What Youth Football Parents Need to Know About Helmet Reconditioning

By Peter Schwartz | Posted 2/25/2020

When a parent makes the decision to register a child to play youth tackle football or if their child is going to play for a middle school or a high school team, there are a number of questions that you should have ready for an administrator or a coach. The first query should be relative to the helmets that will be supplied. 

Given the landscape surrounding the game of football at all levels these days and the concern by many head injuries, you will want your child to wear the best possible helmet. You will also want to make sure that the helmets provided are going through the proper reconditioning process. 

Riddell helmets getting reconditioned

“I would absolutely ask that question whenever somebody goes to sign up their young boy or girl with any team,” said Kyle Borland, the Vice-President of Institutional Sales for Riddell.  “That would be one of the first questions. I would ask if the team is supplying the equipment and I would ask if this helmet is recertified on a yearly basis or every other year basis.” 

In order to meet the standards of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), any helmet that was made after the 2017 season is mandated to be reconditioned every two years or the helmet no longer meets the industry standards. This policy is in place whether the helmet is issued by the program or school or if the parent decided to purchase a helmet for their child.

Riddell helmets getting reconditioned

There was a time when it was commonplace for parents who bought their child a helmet to not even bother going through the reconditioning process.

A typical thought of a parent would be…

“I’m going to buy my own helmet. I’m not going to worry about reconditioning. I’ll just keep it in my garage until next season and then the next season and they were using these helmets for three and four years,” said Borland.

But today, a parent’s first concern is the safety of their child. You will want to ensure that the program or team is using a top of the line helmet and that they are also sending out the helmets for reconditioning either every year or every two years. Riddell is the gold standard when it comes to helmet reconditioning and they will handle that process for any helmet that is sent to them, even if it’s not a Riddell helmet.

But, step one in this entire process is making sure that the program or school is following the industry standards when it comes to helmets.

“If it’s not, I would insist, as an individual, that if I still want my young boy or girl to play in that program that I will buy my own helmet and recertify it myself,” said Borland. “Riddell’s stance has always been that every young man or woman deserves a clean and re-certified piece of equipment.”

When Riddell receives a helmet for reconditioning, it goes through a rigid process to ensure that the helmet is still up to standards and about as close to brand new when it’s sent back to the owner. Every aspect of the helmet is inspected when it goes through the reconditioning process. 

Riddell helmet in bag

“We’re going to inspect not only the shell but also, all the interior protective parts within the helmet and accessory parts of the helmet. This would be cages, chin straps, jaw pads and those types of things to make sure that everything is functioning the well it was originally manufactured to function,” said Borland.

When a program, a school or an individual gets the helmet returned, it will meet original manufacturer specifications. The turnaround time for this process is generally around a month and the cost for reconditioning a helmet is usually is around $85. As the helmet goes through the process, Riddell will determine if the helmet just needs a basic reconditioning or if the helmet will need additional attention.

Riddell helmets and pads

“That [$85] will cover everything, but if there are parts that need to be replaced or somebody wants to change their facemask color or that kind of stuff, that is generally extra. They will communicate that to you once the helmet is inspected.”

My son has his own Riddell SpeedFlex helmet that is currently going through the reconditioning process just as we did with his old Riddell helmet. But, it should be noted that his middle school, as well as, the high school he will attend both have top of the line helmets and send their helmets out to Riddell each year for reconditioning.

That was not the case with the first youth football program he played for years ago. It took a friend of ours in the industry to see a photo of him from a game on social media to alert my wife and I that he should probably have his own helmet if the program didn’t start to follow the industry standards.

She was absolutely right. Now, we share our helmet experiences with other parents. Do your homework on helmets, ask questions at the time of registration, and make sure that the helmet, whether it’s supplied by the program or school or you buy one for your child, is reconditioned either every year or every other year. 

Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York.  His son Bradley plays middle school football on Long Island and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football.   Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets and the XFL’s New York Guardians when they’re not at a youth football field.