Best Football Shoulder Pads in 2018

Football shoulder pads help athletes prevent injury by absorbing shock and distributing it so there is less pressure at the area of contact. The best ones offer maximum protection while staying low profile, allowing for mobility and flexibility.


A number of factors have to be considered when choosing the best football shoulder pads for for game day and practice. Shoulder pads have to be somewhat lightweight so that a player isn't bogged down running while also being able to absorb hits and disperse force throughout them. Good gear helps make the best shutdown comebacks of all time happen. They should also offer a wide range of motion and flexibility so that players are not restricted when running or tackling. Below are 10 of the best football shoulder pads that offer both safety and comfort while playing. 

Varsity XV Shoulder Pad by Schutt

The Sports Varsity XV Shoulder Pads by Schutt are made of high density EVA foam, which offer greater shock absorption and durability. Some users have reported that these give a wider range of motion and are great for receivers when compared to the school issued shoulder pads. According to Schutt, they are the lightest varsity shoulder pad that they could design while retaining a standard that is similar to pro level play. These also come with pre-drilled holes to allow for easy attachment of accessories.

Prospect Pro by Sports Unlimited

The Prospect Pro shoulder pads from Sports Unlimited have a focus on protection and flexibility. They can be worn by linemen and receivers alike due to their universal design, so they make for perfect football gear for linebackers. A flat pad design on the shoulders allows them to lay lower than normal which allows for more head movement and additional comfort. They are rated among the best football shoulder pads due to their dual-density foam which soften hits and the two-in-one belt system which helps keep it tight to the body without giving something for opposing players to latch onto.

Prospect Youth by Sports Unlimited

Similar to the Prospect Pro, the Prospect Youth is better suited for children and young adults. It provides additional protection by extending down the lower torso and back. Like the Prospect Pro, it also features a double layer of foam, light weight design, and a universal design. It's worth noting that there are built in air channels as to prevent heat from being trapped inside the pads. With promoted air flow, it will stop sweat build up and odor from becoming a nuisance with these shoulder pads. 

Flex 4.0 Shoulder Pads by Schutt

Flex 4.0 shoulder pads by Schutt are made for adults who are looking for maximum protection. It features a second layer of foam inside to help absorb impacts from hard hits. Like the Prospect Pro and Prospect Youth, there are built in vent holes which helps promote air circulation. Schutt is well known in sports protective gear, including football helmets, padded shirts, and football equipment like these shoulder pads. They are known to follow recommended safety standards. These shoulder pads are great for adults of all sizes as they range from Small to XX-Large.

Y-Flex 4.0 Shoulder Pads by Schmutt

Schutt's Flex 4.0 for adults was also designed as a separate shoulder pads with the Y-Flex 4.0, which is for children. Like the Prospect Youth by Sports Unlimited, these football shoulder pads offer additional protection by extending down the body. Airflow continues to be a function that Schutt pays special attention to here as well, as they have included 7mm vent holes and breathable mesh to help reduce the impact of body heat being trapped. As noted by Schutt, these are well-suited to a player in any position. 

ALT II 744 Shoulder Pads by TAG

The TAG ALT II 744 shoulder pads are made for children's football, being perfect for kids in the range of 60 to 80 pounds. They are made to last with aegis microbial technology, which both preserves their durability and makes them more resistant to the effects of sweat and odor. When running up and down the football field, its important for children to have secure shoulder pads that won't fall off or become loose. The ALT II 744 come standard with a side belt and buckle system to ensure they stay on all practice or game. It pairs well with the best football gloves you can buy.

Varsity XV Shoulder Pad by Schutt

This junior shoulder pad by Schutt uses a similar design to some of the other ones we've reviewed thus far. The low-profile, flat construction of the shoulders allows them to lay lower, which gives more room for a child's neck and shoulders to move—similar to the Prospect Youth. The great thing about the Gear 2000 shoulder pads is that they can fit youth players of all sizes. The XXX-Small goes down to children as low as 30-45 pounds while the large can fit children from 115-140 pounds. While they are lightweight and easy to put on and take off, they may offer less protection than some other shoulder pads available. 

Scorpion Shoulder Pads by CHAMPRO

These youth football shoulder pads by CHAMPRO offer a variety of fits depending on the child's size. Like the Gear 2000, these can fit children under 40 pounds while their biggest size goes up to XX-Large. They also come with a simple release system so they can be taken on and off with ease. With a low profile design they allow for easy maneuverability by players. Due to their lightweight and thin design, they might be easier to run with but may offer slightly less protection than a shoulder pad like the Prospect Youth. 

Z-COOL Shoulder Pads by Gear Pro-Tec

Z-COOL shoulder pads have a focus on staying dry and absorbing impact. Their patented moisture transfer technology allows them to dry in just 3 hours after practice is done or post-game. They are best suited for players not in skill positions as their heavy duty protection causes them to lack in way of mobility. These kind of shoulder pads will benefit lineman the most as they will do the least amount of running, and it will their patented technology will help keep them cool and aid towards preventing overheating. With sizes from X-Small to 3X-Large, there is should to be a a set available for any player from youth to junior varsity. 

Xflexion Flyte Shoulder Pads by Xenith

The most important aspect of football shoulder pads are to prevent injury, and the X-Flex technology found in Xenith's youth shoulder pads aids in that cause. When a player wearing the Xflexion Flyte shoulder pads takes a hit, a multi-stage compression helps to distribute it as to reduce impact energy. These feature a floating sternum plate which is connected with flexible shock cords, allowing the plates to move independently. The shifting of pieces is ultimately what allows shoulder pads to reduce the risk of injury and these go a step further to include that in the sternum plate as well. 

A good set of football shoulder pads are essential to every player's longevity in the game.

Football shoulder pads go a long way in helping players stay in the game during their playing career. The pads at each shoulder are strung on using tight webbing, which allows them to deform on impact, which then distributes the shock through the larger pad. The best football shoulder pads have additional foam layers, cooling mechanisms, and offer mobility for players at skill positions. Consider these top 10 best rated football shoulder pads if the school does not provide any or they are simply not adequate enough in terms of safety.

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Best Football Shoulder Pads in 2018
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