Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
With Texas high school football regionals, quarterfinals, state semifinals and state championships scheduled for the weeks ahead, field safety should remain a top priority for coaches and trainers. While football presents many opportunities for injury, proper helmet use may reduce the number of occurrences, as well as severity.
Fitting a Football Helmet
An infographic from National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) helps parents, players and coaches evaluate proper helmet fit and use. (See the full infographic below.) According to NATA, the circumference of the player’s head should be measured one inch above the eyebrows. Helmet size can be selected using this measurement. Once the air bladders are inflated, the helmet should be placed on the player’s head and checked for the following issues…
- The helmet fits snugly around the front, sides and crown of the player’s head.
- The chin strap is sung against the chin, preventing the helmet from moving side to side or up and down.
- There aren’t any gaps between the cheek pads and face.
- The helmet doesn’t twist – it only moves with the player’s head.
- When pressing down on the helmet, the player feels pressure on the crown of the head, not the brow. Pressure on the brow indicates the fit is wrong.
- The helmet sits two finger widths above the eyes.
- The face mask is securely attached, doesn’t block the player’s vision and is three finger widths away from the chin.
- The base of the skull is covered.
- The ear holes align with the opening of the ear canal.
What’s a Football Player’s Responsibility?
NATA encourages football players to inspect their helmets prior to each use. Specifically, players should use these opportunities to check for (1) proper fit, (2) damage to the liner, shell or face mask, and (3) loose hardware. It’s critical to emphasize that players should never wear a damaged or ill-fitting helmet. Additionally, players are responsible for keeping their chin strap locked at all times during play.
Players, coaches and parents should be aware that multiple factors can impact the fit of a helmet, including (but not limited to):
- Air temperature
- Changes in altitude
- Hair length
- Damage to the air bladder valve
For more information, see the NATA infographic below.
Questions? Ask a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor
For more information about football safety, make an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546, or schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.