Do Youth Football Helmets Actually Protect Players?

Football is among the most popular sports in the USA. Millions of Americans play this sport all around the country on various levels, the topmost of which is the NFL (National Football League), with the Superbowl being its biggest annual sporting event.

One of the things that stands out about this sport is its rough nature and physicality. The sport is hands down one of the most brutal and unforgiving mainstream team sports in the USA. For this reason, one sees so much protective gear being put on by the players, the most prominent of the lot being shoulder guards, jockstraps, and the football helmet.

What are the dangers to football players:

As popular as this sport is, it is much more intimidating, especially if you are an upcoming player striving to make a career. The brutal and rough nature of football is hidden from no one, and it is what makes the play being performed on the field impressive because, at all times, there is someone rushing in to counter and tackle your move.

The average playing period of a football athlete is said to be just about 3 to 4 years; this tells a lot about the unpredictability of the sport and the extra awareness and carefulness that needs to be taken into account while playing football. And if the player has suffered a substantial hit to the head, then the scope of him taking up other occupation post-retirement becomes slim to none.

Youth and Football:

The said sport has produced numerous sporting heroes for the country who stand as role models to many youngsters in the USA. The economic backup offered by the game is stranger to no one, so in order to secure the future financially, many kids and teenagers move towards football in the USA.

Despite this, a large portion of the American population believes in not sending their children to the sport due to how physical the game can be; one nasty bump or hard strike could potentially result in a permanent and lasting impact of CTEs. Any sudden impact can cause the brain to go back and forth, resulting in a chemical change in the brain that eventually cause a concussion which can vary depending on the seriousness of the injury itself.

Emergence and importance of AYF:

One of the giant steps taken by the NFL to discover talent from across the country and develop future football superstars is the program called AYF which stands for American Youth Football. Starting in 1996, the league involves participants from all 50 states, giving those who have talent and dreams to pursue a career in this sport but do not have financial assistance to back it up. The AYF is officially partnered with NFL at all levels and gets significant sponsors from the sports industry.

Youth Football helmets:

Any young athlete playing under the age of 15 will be using the youth football helmets. However, there are some exceptions depending on the size of the head of the wearer, skill level, and league rules. The cost of youth football helmets are comparatively less than that of adult football helmets, and this can be attested by the fact that many upcoming players and newcomers who are adult use it too.

As is the case with most things, these helmets have both pros and cons. The advantages of youth football helmets are as follows:

  • Lightweight – These helmets weigh around 2 pounds, and with all the straps and facemasks, they round up to about 3-5 pounds. The light weight makes it easy on the neck, and maneuverability is more prominent.
  • Material – The material used for manufacturing these helmets is ABS plastics, which are used fitting to make the shell of the helmets.
  • Adjustability – The helmets come with the function to adjust as per the need, aided by the additional padding and custom fitting.
  • Youth League uses – The AYF requires the athletes to wear the youth helmets while playing, not the adult ones.

Other than these, the size and price, which were already touched upon, are also advantageous aspects of the helmets.

The disadvantages of youth football helmets:

  • Performance – The youth football helmets made with ABS do not provide the same level of performance as the adult helmet and can hinder the players’ overall productivity.
  • Durability – They are built from a comparatively weaker material than the polycarbonate used for manufacturing adult helmets; hence, they can not take direct hits and sustain serious impacts.

The difference between Adult and Youth football helmets:

The thing to choose between adult and youth football helmets is that the adult helmets are comparatively heavier, bigger, and made with quality material. The basic difference lies in the polycarbonate used for the adult helmets making it harder than the youth football helmets. The youth football helmets are made with ABS plastics and can be roughed up quite easily.

It is important to note that both helmets have their designated audience; as the name suggests, the adult helmets are directed toward adult athletes, and the youth one is for young athletes under 15 years old.

Now deciding which one to get is pretty straightforward; if the athlete is an upcoming one, it is wiser to go for the youth helmets as they are cheaper and lighter in weight and offer a decent amount of protection. As for adult football helmets, they are to be preferred by adult athletes with enough experience in the world of football. These helmets are stronger inbuilt and are costlier as well.

Do Youth football helmets actually protect the player?

The football helmet is, hands down, one of the most iconic pieces of protective gear in the world of sports, more so in the USA, so there is that aesthetic appeal, but this should not let one escape from the fact that the helmets are not explicitly designed to prevent head injuries, particularly not brain-related ones. The helmets, however, avoid superficial injuries and external fractures and severity, but that is about it.

As for the youth football helmet, it is safe to say that they are built to sustain a certain degree of damage, but beyond that certain degree, they can not safeguard young athletes. Depending on the impact’s intensity, the helmet’s working will be judged. If they hit at full force, then the chances of the damage will be high and vice versa. In either case, the helmet will for sure provide a substantial amount of protection to the youth wearing it.

Finishing up:

It is established that the youth football helmets do not actually protect the players from serious injuries, especially the major internal ones that could affect the brain. However, it can not be ignored at the same time that a helmet can still come in very handy when the point of impact is not as direct. So wearing the helmet is a no-brainer but being cautious on top of that is the best course of option without endangering oneself and the body.

Be it linemen, quarterback, running back, wide receivers, or tight ends, all of the position needs to be preserved, and the players playing there need to be protected; for this reason alone, any of the football athletes taking the field must don the helmet at all times.