The rigors of the season can take a toll on protective equipment. Specifically, in order to keep helmets functioning at a high level from the first day of training camp to the day you turn it in for reconditioning, some in-season maintenance can go a long way.
We sat down with Kyle Borland, Vice President of Institutional Sales for Riddell, to find out what coaches, trainers or even parents can do to keep helmets properly protecting their athletes all season long.
Checking for Proper Fit
A properly fitting helmet is one that protects athletes the best. Everyone should be focused on maintaining proper fit each week and sometimes day-to-day, as things can change as the season progresses says Borland.
Borland recommends checking helmets every Thursday leading up to game days by ensuring the front pad is resting in the right place on players’ foreheads (one inch above the brow) and that their jaw pads are making good, solid contact in the cheek area. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, you can refer to Riddell’s online fitting guide. If fit is off, Borland recommends examining and adding air where needed using the inflation points on Riddell helmets. For other manufacturers' models, check directly with their guidelines to ensure proper fit is achieved.
Additionally, you need to check the placement of chin cups to attain a proper fit. As players work through drills and games, chin straps can become worn and loose. Ensuring the Strap-Loc attachment system is tight and functioning properly ensures a helmet stays fit and in place. If straps are worn, Riddell recommends replacing them with a new chin guard entirely to prevent further slippage.
Broken or damaged hardware parts on helmets can become a danger to players during practice and games and should be fixed immediately to prevent injury to others or further damage to a helmet says Borland.
Many of the parts of a helmet have a specific job and if one is out of place or broken, it may reduce the effectiveness of the helmet. Common things to look for include: loose valve caps, missing or broken chin strap clips, face mask clips, damaged air bladders, missing Quick Release pins and broken Strap-Loc pieces. Borland recommends all programs keep a Riddell accessory kit on hand to quickly and easily repair helmets to reduce downtime during practice and/or games.
Nothing is worse than a chin strap attachment breaking during a game and not having the parts to get a player back on the field quickly, says Borland. Most of the time, these things are preventable if proactive steps are taken to care for and maintain helmets throughout the length of the season.