Parents of youth football players already know that not every player is created the same. Some children are born to play skill positions like quarterback, running back and wide receiver. There are some players who are meant to be in the trenches as linemen or tight ends. And there are those who are destined to be skill positions players like kicker, punter or even long-snapper. Since football players come in all shapes and sizes, parents certainly understand that so does the equipment including jerseys, pants, helmets, gloves, girdles and cleats.
But here’s something that not all parents may know but should be aware of…shoulder pads also come in various styles and sizes and depending on what position your child plays, you’ll want to make sure that he or she is wearing the right type of pads for his or her position. Most youth football programs hand out shoulder pads at the start of the season as part of the equipment and for many years, my son Bradley simply wore whatever the program gave him.
Bradley has been a center since he was seven years old but he was probably nine or ten when he started wearing his own set of shoulder pads that were designed for offensive linemen. Over the years, he’s had several similar types of shoulder pads but obviously the size goes up as a child gets older. If you want your child to have his or her own set of shoulder pads, you’ll need to know what type of shoulder pads are designed for your child’s specific position.
And be prepared to turn on a dime if your child has a position change.
One would think that a long-snapper would need the same type of shoulder pads as a typical offensive lineman, but that can sometimes not be the case. Bradley has been developing as a long snapper over the last couple of years and recently brought something to the attention of my wife and I. He’s been noticing that as he does more long snapping, the pads have been riding up and causing discomfort to his neck and at times can’t see where the ball is going.
As it turns out, there are shoulder pads now made for long snappers so if your child is focusing in on specializing as a long snapper, you may want to talk to your child’s coach or search online for those types of pads. In Bradley’s case, he’s also playing center so long snapping pads aren’t the best option for him. He’s using skill position shoulder pads that will give him some extra neck room that will enable him to use them for both center and long snapping.
I’ve written a lot about how important it is for a youth football player to have a safe helmet but also one that a child would be comfortable wearing. It’s also now important for parents to ensure that their child is wearing the correct shoulder pads for the position that he or she is playing.
Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network and WFAN Radio in New York. His son Bradley is a freshman in high school and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared enjoys playing flag football. Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets when they’re not at a high school or flag football field.