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Choosing the right gear for your sport

The best protection against brain injuries is through reliable head gear, so it makes sense that the easiest way to prevent concussions is to wear the right helmet. Helmets are an important, essential part of many sports and while sometimes big or bulky, they can go a long way in preventing head injuries. Different headgear is used for different activities but they all share one goal – keeping the person wearing it safe.

Football The common football helmet is made of five different parts; the shell, jaw pads, face mask, chin strap and mouth guard. It is measured to fit the head perfectly and more recent models are using less screws and more synthetic materials to protect the head. The interior of the helmet is padded to protect and cushion the head during a hit or fall and space between the head and cushion is kept at a minimum to keep the head from knocking around inside.



Baseball One of the many pieces of gear used in America’s past time is the batting helmet, a piece of headgear used when a baseball player steps to the plate during a game. The helmet is similar to the shell of a football helmet; it’s essentially a padded case for the head. Batters and some coaches wear the helmet, which includes a flap that covers the ears, to prevent serious injury if they’re hit by a pitch. Though early models of the batting helmet were produced in the early 1900’s, incredibly, they weren’t mandatory for Major League batters until 1971.

Snow Sports Use of proper headgear is encouraged in many winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding. Common snowboarding helmets come in a few different designs, depending on how much of the face the wearer wants to protect. A less experienced snowboarder might want the fullface protector, while a professional might opt for a model that protects just the top of the skull.

Rugby While the football helmet is bigger, heavier and built to take bigger hits, recent studies suggest that rugby helmets, also known as scrum caps, might actually do more to prevent concussions. While traditionally made of leather as a small cap, more recent models have been made with foam or other soft materials. The cap is built to protect the top of the head and ears during the scrum, which is an intense part of a rugby game.

Volleyball Volleyball helmets are not required in most leagues but they’re starting to gain popularity among some collegiate players, especially those who have suffered head injuries before. They are smaller and lighter than most other helmets. The bulk of them are made of foam and cased in vinyl to protect the head against hitting the floor. Helmets are more popular in indoor volleyball than beach volleyball, where concussions are less likely.



Cycling Finally, here’s everyone’s favorite fashion statement; the bicycle helmet. Most of these pieces of headgear are made mostly of polystyrene, a polymer designed to compact when hit extremely hard. The helmets, made to protect against a single incident as opposed to a lifetime of hits, are designed to take the hit for the cycler; the idea is while the fall might break the helmet, it also helped to prevent an extremely serious injury to the wearer. A cycler can also opt for a BMX helmet over the bicycle model; the BMX helmet is bulkier but it’s more of a shell for the head than the morecommon casual helmet.

While helmets are not required in a lot of sports and activities, many athletes are getting a clue and opting to use them. Being healthy never goes out of style; a cycling helmet might not be the coolest thing to wear, for instance, but it’s a lot cooler than a hospital bill. Protecting one’s head is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy, so be sure to strap one on next time you get in the game.


An overvview of common helmets used in sports and how they protect the head.

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