How to choose the correct football helmet?

Are you thinking about buying your very first American Football helmet or do you need a new helmet? This guide will help you to understand more of the features and most important parts of a new football helmet.

It's very important for a football helmet to fit correctly. Read through this guide and use the information wisely to figure out the right measurements for you.

Football helmets play a major role in protecting the player. All the helmets that Forelle offers meet the standards of National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, also known as NOCSAE.

Please note that no helmet can completely prevent an athlete form an injury.

In the picture below you can learn more about the anatomy of the helmet.



The outside of the helmet is called the shell. The shell is likely to be seen as a barrier against the impact. It has a durable and strong construction. It is normally made out of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plastic or polycarbonate alloy. The ventilation throughout the shell increases the airflow which promotes heat management and comfort for the player. Some of the models include an air system that assists in tightening the helmet pads to your head’s specific shape which gives the player a more custom fit.


There are two different kinds of padding that are often used to cushion the helmet. The padding is often pre-sized or inflatable. To make it fit better on your head, you can use thicker or thinner pads. When using a helmet with inflatable pads, you will need a proper padding pump for it. Otherwise it might damage the valve and the inside of the padding.

Please keep in mind that there should be no space left between the temple of your head and the helmet. Also there should be no space between your jaw and the helmet. A helmet that fits well should not move when worn.

The two types of padding are Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU) Foam or Vinyl Nitrile Foam.
TPU foam doesn’t require compression time or a period to break-in the helmet like regular foam does. It also absorbs a great amount of shock during the moment of impact.

The Vinyl Nitrile Foam does require a break-in period so the padding is not too tight against the head of the player. However this break-in period will not take too long. This kind of foam also has efficient shock absorption and it comfortably protects the athlete during plays and hits.


You can buy a facemask at the same time with the helmet or just separately. These masks are usually made out of carbon steel or stainless steel for a lightweight but strong protection on the field. The first thing you need to check is if the facemask is compatible with your helmet. There are a few options available regarding facemasks with different kinds of protection.

  • Oral Protection: Clear field of view, designed for Quarterbacks, Defensive Backs and Wide Receivers.

  • Oral & Jaw Protection: More protection provided for blocking and hitting players. Designed for Running Backs and Tight Ends.

  • Oral & Nose Protection: Also designed for Wide Receivers and Running Backs and remaining an open field of view.

  • Oral, Jaw & Nose Protection: Designed for Linemen, while they encounter constant hard hits.

  • Oral & Eyeglass Protection: Also designed for Linemen and other positioned players which are on the receiving end of the hits.

Some helmet and facemask brands offer the Quick-Release feature, this allows faster access to an injured player.

Helmet Accessories

Three main products that are in this category are the Chin Straps, Mouthguards and Eyeshields & Visors.

After some time getting hit after hit it's possible that the liners of your helmet become weak and damaged. Therefor it's usefull that you can change your helmet liners and overliners yourself. This way you can make sure that you extend the life of your helmet! 

When fitting your facemask on your helmet properly you'll need an hardware kit. These mounting kits contain helmet accessories like mounting clips, mini pins or helmet screws.

A chin strap is directly attached to the helmet and is available as a soft cup and a hard cup. There should be no space between the strap and the helmet which gives the facemask a proper fit around the chin of the player.

The mouthguards protect your mouth and teeth from injury during rough plays.

Eyeshields & Visors fit into the facemask. You can compare these with glasses but without any prescription. These visors are not required to play but are an extra item to protect your face and eyes with. First of all, make sure that the visor will fit on your facemask. Also check with your coach if a visor is allowed in your league. Tinted visors are for example not allowed during matches in a lot of leagues.

Fitting the helmet

It is very important that your football helmet has a great fit. This guide helps you select the right measurements.

First of all you’ll have to measure your head. Have a friend or your parents take your measurement.
Wrap the measuring tape 1-inch above your eyebrows and all the way around your head. The reason behind this is because the helmet will rest on this place. Write down or remember the circumference of your head.

Once you have the measurements, refer to the specific size chart of the product that you would like to buy.

After purchasing the helmet there are a few steps to follow to get that perfect fit.
1. Put the helmet on your head.
2. When you have bought a helmet with inflatable padding, you might need to pump air in the areas that need extra air.
3. Pump air in these areas until the helmet feels snug and comfortable around the head.
4. When the helmet has interchangeable pads, you can change these for thicker or thinner ones so your head is secure.
5. The helmet should be resting 1-inch above your eyebrow.
6. Lock your fingers together and press down on top off the helmet.
7. The pressure should appear on the crown and not on the brow.
8. Remember that there shouldn’t be any space between the temple of your head and the helmet and between your jaw and the helmet.
9. Try moving the helmet up and down or left to right. When the helmet fist correctly there should be no shifting or twisting of the forehead or skin against the pads. Everything should move as one.

Click here for the Riddell helmet fitting guide.