Whenever you decide to play a physically demanding sport, you need to protect the essentials of your body.
Sometimes wearing the standard football equipment (helmets, shoulder pads, lower body pads) leaves other important parts of your body exposed, and if you want to shield those areas of your body, you should buy the accessories to do so.
When you play a high impact sport such as football, it only makes logical sense to equip yourself with items that prepare you to get physical. This piece of equipment is key to reducing your chances of getting the wind knocked out of you; a feeling most players dread.
To elaborate on the rib protector concept in more definitive terms, it is an optional football accessory typically attached to the shoulder pads. In other words, it is not included in the standard set of football equipment.
While there is no “right” way to attach the rib protector, people commonly use bolts or screws to hold accessories such as a neck roll, or in this case the protector.
Sometimes you will come across certain brands that will offer a harness to wear as opposed to attaching the equipment manually using a bolt, but then again wearing the harness might not be as secure as physically attaching the item using metal tools.
Different Types of Rib Protectors
When it comes to protecting your ribs, there is the traditional rib protector, and then there is the padded compression shirt or vest, which is composed of compression material and integrated padding on the ribcage area.
Traditional rib protectors usually have a harness, straps, or both so that you can properly apply the item to your football equipment.
Sometimes the compression shirts also have integrated pads for the top of the shoulders as well, supplying extra padding underneath the shoulder pads.
Which one is best for you? Well, it depends on what you want in a rib protector. If you just want some extra padding throughout your upper body, the compression shirts with integrated pads will certainly give you that security.
If you’re searching for something with some bulk to it, but solid protection, the traditional rib protector doesn’t hurt.
You need to take the good with the bad. While you may hit two birds with one stone by obtaining a comfortable compression shirt with rib padding, the padding may not be as thick and/or reliable as the traditional material.
Why Wear a Rib-Protector?
Wearing a rib protector is most important for skill position players, primarily the Quarterback.
This is because the players who have the ball in their hands are the most likely to be tackled, so leaving the rib section unprotected could potentially lead to injury if you get hit hard enough in the right spot.
The Quarterback always runs the risk of getting sacked in the pocket. Some games, the offensive line isn’t playing up to par and you could potentially get blindsided in the backfield.
Skill players in football (Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Running back, Defensive back, etc.) tend to be thinner than the linemen and linebackers.
With less body fat, their rib cage is more susceptible to serious injuries such as bruised/ broken ribs, and a punctured lung for example.
While rib-protectors are very useful for skill players, you can wear one even if you don’t touch the ball.
It isn’t rare to see linebackers and defensive backs wearing rib-protectors. After all, they get into the mix just as much as any other position, so it isn’t unreasonable to cover their torso with padding.
The uncommon position to wear a rib protector would be offensive and defensive linemen. Granted, you will find your exceptions, but overall most linemen tend to stray away from utilizing a rib protector. Who knows, maybe it’s a pride thing.
Whether you are participating in the youth or adult level, if you value your rib cage and back you should go out and get a rib protector. No one has eyes in the back of their head.
You’ll never know who is coming to blindside you. Using a rib protector or padded compression shirt can help you shield yourself from potential injuries.
Best Rib Protector Reviews
1. Schutt Varsity Rib Protector
The Schutt Varsity collection is the ideal rib protector. It gives you 360-degree full protection of your rib/stomach area and also offers a harness to wear it separately, or you can attach it using the straps provided for a more secure fit.
Since you want the rib protector to fit your body tightly, it is recommended to purchase a size smaller than you usually wear. Some reviews on Amazon claim that the item runs large so it’s best to go below your usual fit.
That way the item fits tight on your body and has a better ability to protect you.
- Harness and strap options give you choices on how to wear the protector
- Full 360-degree padding assures excellent protection
- Schutt is a reputable football company
- High Price
2. Nike Pro Combat Hyperstrong Fitted 2 Pad Padded Football Shirt
This Nike product is a 2-pad integrated compression shirt offering rib protection. The dry compression material offers you a tight, flexible fit with quality sweat absorption.
The built-in foam padding across your ribs helps protect that area from impact. This quality of the fabric is very high-end, but the rib pads are too thin to make a true difference.
The point of having thin rib pads combined with a compression shirt is to have something that absorbs impact as well as sweat. It is also tailored in a way where it doesn’t add extra bulk to your torso.
While I am strictly focusing on rib protection, you can also check out the 4-pad version.
- Compression material absorbs moisture, keeping you dry throughout the game.
- Added rib padding combines two accessories (rub protector and compression shirt) into one.
- Flat pads don’t make it difficult to put on/take off other equipment.
- Pads are too thin for thorough protection
- Some players prefer having the option of attaching the equipment as opposed to wearing it.
3. Schutt Youth Integrated Protector
This item is extremely beneficial for youth players out there. Since the young body is always growing and maturing, it’s important to avoid serious injury at all costs.
This rib protector shirt provides thick impact-absorbing padding to protect your child from a rib injury. The fabric is light and comfortable, so you won’t have to worry about overheating.
This item looks like a sleeveless compression shirt, with protective pads on the lower torso area.
- A lot of padding
- Compression material is light and sweat absorbing
- Some users find the material to be “cheap”
4. Schutt Youth Protector Vest
Similar to #3, this youth product provides a reasonable amount of protection to the back and rib area.
The biggest difference between the two is that this product is an easy-to-remove vest that strongly resembles a life jacket that those who cannot swim usually wear. Children grow, so it would be too much work to have a protector attached by a bolt.
With this adjustable vest, you can put on and take off this vest easily and stay protected.
A negative about this protector is that there is an open space in the back, which means it lacks protection.
- The adjustable vest gives you the ability to change the fitting and wear it when you want
- Thick pads can absorb impact easily
- Too much area is exposed in the back
- Might not fit as snug as an attached rib protector or compression shirt
5. Douglas Junior Rib Protector
Douglas is well known for its football products such as rib protectors and neck rolls.
This wrap-around protector covers your whole torso area with foam padding behind hard plastic plates so you can take hits and not feel as much pain as you would without any equipment.
The loopholes provided gives you plenty of room to adjust how high or low the rib protector can sit.
- Covers a lot of surface area
- Soft pads mixed with hard plastic proves to be solid protection
- Adjustable attachment loops give you options
- No harness; limited to loopholes on the straps
- While it could be attached to any set of shoulder pads, they fit best on Douglas shoulder pads (too many limitations)
The rib protector is most important for the players who want to protect their bodies from injuries sustained due to blindside hits.
While Quarterback and other skill positions can definitely capitalize on the rib protector, other defensive positions can wear them as well.
When looking for padding, you have some options. You can purchase the traditional rib protector, like the Douglas item, a rib protector vest, or a padded compression shirt. The product you decide to wear really depends on what level of protection you are looking for.
Any of these options can effectively serve the adult or youth levels. No matter which route you take, breaking yourself from vulnerability will always go a long way.