Football is a great way to be part of a team and stay physically active. But football is a contact sport, so injuries do happen. Doctors and scientists are studying how repeatedly hitting the head during tackling affects the brain. These injuries can cause serious brain problems later in life. Recent changes in training techniques and rules may help lower the risk of brain injury.
Players and their families need to decide whether the risks of football outweigh the benefits. If you decide to play football, follow these tips to help prevent injuries.
Safe Football Gear
Football gear that can lower the risk of injury includes:
Helmet. All football helmets should have a hard plastic outer shell and a thick layer of padding. Helmets should meet the safety standards developed by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). The coach or a trained professional at a sporting goods store can make sure you get a helmet that meets these standards and fits well.
Helmets also should have a rigid facemask made from coated carbon steel. The facemask needs to be secured to the helmet. There are different face masks for different positions and purposes. Ask the coach which is best for you.
Finally, all helmets should have a chin strap with a protective chin cup. The chin strap needs to be fastened and snug whenever you play.
Pants with leg pads. Players should wear pads on their hips, thighs, knees, and tailbone. Some football pants include pads that snap into place or fit into pockets within the pants. Other pants are shells that are pulled over the pads.
Shoulder pads. Football shoulder pads should have a hard plastic shell with thick padding.
Shoes. Different leagues have different rules about the type of shoes and cleats (non-detachable or detachable) players can use. Check with your coach and consult your league's guidelines about which types of shoes are allowed.
Mouthguard. All football leagues require players to use a mouthguard. Get one with a keeper strap that attaches it securely to the facemask.