An athlete wearing football shoulder pads

An athlete wearing football shoulder pads (Photo by Real Window Creative on Shutterstock)

If you play sports at any level, then you know that safety equipment is critical to your success. You need the right equipment to excel, whether you’re playing baseball, basketball, or football. Football, in particular, requires a whole lineup of equipment in order to play your best. Football players need the right helmets, cleats, and shoulder pads to keep them safe on the field. The best football shoulder pads will keep kids in the game and protect them from injury while having fun on the field.

Playing team sports has many benefits for kids. A study by researchers from the University of South Australia says that kids who play sports, meet up with friends, or even practice music feel much better about themselves than kids who go straight to screens and devices after school. The study found that children’s well-being improves when they participate in extracurricular activities but drops when they spend time on social media or using screens and devices. 

Keeping kids active and engaged in after-school activities is a great way to promote their social skills and enhance their academic performance. However, not all activities are created equal. Another study finds that kids who play team sports such as basketball and football are less likely to suffer from mental health issues. Conversely, researchers found that youngsters who only play individual sports – such as tennis, golf, or gymnastics – are at greater risk of mental health issues than kids who don’t play sports at all. That’s all the more reason to invest in some quality shoulder pads and get your kids involved in football. 

So, which sets of shoulder pads are considered the best on the market today? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports equipment reviews in an effort to bring you a consensus list of the best football shoulder pads. Our list comprises the seven most frequently recommended items from across these sites. Do you think the reviewers missed a set of great shoulder pads? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

Football player holding his helmet
Football player holding his helmet (Photo by wavebreakmedia on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Football Shoulder Pads, According to Reviews


1. Schutt XV HD Football Shoulder Pads

These shoulder pads are great for any position. They are comfortable and breathable, and help you perform your best on the gridiron. “With its state-of-the-art construction, the Schutt XV HD shoulder pad is designed to give elite football players the optimum level of protection. The front of the pad has a unique Tactical Arch Design that ensures maximum range of motion without giving up protective coverage. With Perforate high-density EVA foam for better breathability throughout the pads, the XV HD is a great choice for players seeking improved comfort during those sweltering late-summer games,” explains Sideline Swap

Schutt XV HD Football Shoulder Pads
Schutt XV HD Football Shoulder Pads

The perforated foam design keeps players cool while the arch design helps players remain mobile and agile. “The Schutt Varsity Shoulder Pad is a high-performance football shoulder pad designed for skill positions. It features a lightweight varsity design with a high-performance arch to minimize weight and increase airflow. The raised corrugations provide additional strength and ventilation, while the deep cut allows for a wide range of motion without compromising on protection,” furthers Find This Best

The arch design also helps take some of the weight off of players’ shoulders so they can roam freely and make plays. To go with the arch design, Schutt also incorporated padding that can be repositioned. “You will be pleased that this product has a curved design, as it ensures that your shoulders are subjected to a minimum load. In addition, this integrates moisture and heat to allow airflow to and from the disc head and keeps it cool naturally. To ensure proper fit and coverage, the hook and loop padding can be repositioned. Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity is also designed with a low profile for improved mobility and durability,” adds Scott Fujita

2. Xenith Xflexion Velocity Football Shoulder Pads

Xenith is a leading producer of shoulder pads and football safety equipment and these shoulder pads are a prime example of this brand’s commitment to excellence. “The XFlexion Velocity model might just be their best design yet. This modern, aggressive and sleek design offers improved protection and flexibility so that you can tackle any opponent. This particular design is suitable for all positions at the varsity level, however, when it comes to skill players, these shoulder pads were created with quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs in mind,” writes Gear Hungry

Xenith Xflexion Velocity Football Shoulder Pads
Xenith Xflexion Velocity Football Shoulder Pads

You won’t feel constricted in this equipment. “This lightweight pad is built to maximize your mobility, thereby allowing you to stretch for that spare inch. Ultra-lightweight allows footballers to keep their steps and stay protected on the field,” furthers ShocPro

These Xflexion Shoulder Pads are great for skill positions but also work well for linemen and defensive players. “Unlike the Mid Flex 4.0, they have a recommended use for not only middle school-age players and high school-age players, but as well as college players and even professional players. These shoulder pads are super lightweight and breathable as they’ve been designed with compression molded padding. This is a dimple design to the pads that helps to increase airflow through the pads. This keeps your player cooler while playing hard in the heat,” adds The Smart Consumer

3. Schutt Varsity Flex 4.0 Shoulder Pads

These shoulder pads are designed for adults and aren’t meant for youth players. “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,” writes Unbalanced

Schutt Varsity Flex 4.0 Shoulder Pads
Schutt Varsity Flex 4.0 Football Shoulder Pads

As explained, Schutt produces a full line of football safety equipment, so it should come as no surprise that they design some of the top shoulder pads available on the market today. “The Schutt Varsity Flex 4.0 All Purpose shoulder pads are designed to fit most players. They are for the players looking for maximum protection and performance. Ideal for fullbacks, linebackers, defensive ends, tight ends and linemen. However, they seem to be a good choice especially for running backs. These shoulder pads are extremely light in weight,” adds Scheidsrechsters

Running backs need lightweight pads that can withstand big hits and absorb the impacts of being tackled by huge defensive linemen and tough linebackers. Plus, players shouldn’t feel overheated. “When the game heats up, so does the intensity. And that’s when the heat and moisture come into play. The Varsity FLEX 4.0 football shoulder pad deals with those elements head-on by offering maximum protection for every defensive position, including linebackers, fullbacks, defensive ends, and offensive linemen. Using the Varsity FLEX 4.0 gives you the same high-performance pads that colleges and pros use,” adds ShocPro

4. Xenith Element Hybrid Shoulder Pads

Xenith makes yet another appearance on this list and for good reason. These shoulder pads are great for linebackers who need extra protection but also need the ability to move freely and comfortably on the field.

Xenith Element Hybrid Football Shoulder Pads
Xenith Element Hybrid Football Shoulder Pads

Scott Fujita is a former NFL linebacker who played for the New Orleans Saints, so he’s certainly an expert in the world of football equipment. “Linebacker is a combination of defensive midfielder and defensive defender. Their pads also need to be hybrid. If you are looking for the perfect fit for roadsiders, choose Xenith Element Hybrid Varsity Football Shoulder Pads. With lightweight protection, you’ll be able to move with ease, which every paving provider needs. These pads also don’t restrict movement too much and come with straps to keep you in place in the pad. Four more pluses of these pads are that they’re breathable, moisture-wicking, four-way stretch, and are compressed,” explains Scott Fujita

Although you or your kids might not be NFL-caliber linebackers, the Xenith Element Hybrid Shoulder Pads are still a great choice. “Hybrid is a balance of movement and coverage for the modern position-less player. If you’re a defensive end, but often drop into coverage or an H-back tasked with blocking down on d-lineman and catching a wheel route down the sideline Element Hybrid was designed for you. Xenith shoulder pads are designed for the committed athlete; lightweight and low profile allowing for a full range of motion without sacrificing protection,” furthers Gridiron Elite Training

If you or your child plays linebacker, do yourself a favor and check out these great shoulder pads by Xenith. “Xenith shoulder protectors are designed for the dedicated athlete; lightweight and unobtrusive, with full freedom of movement without compromising protection. Furthermore, the shoulder pads are easy to maintain: the padding is removable and can be cleaned very easily. Thanks to the adjustable straps with buckle, durable and reliable wearing comfort is guaranteed as well as a close fit,” adds Scheidsrechsters

5. Schutt Y Flex 4.0 Football Shoulder Pads

The fifth spot on the list of the best football shoulder pads brings us back to Schutt Sports with the Y Flex 4.0 Shoulder Pads. These are routinely suggested as the best shoulder pads for youth players and, as the experts explain, it’s easy to see why. “Schutt’s Flex 4.0 for adults was also designed as a separate shoulder pad 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,” explains Unbalanced

Schutt Y Flex 4.0 Football Shoulder Pads
Schutt Y Flex 4.0 Football Shoulder Pads

One of the biggest hurdles that youth players face is proper equipment. Not just proper equipment, but well-fitting, comfortable, and breathable equipment. Tackle football is hard enough, put your kids in the best position to excel at football by considering equipment designed specifically for them. 

“A lightweight, all-purpose design for the exceptional athlete looking for varsity style protection that comes in various styles. The Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads are perfect for quarterbacks and running backs with extended body length to add extra protection at these vulnerable points. This pad has dual-density padding combined with breathable mesh and 7 mm vent holes for maximum airflow during even the most intense games,” writes ShocPro

Airflow helps players stay cool and comfortable. It also helps reduce the amount of sweat and moisture, both of which can turn a youth player’s day on the football field upside down. “The Schutt Y-Flex Youth is the best pair of shoulder pads for younger football players. This product features a very lightweight design and sleek arch design so that the user can be well protected while maintaining their full range of motion. It also comes in a colorful black and neon green color scheme that is perfect for younger audiences,” explains Rookie Road

6. CHAMPRO Scorpion Football Shoulder Pads

Just the name Scorpion makes these shoulder pads sound cool, but these pads are about more than just a killer name. They are routinely considered one of the top brands and for good reason. “The CHAMPRO Scorpion Shoulder Pad is a durable and secure option for young football players. Its cantilever design disperses impact and shock, ensuring the pad maintains its shape and structural integrity. The high impact polyethylene construction increases the strength and durability of the arches. With sliding 1-inch wide elastic straps, players can easily adjust the tightness of the pad for a comfortable fit. This pad not only conforms to the chest, providing a secure fit, but also allows freedom of breath and movement,” explains Find This Best

CHAMPRO Scorpion Football Shoulder Pads
CHAMPRO Scorpion Football Shoulder Pads

Bulky shoulder pads restrict breathing and decrease mobility. CHAMPRO Scorpion Shoulder Pads are lightweight and constructed to mold to a player’s chest. Add in the user-friendly release system to help players change in and out of these pads quickly and you have a winning pair of shoulder pads. 

“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,” adds Unbalanced

7. Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Football Shoulder Pads

Rounding out the list of the best shoulder pads for football players is the aforementioned Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Shoulder Pads. “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,” explains Unbalanced

Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Football Shoulder Pads
Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Football Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads that have a high shelf can restrict head movement and hinder a player from being able to see the field properly. These Prospect Pro Shoulder Pads are designed to offer maximum head movement without sacrificing protection. “Fly around the field making plays from start to finish with the peace of mind that you’re both safe and comfortable in these Prospect Pro Adult shoulder pads from Sports Unlimited. These versatile and universal pads offer plenty of protection for any player on the field, no matter their position. Featuring a flat pad design, and breathable foam you’ll be able to move about in comfort like a pro! What’s more, your opponent’s job will be made a little more difficult with nothing to grab onto as you navigate the field in these pads made specifically with adults in mind,” adds Gear Hungry

Offensive linemen, tight ends, linebackers, and defensive linemen can all benefit from these lightweight, durable, and protective shoulder pads. “Check out the Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Adult Football Shoulder Pads in case you’re an adult football player looking for a comfortable pair of shoulder pads that offer great protection. The pads have lightweight, breathable dual-density foam that cushions impacts during play. They also have a flat design for comfort and ease of movement. These gears are designed to help you get around the field without getting hurt. With an incredible blend of lightness and durability, these gears should be on your list if you want perfect mobility and protection,” furthers Scott Fujita

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About Matthew Sherdan

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