Football Equipment Guide: Everything You Need To Play

By Alex Mercer

September 14, 2021

The game of football is played with several pads to protect the human body. Before each game, the referee will check to ensure that every player has the right pads on their upper and lower bodies.

In this article, we will show you every piece of equipment you need to play football. Your program should supply pieces of equipment, but it’s important to make sure you have all of the pieces.


The first and most important piece of equipment is the football helmet. The athletic trainer, coach, or EMT should fit the player with the helmet properly.

It’s important that the helmet fits comfortably and will not move when the player contacts another player. We recommend trying on each helmet carefully when choosing a helmet.

Also, it’s important to make sure that the player wears the helmet for at least an hour a day before the first day of practice. Headaches and discomfort are common as the head is not used to wearing a helmet.

If headaches persist, it’s important to tell the coach so they can take the air out of the helmet’s bladder. If they persist, then it’s important to get a new helmet entirely.

See A Complete List Of Helmets For 2021 Here

Chin Strap

Helmets slide over the top of the head and are connected by a chin strap. Chin straps are also provided by the team, but you may be able to find a more comfortable chin strap.

Custom chin straps are a luxury and are worth the investment. Not only do they secure the helmet to your head, but they also provide your chin comfort on impact.

Chin straps are one size fits all, meaning that any of the chin straps you buy can be used by any age (youth or high school).

Most modern-day helmets will have the chin strap built into them. If it’s a helmet that requires you to buckle your chin strap, then you can completely customize it to your liking.

Mouth Guard

Again, a mouthpiece should be supplied by your football program. To find comfort and protection in a mouth guard, you must mold it to your teeth.

Most mouthguards will be able to be molded by simply dipping them in boiling water. From here, put it inside your mouth and bite down on it. This will create an imprint of your teeth in the mouthpiece. This will provide your mouth some comfort when you’re taking impact.

Naturally, when you make contact, your mouth will bite down. This is why a mouthpiece is necessary when a player is playing football.

See A Complete List Of The Best Mouth Guards Here

Shoulder Pads

Next, shoulder pads are a necessary piece of equipment when playing football.

Similar to fitting a helmet, it’s important to buy shoulder pads that fit tight to the sternum and shoulders.

Football programs will supply shoulder pads to each player. Most players will purchase their own shoulder pads that they can keep and reuse year after year.

In the ’80s and ’90s, shoulder pads used to be big. Nowadays, shoulder pads have gotten smaller so players can have more free range of movement. When purchasing shoulder pads, it’s important to make sure that your arms move above your head.

Back Plates

Backplates are not provided by the coach or the program; they are purchased separately.

Backplates provide lower back support. This piece of equipment is beneficial for wide receivers and running backs, as they may get hit by a defensive player when they’re carrying the football.

The backplate has also become a staple in style for players who want to emulate their favorite NFL player.

Some leagues may require players to tuck their shirts in, hiding the backplate. Others may allow players to expose their backplate when they’re playing.

See A Complete List Of Back Plates Here


Gloves are not a required piece of equipment, but they can help protect your hands and improve your performance.

For an offensive and defensive lineman, fingers may get caught underpads and facemask. To protect your hands, defensive and offensive linemen are made with a protective layering to help protect the hands.

Wide receiver and running back gloves are constructed with more tack on the palm-side of the glove.

This helps with catching and holding on to the football, all important skills needed to play running back and wide receiver.

See A Complete List Of Football Gloves Here


The girdle is also supplied by your program. The girdle is won under the game or practice pants.

The reason the girdle is so important is that it holds the tail pad as well as thigh pads. Most modern-day girdles will have built-in thigh pads if players don’t want to put their thigh pads in their game pants.

We recommend buying a girdle that has pads built into them. This way, the player doesn’t have to worry about the thigh or tail pad sliding around when they’re running.

Built-in pads in the girdle will ensure they stay tight to the body and don’t move on impact.

Football Pants

Teams will often provide practice pants and game pants. The practice pants will be worn during practices, and the game pants will be worn only on game day.

Some programs may use their practice pants as game pants, so it’s important to ask the coach if you’ll be receiving two pairs of pants or not.

Game pants can’t be purchased online and are only specific to each team. If your game pants rip or break in any way, it’s important to tell your coach as soon so you can get new ones.


A cup is an optional piece of equipment that the referee will not check form.

Cups are rarely worn by older football players but may be worn by younger players. Cups are the protective piece of equipment that will protect private parts from contact.

We recommend younger players wear a cup to get them comfortable, but it’s completely up to the player if they want to continue to wear it as they get older.

See Why Players Wear Cups In Football Here


Cleats must be purchased by the player. The program or school will not provide cleats.

It’s important to match cleats to your team colors; that way, you and your team will look uniform when playing and practicing.

Almost all football leagues will not allow metal spikes. Teams must use molded plastic spikes or replaceable spikes. Metal spikes are not permitted, and the referee will remove any player that has metal spikes.


Helmets, shoulder pads, and game pants with pads are the bare minimum equipment you need to play football. Referees may check each player before the game to ensure that all pads are securely in place.

These are all the pieces of equipment that are necessary to play football. While some may be optional, it’s important to go through each item on this list.

Be sure to ask your coach or program president if you will be given the necessary equipment or if you need to purchase it.

About the author

Hey There! My Name is Alex and I run Get Hyped Sports. I created this platform to help people find their love for sports and gaming.

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