How can I be sure that my athletic equipment is properly fitted?

You can ensure that your athletic equipment is properly fitted by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Each type of athletic equipment should be specifically fitted for the person wearing it and not purchased solely based on age or weight. Measurements may be needed to select the appropriate equipment size (i.e. the width of the shoulders is needed to select the proper size shoulder pads). The proper fitting of helmets is of high importance in the prevention of head and facial injuries.

Helmets should all fit comfortably snug and not allow for excessive movement and/ or titling. Football, ice hockey, cycling, baseball, and softball helmets all have specific fitting guidelines. For example, football helmets should: fit snug; not move up and down; cover the base of the skull; sit two fingers width above the eyebrows; let the ear holes match up with the ears; have a centered chin strap; allow the cheek pads to be snug to the face but not too tight; and allow the face mask to be three fingers width from the nose and not limit vision. Protective pads for the shoulders, trunk, chest, ribs, hips, and thighs need to be large enough to cover the areas in need of protection. For example, shoulder pads should: cover the tip of the shoulder; cover the deltoid muscle (cups of the shoulder pads); allow the athlete to lift their arm overhead; and be tied, strapped, and secure. Again, when fitting athletic equipment, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s fitting instructions. In addition, athletic trainers and equipment managers are often able to assist in fitting protective sports equipment.

(This answer provided for NATA by Kysha Harriell PhD, ATC, LAT.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.