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When you finish this chapter you will be able to:

  • Discuss legal concerns related to the use of protective equipment.

  • Identify the different types of protective equipment available for various parts of the body.

  • Describe the proper technique for fitting a football helmet and shoulder pads.

  • Discuss what consideration should be given to shoe selection.

  • Discuss the efficacy of knee and ankle braces in reducing injuries.


Because of the nature of sports activity, injuries often occur. A number of factors, either singly or collectively, can contribute to the incidence of injury. Certainly the selection, fitting, and maintenance of protective equipment are critical in injury prevention.28 Thus, it is essential to have some knowledge about the types of protective equipment available for a particular sport and how that equipment should best be fitted and maintained to reduce the possibility of athletic injury.27

This protection is particularly important in direct contact and collision sports such as football, hockey, and lacrosse, but it can also be important in indirect contact sports such as basketball and soccer. Selecting and purchasing protective sports equipment makes a major commitment to safeguard athletes’ health and welfare.27


There is serious concern about the standards for protective sports equipment, particularly material durability standards—concerns that include who should set these standards, mass production of equipment, equipment testing methods, and requirements for wearing protective equipment.

Standards are also needed for protective equipment maintenance, both to keep it in good repair and to determine when to throw it away. Too often, particularly at the secondary and middle school levels, old, worn-out, and ill-fitting equipment is passed down from the varsity players to the younger and often less-experienced players, compounding their risk of injury.27 Those purchasing equipment must learn to be less concerned with the color, look, and style of a piece of equipment and more concerned with its ability to prevent injury.16 Given the current overwhelming public concern for concussion injuries related to sport, this is particularly important for football helmets. Many national organizations are addressing these issues. Engineering, chemistry, biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, physics, computer science, and other related disciplines are being utilized to solve problems inherent in safety standardization of sports equipment and facilities. Focus Box 6–1 lists regulatory agencies.

imageFocus Box 6–1

Equipment regulatory agencies

American National Standards Institute

1819 L Street NW

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 293-8020


American Society for Testing Materials

100 Barr Harbor Drive

West Conshohocken, PA


(610) 832-9585


Athletic Equipment Manufacturers Association

Dorothy Cutting

Cornell University Athletic Department

P.O. Box 729

Ithaca, NY 14851

(607) 255-4115


Hockey Equipment Certification Council

18103 TransCanada Highway

Kirkland, QC H9J ...

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