American Football Equipment and Training: Tips for Beginners and Veterans of the Sport

shoulder pad

The biggest sport in the U.S. has won many fans in the world. Learn what equipment is needed to play American football.

Some people may know the Super Bowl. It’s because of the incredible shows and commercials that take place in the main break of the event. But there is a much bigger universe than the Super Bowl in the United States. American Football has motivated several fans to follow the National Football League (NFL) and play the game. And if you’ve ever wondered what equipment is needed to play American football, this article is for you!

Being a contact sport, it is necessary to have good protective equipment to practice it. It is very important to invest in items with good material, to avoid injuries and serious bruises. The main protective equipment are shoulder pads, helmets, gloves, and groin protectors. There are several others that can help you to protect yourself and also to have a better performance.


The helmet is a piece of essential equipment for the protection of athletes and should never be underestimated. For professional players, the helmet is usually tailor-made. But it is possible to find good models ready. Inside, they are coated and padded to protect the skull from any impact during training or play.

In general, the helmet is made from polycarbonate plastic or polyethylene. These materials are light and resistant.

The helmets also have a kind of grid that stays in front of the face, also protecting the nose, mouth, and chin region. These grids are usually made of carbon steel or iron. And their shape also depends on the position of the player in the team.


Another mandatory item for games and often also for training. Well, it depends on which maneuvers your team will be practicing. These braces serve mainly to protect your teeth. These will also prevent you from accidentally biting yourself on impact.

Shoulder Pad

The equipment that comes to people’s minds the most when it comes to football. The shoulder pads (from the English “shoulder pad”) are worn under the shirt and look like armor. Thus, protecting from the shoulders to the chest area. They are made of rigid plastic with acrylic foam and coated in nylon. It will help to relieve the pressure of the vast majority of collisions that occur during the game.

This is essential and mandatory equipment for those who want to practice football. Although it is one of the most expensive pieces. It is important to invest in good equipment, preferably with certification.


There are  specific boots for American football. It depends on what position you are playing. Running Back, for example, the boot’s barrel is usually higher, avoiding twists. Its front lock is a bit bigger, to give more grip during plays, and they are also usually reinforced.

Some boots are even more different, depending on each player’s position. But if you’re just starting out or practicing for fun, a basic boot will do the trick.

Rib Protector

Although not a mandatory item, the rib protector can give you more security during the game. As the name suggests, it’s made to protect impacts on the rib. It prevents you from getting hurt in this region of the body and even breaking one of the bones.

Thigh, hip, knee and groin protector

To complete the “armor” of American football, there are also some smaller pieces. But still, they remain essential for the safety of the game, such as the thigh, hip, knee, and groin pads. Although they are not mandatory, they are helpful equipment to have during a game.

Other equipment

Besides the equipment already mentioned, there are still more.  Things like training shirt, elastic pants, socks, and gloves.

These types of equipment are cheaper and simpler to find. So we decided to focus more on the other equipments needed to play American football. This does not mean that these last pieces of equipment are less important during the practice of the sport. Stay protected at all times, listen to your coach and teammates’ advice and play well!


How to Train Strength and Power for American Football

The most critical physical abilities to be developed in an American Football athlete are strength and power. All positions need these two abilities. The whole game depends on speed. The fastest and strongest team is already in front of the score.

The STRENGTH is mainly related to the blocks and tackles. POWER is related to jumps, fast exits, changes of direction and acceleration. Therefore the whole team must develop these physical abilities throughout the season. Both strength and power can take your game to another level.


Basic exercises such as FATTING, EARTH LEVELING, SUPPLYING AND DEVELOPMENT OF WORKS are excellent for working strength and power. Both in the upper and lower limbs. I consider them to be mandatory for everyone. An athlete who ignores these exercises will hardly stand out in the field. A well-done training with Squat and Supine will guarantee a strong athlete in the blocks, tackles, and fast on the field. The Earth Raise helps to develop a quick exit in a Line athlete, besides strengthening all the muscles of the trunk, mainly lumbar.

Olympic Weightlifting

The Olympic Weightlifting is also an excellent tool. During the Weightlifting, the athlete uses his muscular fibers of fast contraction. They are responsible for generating power. With the development of these fibers, the athlete can jump higher, change direction quickly, and have a quick exit from the still position. And make all other explosive movements made in the field.

Example of Strength and Power Training: Olympic Survey

Georgia Tech college team player using the Olympic Survey

As this is an extremely technical modality, it must be rigorously targeted. Posture and execution errors, besides not providing all the expected benefits, significantly increase the chance of an injury, (in the bodybuilding room). This type of training should be done with adequate equipment:

  • Olympic bars: These bars have bearings on the ends. This allows either the bar to rotate in the athlete’s hands and therefore avoids injuries to the wrists and elbows.
  • Special  Olympic Weightlifting  rings: These are suitable to be thrown on the ground. After a heavy lifting the correct is to release the bar, and not hold its descent.
  • Rubberized floor: To receive the impact of the bar when falling.

The most common thing is to see people doing these exercises with the wrong technique. It’s better not to do it than to do it wrong and to hurt yourself.


Pliometry training, jumps and sprints are excellent for developing power.

The heels work on the rapidly contracting muscle fibers and the elastic component of the muscle. This increases heel height, shift speed, and acceleration. They are easier to practice, the athlete just has to have where and what to jump. WR’s, who need to have a fast exit and jump high, have good results with these trainings.

Sprints are the short distance and maximum speed shots. They can be done with a change of direction to simulate the situations that the athletes face on the field. This type of training has a full response to the field movements of all positions.


Another interesting option is to apply Strongman training. The main advantage of this type of training is to improve the strength of the trunk muscles (Core). That’s why it has a lot of transference to the movements in the field. Training the core dynamically is the best way to improve the athlete’s performance and prevent injuries. I’ve never seen a player doing a board in the field.

Some exercises:

FARMERS WALK: Consists of crossing a certain distance by holding a weight (can be bar, ring or dumbbell). This displacement with the addition of weight strengthens the stabilizing muscles of the trunk. It is an excellent exercise for OLs.

TIRE FLIP: It consists of turning a tire, usually very heavy. The technique is very important in this exercise. I’ve seen a lot of people doing it wrong. The only ones I’ve seen doing it right are the Strongman athletes themselves. The main mistake is getting it wrong, leaving the thorax away from the tire, and bending the back. This exercise is a good tool to strengthen the muscles of the lumbar region during the hip movement.

SLED WORK: Exercises done by pulling or pushing a heavy sleigh. They are great for developing lower limb strength. The dynamism of these exercises is very similar to a Bull Rush, being a great option for a DL.

All these exercises depend on the proper equipment, few gyms have them.

Another important benefit of this type of training is to improve the cardiovascular capacity of athletes. 

The team’s annual training program should plan throughout the season. The best way to apply the training so that the athletes are in their best shape in the most decisive matches. A smart trainer can get his athletes in the best shape by using a weight room with bars, washers and dumbbells.