Over the years we’ve seen a lot of bumps and bruises from contact involving flag players’ heads (whether with another head, some other body part or the ground). After years of watching flag football games and doing some research on the issue, we determined we could do something to make this great sport even safer for our players. So, we decided to make RockSolid soft shell helmets mandatory this season. Our goal in using soft shell helmets is to reduce the incidence of bumps, bruises, cuts, split lips, bloody noses and facial impacts – the most common types of head injuries in flag football. While we are the first in the area to require this extra layer of safety (as far as we know), numerous flag football leagues across the country have already taken this step to help protect their players. And, the league administrators with whom we’ve spoken were glad they made the move to increase player safety.
Why RockSolid helmets over cheaper models found on the internet? The answer is somewhat implied in the question. After reviewing options for soft shell headgear, we found that the RockSolid helmets were the only ones specifically designed for non-contact football use. While other helmets may look similar, the primary differences are to be found in the placement, density and type of the padding. Many of the options being touted for flag football use are rugby “scrum” caps, with half-moon shaped padding on the front exposing more of the frontal plate to impact and a lack of padding in the back (where the helmets are laced together) exposing the occipital area to unbuffered impacts. Other options were designed for martial arts, soccer, etc. and are now being rebranded as appropriate for non-contact football use. These other models simply do not provide the same levels of protection as the RockSolid helmets, which were designed specifically for the use for which they are being deployed in our league – providing added protection against incidental, football contact. In our view, ineffective head protection may create more risk than no protection at all.
So, in answer to the questions of “why would we make helmets mandatory?,” we say “how could we not?”
Note: Soft shell helmets do not prevent concussions. No helmet does. Even the big, bulky helmets you see in contact/impact sports like tackle football, lacrosse, hockey, etc. are designed to prevent cuts and abrasions. But, soft shell helmets do provide an added layer of protection for impacts involving players’ heads (the second most common injury type in flag football, following hand and finger injuries).