With the end of August comes the beginning of fall and a new season of sports, one of the most popular being football. Whether you’re a parent getting your child equipped for their first time on the gridiron or a coach strapping the pads on your varsity squad, making sure your athlete's pads fit properly makes for not only a comfortable game but a safe one as well. Improperly fitted equipment can lead to injuries, so consider the following steps on how to properly fit those youth football shoulder pads before the games begin. To make the measurements easy, grab a tailor’s tape measure.
- Measure your player’s chest at its broadest. Across the pectoral muscles where a shirt would fit tightest will give you the most accurate measurement.
- Measure shoulder width. This is done by measuring across the back from tip to tip. Begin and stop your measurement where the AC joints begin. That’s where the shoulder pads need to naturally drape to protect joints.
- Weigh the player. Several shoulder pads are built to accommodate different sizes of players, so an accurate weight measurement is important.
- Once everything is strapped in place, the pads should fit comfortably tight against the chest and back with minimal extra padding coming off the shoulders. The player shouldn’t feel buried within the pads.
- Make sure the upper chest and the top of the back are completely covered at all times by moving around in the pads. Raise the player's arms up. Shift around. Have them do all the normal movements he or she would do in a football game.
- Comfortable? Everything in place? Time to order those pads. If not, repeat necessary steps to find pads that fit the player properly.