What Are Football Helmets Made of? [Heads Don’t Bounce]

Professional or amateur- all football players wear protective gear to reduce the risk of injury. And the best example of protective gear should be a football helmet with a chin strap, face mask, and optional mouth guard.

The importance of putting on a football helmet before hitting the field is well-known. A player’s risk of serious head injuries, concussions or worse increases significantly without these protective devices on the field or court.

Have you ever got the curiosity about what’s going on behind this basic athletic wear or more specifically, what are football helmets made of?

Well, to meet your curiosity, we have come with this article. Lets’ jump inside a .

The History of Football Helmets

We all know that the players wear a football helmet to protect themselves from hard blows, concussions, and other head injuries in a game. But that was not always the case.

The History of Football Helmets

In 1869, the first football headgear was used by George “Rose” Barclay, the Lafayette College halfback, who used straps and earpieces to protect his ears.

After that, in the 1893 Army-Navy game, Joseph M. Reeves (inventor of the modern American football helmet) had a protective headpiece that was made out of moleskin.

During the 1920s, helmets were constructed with leather and the inside was filled with some stuffing, but it was still too risky for facial injuries.

For protecting the face, the Riddell Company of Chicago first invented the plastic helmet around the year 1939. Inside the plastic frame was stuffed with more padding and cushion and it also introduced a plastic face mask, guarding the entire head.

The radio helmet which added single-face metal bars to the helmets was first introduced in 1956.

Later on, as years went by, more protective layers of these football helmets were added and the design was improved.

What Are Football Helmets Made of

The fundamental structure of a modern football helmet design has stayed mostly unchanged since leather helmet was officially replaced with plastic football helmets. To date, the most common helmets are made out of three pieces.

  • A hard exterior shell made of a rigid material,
  • a flexible internal liner,
  • and a chin strap that keeps it in place are all included.

All three pieces are stuffed with foam pads that can be adjusted.

The materials and the design of the football helmet can also be changed and customized according to the player’s need and preference. But a helmet’s primary purpose is to absorb the energy of an impact and to reduce the risk of head injury.

Main Components of a Football Helmet

Here is a short look at what goes into making a football helmet, and how it protects the players.

Main Components of a Football Helmet

The Outer Shell

We are most familiar with the outer shell, which is a thin, hard material. A 3.35mm thick polycarbonate is generally used for the outside.

The lightweight polycarbonate is suitable material since it can protect the head from a tremendous blow. Also, the density of this material is very thin, so it is not that heavy.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is used to make youth football helmets since it is lighter than polycarbonate but yet robust and durable. As the polycarbonate shell can significantly destroy an ABS shell in a helmet-to-helmet contact, polycarbonate helmets are not allowed in young leagues.

However, several firms are experimenting with a somewhat softer top layer as a way to increase energy absorption in helmets.

Inner Absorption Layers

Even though various firms may utilize somewhat different cushioning and materials,  some are common. Polyurethane, vinyl nitrile foam, and viscoelastic foams are the most popular ones. These foams are lightweight, robust, and elastic, making the helmet impact resistant to keep you safe from skull fractures. Thus they allow them to resist tremendous force while yet maintaining their original form.

Schutt Helmets, on the other hand, only feature TPU cushioning. Compared to alternative helmet liners, TPU has the advantage of operating better at high temperatures. TPU has high flexibility and is oil, grease, and abrasion-resistant.

As well as proprietary padding, helmet manufacturers use air bubbles or bladders in different ways to create a personalized fit and increase comfort. In fact, for added comfort, they’ve included a softer foam along the forehead and lower jaw, where impacts are less likely to occur.

Face Masks

Nowadays stainless steel, titanium, and carbon steel are the most common materials used in contemporary face masks. In most cases, carbon steel is used as a cheaper and stronger material than the other two options. While stainless steel is lighter and stronger than carbon steel, it is also more expensive.

Face Masks

Titanium is the material of choice in the National Football League and other adult leagues that are very competitive. Titanium is 45% lighter and more durable than the other two metals, but it is also the most costly.

Each mask is covered with Polyarmor G17, a robust powder coating with outstanding abrasion, impact and corrosion resistance properties, regardless of its material.

Chin Strap

If your chin strap isn’t up to pace with the rest of your Hi-Tech helmet, it’s not doing its job. Your head might not be adequately protected or your helmet can fly off at a critical moment because of an inadequately designed chin strap.

Straps themselves must be sturdy and lasting. As a general rule, the strap is composed of leather or nylon. Plastic buckles or metal snaps can be used to attach the strap to the helmet.

The chin cup is the essential element. Depending on the material, the cup may be constructed of polycarbonate or ABS.

Hard cups provide impact protection in addition to keeping the helmet in place. Comfort is provided by either foam cushioning or gel, or both. As well as air vents, the chin guard should also keep your chin dry and comfy.

Most Protective Football Helmet

Different types of football helmets are made from a variety of materials. Those who are lightweight prefer foam safety helmets while selecting their protective equipment. That’s because it is more comfortable and costs less than other designs.

Most Protective Football Helmet

If it does get damaged, it can be repaired without having to buy a new helmet. It can also be equipped with a suspension system, which makes it easier for the player to move around.

Even the finest helmets cannot completely prevent the risk of sustaining a head injury. Football is a contact sport, and as a result, it is inherently dangerous. However, in today’s game, your head is more protected than it has ever been.

Keeping this in mind, the most protective football helmet is the Schutt F7 VTD. According to the Virginia Tech helmet safety ranking, got a score of 2.54 (the lower, the better) and 5 stars.

It has got protective TPU cushioning which makes it an excellent comfortable helmet to wear in-game.

A titanium faceguard and a hybrid chinstrap are also included in F7 VTD.


From the discussion above, now we got a clear idea of what football helmets are made of.

Each modification has been made to increase the wearer’s protection throughout more than a century’s worth of safety, and high-tech advances.

The most essential thing to know about football helmets is that they cannot prevent concussions! But all helmet makers have the same goal: to make a helmet that reduces the risk of a catastrophic head injury.

Owner | Website | + posts

Jason, a helmet enthusiast, is the owner of HelmetsAdvisor.com shares his innovative idea that helps people get the proper knowledge of helmets and their accessories to go ahead!

Helmets are usually life-saving elements to run! That's why, an expert on helmets, Jason built this site to express his gathering knowledge and first-hand user experience over decades.

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By Jason

Jason, a helmet enthusiast, is the owner of HelmetsAdvisor.com shares his innovative idea that helps people get the proper knowledge of helmets and their accessories to go ahead! Helmets are usually life-saving elements to run! That's why, an expert on helmets, Jason built this site to express his gathering knowledge and first-hand user experience over decades.