The UK Rules
Equipment Checklist

American Football Equipment List

As a 'rough and tumble' competitive sport, some protective equipment in gridiron football is essential. All players should use the proper gear and wear suitable safety equipment during the game.

So, the big question is: what kind of equipment is used in American football games and what is mandatory for the football players to wear?

Equipment for American Football: Table of Contents

You need lots of bulky padding equipment to play American Football. You will always see the players decked out in body armour and protective gear. Even so, the bruising game still has one of the highest rates of injury.

And the reason American football players wear pads?

Extra bulk from padding and accessories helps to ensure their safety during the match. American Football padding equipment protects the body as much as possible. But, physical injuries do occur from crunching collisions.

The full American Football kit list depends on personal preferences and regional league rules. That said, wearing a certain amount of approved safety equipment is mandatory... NOT optional.

The brutal truth about American Football uniform parts:

So how do professional football players protect themselves and reduce the risk of serious injury? Here is the run-down of the basic safety items to include in the American Football gear list... and a few accessories too.

American Football Helmet

Players will tell you that a helmet is one of the most important items in any American Football equipment list. The helmet combines a face mask as part of the actual hard hat.

Image of white coloured American Football helmet and chinstrapSo, the integral parts of an American Football helmet are:

  • Chin strap
  • Jaw pads
  • Integrated face mask
  • Mouth guard
  • Shock absorbents (to reduce impacts)
  • Visor (an optional attachment)

Head injuries are commonly associated with playing football and rugby games. Wearing a proper fitting helmet and face mask reduces the risk of concussions.

Helmets must be securely fastened to your head using the chinstrap. The chinstrap attaches to both sides of the head protector and it should fit secure and snug under your chin. Fastening the chinstrap prevents the helmet from coming loose and flying off while running.

Note: The American Football regulations state exactly how you should wear your helmet for safety. For example, the front edge should rest one (1) inch above the eyebrows.

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NFL Football Mouthguard

A mouthpiece is required equipment when playing American Football. The purpose of using a mouthguard is to protect teeth, mouth, and jaw against injury.

All players MUST wear a mouthguard at all times during a game. An American Football mouthpiece should be a bright visible color.

Note: Learn even more about the paraphernalia in our list of American Football terminology used by the players and officials [updated for 2019].


Neck Collar (or neck roll)

Linebackers, and the defensive lineman, often wear some form of neck collar. For example, you might see them wearing a neck roll to increase protection against whiplash injuries.


American Football Equipment List and Accessories

Shoulder Pads American Football

In American Football shoulder pads are mandatory equipment while playing the game.

So, here's how American Football padding works:

  • Wearing shoulder pads helps the players absorb some of the physical shock treatment they receive from tackles.
  • Wearing padding also allows players to hit into a tackle with less risk of injury.
  • Equipment manufacturers produce American Football shoulder pads in various sizes.
  • That is one reason why football players who wear shoulder pads look to have broad shoulders.
  • But, the padding size you need depends on the position that you play on the field.

As a rule, quarterbacks wear smaller and lighter 'flat' shoulder pads. One reason why quarterbacks wear less padding is so their natural throwing motion is less affected by bulky material.

Linebackers and defensive ends usually wear larger cantilevered shoulder pads. They need them to protect their bodies from constant crushing impacts.

Hip Pads, Thigh Guards, Leg and Knee Pads

American Football safety equipment protects the lower body parts of players too. Wearing leg pads and hip pads is mandatory. Other padded items include hip pads, large thigh guards, knee pads, elbow pads, and tailbone protection.

Players will wear these types of padding accessories inside their pants or a sports girdle. In fact, many of the players use a sports belt to tie the hip and tailbone pads around their waist.

List of American Football Pads

  • Arm Pads: A light and flexible compressed pack to help the players stay bruise free.
  • Elbow Pads: This type of skin-tight webbing helps to protect elbows from serious impact.
  • Rib Pads: Besides absorbing and distributing physical shock they also help to normalize body temperature.
  • Hip and Tailbone Pads: Inserted into the pouches of a belt and worn underneath the pants.
  • Thigh and Knee Pads: Plastic or foam quilted pads placed inside pockets stitched to the inside of the pants.
  • Jerseys: In most cases, the coloured shirt will be a loose jersey made from nylon material, often with coloured side panels. As a rule, the team colour also mentions the player's name and the number.

Jockstrap (cup)

Most male players wear a padded cup to protect the sensitive groin area. This type of American Football protective equipment is standard for almost all males in the game. Wearing a jockstrap helps to reduce career ending injuries from groin impact during play.

Male pants tend to be nylon mesh with four individual pockets on the inner side to secure the thigh and knee pads

Note: Read through the American Football NFL Rule Book PDF version for the full codified regulations and 2019 rules changes.


American Football Gloves

Gloves are not mandatory equipment, but some receivers will wear gloves to aid catching the football ball. They find it easier to grip the ball with gloves on - especially when playing in cold weather conditions.

Lineman gloves would usually be padded with a thicker linen material to protect the different parts of their hands and fingers.

Official Size for the Ovoid Ball

Of course, you will also need a ball and a kicking tee to have a official American football match. The Ovoid ball is an oval or 'egg-shaped' brown coloured ball.

The football ball measures eleven inches (or 35 centimetres) in length from tip to tip. The circumference, when measured at the centre of the ball, is 22 inches (55 centimetres).

As a rule, an American Football Ovoid ball weighs around 450 grams and should have an inflated pressure between 0.6 and 1.1 atmospheres.


American Football Cleats UK

Wearing proper footwear in American Football is most important. You must wear plastic or metal tipped football cleats during the game. But, many youth football leagues stipulate wearing rubber tips.

Football cleats help to protect the midsole area of the foot. They also provide greater support in lateral movement. You need good traction to quickly apply power and accelerate down the field.

American Football cleats (spikes) come in three general styles:

  • High-cut: High-cut cleats provide superior ankle support but often hinder movement.
  • Mid-cut: Mid-cuts provide a balance of strong ankle support and smooth mobility.
  • Low-cut: Low-cut cleats are generally lightweight to improve quick unhindered mobility.

List of Equipment Needed for American Football: Checklist of Accessories

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