Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Having the Wrong Thigh Pads Can Ruin Your Youth Football Season

Yes something as minor and preventable as issuing cheap thigh pads could ruin your youth football season.


Thigh pads come in two forms, pliable rubber and reinforced plastic covered by pliable rubber. The reinforced version is about $3-$6 more expensive per set than those that do not have the plastic, the cheap ones are made of �solid� pliable rubber. It�s simple to determine if your thigh pads are the reinforced kind or not, if you can bend the thigh pad in half they are not plastic reinforced.

The reinforced version of the thigh pads do an excellent job of protecting the youth football player from deep thigh bruise injuries. When some coaches hear the phrase �deep thigh bruise� they think �bruise� and do not give much thought to this injury, but the deep thigh bruise is a very serious injury that often will sideline a player for an entire season. It is most often caused by the player catching a knee, helmet or shoulder pad to the front portion of the players thigh.

A large thigh bruise may bleed a lot into the quadriceps muscle and cause extensive bruising. This bleeding may become calcified and form a hard lump in the quadriceps muscle called osteomyositis ossificans and may cause stiffness or a bump in the muscle that may be very long lasting. My senior year of high school I got a deep thigh bruise injury in the last game of the season and I could barely walk the 2 weeks following the game and could not walk without a limp for nearly 3 months. This can be a very serious and painful injury.

This injury can however for the most part be prevented by using quality athletic equipment including that plastic reinforced thigh pad. The plastic reinforced thigh pad spreads the force of the blow across the entire thigh, whereas the pliable rubber version allows the blow to be concentrated in one small area of the thigh. This concentrated blow is how most serious deep thigh injuries happen.

When coaching youth football, your first job is the safety of your youth football players. The deep thigh bruise is 90% preventable with the right equipment. If you have any influence at all on equipment purchases, convince the powers at be to buy quality plastic reinforced thigh pads. Many of the pant pad sets that are �standard� and that are included with the pants or in �economy package� sets are not plastic reinforced. I threw out over 100 sets of these just last year that were sent along with my pants order. If my youth football team or son was issued the pliable type thigh pad, I would buy my own thigh pads and suggest that the parents do the same.

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