With the football season around the corner, the most frequent question I receive at lessons is “what type of pads should I wear?” I wish I could say strap on whatever pads and helmet you find that are the most padded and trending, however, it is more of the opposite. The shoulder pads with the least amount of padding and helmets that make you look more like Brett Favre are the most suitable for a long snapper.
LET ME EXPLAIN:
Long snappers require room for motion, more than any other position in football. We have to be able to stick our head, shoulders, and back through our legs as fast as possible. Let’s take a look at this pretty sweet helmet for example CLICK HERE. The helmet is designed to protect the entire head more with the shell reaching past the jaw line and the facemask sticking out further to protect the facial area. The helmet has modern hard edges that make it pop with visual appeal. However, this radiantly cool helmet will not allow you to put your chin down against your chest limiting how much the head can follow through against the pads. The limited follow through with the head creates a limited follow through with the chest creating an end result of snaps to go low and troubles with balance. In the following link CLICK HERE I provided an article on Helmet Ratings and you will see that there are many 5 STAR Helmets that are conducive for long snapping.
Now that you have seen what to not wear, let me show the ideal helmet and pads to wear to promote the most movement possible for a long snapper. The Adams CLICK HERE, Schutt CLICK HERE, and Xenith X2 CLICK HERE lines have the most accommodating helmets for long snappers. They are structurally sound and allow for the full range of motion needed to bring your head to your chest. The Riddell Power Extreme (SPX) Pads CLICK HERE are what I have found to being the best suited for long snappers. My personal preference was toward Riddell as the hard plastic shell ran shorter down the chest in comparison to the Douglas "Mr. D Snapper Pads". The Riddell's allowed my upper body to bend through further on my follow through during mid snap. These pads work great and are worthy investments if you are serious about the next level. If you are looking for alternate more affordable options, I recommend using WR/QB Pads and/or lightweight LB pads that the school provides as they are closest to long snapping pads. Whichever route you choose to take, make sure to NEVER go with OL/DL shoulder pads. In addition make sure that you either remove the circular padding that covers the arm pit area or get pads that do not have that padding so you don't feel like this CLICK HERE in your stance... good luck snapping like that!
If you are concerned about protection for the shoulders, a great way to improve the shock absorption is by wearing a protective football shirt that you see QB's wear. These shirts can be purchased at your local Athletic Department Store or Online. The focal point is to have thin gel-like padding on the shoulders. I wore something similar to that my last to years at NIU. We (the Equipment Manager and I) gutted some of the excessive padding in my shoulder pads and in place added gel-like padding on the shoulders. This padding would Velcro directly to the inside of the top of the shoulder pads. This padding was thinner, however it was new technology so it was much more absorbent towards shock. I have done some research and it looks like the protective football shirts have taken the place of the padding I wore during my college years.