So, your kid wants to play football. But, no one else in the family has ever played tackle football before. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many of us have gone through the same experience as a first-time tackle football program parent.
Now, you’ve registered your child with the Jr. Raiders (Welcome!), and at some point, you’ve found your way to Flagtown to pick up the football equipment. Now you have a bulky mesh equipment bag, filled with strange articles and pads. What are they? How does the player wear them? What does the parent need to know and do?
It can be confusing, but don’t be afraid to ask a league representative, a coach or a football-veteran parent. However, we hope you will find this guide helpful.
Each tackle football player receives the following:
All the above items, except the mouthpiece, must be maintained and returned clean at the end of the season.
Players (you) will supply an athletic supporter and protective cup, which must be worn (by the player, not you silly) for all practices where equipment is worn and for all games. Players will also supply socks and footwear. Football shoes/cleats are not mandatory but are recommended. Sneakers, soccer cleats or baseball cleats are acceptable, but no metal spikes can be used.
How to put these together
The player will have been fitted for all the equipment
Helmet - The chin-strap will need to be adjusted by a coach while the player is wearing the helmet. It should be centered on the chin and snug, but not tight. The chin-strap must be snapped at all four points for all practice drills and for all game plays. Teams receive penalties when all players in the game do not have their chin-straps snapped at all four points.
A word about helmets. They are expensive, each costing the league more than $125, and they are not indestructible. Please take care of the helmet. This includes not allowing them to be thrown around or slammed to the ground or other objects. Please use them only for Jr. Raiders’ practices and games.
The mouthpiece needs to be molded. With the player present, dip the mouthpiece in boiling water, holding the strap end. Hold in boiling water for 10 seconds then quickly dip into a ready container of cold water for no more than 3 seconds, then quickly place in the player’s mouth. It will be warm, but should not burn. Have the player bite-down firmly on the mouth piece and suck-in the water. Hold for ten seconds. Then return to the cold water for a firm set. The process can be repeated if a good comfortable fit is not achieved on the first try. The process can also be repeated with the same mouthpiece later during the season if the fit needs to be adjusted.
Players with braces should use a mouthpiece provided by or recommended by your orthodontist (these do not require molding).
Loop the mouthpiece through the faceguard on the helmet. Remind players to use the mouthpiece for all practice drills and on every game play. Teams receive penalties when all players in the game do not have their mouthpiece in their mouth on any play.
Rib-pads – Worn just like a vest. First, put on a tee-shirt then the rib-pads over the tee-shirt, (both before putting on the shoulder pads). Adjust the height of the rib pads with the straps, so that the rib pads are indeed covering the player’s ribs. Use the Velcro straps in front to tighten and secure. Cross the straps if needed. The rib-pads should be snug, but not tight and should not interfere with breathing or movement.
Shoulder-pads – Place on the shoulders with the laces in front. The player can easily pull down the laces and secure with the sliding tightening device. Connect straps from the back, under the arm-pits, and clip into the slots in the front. Players will become accustomed to doing this themselves but will need help in the beginning.
Wear a tee shirt underneath the shoulder pads and rib-pads, even in warm weather. In cold weather, a long-sleeved tee-shirt, athletic shirt (i.e. UnderArmor brand or similar), turtle-neck shirt, or even a snug sweatshirt (without hood) can be worn under the shoulder pads.
An oversized tee-shirt or practice jersey with room in the shoulders for the pads, must be worn over the shoulder pads in practice. We recommend that the players do not wear the game jerseys in practice.
Pants – As listed earlier, you have two pairs of pants, both are fully integrated. The pants can (and should) be washed without ever removing the pads.
Any missing or broken clips for the helmet, chin strap or shoulder pads can be replaced at the equipment table during summer practice, or with your team coach throughout the season.
Done(almost)- Now, take a picture of your new football player, dressed in full-gear.
We hope the player and the whole family enjoys the football experience, which we think is like no other. An experience in individual learning and commitment, true teamwork, physical and mental challenge and personal development. With that comes fun times and memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy!