A football player tries on the Xenith Velocity 2 Shoulder Pads.
How to Properly Fit Football Shoulder Pads

Proper fitting shoulder pads are essential to athlete protection and performance in the game of football. Whether taking a hit or delivering one of your own, shoulder pads make all the difference in a game of inches. When shoulder pads fit properly, they should feel snug and protective, while at the same time allowing full range of motion for maximum comfort and mobility on the field. With modern shoulder pads often available in position-specific styles, achieving the perfect fit for your position and playing style is imperative to compete at a high level.

Clearly, shoulder pads are a cornerstone piece of football equipment for any player, but how do they actually work?

Shoulder pads protect players by absorbing some of the energy of an impact through deformation of the exterior shell, while at the same time distributing the energy through a larger area so there is less pressure at the point of impact.  The weight of the shoulder pads and level of protection often varies by position group. Linemen often opt for styles that benefit their technical responsibilities, like getting their hands on a linebacker or kick-stepping to pass block a defender. On the other hand, skill players usually go for a more flexible, mobile style of padding to allow them to move swiftly and gracefully all over the field. See the tips below to make sure you have the perfect shoulder pad fit to excel on the field. 

Two youth football players putting on Xenith shoulder pads.
How to Properly Fit Xenith Shoulder Pads

Although varying by model to fit specific needs of positions or body styles, the entire lineup of Xenith Shoulder Pads is lightweight and low profile, allowing for a full range of motion without sacrificing protection.

In order to ensure the perfect fit, it’s important to know how to accurately measure for the shoulder pads.

Using a measuring tape, measure the width of a player’s back from the edge of the left shoulder to the edge of the right shoulder, as shown in the graphic below. Make sure the measuring tape is as flat to the back as possible. Then consult the sizing chart below. 


Xenith Youth Shoulder Pad Sizing Chart.


Xenith Varsity Shoulder Pad Sizing Chart.

When you receive your online order of Xenith Shoulder Pads, or have the opportunity to try them on for yourself at a Dick’s Sporting Goods near you, there are a few steps to ensure proper fit and maximum protection.

First Steps:

1. Slide the hole in the middle of the pads over your head so that the pads rest on top of your shoulders.

2. Tighten both buckle belt straps. These should feel snug and secure but should not be painful in any areas. 

 Next, there are 3 main fit tips for fitting football shoulder pads:

1. Hinge of shoulder caps should align with the AC joint (directly above underarm).

2. Front Arch should fully cover sternum and front of the shoulders.

3. Rear Arch should fully cover scapula without limiting range of motion in the arms. 

Xenith Shoulder Pad Fitting Guide Graphic.

The Xenith Shoulder Pad lineup features a range of benefits for both varsity and youth players:

Unrestricted Movement

The low-profile shoulder and sternum plates allow for complete range of motion. 

Lightweight build 

Injection molded plates provide the protection athletes need without sacrificing speed and agility. 

Flexible Padding 

Strategically placed pads allow for unrestricted movement on the field 

Low-Profile Silhouette

Double shoulder caps made of high impact foam provide increased protection and contour to the body for a sleek look. 

ELEMENT Shoulder Pads

Three football players sitting side-by-side wearing Element shoulder pads.

For varsity players – be sure to check out our Element shoulder pads which are specifically designed for different position groups on the field. 

ELEMENT LINEMAN: Long, contoured chest and back plate design fully protects but allows for optimal arm and hand positioning.

- Designed for offensive and defensive linemen.

ELEMENT SKILL: short chestplate and integrated backplate prioritizes range of motion and speed for skill players.

- Designed for WR / DB / HB / QB / K.

ELEMENT HYBRID: A balance of movement and coverage, built for the modern position-less player.

- Designed for BIG SPEED, LB / TE / FB / S / HB / QB / DE.


Clearly, finding a proper fit is crucial to athlete protection and performance on the field. Make sure you follow these tips to ensure a proper fit to help keep you on the field throughout a long football season.  

Check out our full lineup of shoulder pads here to gear up for the season: https://www.xenith.com/pages/shoulder-pads