How to Fit Football Helmet: A Step-by-Step Comfort Guide

You’re gearing up for the season and you’ve got your eye on the prize. But before you charge onto the field, let’s talk about something crucial: your helmet. It’s not just a piece of equipment; it’s your noggin’s best friend out there.

Importance of a Properly Fitted Football Helmet

Picture this: You’re gearing up for the big game, adrenaline pumping through your veins. Now, think about the helmet you’re about to put on. It’s not just any helmet; it’s your first line of defense. An ill-fitting helmet is like heading into battle with a shield that’s too small—it just won’t do.

Proper fit is paramount, as it directly impacts the helmet’s ability to reduce the risk of concussion and other serious head injuries. Don’t overlook this—helmets are designed to absorb impact and distribute the force over a larger area, but a poor fit can undermine this protection. When a helmet is too loose, it can jostle about, and during a collision, it could even come off. Similarly, a helmet that’s too tight won’t have the cushioning air space needed to provide optimal impact absorption.

As a coach who once played at a high level, let me share a golden rule: A proper fit keeps the helmet securely in place throughout all the dynamic movements of the game. Whether it’s sprinting down the field or taking a hard tackle, your helmet should stay put. You can perform a quick check by ensuring:

  • The helmet sits an inch above your eyebrows
  • The back of the helmet does not touch the nape of your neck
  • The chin strap is comfortably snug, with no room for more than one finger between strap and chin

Another often overlooked aspect is the maintenance and regular inspection of helmets. Sweat, collisions, and the environment can degrade materials over time, affecting the fit. Check the padding and straps before each game, and replace parts or the entire helmet as needed. Remember, a well-maintained helmet is more likely to provide the protection it’s designed for, so treat it with respect.

Getting your helmet to fit just right is not just a one-off task. You’re responsible for checking the fit before every practice and game, making all necessary adjustments. This habit ensures your headgear is always optimized for protection. After all, in football, every second counts and you’ve got to be fully equipped to focus on the play, not distracted by equipment mishaps. Keep that helmet snug and stay in the game.

Measuring Your Head for the Perfect Fit

Getting the right fit starts with measuring your head accurately. You wouldn’t wear shoes that don’t fit, so don’t compromise on your helmet. Grab a flexible tape measure and wrap it around the widest part of your head – just above your eyebrows and ears. Make sure the tape is snug but not too tight; you’re aiming for a measurement that’s comfortable yet precise.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:

  • Start with your hair compressed as it would be during a game.
  • Position the tape measure about 1 inch above your eyebrows.
  • Pull the tape around to the back of your head, keeping it at the same level.
  • Note the measurement at the point where it overlaps.

Once you have your measurement, consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart. Helmet sizes can vary from brand to brand, so it’s crucial to use the specific chart for the helmet you’re considering. Here’s an example of a standard sizing chart:

Head Circumference (inches) Helmet Size
19-20 Small
20-21 Medium
21-22 Large
22-23 Extra Large

Bear in mind that haircuts can affect fit. If you often switch between long and short hair, consider re-measuring after a significant haircut.

After you’ve got your size, it’s time for the real test – trying on helmets. When you do, pay attention to the pressure points. A properly fitted helmet should be comfortable with no pinching or excessive tightness. It should sit one inch above your eyebrows, with the backplate snug against the back of your head.

Remember, your safety and performance on the field are non-negotiable. Invest time in getting these steps right, and you’re setting yourself up for a safer, more successful game. Keep your helmet maintenance checklist handy and revisit fit adjustments throughout the season – your future self will thank you.

Adjusting the Helmet Straps

Once you’ve found a helmet that’s a good fit for your head size, you’ll need to focus on adjusting the straps for optimal security. Remember, even the best fitting helmet won’t offer maximum protection unless the straps are properly adjusted.

Start with the chin strap, which is crucial for keeping the helmet in place. Your helmet should come with a chin cup or guard; make sure it’s centered under your chin. You’re aiming for a snug fit—tight enough to keep the helmet from shifting, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. If you can fit more than one finger between the chin strap and your chin, it’s too loose.

Next, check the side straps. They should form a ‘V’ shape around your ears without covering them. This can often require a bit of fine-tuning, and don’t be surprised if you spend time adjusting these same straps before each game. Straps can stretch and change position, so it’s never a one-and-done deal.

  • How to tighten helmet straps:
    • Locate the buckles or sliders on the straps.
    • Pull the straps through the buckles to tighten them, ensuring they remain even.
    • If your helmet has a ratchet-lock system, use it to fine-tune the fit.
    • Always double-check that the straps have locked into place.

The rear strap, or occipital lock, if your helmet has one, should cradle the base of your skull securely. If your helmet includes an inflatable air bladder system, use a hand pump to adjust the air pressure for a custom fit around your head.

Remember, helmet comfort is key to maintaining focus on the field. If you’re constantly adjusting a poorly fitting strap during a game, your attention is not where it needs to be. During practice sessions, pay attention to how the helmet feels during different activities—tackling, running, jumping. Make necessary adjustments as you go, and by game time, you’ll be confident your helmet is as ready as you are.

Securing the Chin Strap

Once you’ve adjusted the helmet’s interior padding and straps to ensure a snug fit, your next step is to properly secure the chin strap. This is crucial; a chin strap that’s too loose or too tight can compromise your helmet’s ability to protect you during play.

Start by positioning the chin cup directly under your chin. It should sit firmly against your skin, cradling your chin snugly. You’ll want it tight enough to keep the helmet in place but not so tight that it digs into your skin or restricts your jaw movement.

Take the straps on either side of the helmet and snap them into the corresponding buckles near the bottom of the helmet. A well-adjusted chin strap will have equal tension on both sides. If you notice one side is tighter, adjust the straps accordingly. This balance is vital for maintaining the helmet’s position during the impact of the game.

For those helmets with a four-point chin strap system, ensure you secure both the top and bottom snaps. If they’re not evenly secured, your helmet may shift unexpectedly, which could lead to injury or discomfort.

Remember, the goal is to find that sweet spot where your helmet feels secure without causing any discomfort. If you feel pressure on your chin or if your teeth bite down on the chin cup when speaking, you need to loosen the strap a bit. On the other hand, if the helmet shifts when you nod or shake your head, you should tighten the straps.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a teammate or coach if you’re having trouble. Adjusting the chin strap might seem simple, but getting it just right can make a significant difference in your helmet’s performance and your safety on the field. Plus, once you’ve perfected the fit, you’ll be able to replicate it every time you gear up, keeping your head in the game without worrying about your helmet.

Checking for a Comfortable Fit

After you’ve adjusted your helmet straps, it’s crucial to check for comfort. A helmet that causes discomfort is a distraction you don’t need on the field. Start by shaking your head gently from side to side, then nod up and down. Your helmet should stay in place without sliding around; if it moves separately from your head, it’s a sign that it isn’t fitted correctly.

Let’s focus on how the helmet feels. Are there any points where the helmet is pressing a bit too much? These pressure points can lead to headaches and are a red flag that the helmet’s padding might need an adjustment. Feel around the forehead and back of the head. If you find any discomfort, the internal pads may require repositioning or replacement. Remember, sometimes breaking in a new helmet takes a bit of time, much like a good pair of cleats.

Another aspect you mustn’t overlook is the space above your eyebrows; you should have about an inch of space. This is paramount for both safety and visibility. The back of your helmet should not touch the nape of your neck when you tilt your head back, and you shouldn’t have excess space there either.

For those times when the heat of the game is on, ventilation is key. Modern helmets are designed with air vents to keep you cool. They should align with your head’s natural hot spots, ensuring that you’re not overheating during a game or practice.

Lastly, don’t forget about your ears. They shouldn’t be compressed, and there shouldn’t be any pinching. The ear holes should line up, allowing you to hear play calls and your teammates clearly.

If any adjustments are needed, it’s best to take the time to get it right. After all, your helmet isn’t just a part of your uniform; it’s critical gear meant to protect you while you enjoy the game you love. Feel free to ask a coach or equipment manager for assistance if you’re unsure about the fit. They’ve got the expertise to ensure your gear is game-ready.


You’ve got the know-how to ensure your football helmet fits just right. Remember, a snug, comfortable fit is key to your safety on the field. Don’t hesitate to ask for help to double-check your fit. After all, your helmet isn’t just part of your uniform—it’s your protection against the rough and tumble of the game. So strap in, adjust as needed, and hit the gridiron with confidence knowing you’re well-protected. Stay safe and have a great season!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I ensure my football helmet fits properly?

To ensure a proper fit, measure your head accurately and consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart. The helmet should be comfortable with no pinching or excessive tightness and should remain stable when gently shaking your head.

What is the correct way to measure my head for a helmet?

Measure the circumference of your head just above your eyebrows and around the back, keeping the tape level. Use this measurement against the manufacturer’s sizing chart for the best fit.

Can helmet sizes vary between brands?

Yes, helmet sizes can vary from brand to brand. Always refer to the specific manufacturer’s sizing chart for accurate sizing.

How do I check my helmet for comfort?

After adjusting the straps, shake your head side to side and nod up and down to ensure stability. Check for any pressure points or discomfort and that there’s proper spacing above the eyebrows and at the back of the head.

What should I do if my ears are compressed or pinched by the helmet?

If your ears are compressed or pinched, the helmet may not be the right size or shape for your head. Adjust the helmet, if possible, or consult with a coach or equipment manager for assistance.

Why is helmet ventilation important?

Proper ventilation is crucial because it helps to keep your head cool and comfortable during play, which can affect performance and safety on the field.

Who can help me if I’m having trouble fitting my helmet?

If you’re having trouble, ask a coach or equipment manager for help. They are usually trained to assist in properly fitting sports equipment.

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