising protection by using improperly fitted or worn-out pads is dangerous. Put safety first when equipping young athletes.
Prioritizing Comfort and Safety Over Appearance
It’s important when sizing football pads for youth players to prioritize comfort, protection and proper fit over how the gear looks. The right fit is not always the flashiest.
Keep these points in mind:
- Avoid pads that limit mobility just because they look more intimidating
- Don’t size up to pads that don’t fit properly just for show
- Fit and safety outweigh matching team colors/styling
- Bulky pads can restrict movement and speed
- Ill-fitting pads provide less protection from impacts
Remind your child that big fancy gear won’t make them a better player if it doesn’t fit right. Youth pads are for protection, not decoration.
Smaller, contoured pads often provide the best fit and mobility. Let your young athlete test different pads with agility drills to assess comfort.
While it’s fun to look like pro players, make sure your child can turn their head and lift their arms freely. Proper mobility and coverage keep athletes safe.
Use fit and performance as the top criteria for sizing pads, not appearance. Their safety on the field is what really counts.
Teaching Proper Care to Make Pads Last
To get the most value from football protective gear, teach your youth players proper maintenance and care of their pads. Taking good care of pads extends their usability and saves money.
Have your child follow these pad care tips:
- Wipe pads down after each use to clean sweat and grime
- Sanitize interior padding occasionally as needed
- Air dry pads fully before storing to prevent mildew
- Store pads properly on rack or folded, don’t jam into bags
- Check pads regularly for damage needing repair
- Replace worn or ill-fitting pads rather than try to force them to work
Inspect and clean pads frequently for signs of wear or issues. Cleaning sweat and grime prevents buildup and deterioration. Letting pads fully air dry eliminates moisture that can break down padding.
Fold and store pads properly, like hanging helmets or stacking neatly, to retain shape. Avoid just stuffing loosely in a bag.
Catch and repair any damage like loose snaps or padding tears immediately. This prevents bigger problems down the road.
With proper care, most well-made pads can last 2-3 seasons or more. Teaching young players maintenance habits extends gear lifespan and keeps them protected.
Making Football Pads Last Through Multiple Seasons
Buying new football pads every season can get very expensive for parents. With proper care and maintenance, most quality youth pads can be made to last through multiple seasons of play.
Tips for extending the life of your child’s football pads:
- Clean thoroughly after every use and sanitize periodically
- Allow pads to fully air dry before storage to prevent mildew
- Fold/stack pads properly when storing to retain shape
- Inspect pads regularly for any damage needing repair
- Replace worn or defective straps, snaps, padding pieces as needed
- Use adjustable features to modify fit from season to season
- Consider off-season storage conditions – climate controlled ideal
Keeping pads clean and dry prevents sweat and grime buildup which breaks down materials faster. Proper storage retains pad composition and integrity.
Make quick repairs to small parts like straps or snaps to prevent bigger damage. Replace worn padding segments as needed.
If pads have adjustable features, utilize them to modify fit as your child grows. A slightly loose pad tightened up is often better than throwing it out.
With some diligent care, inspection and maintenance, a quality set of pads should comfortably serve for 3 seasons or so. Proper use and care saves you money in the long run.