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Football Shoulder Pads Sizing Guide

Academy Staff
4 min read

In addition to helmets, football shoulder pads are an essential piece of equipment that every player needs to feel protected from potential injuries and confident when making even the most physical plays on the field.

Academy Sports + Outdoors carries all the football shoulder pads and protective gear each player needs for every playing position. We’ve put together this sizing guide to help you measure yourself for shoulder pads and find the right size to protect your shoulders, chest, and upper back.

How to Measure for Shoulder Pads

Measuring yourself for new shoulder pads is easier than you might think. We suggest grabbing a friend or parent, a measuring tape, and following these steps

  • Stand up straight with your arms at your sides.
  • Shoulder Width – Have your friend or parent place the measuring tape across your back and measure the distance between one AC joint (the joint on the top of your shoulder) to the other. Round up by half an inch to determine your shoulder width. Write this number down.
  • Chest – Have a friend wrap the measuring tape across your chest, under the armpits and write this number down.

EXPERT TIP: Keep in mind that youth shoulder pads are also classified by weight and actual sizes may vary depending on the brand. Stop by your nearest Academy to try on a few to know which shoulder pads fit best.

For a general idea of the size you’ll need, compare the numbers you wrote to the football shoulder pad sizing charts below:

EXPERT TIP: Don’t make this rookie mistake! Never buy a size up for your younger student athlete to grow into. The bigger size and looser fit can make him more susceptible to injury on the field. We highly recommend finding the size that fits him correctly right now so he can stay fully protected.

How to Put on Shoulder Pads

Now that you have an idea of what size to get and want to try on a few pairs, here’s how to put them on to determine if they offer the coverage and range of mobility you need.

  • Bring pads down over your head, ensuring they are carefully aligned.
  • Secure and tighten all straps and laces.
  • Once everything is secure, neither the padding nor collar should pinch your neck, and everything should rest comfortably on your shoulders.
  • Check the front and back coverage. Your sternum, upper shoulders, and shoulder blades should be completely covered, even when you lift your arms above your head.
  • Move around. Pretend you're on the field and practice a few plays with your new pads. Check that the comfort, fit, and coverage work while you're in action.

Once you found the right fit for you, it's time to hit the field! After a couple of practices, you’ll start to notice your shoulder pads getting dirty over time. We recommend cleaning the shoulder pads at least once a week during football season to cut down on sweat, dirt, and accumulation of bacteria.

EXPERT TIP: Once the season ends, take your shoulder pads to be professionally cleaned. They can be reconditioned and completely sanitized with an anti-bacterial solution to prolong their lifespan, performance, and overall durability.

With the right size shoulder pads, you can confidently take hits, deliver your own, and stay focused on the plays. Start the season off right, find your size, and shop all styles and for your football essentials in-store or at