Do You Have to Wear Knee Pads in High School Football?

While some protective equipment is mandatory, other equipment is only recommended. Do you have to wear knee pads in high school football?

Do You Have to Wear Knee Pads in High School Football?

Yes, you have to wear knee pads in high school football. The NFHS (national federation of state high school associations) makes the rules about what equipment is required. Knee pads are required equipment. 

As a high school football coach, I enforce rules about safety equipment. You can sometimes move around the field faster without knee pads, but knee injuries can be serious. 

Do You Have to Wear Knee Pads in High School Football?

Players must have sufficiently thick knee pads in all games. They also must have hip pads and tailbone protectors. Players are not allowed to modify the knee/hip pads in any way.

Players in some positions don’t require as much protection. A field goal kicker can wear smaller shoulder pads than other players because there isn’t much contact or risk of injury in their position. 

Are Knee Pads Required in College Football?

Yes, college players as well as high school players are required to wear hip, knee, and thigh pads. The NCAA determines what equipment is required in college football and makes knee pads mandatory. 

Are Knee Pads Required in the NFL?

No, professional players do not have to wear knee pads. The NFL only recommends them. NFL players that wear knee pads often wear smaller pads than college players. NFL players often trade safety for mobility if they have the choice. 

Why Don’t NFL Players Wear Knee Pads?

Many football players say that knee pads restrict their movement. They believe that they can play better without them. Some might also believe that wearing knee pads makes you look unconfident in your abilities. 

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Advantages of Knee Pads

Knee pads support knee movements. They allow you to put a lot of effort into the game without overstraining your knee and damaging it. 

Football players without knee pads may overextend their knees and injure them. Knee pads prevent you from overextending the knee. You can’t easily push your knee far beyond the normal range of movement with a knee pad on.

Sometimes, knee pads can slow players down. However, they can also help players try their hardest without worrying about bending their knees too far back and injuring them. 

Common Football Knee Injuries

A knee injury can do anything from making a high school player miss one or two games to ending a professional player’s career. Knee pads can prevent any of these injuries:

Sprained Knee

A sprain happens when ligaments are stretched too far and torn. A football player doesn’t have to hit their knee to have this injury, it can happen because of overexertion. Some sprains are minor, others take a long time to heal or require surgery.

Torn Cartilage

Football players have to react very fast and make sudden movements. If you move suddenly, you might put too much weight on a certain part of the body and get hurt. 

The knees are often injured when you move suddenly. Torn knee cartilage can be treated with physiotherapy but may require surgery. 

Patellofemoral Pain

A displaced kneecap causes patellofemoral pain, which is a great deal of pain at the front of the knee. The knee swells up and makes popping sounds if a player runs despite the pain. 

What Are Knee Pads Made Of?

Newer knee pads are made of high-tech materials. They use carbon fibers, foams, gels, and plastics to protect and support a player’s knees.

Players in Many Sports Use Knee Pads

Knee pads are important in football and volleyball because you can fall and hit a hard surface. Baseball players, wrestlers, and many other athletes use knee pads. They can support as well as protect your knee so that you don’t twist your muscles. 

Some people use knee pads at work to prevent repetitive stress injuries. People working trades may be on their knees a lot of the time and use knee pads to reduce the strain. 

What Makes a Knee Pad Good?

Ideally, a knee pad offers excellent protection without hindering the players’ mobility. However, a knee pad cannot be perfect. The lightest and least restrictive knee pads cover less of the knee. 

Some knee pads are also better for some football positions. Good knee pads are easy to put on and take off. 

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Types of Knee Pads

Different positions use different types of padding. Some positions need more protection, and other positions need more mobility. Regular knee pads offer a lot of protection, but they are too restrictive for players in some positions. 

Skill Position Knee Pads

Players in skill positions (quarterbacks, defensive backs, running backs, and wide receivers) have to be very mobile. They may wear smaller knee pads than usual, which offer less protection but let them run around the field at full speed. 

Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves are also good for movement but not as good for protection. They provide compression to prevent your joint from locking up but don’t protect you from impact. 

Football Knee Pad Sizes

Different players need different sizes of knee pads. There are kids’ sizes and adult sizes. 

Kids’ knee pads usually cover the whole knee and offer a lot of protection. Adult knee pads don’t always cover the whole knee. The level of protection varies. 

Are Knee Pads Expensive?

No, knee pads are not expensive equipment. Adult knee pads only cost around $13 or $15, and kids’ knee pads only cost about $6 or so. 

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, knee pads are required equipment in high school football. The NFHS does not leave it up to the high school players.
  • In the NFL, knee pads are only recommended and not optional. Many players do without them for better mobility. Knee pads are required in college football.
  • Knee injuries can be serious, so knee pads are a good idea. If you badly injure your knee, you might miss the rest of the season. At worst, a knee injury can be permanent. 

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