Top 9 Best Football Shoulder Pads For Lineman, Quaterbacks & Running backs (Reviews 2021)

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Best Football Shoulder pads

An excellent protective gear set is most required by any footballers from walks of life. Here come the nine best football shoulder pads so far in 2021!

Football shoulder pads do not just protect your shoulders. The shoulder pads of the 80s, 90s and 2000s provide coverage from the base of the neck to the rib cage. These pads protect the spine and shoulders, as well as the principal organs, muscle groups and chest bones from impact.

Top 1
Schutt Sports Varsity XV HD Shoulder Pad, Football Gear and...
Top 2
Riddell Varsity Power SPX LB/FB Football Shoulder Pads...
Top 3
Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool OL/DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pads,...
Schutt Sports Varsity XV HD Shoulder Pad, Football Gear and...
Riddell Varsity Power SPX LB/FB Football Shoulder Pads...
Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool OL/DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pads,...
Top 1
Schutt Sports Varsity XV HD Shoulder Pad, Football Gear and...
Schutt Sports Varsity XV HD Shoulder Pad, Football Gear and...
Top 2
Riddell Varsity Power SPX LB/FB Football Shoulder Pads...
Riddell Varsity Power SPX LB/FB Football Shoulder Pads...
Top 3
Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool OL/DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pads,...
Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool OL/DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pads,...

The best football shoulder pads vary by brands, offering a range of movement and protection based on the player’s needs. Keep on reading for the top 9 best football shoulder pads reviews and buying guides!

Top 9 Best Football Shoulder Pads (2021 Reviews)

#1 Best Overall: Schutt Sports XV HD Varsity Football Shoulder Pads

[amzon box=”B00J2AHKMU”]

If you are a member of the university’s football team or acquire a professional career, you must have heard of Schutt, one of the most reputable brands of protective gears. The XV HD model from Schutt is suitable for both offensive and defensive positions thanks to their brand-free shoulder pad design.

Schutt has used the TPU material since 2003 because it absorbs more impact over a higher amplitude of temperature. It is hygienic, anti-bacterial, and practically indestructible. It does not compress even after thousands of effects.

The TPU from the shoulder pads does not change shape to keep all of these impact absorbing properties. Moreover, like all Schutt sports equipment, the Schutt XV HD Varsity shoulder pads have been designed to give the user the best safety and comfort level.


  • High-performance design
  • Minimum additional weight
  • Raised ripples for more solidity and better air circulation
  • Versatile and lightweight


  • A bit expensive

#2 Best Design: Riddell Varsity Power SPX LB/FB Football Shoulder Pads

Riddell Varsity Power SPX LB/FB Football Shoulder Pads...
  • Varsity Football Shoulder Pads
  • Positions: Line Backer (Lb) And...
  • Air Management Cushioning Disperses...
  • Low Profile, Flat Pad Design With...
  • Stactm Shoulder System Ensures...

The Riddell Varsitower SPX shoulder pads are designed for quarterbacks and wide receivers. You can get the most out of updated ripples thanks to the manufacturer having improved strength and stability to this fantastic product.

Moreover, it is designed specifically for maximum arm mobility and protection. You can have the safest experience without compromising your performance.

Also, in an emergency, case RidKord technology is in place. It features a strategically integrated cord in the shoulder pad to separate the pads and access the drive where needed.


  • STAC shoulder system for better movement
  • RipKord security technology
  • Screwed backplate for extra protection
  • Strategically placed pads for optimal mobility


  • The most expensive option
  • Limited to quarterbacks and wide receivers

#3 Best Moisture Management: Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool OL/DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pads

Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool OL/DL-Pro Select Football Shoulder Pads,...
  • Package quantity: 1
  • Package weight: 2.858 kg
  • No batteries required
  • Product Type: SPORTING GOODS

The Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool shoulder pads feature a moisture transfer system, a plastic arch that goes from your chest to your back. There are ventilation holes that are sandwiched between two layers of 3D Air Flow Foam micro-perforated for better moisture management.

With an adjustable cap system, the shoulder pads better follow the shoulders and arms, which allows a full range of movements. Moreover, with new adjustable hook and loop strap, the shoulder pads are directly attached to your arm thanks to a Velcro strap.

Notably, it comes with moisture-wicking interior and exterior fabrics that absorb moisture. The materials have an AEGIS antimicrobial treatment that improves cooling performance and inhibits bacterial growth.


  • Control the moisture effectively by specialized features
  • High technology appliances on structures and fabrics
  • Reasonable price
  • Full support for arms and shoulders


  • The large size is more like a medium one

#4 Best Technology Appliance: Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Football Shoulder Pads

Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder...
  • A lightweight, all purpose design...
  • Extended body length adds extra...
  • Designed for all positions on the...
  • Dual-Density padding combined with...
  • Adjusting elastic belt features...

It’s not surprising that Schutt is back on our list. Schutt had applied one of the most modern technologies to their Y-Flex 4.0 model, which is the AiR Management System.

Air Management System, is a system made with honeycomb foam cushions and microscopic air chambers. This part of the pads is sealed in a fabric trapping the air inside the pillow.

When the impact occurs on the arch, the force is distributed over the cushions. It forces the air to circulate in the air chambers to release the pressure. The impact energy is dispersed over a larger area, reducing the force of the impact.

The pads are made of Biothane (coated with very high-quality TPU), which makes the pads resistant to cuts and abrasions, not absorb sweat, not stiffen, not become brittle in cold or heat and remain durably flexible.


  • Suitable for the quarterback and defensive positions
  • Design of the arc cut in-depth for an extensive range of motion
  • Designed for maximum versatility
  • Lightweight and durable


  • Not ideal for all other positions

#5 Best Protection: Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Adult Football Shoulder Pads

Sports Unlimited Prospect Pro Adult Football Shoulder Pads
  • FLAT PAD DESIGN: Pads will sit low...
  • DUAL-DENSITY FOAM: Lightweight,...
  • BIOTHANE BELTS: Durable, high...
  • BREATHABLE: Air vent channels and...
  • MULTI-POSITIONS: Universal design...

If you are a starter in the football field, the football shoulder pads that can fully protect body parts are undeniable. The shoulder pads from Sports Unlimited are incredibly versatile and provide excellent protection for all players on the field, regardless of their positions.

With flat padding and breathable foam, you can move in comfort like a pro with this protective gear! Also, your opponent’s purpose will be more challenging to achieve with nothing to grasp when you are running on the field.

As if that weren’t enough, you can make the most of the lightweight foam material from this product for lasting protection to the shoulder part.


  • Good for all positions
  • Breathable but durable
  • Flat cushion design for full movement
  • Gives full protection for players


  • Not suitable for young people

#6 Best for Quarterbacks: Schutt Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder Pads

Schutt Sports Varsity AiR Maxx Flex 2.0 Football Shoulder...
  • Contains a open cell foam with...
  • Powered by D3O energy lock...
  • High performance arch design...
  • The D30 is lightweight, soft and...
  • The Skill pad gives you a deep cut...

Explicitly designed for quarterbacks and wide receivers, the Air Maxx Flex 2.0 model from Schutt Sports is another Schutt model that is noteworthy. This particular cushion comes with an attached backplate and a reduced cut.

These features protect you perfectly without restricting flexibility and range of motion so that you can run and act comfortably. Like all Schutt shoulder pads, this elegant design offers nothing for the opponent to grasp. So, you can manoeuvre on the ground without any problems.

So, if you are looking for shoulder pads explicitly designed for quarterbacks or wide receivers, this is undoubtedly a top pick for you!


  • Specially designed for quarterbacks and wide receivers
  • Backplate attached
  • Smaller arc cut for a blend of protection and mobility


  • An expensive option

#7 Best for All Positions: Xenith XFlexion Velocity Football Shoulder Pads

Xenith XFlexion Velocity Football Shoulder Pads
  • Made as a skill position pad but...
  • Lightweight injection molded plates...
  • Floating sternum and spine...
  • Shock cord enables plates to move...
  • Durable belt with strap pockets

As another well-known brand in the world of football, Xenith has a spot on this list. Perhaps the XFlexion Velocity model is their best design yet.

This modern, aggressive and elegant design offers improved protection and flexibility so that you can face any opponent. The particular model is suitable for all positions at the interuniversity level.

When it comes to skilful and professional players in real games, these shoulder pads have been designed taking into account the specific position including quarterbacks, running backs, large catches and defensive backs.

Overall, the manufacturer had created one of the best football shoulder pads by applying the most of the light and durable foam, flexible breastplates and high manoeuvrability.


  • Suitable for all positions
  • Improved protection and flexibility
  • Lightweight, moulded plates to retain their anatomical shape
  • Stylish design


  • Very expensive

#8 Best Performance: Gear Pro-Tec X2 Air X-SOBF Football Shoulder Pads

Gear Pro-Tec X2 AIR X-SOBF OL/DL/DE/TE Football Shoulder...
  • Light weight low profile flat pad...
  • Pro-Loc epaulet design for maximum...
  • Front lock stabilizer for sternum...

The Gear Pro-Tec X2 Air shoulder pads offer a traditional design combined with modern innovation for better moisture management and high protection for a complete football match. These shoulder pads not only have a stylish look, but they are also very efficient.

With protective pads for the joints, an adjustable hood system and strategically placed ventilation holes for faster drying and better breathability, you’ll be both safe and comfortable in these pads.

Surprisingly, it is suitable for all positions. The shoulder pads from Gear Pro-Tec have received rave reviews from the customers, so they are worth a try if you considered them!

Get ready to take on the field in these affordable pads that perfectly combine traditional style with modern technology to meet your performance requirements.


  • Front locking stabilizer for sternum protection
  • Pro-loc design for maximum upward arm movement
  • Suitable for all positions
  • Elegant and traditional design


  • A bit pricey

#9 Most Economical: Athletic Specialties Adult Football Shoulder Pads

Athletic Specialties Adult Football Shoulder Pad Cushion...
  • Shoulder Cushion designed to fit...
  • Large adult sized front and rear...
  • Foam may be cut to remove padding...
  • 1/2" thick coated vinyl padding.
  • Non restricting under arm straps...

If you’re looking for an economical option that will improve the fit, comfort and security of your shoulder pads, it’s worth investing in the shoulder pads from Athletic Specialities. For those that need an extra layer of protection, these pads may be the right choice.

Athletic Specialities offers the adjustable and removable shoulder pads to help absorb impact at the acromioclavicular joint and provides additional protection. With foam, you can reposition them or even remove them for a precise adjustment of your shoulder pad.

Combine this with non-binding straps under the arms. It’s certainly a substantial investment when it comes to the most economical and advantageous option.


  • Designed to fit under the shoulder pads
  • Foam can be cut for a custom fit
  • Non-binding straps under the arms included
  • Ideal for additional protection and support


  • Quality could be improved

Best Football Shoulder Pads for Different Positions

1. Quarterback, Placekickers and Punters

Dropback quarterbacks always need lightweight shoulder pads that offer full shoulder movement for launch, according to Dick’s Sporting Goods buyers’ guide. The pad should also sit on the shoulder and not crawl on the neck, limiting head movement and field of vision.

Quarterbacks players can choose a shoulder pad cut for the running back. Bettors and point selectors generally choose quarterback style shoulder pads as they are the lightest pads and these players are at less risk of being faced.

2. Running Backs, Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs

Running back and wide receivers are at the centre of offensive games and are typically dealt with more attacks during a match. These players should look for pads that offer unrestricted flexibility and movement, but absorb the hard hits you make.

Often, these players, as well as defensive backs, need light shoulder pads that can absorb the force of a blow without limiting the player’s agility or ability to stiffen the arm or repel the tacklers.

3.Fullback, Tight End and Linebacker

Larger bodies require a larger pad. Fullback and tight end will catch or take the ball per yard, but most of the time, these players will provide quarterback support or offensive skill positions.

Linebackers combine speed and strength to reach ball carriers or short-range receivers. Since these players take the most chest hits to, HRS Informer reports that the pads should have a plated front instead of laces to offer forward strength and more significant impact cushioning.

The plated fronts also require no adjustments after shots. Without laces in the front, the pads are fixed under the arm with a vinyl and elastic strap system.

4. Lineman

The most gruelling positions in football are on the scrimmage line. The offensive linesman provides a protective wall for the quarterback and opens holes for the running back to advance the ball.

Defensive linemen attempt to plug those holes in addition to pressing the quarterback. The pads for a lineman, like those used by linebackers, should have straps around their arm to secure them.

How to Choose the Best Football Shoulder Pads?

1. Construction

The quality of your shoulder pads’ construction is essential to your safety in a football game. When you are dragged, hit and attacked in the field, your pads should be high quality and durable enough to withstand even the most severe abuse.

2. Weight

For every position on the field, the weight of the shoulder pads will undoubtedly be one of your considerations. You need to consider the importance of the pads carefully and how it will affect your body on the ground.

Ideally, the construction of your shoulder pads should be light and dynamic without sacrificing safety and quality. There should be an ideal balance between the lightness of the pads and durability. These features must guarantee you have the most exceptional comfort and the best possible protection while moving and running.

3. Damping and Padding

Damping capacity of your football shoulder pads will have a direct effect on its overall performance. Too much depreciation will affect your mobility, but too little will lack protection.

Ideally, the padding you choose should be TPU, which is padding in thermoplastic urethane. Most brands incorporate this special padding into the back, shoulders and chest of their pads. TPU padding can provide better protection as it absorbs more force and impact compared to other choices and lasts longer.

4. Position

If you are just starting to practice your hobby as a footballer, this position may not be one of your first considerations. If you are still at the stage of testing different areas or playing as a professional, you should opt for multi-position shoulder pads. Several leading brands offer universal pads that work as well as position-specific pads.

However, if you know which position you are going to play, you need to make an informed purchase based on precise and valuable knowledge. For example, if you are a receiver or quarterback, you will need shoulder pads that provide the mobility necessary to perform the required movements in your position.

If you are in a position like a lineman, you know that you are likely to receive the most considerable number of impacts and hits on the field. Therefore, you will need shoulder pads that provide reinforcement where you need it most.

The point here is, make sure that you buy the shoulder pads that offer sufficient protection and mobility for your chosen position for best performance.

5. Flat Padding

Flat padding refers to the padding system of your shoulder pads. Several brands use this type of filling in their shoulder pads because it offers benefits.

A low profile padding is ideal for absorbing any force without being too bulky. Thanks to the flat padding, you can stay protected without having to compromise your agility on the ground while minimizing interference from the headphones.

If you are looking for contoured and mobile padding, opt for smooth filling.

6. Mobility

Your chosen shoulder pads should be designed so as not to interfere with your mobility. To guarantee this, you will need to invest in the lightest pads that are still capable of performing and protecting your shoulders and arms. 

If your shoulder pads are too thick and limit your ability to move, they will cause you to walk abnormally. Not only will this affect your performance, but it could also make you more vulnerable to injury.

7. Ventilation

Last but not least, you need to be comfortable moving and running. Correct ventilation will play an important role. In most cases, you will find that proper ventilation comes from holes drilled directly into the shell holes.

It is also worth considering the materials used for padding often have a specific effect on ventilation. Ideally, you will want a waterproof, breathable cushion like the shoulder pads that use Z-cool cooling technology.


1. Which brand makes the best football shoulder pads?

You will find on the site all the shoulder pads of the brands Schutt, Xenith and Gear Pro-Tec. All of them use their advanced technologies. They have a whole shell (or arch) made of hard plastic or with a foam glued to the tank (Xenith Apex) which serves as the first bulwark upon impact.

2. Are there any specifications of football shoulder pads for ages?

The shoulder pad that you will choose must be adapted to your position on the ground, to your level but also your age and body measurements (Youth, Junior Varsity, Varsity, College, and Pro).

The level information on the shoulder pads is indicated in the technical data sheet of the product (U12, U14, U16, U19, regional, division 3, division 2, and Elite).

3. What is the Z-Cool moisture system?

Z-Cool moisture transfer system contains a plastic arch that goes from your chest to your back. There are ventilation holes sandwiched between two layers of 3D Air Flow Foam micro-perforated for better moisture management.

Bottom Lines

In summary, although they are not inexpensive, the best football shoulder pads are designed with a safety guarantee, and that is something you cannot put a price on. It is essential to make sure you are protected from injury while enjoying your hobby by investing in the right pads.

It is worth making sure that you buy a high-quality shoulder pad to enjoy comfort, protection and ultimate performance on the football field, no matter your position or ability.

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About Joseph Mason

Joseph Mason is a blogers. Being a lover of sports , he can play a lot of sports like MMA, basketball, baseball ... He started writing in hope of sharing his experiences with fellow sports fans.

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