Shoulder Pads


Shoulder pads must provide maximum protection to the shoulder blades, the collarbone, the collar bone-shoulder blade joint and the ball portion of the upper arm bone. They should be light and well balanced to allow for a maximum range of motion and be fitted to the athlete’s exact specifications to provide total protection.


Start by asking the players what position they play, as this will determine what type of shoulder pad they should be wearing. Shoulder pads are usually grouped as follows:

  1. Quarterbacks, Receivers, Defensive Backs, Kickers
  2. Running backs
  3. Linebackers
  4. Linemen

After determining what type of shoulder pad is needed, measure the player’s shoulder width.


(Figure 2).


Back Measurement
Medium 17″ – 18″
Large 18″ – 19″
X Large 19″ – 20″
2X Large 20″ – 21″
3X-Large 21″ – 22″
4X-Large 22″ – 23″
5X-Large 24″ +

Measuring the width, from shoulder tip to shoulder tip with the players’ arms hanging at their sides will give a maximum shoulder width measurement. Do not leave measurements in 1/8” or 1/4”! Round up to the nearest half inch.

Note: Some manufacturers have different measurement systems.

Choose a shoulder pad that fits the player’s position. Using the measurement, choose the proper size. Shoulder pads normally give both a style number and a size letter along with width measurements in inches.

Putting on Shoulder Pads
  • Have the player try on the shoulder pads. Before doing up any straps etc. check to see if the shoulder pads fit across the shoulders. The pads should cover the shoulders from tip to tip. Do not let players wear the pads if they do not cover the shoulders completely. If the player that you are fitting has extremely big trapezius muscles, you may have to try a pair of pads one size larger or a pair with deeper channels.
  • Now have the player fasten all the straps and laces where applicable (both the front and/or back). It is important to make sure that the shoulder pads have been securely fastened in both the front and/or back.
  • Check to see if the shoulder pads are restricting the player’s arm movement or pinching the neck area. The pad should extend 1/2″ over the deltoid (shoulder muscle). There should also be 1/2″ between the neck and the shoulder pad. With the player wearing his helmet, have him raise both his arms above his head and out in front to simulate catching a football.

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