The type of shoulder pads you wear on the football field depends on your position. Learn which shoulder pads work best for all positions. Defensive players, like lineman or fullbacks, will want heavier, more protective padding. Quarterbacks, running backs and other skill positions opt for lighter pads for better mobility and visibility.


  • Lightweight padding allows for maximum speed and better range of motion
  • Low-profile design keeps pads from riding up or obstructing your view of the field or an open player
  • High-impact foam protects against strong, play-ending hits from the defense
  • For quarterbacks more focused on the running game, consider pads specifically designed for running backs or wide receivers, which provide more protection

Kicking Game

  • Most punters and place kickers use quarterback pads. These are the lightest pads and allow the greatest range of motion

Skilled Positions

For running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs

  • Extra lightweight padding absorbs hits, while still allowing you to move quickly on the field
  • Low-profile design will not ride up during big plays
  • Untied hitting flaps help achieve optimal arm motion when catching the football, or defensively interrupting a pass


  • High-impact padding protects against the roughest of plays
  • Features plated front pads that give a secure, locked-in fit that also minimize the need to re-adjust
  • Heavier construction in comparison to quarterback or running back pads, though light enough to make quick cuts


  • Toughest, heaviest pads protect against constant, hard-hitting opponents
  • No excess epaulets for opposing linemen to grab onto
  • Ample mobility against the opposing line

Measuring your shoulder pads

Follow these guidelines to determine fit and sizing for the field.

  1. Stand up straight with your arms at your sides.
  2. Measure your shoulder width across your back from one AC joint to the other (these are the joints between the tops of your shoulders), and record this number. Round up by a half-inch to determine your shoulder width size.
  3. Take measuring tape and find the circumference of the chest by wrapping around your chest, under the armpits, and record this number.
  4. Youth sizes are also typically determined by weight class, so it is important to know your weight as well. Keep in mind, actual sizing may vary, so consult product information when making your selection.
  5. Remember, when taking an AC measurement, never lay the tape on the body. The best tool for measuring AC joints is a yardstick.