Football helmet review

Courtesy of Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences:

National Impact Database

Adult Football Helmet Ratings – May 2011

A total of 10 adult football helmet models were evaluated using the STAR evaluation system for May 2011 release.  All 10 are publicly available at the time of publication.  Helmets with lower STAR values provide a reduction in concussion risk compared to helmets with higher STAR values.  Based on this, the best overall rating of ‘5 Stars’ has the lowest STAR value.  Group rankings are differentiated by statistical significance.

If you’re in the market to buy a loved one a football helmet, or just curious, go and have a look. It doesn’t take long, there are only 10 helmets on the list. Go to the list.

I got to this from ESPN’s Page 2:

For years, football players, coaches and the parents of young players have been in the dark about which of the many helmets on the market may reduce the risk of concussions. The NFL does not mandate helmet types, while many NFL teams refuse even to reveal which helmets their players wear. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, which certifies sports equipment, has been AWOL on the issue of helmets and concussions. There’s been no place for the player seeking helmet safety information to turn.

Now all that has changed. Researchers at Virginia Tech have produced the first brand-by-brand, model-by-model ranking for the likely concussion resistance of helmets. A star-rating system modeled on crash safety rankings for automobiles, the rankings clearly identify the best and worst helmets.

It’s a long, good article. It lays out the problems with helmets, concussions, athletes, etc. And it highlights some actual science for helmets.

Progress! Here’s hoping it helps.




  1. When safety equipment is counterproductive
    11/11/09 – Wall Street Journal By Reed Albergotti and Shirley S. Wang
    Is It Time to Retire the Football Helmet?
    === ===
    [edited excerpt] The first hard-shell helmets in the 1940s weren’t designed to prevent concussions but to prevent players in that rough-and-tumble era from suffering catastrophic injuries like fractured skulls.

    These helmets reduced the chances of death on the field, and also created a sense of invulnerability that encouraged players to collide more forcefully and more often. “Almost every single play, you’re going to get hit in the head,” says Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long.

    These small collisions may be just as damaging. The growing body of research on former football players suggests that brain damage isn’t necessarily the result of any one trauma, but the accumulation of thousands of seemingly innocuous blows to the head.
    === ===

    People are willing to take risks and incur injury at a certain level. When safety is improved in an observable way, the participants will trade away that safety for better performance. Overall, the activity may become less safe. As examples outside football, anti-lock brakes encourage faster driving in rain and snow, and airbags encourage many people to think that accidents won’t matter much.

  2. Aerospace Genius says:

    I believe that almost everyone (including athletes and their parents) act in their own long term best interest, particularly when they are well informed. Virginia Tech is to be commended for providing the information necessary to make good decisions about safety equipment. Go VT!

  3. HM1 Heidrich says:

    Now, if only Military kevlars could be so advanced….

    And painted in cooler colors. Definitely need better colors.