Perhaps the most popular sport in the nation today, football has captured the hearts of fans from coast to coast. While equipment innovations have made the sport safer, football is still a sport where injuries can and do happen. Parents and players can help reduce potential injuries by knowing a few simple facts about equipment and on-field play. Following is a list of safety tips compiled by Adams USA, manufacturers of football protective equipment.
Choosing the right equipment
Be sure the helmet fits. The helmet should fit snug on the head and should not have any excess movement other than typical head motion. Today’s latest models are stronger and lighter and include features like an inflatable air bladder system for a custom fit.
Do not pick shoulder pads that are too big. Shoulder pads specify the size of the person they are intended for. Do not choose bigger shoulder pads for the sake of appearance. Also, many newer shoulder pad models feature locking epaulets, which provide additional protection by transferring energy from impact on the shoulder over the entire chest and back.
Make sure the equipment is up to date and has passed all the proper inspections. Equipment should be inspected annually and marked accordingly. Check with your coach or equipment manager to make sure routine maintenance has been done. Important: For liability reasons, never choose or wear a helmet without the proper warning label! If a helmet lacks the appropriate warning label, the warranty is voided, limiting your legal recourse!
Never modify equipment for the sake of appearance! Equipment companies put a great deal of time and effort into designing equipment so that it maximizes protection. When the equipment is modified, the protection is compromised. Important: Never paint a helmet yourself! Solvents in many consumer paints can eat into and weaken the shell of a helmet, compromising its integrity.
Wear a full mouth guard. A high percentage of concussions are the result of either a mouth guard cut too short, or no mouth guard at all.
Wear all of the necessary equipment! The mandatory pieces of equipment are designed by experts and meant to protect certain body parts that are more susceptible to injury.
Keep your equipment functioning properly. Shoulder pads and helmets come with many pieces and parts that keep them acting as a system. If something bends or breaks, it may cause that system to act improperly. Be sure to deal with the problem immediately rather than putting it off.
Here are three important tips every parent should reinforce with their child before they step out onto the field:
Never hit with the head. No helmet, no matter how well it’s made, can completely protect against high-impact, headfirst hits.
Always keep the chinstrap snug and fully buckled as it is integral to keeping a helmet positioned properly. A loose and/or unfastened chinstrap can result in the loss of a helmet, greatly increasing the chance of head injury.
Be sure to deal with any injury immediately rather than putting it off until after the game. Sometimes players attempt to persevere through injuries they think are less serious than they actually are. If something happens, notify the correct person rather than ignore the injury.