One of the main differences between rugby and American football is the use of protective gear. In American/gridiron football as it is known, the players are seen sporting lots of equipment as part of their kit, all of which are designed to absorb the shocks and heavy impact that the players usually have to encounter in a game that is as physical as this.
So what are the various pieces of equipment that these players wear? You have read about the rules and scoring system, but these are the equipments that keep the players in the EFLI safe from injury. There are a whole host of stuff that goes into the kit, but here are some of the basic pieces of equipment that almost all the players use:
The helmet is one of the most important components of the kit as it protects the players’ head and goes a long way in preventing fatal injuries to that part of the body. The helmet in itself has various parts to it – the shell, jaw pads, abdomen bladders, face mask, chin strap and mouth guard.
The shell is usually made of hard plastic and is the main outer covering that you see. The shell has some really thick padding inside aimed at cushioning blows received by the player. The face mask is made up of metal bars and this prevents any direct injury to the face and any other body part from directly coming into contact with the face. The strap is of course aimed at ensuring that the helmet stays fixed on to the player despite constant hits.
Each of the helmets are tailor made for the players after taking measurements of their head so as to ensure that the helmets fit perfectly.
Apart from the protective angle, the helmets are also one of the most dazzling parts of the overall kit, and one that many fans would love to get their hands on. Here are some of the helmets from the teams in the EFLI.
The shoulder pads are important due to the sheer number of tackles that go into an average American football game. Anytime a tackle has to be made, it is the shoulder that is used to make that tackle and it is important that the shoulder is braced for impact. These pads too, just like the shell in the helmets, are made up of a hard plastic outer layer and lots of padding on the inside, designed to take some heavy blows.
The shoulder pads, once worn, cover the shoulders, the chest and the ribs of the individual . These are the pads that gives the players that broad-shouldered and barrel-chested look.
There are two main functions that the shoulder pads perform – Absorbing the impact from the other player, and distributing that impact across a greater region of the footballer’s body as opposed to the force being felt in one particular part alone.
The gloves are one piece of equipment that vary a lot depending on the position that the guy is playing at. Generally, the receivers can be seen wearing gloves. They do this for better grip aimed at helping them gather the ball better when it is thrown to them by the Quarter Back. These gloves have a sticky nature to them and are rather aptly called tact gloves.
Another set of players that wear gloves are the linemen. These guys do a lot of the work in and around the scrimmage lines and are particularly involved in the most physical of clashes both on offense and defense. Their gloves generally have extremely thick padding in order to protect their fingers and hands overall.
The shoes worn in American football are very similar to the ones that are worn in regular football (soccer) from the viewpoint that both have spikes on their soles, called ‘cleats’. The size of the cleats are changed by the players depending on the surface that they’re playing on and also the condition of the surface; like longer cleats are worn for wet fields, to avoid slipping by ensuring greater traction and shorter cleats help you be much faster if the field is dry.
Hip pads, Thigh and knee pads, Tailbone pads
Just like the shoulder pads, the above mentioned pads are designed to protect the very areas that they bear in their name. The tailbone and hip pads serve to protect the hips, pelvis and the tailbone. These pads are worn under the footballing pants. Likewise for the thigh and knee pads which are put into pockets under the pants. Each of these pads are made of very hard plastic for maximum protection.
The mouth guards or mouthpieces as they are sometimes known are protective dental instruments that protect the teeth and the tissues in the mouth against collisions and impact.
The jockstrap is made up of an elastic waistband and a cotton pouch that supports the genitals. It is like a triangular piece of equipment which has two elastic straps connecting the base of the pouch and the left and right sidelines of the waistband. Like an abdomen guard that is used in cricket, sometimes the pouch contains an additional cavity or pocket where a protective cup is worn to further prevent damage to the area.Published 01 Mar 2014, 12:51 IST