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The Most Complete Football Gear List for an Awesome Season

Academy Staff
9 min read
Football players on the field wearing all their football Gear

Whether you’re about to begin your first-ever season, or you’re swapping out your well-worn gear for this season’s freshest picks, Academy Sports + Outdoors has everything you need to safely and comfortably go from tryout to touchdown. Keep reading to learn exactly what should be on your football equipment list to kick off the season right:

Protective and Performance Equipment

  • Football Cleats
  • Football Helmets
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Football Gloves
  • Mouth Guards
  • Chin Straps
  • Back Pads
  • Rib Pads
  • Neck Rolls
  • Cups & Athletic Support
  • Arm Sleeves
  • Football Girdles
  • Elbow & Forearm Pads
  • Visors
  • Skull Caps
  • Football Compression Shirts and Shorts
  • Footballs
  • Eye Black

Coaching and Training Equipment

  • Whistles and Lanyards
  • Resistance Trainers
  • Speed Chutes
  • Agility Cones
  • Kickoff Tees
  • Playcoaches
  • Clipboards
  • Football Prep Kits
  • Football Pad Repair Kits
  • Equipment Bags
  • Water Bottles and Carriers

For even more information on getting ready for the big game, see more details on football gear below:

Football Cleats

If you’re turning on a dime to weave through a defensive line, zooming ahead to complete a 30-yard pass, or making a long run into the endzone, the right cleats can mean the difference between completing a play, or slipping and sliding past that game-winning opportunity.

One of the main differences between football cleats and cleats designed for other sports is the level of ankle support and stability they provide, and that’s why football cleats come in three ankle heights – low, medium, and high. As you might expect, low cleats trade extra ankle support for the ability to move freely without limiting your range of motion, high-top cleats provide the greatest level of ankle stability and protection, and medium (or mid) cleats provide a healthy mix of both movement and support. See our pick for each cleat height below, or check out our Football Cleat Guide for more information on how to pick the right cleat for your position and preferences.

Football player wearing cleats while drilling

Football Helmets

Kid on the football field wearing a helmet

In such a contact-heavy sport, football helmets are arguably the most important piece of football protective gear on the market today. While there are different styles and types of football helmets available to suit a variety of needs, the goal is the same – to protect the player’s head from concussions and other serious impact-related injuries.

There are three main components to a football helmet: The shell, the padding, and the face mask. The shell serves as the first line of defense against a blow, the padding absorbs the residual shock of an impact, and the face mask works to prevent everything from rogue fingers to flying footballs from making contact with a player’s face. For a complete look at sizing and fitting before choosing the best helmet for you or your player, read our Football Helmet Guide.

Shoulder Pads

There are few more painful places to be than at the bottom of a tackle without the proper shoulder pads. If you’re looking for the best way to give your player the protection and confidence they need to push themselves on the field, a quality set of shoulder pads should be at the top of your football gear list.

The type of shoulder pads a player should purchase depends on the player’s position: Contact-heavy defensive positions should opt for thicker and more protective pads to keep them comfortable while sacking their competition, while agility-dependent offensive positions will likely prefer lighter pads that allow for more speed and freedom as they weave past their opponents. For more information on how to select the best shoulder pads for you, zoom over to our Football Shoulder Pad Guide.

Man wearing football shoulder pads

Football Gloves

Football player wearing gloves

What do you see when you watch a college or pro football game? You see 22 players on the field, and at least another 100 on the sidelines. Look closely, and you'll see that nearly every single one of them is wearing gloves. Even some quarterbacks get in on the glove action so they can grip the ball better.

Gloves aren’t just an accessory anymore, they’re a necessity. In today's game, there are essentially two types of gloves: One kind for wide receivers and defensive backs, and another kind for linemen.

The biggest difference between these kinds of gloves is that gloves for wide receivers and defensive backs have less padded fingers and are tacky, or sticky. These gloves are made for catching and holding on to the ball. Lineman gloves, on the other hand, are generally bulkier and less sticky which offer added protection when duking it out in the trenches. To learn more about which gloves are right for you, check out this article on how to choose football gloves.

Wide Receiver and Defensive Back Gloves

Keep the ball off the ground when it’s your time to shine with these receiver gloves:


Buy gloves in dark colors to match the opponent’s jersey and help camouflage your hands from the referee. This will help you avoid potential holding penalties.

Mouth Guards

Football player using protective mouth guards

The league - or team - issued mouth guard your player received when they made the cut likely has as much use as a “De-fense!” cheer. A basic mouth guard will cover your kid’s teeth, but that’s about as far as its protective capabilities go, putting your kid at greater risk of experiencing cracked, chipped, or even dislodged teeth. Luckily, there are mouth guards available that provide an exponentially higher level of protection for your child’s teeth through the use of shock-absorbing technology.

The most basic mouth guard model is a pre-formed variety. These mouth guards provide the least amount of protection because they are not customized to your child's teeth. The next level of protection involves moldable guards that use either gel or rubber to form-fit to your kid’s dental pattern. Any former football players in your family will likely remember boiling this kind of mouth guard in order to mold it. Check out our favorite mouth guards featuring advanced levels of protection below.

Mouth Guards that Protect Teeth Only

These mouth guards can come with or without a strap for security, and any of these options will give your kid better protection than a basic mouth guard. Check out the full range of colors and patterns to choose from – some models even offer flavor options!

Mouth Guards that Protect Teeth and Lips

This highly protective type of mouth guard covers the whole mouth like a pacifier to protect the lips as well as the teeth. They offer unique pattern and color options – like a fearsome set of sharp teeth – for that extra flair your player may be looking for.

Mouth Guards for Braces

Today, there are specialized mouth guards that are made to cover braces and help keep the inside of your kids’ lips cut-free, too.

Chin Straps

Do you know why the phrase “put up your dukes” has stayed around for so long? It's because one of the most important ways to stay safe during a boxing match is to protect your chin. There's an important nerve located under the chin and along the jaw that's a prime target when landing a knockout blow. Keeping this area protected is just as important on the gridiron as it is in the boxing ring.

When you choose a chin strap, look for one that provides more protection than the simple strip of leather that some helmets include. Today's more advanced chin straps come with extra padding on the inside of a plastic shell that can help absorb and spread out the impact of direct hits.

Kid wearing a football helmet and chin straps

Extra Pads

Football player wearing protective pads

As technology improves, so does the level of protection that extra padding can provide. There are a plethora of options beyond the standard shoulder, hip, thigh, and knee pads to help cover all your areas of concern. Extra pads are especially embraced at the youth level, when kids are just learning proper tackling and blocking techniques. More padding also helps insulate younger kids who haven’t yet packed on the layer of muscle that older, more advanced players have had the time and training to develop.

That said, there are a few extra pads that are almost universally used, all the way up to the NFL. Rib pads and neck rolls are common for quarterbacks and linebackers, respectively, because they offer added protection for the most at-risk areas for those particular positions.


A lot of the players who slug it out on defense love the extra intimidation that comes with a neck roll.

Back Pads

Cushion the lower back with a specialized back pad that connects to and hangs down from a player's shoulder pads.

Rib Pads

Protect the ribs with a wraparound pad that can connect to the shoulder pads or be worn separately around the body.

Neck Rolls/Pads

Give your neck all the protection possible with a pad that integrates with the back of your shoulder pads.

Cups and Athletic Support

The comfort and protection provided by a quality athletic cup is especially essential on the football field.

Padded or Regular Arm Sleeves

Your player will have more confidence to wrap up each tackle with properly padded arm sleeves that still allow the arms to move freely.

Football Girdle

Supportive football girdles provide a snug, secure fit to keep everything in place, along with a little extra padding for even more protection.

Elbow and Forearm Pads

Use elbow and forearm pads so your athlete can more comfortably plow through defenders for a first down.

The Missing Pieces

Kid wearing football protective equipment

You've got the big body parts protected. Now, it's time for some precision engineering to make your player as safe and stylish as possible. Take a look at some of the additional protective equipment you can get to keep your kid's eyes, head and growing muscles safe, and then pick up a few extra footballs in the appropriate size so your MVP can keep practicing at home and with friends.


An athlete can’t get poked in the eye if they have a quality helmet visor designed to keep errant fingers away.

Skull Caps

Skull caps keep the sweat out of their eyes so they can keep their eye on the ball.

Football Compression Shirts and Shorts

Help your kid feel more secure with padded or unpadded compression shirts and shorts.


Different ages use differently-sized footballs, so double check which size your kid’s league uses before buying any extras for your kid to practice with!

Eye Black

Keep the sun or stadium light glare out of your eyes, so you can focus on your next play.

Choosing the Best Pads

Remember, every athlete is different. Some will want their pads to feel like they're part of their skin. These players will want tight-fitting undergarments and pads to feel fluid and invincible. Other players like their pads to have a looser feel to enjoy a greater range of motion while still staying safe.

Bring your player to your local Academy store to explore all the extra padding options and find out which ones are right fit for your athlete. We'll be able to answer all of your questions to ensure that your MVP never steps out onto the field without the proper protection.

Supplies for Parents and Coaches

They don't say "football is family" for nothing. This game is all about the team, and the collaborative nature and longstanding traditions of football create a contagious camaraderie among players and coaches. Their energy and enthusiasm pulls in parents, fans and supporters to create a real community. Everyone pitches in to help push the kids and the team toward a successful season.

That joy and connection doesn’t have to be confined to official practices and games. You and your kids can head to the backyard or a local park to gain an edge on the competition while building lasting memories. A simple game of catch works well when players are younger. As kids advance, there are a range of training accessories you can use to develop solid technical skills and instill the fundamentals that will help keep them safe throughout their playing careers.

If you happen to be a youth football coach as well as a football parent, you'll definitely want to take advantage of these essential coaching accessories. Take a look at our list of supplies for training and development to discover everything you need to take your player’s game to the next level.

Football Accessories for Training and Development

Whistles and Lanyards

Save your voice and get attention quickly to keep practices running on time.

Training Equipment

Hit the practice field or the backyard with the right football training equipment to build on the basics, sharpen skills, and increase agility.

Game Day Equipment

Improve play calling by giving your quarterback a handy reference, and help your kicker practice those field goals and kickoffs with a sturdy kicking tee.

Extra Equipment for the W

Any good coach will tell you it’s the little things that make the biggest difference between a winning and losing experience. Here are a few extra items that will help games and practices go as smoothly as possible.