Confidence does play a huge role on the football field and especially as you grow older and the games become tougher, your confidence can be shaken much easier after a few hard hits. The fact of the matter is that you are going to take hard hits on the football field, but they can be reduced with the right equipment.
Top Football Shoulder Pads Comparison Chart
The best football shoulder pads will help protect your neck and shoulders from those strenuous hits and many types also feature back plates to help withstand those blindside shots. When you know you are protected, you will be able to take more hits and even play with more confidence and thus you will stand out from the crowd.
We have set out to find the best football shoulder pads and evaluate them to show you how tough they really are and what are the benefits you will receive from wearing them. We also tried looking for value deals which are affordable and will give you the best possible playing experience, while also ensuring that you are protected.
But, before we look at the top football shoulder pads, it is worth looking at the makeup of these pads and giving you the knowledge to understand exactly what to look for in the best shoulder pads. Once you know what to look for, you will be able to find the best shoulder pads much faster and not waste as much money on the wrong ones.
Football Shoulder Pad Buying Guide
Key features to look for in the best shoulder pads:
While we understand that price will be a factor, we also need to mention that it is cheaper to protect the body than to repair it. Having more durable shoulder pads are expensive, but you will be able to play with them for longer periods of time before they need to be replaced and therefore, we have looked for the perfect balance between price and features to give you the best value.
The size might sound like an obvious reason, but adults and youth players will not wear the same shoulder pads. It is also important to know which size fits you to ensure that they fit comfortably and that you have enough space for optimal mobility.
As you improve and move higher into the top leagues, the hits become so much harder and you will need to have durable shoulder pads. Durable shoulder pads will not break or crack on harder hits and they will protect your body from serious harm. They will also last you longer to help you save money.
Anything around your body needs to be perfect when playing football and this is the same for your shoulder pads. The shoulder pads should also allow optimal space for you to have mobility and to freely use your arms to make that last minute game-winning tackles.
There are multiple types of shoulder pads on the market and each of them has been designed for a specific position, but we recommend looking for all-purpose shoulder pads to help improve the protection and you will know that you are protected from all sides
While the exterior shell is important, the interior cushioning should also be looked at. The best shoulder pads all have impact resistant technology incorporated to allow the body to take those tougher shots. The inner cushioning should also be comfortable to wear.
Added Front and Back Plates
Blindside hits are awful and painful and they can really cause bad injuries. The back and front plates are equally important to the shoulder pads and they also need to be durable and impact resistant to ensure that you are protected.
By using these features as your guideline, you should be able to easily choose the perfect shoulder pads for your needs and you will also be able to save a few bucks on some of the unnecessary features.
The moisture management can also be looked at as this will allow the pads to shed water faster and also allow the body to cool down and a good wash after every game will help remove the messy stains and odors.
With that being said, let’s look at the top football shoulder pads for youth and adult players:
Best Shoulder Pad Reviews
Designed for intermediate level youth players, the Shutt Sports Youth Flex 2.0 all-purpose shoulder pads are great for any position. The pads have been designed for intermediate players and they feature an extended body length design. The entire design has been padded to allow for maximum protection and to ensure that your blind spots are covered.
The pads feature a double foam padded cushioning system and this will help absorb the impact from harder shots and also allow for a more comfortable fit. The pads also have 7 mm vents already built in and this will aid in the ventilation of the pads and this will allow you to feel cooler on the field.
Furthermore, the pads are lightweight, thus making it easier to wear for longer drives and they will put less strain on your shoulders. The pads have been tested and many believe that they offer varsity level protection for younger and intermediate players. The pad also straps on with an elastic and stretchable strap. This will make the pads more flexible and you will also have improved mobility on the field.
We highly recommend these pads for youth players and if you manage to find a bigger size, they will last you that much longer. The pads are also fairly cheap and the all-purpose use will make them great, should you change positions.
- Really affordable
- Double padded foam cushioning
- Durable plastic outer shell
- Elastic strap for more mobility
- The back plate needs to be bought separately
Designed to be lightweight, the Shutt Sports Varsity XV HD shoulder pads have also been created for all positions and will be great for younger players experimenting. The shoulder pads are extremely light, thus limiting the amount of strain on the shoulders and also providing maximum support in collisions.
The raised corrugations are great for adding strength to the already durable outer shell and this will help with resisting impacts on the field and the added body strap will be great for ensuring a more comfortable and tighter fit.
Furthermore, the shoulder pads feature high-quality TPU cushioning to help absorb the hits and protect the vital body parts from injuries during collisions. The spacious design also allows for more mobility, thus ensuring that you will be able to move freely on the field and have optimal arm movement to make tackles and handoffs much easier. These pads can be used by intermediate and varsity level players to improve body protection on the field.
The shorter design is great for tight ends and fullbacks to maximize your movement with the perfect protection for hits from all sides. We highly recommend these pads for college level students and they are really affordable for the quality protection that they offer.
- Reasonably priced
- Great for high impact positions
- Spacious fit for more mobility
- High-quality TPU cushioning with shock absorbing properties
- Runs in very small sizes
The Rawlings SRG Ignition Youth Elite shoulder pads have been designed for youth players and one of the first things that come to mind when looking at them is the amount of protection offered. The pads are fully surrounded with shock absorbing foam pads to reduce the impact of any hit and they are also quite light. This makes them great for speed positions and quarterbacks will be able to take those unsuspected hits and also have the confidence to scramble out of the pocket. Rawlings makes a point of stressing the small profile of this pad for maximum mobility. It features removable clavicle pads for customized protection.
The 1-inch TPU hook up belt is great for giving you that comfortable fit and the inner cushioning will also improve the way the shoulder pads sit on your shoulders compared to other speed position pads.
We highly recommend these for speed positions like safeties and cornerbacks as well and the lightweight will help improve your mobility on the field.
- Durable high-quality outer shell
- Comfortable inner cushioning
- Great for blindsided hits
- Designed for speed positions and quarterbacks
- Does not offer the best neck and front protection
The Douglas Sp Series Mr. DZ football shoulder pads are some of the more expensive pads on the list. They have been designed for the more experienced college football players. The pads are made from 100% polyurethane and covered with a lightweight nylon to help increase the durability of the pads.
The pads feature open cell foam cushioning for more protection against hits and the air will quickly fill up after every collision. All over the pads are multiple vents to allow optimal ventilation to get through and to give you more confidence after taking hits. These pads have been created for high impact positions like linebackers and fullbacks and you will still have the added spacious fit to allow more mobility as well.
Furthermore, the shoulder pads also feature a low-cut V-neck for more neck movement, thus allowing for more on-field awareness and allowing more neck movement for you to see the entire football field
We highly recommend these for tough impact positions in college-level football. The durability will offer you multiple years of use and the easy to wash pads will allow you to clean the pads and remove sweat stains from every game.
- Great for high-impact positions
- Easy to wash after every game
- Large air vents for better ventilation
- Low-cut V-neck for better neck movement
- Extremely expensive
Designed from extremely lightweight materials, the Shutt Youth Air Flex all-purpose shoulder pads are great for almost any position on the football field. These pads are great for improving your mobility on the field and they are also available in larger sizes for the physical men up front.
The arch has an extended cut on the back and front to improve the coverage area and to protect the abdomen and the lower back from unsuspected body hits. The lower extended cut also features the soft cushioning to help with shock and impact absorption and also give you more confidence to take those hard hits.
Furthermore, the pads feature multiple smaller holes all over the body to allow optimal ventilation, thus keeping you cooler on the field. This should really come in handy on those longer drives. The antimicrobial layer is great for reducing those foul odors and clearing up the sweat on the pads between plays, while the pre-drilled accessory holes allow you to add extra protection if you need.
We highly recommend these pads for their multipurpose use and the fact that they can be used at any position. They are available in larger sizes as well and should be a great investment for the whole team if you consider sponsoring a high school team
- Great for all positions
- Offer lower body protection than any other youth pad
- Antimicrobial materials to reduce odors
- Features optimal ventilation to keep your body cool
- The extended cut is something to get used to
If you are looking for more mobility, but still decent protection, the Shutt XV Flex shoulder pads will be great for you. These pads are lightweight to reduce the strain on the shoulders and also give you more mobility on the field. The smaller arch cut is great for quarterbacks and it allows more arm movement, thus allowing you to use the full power of your arm for those throws deep down the field. Defensive ends, Offensive Ends, Fullback, Tight Ends and Linebackers are all served well with this pad.
The contoured plastic also acts as a reinforcement to give more protection to the durable outer shell and the softer cushioning on the inside will use air to absorb some of those hard hits from different sides. Furthermore, the antimicrobial materials will ensure that your skin has 24/7 protection from bacteria and this will also help reduce the foul odors from sweat.
We highly recommend these pads for high school and college players. Cornerbacks and safeties might also enjoy the freedom to move your arms, but the lack of protection on the shoulders could be bad for tackling.
- Lightweight to reduce fatigue
- Low arch cut for more arm movement
- Contoured plastic to reinforce the outer shell
- Does not offer enough shoulder protection for tackling
The Riddell X-Force II JR/Varsity shoulder pads are great for all purpose use. These pads will be especially great for experimenting with different positions in high school and the flat pad design gives the pads a more low profile feel. This is great for improving your mobility and it will also not restrict your arm movement to allow you the freedom of catching and throwing more efficiently.
The pads also feature a new and improve Z-fit belt to help with the fitting and with this belt, you will be able to choose a tighter or looser fit during the game. The belt also makes on-field adjustments much easier.
These pads are also extremely cheap, thus making them perfect for experimenting and to give you the opportunity of playing multiple positions with the same confidence. We highly recommend these pads for high school use or even varsity kickers as they will not hamper the range or motion.
- Extremely cheap
- Great for all positions at high school level
- Low profile to allow more freedom and mobility on the field
- Can be easily adjusted
- Does not offer enough protection at college level for physical players
The Gear Pro-Tec Z-cool shoulder pads are great for youth players to play with. These pads have been designed for longer drives and the moisture absorbent fabric will not only allow for optimal ventilation, but it will also dry up the moisture in no time at all. This should give you a cooler playing experience.
The pads are a little heavy and thus, they will be great for the big men up front and the durable outer shell will reduce the impact taken on hits. The reinforced shoulder protection is great for defensive players and will keep your shoulder optimally protected when you go in for those hard hits.
Furthermore, the pads feature thousands of tiny beads which have been incorporated in the cushioning and they will act as air pockets. This will help absorb the impact and reduce the strain on your body from taking side hits and also making hard hits.
We highly recommend these shoulder pads to bigger and more physical players to help protect the body from tough hits. These pads are also really cheap, but they will not be suitable for speed positions and the weight might cause fatigue.
- Great for offensive and defensive linemen
- Really affordable
- Reinforced shoulder protection
- Advanced moisture absorbing properties
- These pads are a little heavy
High school and junior parents should love the value offered by the Shutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 all-purpose shoulder pads. These pads are great for every position on the field and they are also really affordable with some strong protective features to keep your child safe.
The pads are extremely lightweight and this will be great for not distracting the younger football players from the game, while the soft inner cushioning will give the perfect fit to the body of your child. The inner cushioning also uses air to absorb the punch from harder hits, thus making the pads more reliable in harder high school hits.
Even quarterbacks will have their back and sides protected from blindside hits and this pad is great for developing confidence on the playing field. Furthermore, the pads have been treated with antimicrobial materials to help remove the foul odors caused by sweat and to reduce the risk of bacterial infections after prolonged use.
We highly recommend these pads for younger players. Because they are really affordable, your child will be able to experiment with different positions before you need to invest in a position-specific shoulder pad. The back plates and rib protectors are unfortunately not durable enough for college football
- Really affordable
- Great for all positions on the field
- Treated with antimicrobial materials to reduce bacteria
- Add 7mm vent holes for adequate ventilation
- Smaller sizing needs to be taken into account when you purchase them
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
We would like to thank you for reading this article and we hope that you now have a better understanding of football shoulder pads. With all of these pads, it is hard to recommend one as the best, but we do know how reliable the Shutt brand is with football clothing and accessories. Also be on the lookout for advances in football equipment technology as injuries and concussion in football is a very hot subject right now.
We would like to encourage you to let us know about your experiences with these pads and if you have any questions about them. We would also like to encourage you to tell us if you think we have missed any of you favorites.