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How to Choose Football Pads for Each Position

by Craig Blake

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Football helmet and shoulder pads

Each position in football has a special job. Because each member of a football team has a specialized purpose, they require slightly different pads. Instead of picking up football pads with a one-function-fits-all state of mind, you can maximize your effectiveness on the field by making sure you are geared up with football equipment made for your position. Whether you are an adult or play American football in a youth football league, you won't want to play without protection. Here are some tips on how to choose football gear that will make it easier to live up to your position.

Football Pads for Every Position:

  1. Quarterbacks, defensive backs, tailbacks, punters and place kickers: Players at the skill positions generally want flexible, lightweight football pads that don't limit head movement or vision. If the QB also runs, huskier pads are a good plan because he's giving the defenders more chances to pile on him. When it comes to choosing a football helmet, pick one that allows visibility.

  2. Wide receivers: Very much like other players at the other skill positions, receivers use the lightest pads to allow them additional speed. Once again, you'll want a football helmet and football visor that allows wide receivers to see the ball easily. Football shoulder pads or neck pads that are too thick will make it difficult for a wide receiver to turn his neck and see the ball coming, so keep them light.

  3. Fullbacks, linebackers and tight ends: Many prefer football pads with a plated front rather than laces; these need less adjustment between plays.

  4. Linemen: The guys who get shoulder to shoulder with the opposition use the heaviest pads because they get the most hits. Many linemen also want a streamlined football pad (with fewer flaps and epaulets that other players can grab) and vinyl buckles, which hold the pads more securely. There is some debate on elastic straps versus vinyl buckles. The downside of elastic straps is durability; they need to be adjusted and replaced much more frequently because they get stretched out. The elastic upside is its flexibility; these straps expand and contract more easily than vinyl buckles as you breathe. A heavy football helmet with a comprehensive football visor isn't a bad idea to help prevent damage to the eyes.

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