Player’s safety is one of the most important points that the NFL and other football bodies have been emphasizing in recent years. Not only does safety allow players to have prolonged careers, but the sport is also tough and more competitive, with players taking a few more risks than any other sport. This is why shoulder pads are an integral part of a player’s protective gear, especially young players that are hoping to progress into the NFL.
In this article, we elaborate some of the many top-rated football shoulder pads that youth players can use to help them improve their game and feel safer while playing. Instead of taking too many risks, players now have the opportunity to play the game at a full pace and prevent potential neck and shoulder injuries by safeguarding their shoulders with protective shoulder pads.
Before we consider the most important features a youth player needs to consider when getting a shoulder pad, it is essential that we look at some of the shoulder pads in the market. There is a huge collection of football shoulder pads with various types and functions to choose from. However, we decided to review some of the best football shoulder pads that are currently being used today. This is to ensure that youth players have a lot of confidence during practice and gameplay on the field.
Best Youth Football Shoulder Pad
1. Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pad
The first shoulder pad on our list is the Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pad. Shutt has been heavily followed for their top quality shoulder pads. They are one of the top brands on the market today. This particular model of Schutt shoulder pad is a versatile and can be found in a wide range of different sizes for every player. It’s known to give maximum protection while keeping its weight to a minimum.
The protection area is predominantly on the inside, and this features a mesh used to cover the internal foam padding. Since it uses dual-density padding, you don’t need to worry about its ability to absorb shock. It can also absorb blows from various angles, ensuring the body is effectively protected.
Compared to some of the other shoulder pads, the the Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 has an extended length, which adds even more protection. The extended length ensures that the body is sufficiently protected as it stretches down towards the torso for added coverage. Additionally, the mesh is highly breathable and absorbs most of the moisture from sweat.
Since this shoulder pad has been designed for all positions on the football field, you will notice that the padding is a little thinner. When playing in the trenches, one can easily see that this shoulder pad lacks some protection that players who are blocking or running into their opponents might need. However, this shoulder pad is lightweight, which allows young football players to make quick cuts and sharp turns.
The Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pad fits to provide perfection, comfotably fitting, and works for all the on-field positions.
2. Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Junior Shoulder Pad
Coming in second on our list of the best youth shoulder pad is the Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Junior Shoulder Pad. Young players are at the most risk when playing football. It’s not because they have smaller builds, but because many of them still don’t possess the right techniques required for the game. Since they lack some knowledge about football tactics, young football players can benefit a lot from having the right protection for tackling or bumping into an opponent player.
Children need something to get used to. Therefore, shoulder pads that have a low-profile design are the most beneficial for them. These pads are much flatter than most, which allows young players to comfortably slip into them and wear for longer periods.
The Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Junior Shoulder Pad features an effective strapping system that doesn’t stretch. One of its benefits is that the pads will fit as expected without worrying about coming off loose upon contact with another player. Durable pads have been added on the inside with comfortable mesh that is good for moisture management from perspiration.
This football shoulder pad is mainly designed for young players. Due to its size, college players won’t get a comfortable fit. This pad doesn’t stretch, so the young player runs the risk of quickly outgrowing it while growing at a pace.
Since most children need to start somewhere, Peewee football is the answer for many parents. The Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Junior Shoulder Pad is slightly pricey for the size, but you can never spend too much money to protect your kids.
3. Xenith Xflexion Flyte Youth Football Shoulder Pad
The third youth shoulder pad on our list is the Xenith Xflexion Flyte Youth Football Shoulder Pad. The Xenith brand has been around for a long time and has established quite a reputation in the football industry. The Xenith Youth Xflexion Flyte Shoulder Pads is one of their top shoulder pad offerings for almost every player.
This shoulder pad set might seem intimidating when you look at it, but it’s known for its style. Plus, anyone can see all its safety features clearly. This Xenith shoulder pad is light – it weighs only four pounds. However, its injection-molded plates offer the best possible protection. Some of these shoulder pads also have padding on the sides for even more protection.
Instead of worrying about elastic cords that constantly needs to be tightened and readjusted, this shoulder pad uses a belt system. This system makes it effective for retaining the pad’s right position and ensuring that the wearer is always protected. It does come with a pre-installed backplate, but adding your own customized backplate for more protection or comfort is possible too. Additionally, this shoulder pad also has a floating sternum plate, which ensures that your sternum is never at risk.
Aside from some players saying that this shoulder pad is a little heavy, there are not much negatives to be found about this shoulder pad. It offers a great range of motion and is known for its moisture management.
The Xenith Xflexion Flyte Youth Football Shoulder Pad is quite pricey, so you might need to assess your child if he’s serious about playing football. If your child shows potential and determination, this shoulder pad is worth the investment.
4. Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth Football Shoulder Pad
One of its top features is the foam inserts that has the primary purpose of absorbing impact. Instead of using large foam pads, three channels of smaller inserts have been used to ensure that the padding on the inside does not deform or lose the ability to withstand impact.
Much like some of the others, the Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth Football Shoulder Pad features a universal purpose so it can be used by almost any position on the field. While this pad has lots of great features, it lacks a fundamental factor that is highly needed in football. Since most of the inserts have not been enclosed with double stitching, eventually, moisture will start to disrupt the stitching, and your young football player might feel. You can, however, do the stitching yourself.
5. Schutt Sports Youth Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad
Having already discussed the quality of the Shutt brand, coming in at number five on our list is the Schutt Sports Youth Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad. This shoulder pad is designed for all positions on the field, and offers a stylish low-profile design with some additional padding for protection.
The design of this should pad is created especially for the top players on the field. Instead of looking like one of the average players, your young footballer will certainly stand out wearing this particular should pad. In terms of protection, it has injected molded plates that sit in front of the foam pads. This allows the shoulder pad to absorb the maximum amount of possible impact.
One of the features that have stood out aside from the design and additional protection given by the injected molded plates, this should pad also has great ventilation and antibacterial properties. This reduces the need for washing and keeps foul stench of build-up sweat while playing for long periods.
On the other hand, a notable challenge of the Schutt Sports Youth Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad is that once you lock it in position, it may be hard to adjust. This might be fine for some players, but if your youth football player is prone to chafing, it could potentially aggravate the injury.
Shutt does not shy away from creating competitive shoulder pads, and youth nowadays have grown accustomed to the quality and value of the brand.
6. Riddell Sports Surge Youth Football Shoulder Pad
Moving onto another elite brand like Riddell is one thing that we were bound to do. The brand not only features some of the very best football equipment, but their shoulder pads are also slowly making waves among youth players. Coming in at number six is the Riddell Sports Surge Youth Football Shoulder Pad which is a good option for top youth players.
It features a fundamental style that has been tried and tested countless times. Most of the weight has gone into designing the pad to offer durability, but the injection-molded plates are hard enough to wave off any bumps. Additionally, its low-profile design ensures easy maneuverability for the players and comfortability. There is also a backplate offers blindside protection. Unfortunately, it feels a little heavy for some players that that makes quick runs on the field.
All of the pads used in this shoulder pad are flat, making it more comfortable for players when they need to use some agility on the field. Other than style, this pad also offers a range of versatility that works for all the positions on the football field. Additionally, velvet is added to the collar, which has been known to reduce the potential of chafing.
The PVC belt that is used for holding this pad in position ensures that it’s designed to fit perfectly for every player. The belt has numerous notches that can be used for adjustments.
One might think that Riddell products are pricey options on this list. However, with its price comes worth. The Riddell Sports Surge Youth Football Shoulder Pad has the full package of providing protection and comfortability for your football player.
7. TAG ALT II 844 Youth Football Shoulder Pad
Coming on seventh place is the TAG ALT II 844 Youth Football Shoulder Pad. This shoulder pad was unheard of during its initial years of manufacturing. But nowadays, it’s becoming more popular due to the quality of technology that has been integrated to the shoulder pad. It ensures optimal weight for the user without sacrificing the associated safety features.
This shoulder pad has a low-profile design that definitely helps encourage sharp cuts by some players. It has been padded in sequence to ensure that none of the pads are bundled up while the plate design is flat to maximize comfortability and range of motion. The addition of a backplate is only found in the best pads to ensure more protection for all impact-absorbing points.
Much like the top brands, the inner mesh does not only absorb all of the moisture, but there are also antimicrobial properties used to control the odors and dirt.
Another good feature of this shoulder pad is its closure. The closure isn’t locked, which means it will be moving around. However, you can lock it at the back and at the front to keep it securely in place. It’s no secret that many players like the TAG ALT II 844 Youth Football Shoulder Pad for its versatility and functionality.
8. Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool Youth/JV Shoulder Pads
Technology has definitely made the world a better place. It even helped sports apparel to maximize function and enhance a player’s performance. At number eight in our list is the Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool Youth/JV Shoulder Pads which stands out for its ability to keep you looking stylish, while also absorbing most of the impact that comes from any direction.
A low profile design is once again the focal point, and this means that the flat plates make this shoulder pad more comfortable for almost any player position. The inner foam has been designed to resist moisture. In fact, the manufacturer claims that it is basically waterproof to wick away all the sweat.
3D air circulation is another technical feature that will keep your young footballer cool when wearing this shoulder pad. Instead of having too many breathable holes that could cause structural weakness, the holes will double down and help promote the circulation of air. Now every player can remain cool under one of this top-quality shoulder pads.
Some of the final features that make this shoulder pad stand out is the bead selection that has been integrated with the pad. These beads might not mean much to many players, but when we looked at the science behind it, we discovered that it moves around. Because of this, your young footballer gains more comfort during shock absorption in specific areas.
The Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool Youth/JV Shoulder Pads is definitely designed for some of the young talents of the game. However, the lack of protection for the sternum means that there is some vulnerability when getting hit from behind. Always remember to keep the sternum covered from shots, or you could also get an additional backplate to add protection.
9. Adams USA Youth Player Shoulder Pad
This shoulder pad has a dual-density foam feature stitched together. However, they are still separated to ensure that it doesn’t lose the ability to absorb impacts. This foam pads are soft to the touch, but they can make a massive difference on the field. This is backed up by the quality of the plates used.
An impressive feature of this shoulder pad is the fact that it’s not of the normal size. When worn, it still feels really comfortable, even when the padding stretches beyond the plates. This offers additional protection for the sternum, but there is no backplate added. Still, this shoulder pad has more coverage than an average player with any other shoulder pad.
The cantilever arch system is not one that most players are aware of. However, this feature allows the wearer to adjust the height and feeling of the shoulder pad to make it more comfortable. The ability to do this will make it perfect almost any playing position on the football field.
We have already mentioned that its affordability is on your side. The Adams USA Youth Player Shoulder Pad is not the lightest that we could find, but with all its features, it can still provide maximum protection. However, it may lack maneuverability, making it a tough one to choose.
10. Riddell Sports 8053420 Pursuit Youth Shoulder Pad
Since this shoulder pad features multiple padding around the plates and beyond, it allows the player to absorb impact from any location. Also, the padding on the inside tends to wick away most of the moisture and sweat. Its locking mechanism is a little different with its plastic connectors definitely holding it in place. The only downside is that the plastic will eventually wear and tear and is not designed for wet weather.
One way or another, all its features will complement each other in the end to ensure optimal durability. Our biggest concern is the bulky feeling of using this shoulder pad, which might not be ideal for small-statured players because it will ultimately weigh them down and affect their performance negatively.
The Riddell Sports 8053420 Pursuit Youth Shoulder Pad is a good one for serious and dedicated youth players that need some protection. Since your young footballer will be playing with some perfectly designed shoulder pads, it is worth noting that they will stand out.
What You Should Be Considering Before Buying Youth Football Shoulder Pad?
#1 SIZE AND FIT
An essential point to note before getting a shoulder pad for a young player is getting the right size and fit to avoid affecting their performance negatively.
Getting the right size for a child is important, and while you won’t easily find shoulder pads that cover all the sizes, you can surely find a few. We recommend following the instructions of measurement that each brand puts on their website or stores. Once you have these measurements, getting the right shoulder pad for your child would be fairly easy.
The overall design of the shoulder pad has to be comfortable and fit the player irrespective of their on-field position. If your child is the type of player that tackles a lot and gets a lot of hits, you might need some additional protection especially around your back and sternum. This ensures that they are fully protected and the shoulder pad absorbs every impact effectively.
Another thing is that the padding should not be too much. While having more padding does ensure more protection, it can also be a little heavy on the player thereby hindering their performance. A wide receiver or corner positions player needs some maneuverability. This maneuverability will ensure that the player doesn’t have to worry about being obstructed by his or her own padding.
See out list of the best football cleats for wide receivers in this review.
#3 PLATE DESIGN
Not all shoulder pads have the same type of plates. Many brands use bulky plates, which makes it a little harder to move around with. However, flat plates are more comfortable for gameplay and ensure your young footballer can take impact without getting injured.
Additionally, these flat plates are injection molded, and they tend to last a little longer. The additional durability makes them ideal for longer periods. Some players have also noted that the flat padding allows opponents to slide off when shoulder charging for their head. This will help a running back to break a few tackles.
#4 INNER PADDING
On the inside of the shoulder pads, you will discover that foam is generally used for padding. Having foam will allow the pads to absorb heavy impacts and return to its original form in order to take other shots from the opponents. Foam can also be combined with beads, making it stronger and allowing more impact to be absorbed. These beads are generally made from gel.
Sticking to the inner padding, you should consider the length of the padding or protection. Most shoulder pads will have a lot of protection behind the plates, but your child might need some additional padding in quite a few cases. The top brands tend to have the padding stretch over the plates, allowing it to be more protective for certain shots.
#5 UNIVERSAL POSITION PADS
A common trend nowadays is the introduction of universal pads. These pads can be bought for the entire team, and this allows you to cover each position. However, we noticed that they cannot fully cover all the positions because some padding have too much and others having too little protection against impacts.
You might have to consider having multiple shoulder pads for each position. This will definitely ensure that the players are sufficiently protected for the positions they intend to play. A running back is one of the only positions that can make use of almost any shoulder pad type regardless of size.
In the world of football, there are various great brands to choose from. All of these brands offer different style and designs of football gears, but only the top ones tend to survive after some time. They are also more reliable.
When selecting the right shoulder pads, you need to go for a brand that offers good and quality products. Brands like Riddell, Xenith and Schutt are good examples of brands you can check out for shoulder pads.
You might have thought that all shoulder pads are the exact same, but they’re not. Top brands have been around the football scene for many years, and their quality definitely speaks for their products. Three of the top brands we definitely recommend for almost any player in the world of football today for quality shoulder pads are Riddell, Xenith, and Schutt.
Read our review of the best Riddle football helmets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some football shoulder pads are machine washable while some are not. There are some shoulder pads where it is already written in their buying manual. But if they’re not, you need to ask the online retailer or store owner if you are getting it offline if the shoulder pads you’re getting is machine-washable.
Although some shoulder pads are machine washable, you will need to remove the plates before putting them in the machine. This is to avoid causing any damage to the plates and the shoulder pad itself. If your shoulder pad is not machine washable, you can simply scrub it with a clean cloth dipped into soapy water.
Shoulder pads won’t really cause chaffing, as long as the plates are covered by some cushioning. The chaffing incidents are extremely rare and only occur after a long period of playing. Many people also experience rash, but this could be an allergic reaction to sweat or weather condition of the playing field.
In the rare event that it happens at all, it could be due to some things that are not really noted. It could be because the shoulder pad is not well taken care of, while some cause chaffing due to the material used in manufacturing them.
As a young football player, outgrowing the shoulder pad will definitely happen someday, so your youth football player will need to get a new one that fits their size. Although, many young players might be able to use their college or high school shoulder pads when they stop growing, but that’s not always the case.
Not every young player stops growing in high school, and there are some that once they hit the gym, outgrows their shoulder pads a little. It is best to find some professional shoulder pads if you feel that your teenager is growing.
This is a two-way question and we will elaborate it for you. Shoulder pads are generally made to cater for every player irrespective of their on-field position. You can simply wear a shoulder pad as much as you want so far it caters to your protection, and you feel secure wearing it. There are also shoulder pads that cater for specific positions, which offer the necessary protection needed plus boosting the performance of the player playing the position.
But there are some cases whereby your young footballer may need additional protection, or they need a position-specific shoulder pad to feel at ease and rest assured of their safety during gameplay. Such shoulder pads can also enhance their performance while providing all the necessary protection they need.
1. How to Clean Football Shoulder Pads. Retrieved from https://www.sportsrec.com/clean-football-shoulder-pads-6600932.html
2. How to Treat and Prevent Chafing So It Won’t Derail Your Runs. Retrieved from https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20804421/how-to-prevent-treat-chafing/
3. Detroit’s Xenith Introduces Position-specific Football Shoulder Pad Line. Retrieved from https://www.dbusiness.com/daily-news/detroits-xenith-introduces-position-specific-football-shoulder-pad-line/