If you have a child who’s itching to start playing football, you’re going to need to gear them up with the best football gears for youth you can find.
After all, football is a contact sport, and the last thing you want is for your future football star to suffer from an injury because of faulty or ill-designed protective equipment.
From head to toe, there’s a ton of information to sift through before you find the best of the best for your child. Researching online can seem daunting – most websites tend to explain too much without giving out recommendations. Luckily for you, we’ve already done the research and curated a list of recommended youth football gear to make your life easier!
TOP RECOMMENDED FOOTBALL GEARS FOR YOUTH
1. Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ Youth: Best Youth Football Helmet
Although the re-designed Youth A3+ is now sleeker and lighter than its original Vengeance counterpart, Schutt makes no compromise in the quality of protection in this new and improved helmet.
They have inserted into the front liner a patented TPU Cushioning – the most advanced absorption liner on the football field – to offer superior protection against impacts on the football field.
What’s more, Schutt has ensured that the Youth A3+ is as comfortable as ever, lining the back, sides, and crown with SUREFIT material to give wearers a precise, custom fit.
With SUREFIT, the helmet becomes inflatable, encasing the head in a pillow of protection. With its lighter weight, the Schutt Sports Vengeance A3+ is ideal for youth athletes.
Just keep in mind that the facemask is sold separately, and the helmet requires a Youth Vengean Facemask (e.g. V-ROP TRAD YF).
2. Nike Kids' Alpha Menace Shark: Best Youth Football Cleats
Made for boys in grade school, the midsoles are fabricated out of Phylon to provide lightweight cushioning. The rest of the cleat is made out of synthetic leather, which offers rugged durability that will last through the entire season.
For optimal balance between comfort and game-changing traction, you cannot go wrong with the Nike Alpha Menace Shark football cleats.
3. Under Armour Boys' F6: Best Youth Football Gloves
Under Armour’s F6 football gloves are a seamless, one-piece palm with a custom fit closure system to promote a snug but comfortable fit around the player’s hands.
The built-in HeatGear fabric wicks away sweat and keeps your hands cool, dry, and light. Combined with GrabTack technology,what you get is a one-of-a-kind pair of gloves that is engineered for maximum catchability.
Light, tight, and sticky, this glove is perfect for receivers, though it can also be worn by ball-hawking DBs who love to make a play on the ball.
4. Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads: Best Youth Football Shoulder Pads
Regarded as one of the leading providers of football equipment, particularly shoulder pads, Schutt does not disappoint with the Sports Y-Flex 4.0 pads.
Part of Schutt’s hallmark of features is a lightweight, impact-resistant design, which the Y-Flex ascribes to with its extended body cushion and dual-density padding to add extra protection across the upper body.
Combined with a breathable mesh and 7mm vent holes, your young footballer will remain cool as a cucumber even under a high-intensity game.
What’s more, Schutt added adjusting elastic belts to the arches at three points to prevent the pad from sliding and moving in order to deliver consistent protection.
These pads are ideal for any player in the offensive and defensive line, as the lightweight design prevents grabbing and holding by opposing players. Yet, the consistent impact protection that the pads give make this usable for youth players at any position.
5. EvoShield Youth: Best Youth Football Back Plate
Most back plates are merely accessories to the shoulder pad, but the Back Plate designed by EvoShield is built to have your back quite literally.
The unique shield shape of the EvoShield Youth back plate contours around the back to provide a large range of coverage, thus dispersing impact away from the spine.
Vents and channeled thermoformed foam enable an increased air circulation to keep the wearer dry and agile.
Best of all, the EvoShield Back Plate attaches to most standard shoulder pads, so you can comfortably purchase an EvoShield Back Plate without having to worry whether it is eligible with your youth’s current shoulder pads.
6. FPGU7 Champro Man Up 7: Best Youth Football Girdle
The Champro Man Up 7-Pad girdle offers no compromise between flexibility and protection.
With form-fitting, high compression spandex/polyester fabric and DRI-GEAR moisture wicking technology, your football rising star will never be bogged down by sweat.
Instead, sweat transpires through the fabric of the girdle and is forced out onto the surface where it quickly evaporates, keeping the player dry and comfortable throughout the game.
A low-profile, TRI-FLEX cushion system keeps the ventilated hip pads high above the waist as well.
The ventilated pads themselves are outfitted with hard plastic shock plates on the thighs and shins to keep those areas safe and protected.
The Champro Man Up 7-Pad also incorporated a cup pocket into the girdle, should you be so inclined to use a cup.
7. Shock Doctor Gel Max Flavor Fusion: Best Youth Football Mouthguard
Now with a great taste to add to Shock Doctor’s patented protection and comfort, the Gel Max Flavor Fusion enables you to breathe freely even while clenching your teeth.
Like Shock Doctor’s other top-end mouth guards, the Gel Max Flavor Fusion features a heavy duty frame paired with shock absorption technology to mitigate damage caused by impacts.
This is a result of three different materials that are combined to provide maximum protection, as well as a precise fit.
The top Gel-Fit liner takes an exact impression of the teeth, keeping the mouth guard intact at all times.
The middle EVA foam layer adds complete comfort and additional support and protection, while the external Exoskeleton Shock Frame has integrated jaw pads that provide maximum impact protection for the teeth, jaw, and brain.
The Gel Max Flavor Fusion mouth guard is a quality performer, and can be used strapped or strapless.
8. Schutt Sports Vengeance: Best Youth Football Facemask
Moreover, the facemask is durable and strong, and provides the widest field of vision possible.
For this reason, the Vengeance Youth facemask is ideal for running backs, wide receivers, defensive ends and tight ends.
9. Under Armour Boys' Gameday Armour: Best Youth Football Chin Strap
An included strap adapter allows you to hook the strap high or low on your helmet.
10. Mcdavid 6440 Hex: Best Youth Tight and Knee Pads
McDavid 6440 Hex knee pads feature superior, closed cell foam padding that provide cushioning and prevent wear and tear taken to the knee ligaments during the course of a game.
Ideal for every football player, no matter the position, wearing the McDavid 6440 knee pad provides a remarkable advantage in protection and durability.
Moreover, the McDavid 6440 utilizes hDc fabric wicks to moisture the skin, adding another element of protection against cuts and scratches.
Due to its tight, compressive fit, you’ll notice how less sore your future football star feels the day following a game, as the knee pad reduces micro-tears in the muscle and prevents hyper-extension.
However, there are some drawbacks, such as the hexagon pieces of the fabric can be subject to wear and tear, which can wear out relatively quickly.
11. Shock Doctor Compression Shorts: Best Youth Compression Shorts
Shock Doctor’s compression shorts are doubly compressed and constructed with four-way stretch fabric that allows your youth football player to be flexible while wicking away sweat and moisture to keep them dry.
The stretchable waistband allows them to play without any hindrance to movement or chafing and irritation.
The mesh Bio-Flex Cup has a vented bio-shaped design which secures the cup to shield an area that needs protection the most.
Get all the benefits from the compression of your muscles without worrying about the shorts restricting your movement as flatlock seams mitigate any issues your young footballer might have with airflow and comfort.
These shorts are ideal for any position. Keep in mind that, as the shorts are form-fitting, if you measure close to the maximum size range, it might be useful to select the next size-up.
What You Should Know Before Getting Football Gear For Your Youth
Equipment is, of course, mandatory in football to prevent the myriad injuries you can sustain while playing such a high-impact sport.
Not only is equipment a necessity from an injury-prevention point of view, almost all football leagues, at any level, mandate that players wear proper gear.
If this seems overwhelming, fear not. We’ve curated and developed an entire checklist for you to run through as you find the proper gear for your young player.
#1 What gear do you need?
Helmet and Facemask
When playing football, you absolutely need a helmet and facemask. This is unlikely to come as a surprise: the helmet is the most crucial piece of equipment for any football player regardless of the level of competition.
The helmet and facemask is designed to mitigate the impact from blows to the head, which occur on the football field on almost every single play.
Wondering how to find the right helmet? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on that in the section further below.
Shoulder pads are worn under the jersey and offer impact-protection for players when blocking or making a tackling or other on-field collisions.
Shoulder pads work by absorbing the impact and re-distributing it throughout the protective gear. What’s more, different positions will require different shoulder pads, as a wide receiver will require a lighter pad than a fullback, as an example.
Knee and Thigh Pads
These are simply foam pieces that you can slide into a player’s girdle. These mitigate the impact for collisions to the legs, which occur at regular intervals during football.
Hip and tailbone pads provide cover from falling on the backside. The tailbone is particularly fragile and can be damaged from the simplest falls at the wrong angles. Tailbone pads are usually slipped into the girdle, or are otherwise looped into the pants with a belt.
Lastly, all football players require a mouth guard. A mouth guard keeps the jaw clenched during the run of play, which helps prevent jaw breakage that can occur when taking a blow to the head with the mouth open.
Moreover, mouth guards exponentially decrease the risk of concussions, as having a clenched jaw braces you for oncoming impacts, some of which you may not see coming.
#2 Optional gear to stay safe
It’s important to remember that back plates, tailbone pads, visors, hand warmers, etc. are all optional. Some players prefer not to play with extra equipment as they feel it may slow them down. Others prefer the safety and injury-mitigation that such optional equipment provides.
Back plates are exactly what they sound: a protective plate for the back. Typically, back plates attach to the back of a player’s shoulder pads to provide lower back protection from helmet or body impacts.
You will normally see running backs and quarterbacks with back plates, as they are sometimes embroiled in gang tackles from all sides.
Likewise, a visor or eye-shield protects the eyes from intruding fingers, as well as eliminates the glare from the sun or lights on game day. These are most often worn by running backs and linebackers.
This may come as a surprise, but cups or jockstraps are also considered optional. In fact, the vast majority of professional football players do not use cups, as they feel it restricts their movements.
If your Youth Football League does not mandate wearing a jockstrap, we recommend wearing one anyway, though the decision is ultimately yours, of course.
#3 Finding the right helmet is key
Finding the right helmet is of crucial importance, especially to a youth athlete. You do not want to skimp on a poorly-padded or ill-fitted helmet, as just one bad hit can cause irreparable damage to your child’s brain.
Luckily, there are a plethora of options when it comes to helmets, and we have curated and researched several kinds to help make your research process easier.
In general, the lighter the helmet the better, particularly concerning youth players.
A helmet that is too heavy for a young player will often result in “bobblehead” football where the player will not be able to support the weight of the helmet through his or her head and neck.
Therefore, comfort is as much a part of the helmet-wearing process as is protection.
In general, there are some markers to ensure a football helmet is comfortable and fits right.
First, measure the circumference of your player’s head to get an accurate sizing. Then, check sizing charts of helmets you might be interested in.
When trying on a helmet, be sure to wet the player’s hair to mimic game day conditions. When hair is wet, it shrinks, and the resulting space between head and helmet can chafe and become irritated.
Then, when wearing the helmet, look at where it sits. The ears should be firmly aligned with the ear holes and the helmet itself should sit an inch above the brow. Aim for snug but comfortable.
Finally, pull the chin strap around. This is one of the best markers for determining whether the helmet fits. If you need to use the strap to tighten the helmet, the helmet is too loose. If the strap latches easily, however, then the helmet fits just right.
Frequently Asked Questions
Putting on football gear depends on what type of equipment you’re strapping on to your young footballer. Getting the right size and fit should be your top priority, and you can seek the help of sizing charts and some of our guides to know the right fit.
Some equipment such as football cleats need to be broken-in before using it for a game.
When wearing newly purchased cleats, your child may want to double-up on socks to prevent blisters and walk around the house before using them on the field
As for shoulder pads, throw them on like you would a jersey. There are some clips in the back that go under the arms and around to the front. There are slots in the front to attach these back clips to the front of the shoulder pads. Tie the laces in front to hold the shoulder pads together.
To know your shoulder pad size, first measure the upper torso with a measuring tape. This will include measuring your chest and shoulders.
Then, check sizing charts to determine the corresponding size. Secure the straps and laces and establish a tight fit in the chest and back area, note if there is any pinching in the color.
The pads should cover the sternum, scapula and rhomboid. Try moving around in the pads to confirm optimal range of motion.
If movement feels unhindered and unrestricted, double-check to confirm that the pads completely cover the shoulders and back.
A chin strap should be just tight enough to be able to keep the lips closed even while the jaw is relaxed. Without a mouth guard, you should be able to move your mouth and jaw around and be able to speak.
A chin strap is too tight if it is being used to secure the helmet in place. A chin strap should only fasten the helmet – never tighten it itself. In this respect, the chin strap should be fastened fairly loose.
The primary difference between adult and youth football helmets is the material. Adult helmets are made from polycarbonate material, while youth helmets are made with ABS plastic.
Though both kinds of material are durable and excellent at distributing the force of impact across the helmet, ABS is lighter and therefore easier for youth athletes to wear.
There is no precise rule on when a youth athlete should upgrade to adult sized helmets.
However, the general consensus in the footballing community is that once a player is 14 or begins to play in high school, they should look to upgrade to an adult level helmet.
- Boys UA F6 Product Description. Retrieved from https://www.underarmour.com/en-us/f6-youth/pid1304695
- Y-Flex 4.0 Shoulder Pad Store. Retrieved from https://www.schuttsports.com/y-flex-4-0-shoulder-pad.html
- CHAMPRO Man-Up 7-Pad Girdle Product Description. Retrieved from https://shop.champrosports.com/p-899-manup-7pad-girdle.aspx
- Gel Max Flavor Fusion Mouth Guard Product Descript. Retrieved from https://www.shockdoctor.com/products/gel-max-flavored-mouthguard?variant=14354314625077
- Hex Knee Pad, United Sports Brand. Retrieved from https://www.mcdavidusa.com/products/hex-knee-elbow-shin-pads-pair
- Shock Doctor Compression Shorts Product Description. Retrieved from https://www.shockdoctor.com/products/core-compression-short-with-cup-pocket
- The Comprehensive Youth Football Gear Check List. Retrieved from https://www.xenith.com/blogs/the-huddle/the-football-gear-check-list
- Why don’t football players wear cups? Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2016/06/why_don_t_basketball_players_wear_cups_also_why_don_t_football_players_wear.html
- Youth Football Equipment – What do you need? Retrieved from https://www.safetyfirstsports.com/blog/youth-football-equipment-what-do-you-need/
- Gear Up: A guide to proper fit and maintenance. Retrieved from https://youth1.com/football/gear-guide-proper-fit-and-maintenance-football-equipment.
- Football Helmet Buying Guide. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=difference+between+adult+and+youth+helmets&oq=difference+between+adult+and+youth+helmets&aqs=chrome..69i57.7032j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8