The most important aspect of purchasing a youth football helmet for your child is that it fits, thus protecting the head properly, and reducing the chance for injury. Proper fit is of vital importance. The helmet should always move as the head moves. Measure your child for their helmet just about one inch above the eyebrow with a soft cloth tape measure. Keep in mind that everyone has a different size, and shaped head with many different features. Listed below are guidelines for fitting of the helmet, and what the proper fit should be:
1) Have your youth player place their thumbs in the side holes of the helmet, and hold the helmet up. Pull the helmet directly over the head, tilt the helmet back, and rotate down placing into position. Check visually to see if the fit is correct. The players ears should be showing in the center of both of the side ear holes of the helmet. If not, adjustments to the helmet will need to be made, or perhaps changing the helmet size or style.
2) As mentioned, the helmet should always move as the head moves. The skin of the forehead should move with the helmet. The front rim of the helmet should be about one inch above the eyebrow. If the fit is not correct, the player will not be able to see well when playing.
3) Ask the player to fold his hands over the top of the helmet, and push down. Most of the pressure should be on the top of the head, and not the forehead. If pressure is at the forehead, an adjustment needs to be made as the helmet is much too low.
4) The neck band should be secure and snug. Thus, the helmet will not move forward, or slide down on the player's nose.
5) The jaw pads should follow the sculpting of the cheeks. Every helmet has different sized jaw pads that are easily exchanged to ensure proper fit.
6) Adjust the chin strap, creating equal tension on each side of the helmet. The chin strap holds the helmet in place, and should be tight. Please keep in mind that if the player pushes up on the face mask, and the chin strap slips off the chin, the player will need to readjust until the helmet stays on the chin. Chin straps need to be snapped at all times. This is really very important so the helmet does not come off at impact.
7) Be sure to double check that helmets with air bladders are inflated correctly.
8) Face mask distance should be two to three inches between the end of the nose, and inside the mask.
9) The rear of the helmet should rest comfortably along the neck. Double check the fit so it is not too loose, or too tight.
10) Check for good peripheral vision with helmet on.
Helmets should be tried on with the way hair is normally worn day to day. It is suggested that hair be kept at a shorter length. If hair was longer when the player was fit for a helmet, and and then later cut shorter, the helmet should then be readjusted. It is suggested to wet a players hair prior to the fitting since players sweat and perspire during a normal practice, and on game days.
There are many reasonably priced helmets. The most reasonable being priced between 45.00 to 65.00, and mid-range 70.00-90.00. If you decide to look into purchasing a new helmet, they can cost up to 329.00. If you do choose to purchase a used helmet, keep the above listed guidelines with you for proper fit for your child. Most importantly the helmet needs to fit well, and be snug, but also be comfortable for the youth football player.