What To Wear Under Football Pads

What To Wear Under Football Pads: A Complete Guide

By: Chris Kinsey
Published: 19 August, 2022

Football players know that wearing the right gear is crucial for safety and performance on the field. Among the essential equipment, shoulder pads stand out as a key protective gear in American football. These pads provide protection to the shoulder, upper back, and chest areas, safeguarding players from potential injuries. But what should you wear underneath these vital shoulder pads? Let’s explore the options and find out what to wear under football pads for optimal comfort and performance.

Why Wear Clothing Underneath Shoulder Pads?

Before we delve into the options, it’s important to understand why wearing clothing underneath shoulder pads is necessary. Shoulder pads are designed to provide protection, but they can also trap heat against your body, leading to discomfort and overheating. By wearing a suitable layer underneath, you can prevent excess heat buildup and keep the pads from shifting during intense gameplay.

What are the Options for Clothing Under Shoulder Pads?

1. T-Shirts: Lightweight Comfort

T-shirts are a popular choice for many football players. Opt for lightweight cotton T-shirts, which offer breathability and comfort. These shirts are readily available, and you can even customize them by cutting off the sleeves for enhanced ventilation. When playing in warm weather, lightweight T-shirts are an excellent option to prevent overheating.

2. Compression Shirts: Enhanced Performance

Compression shirts, also known as performance shirts, provide a snug fit that conforms to your body shape. Constructed from materials like nylon, lycra, and polyester, or a combination of these, compression shirts excel in moisture-wicking capabilities. This feature helps keep your core body temperature in check, reducing the risk of overheating during intense gameplay.

Some brands, such as Under Armour, utilize patented materials like HeatGear and ColdGear in their compression shirts, catering to both warm and cold weather conditions. These shirts not only enhance performance but also help hold shoulder pads in place. Certain compression shirts, like the Grippy shirts from Under Armour, incorporate ArmourGrip material to prevent pad movement.

3. Padded Undershirts: Added Protection

For players seeking extra protection, padded undershirts are an excellent choice. Brands like Under Armour offer undershirts with additional padding around sensitive areas such as the sternum, ribs, underarms, and shoulders. Made from the same HeatGear material as their compression shirts, these padded undershirts combine comfort and protection for an enhanced gaming experience.

Other brands like Flak jackets, Evoshield, and McDavid also provide padded undershirts, catering to players’ diverse preferences for added safety.

4. Flak Jackets: Targeted Protection

Flak jackets, also known as rib protectors, offer specialized protection for the lower torso and ribs. These areas are not covered by shoulder pads and are particularly exposed during gameplay, especially for quarterbacks. Flak jackets can be worn as vests or attached to shoulder pads, providing an extra layer of padding for crucial body parts.

Staying Safe and Comfortable: Heat Precautions

Football season often coincides with the hottest months of the year, making heat-related illnesses a concern. To ensure safety during practices and games, players should take certain precautions:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after gameplay to prevent dehydration.
  • Wear Breathable Clothing: Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that keep sweat away from your body and allow proper ventilation.
  • Take Breaks: Schedule regular breaks to rest and cool down, especially on hot days.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to signs of heat-related stress, such as dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.


Choosing the right clothing to wear under football pads is essential for comfort, performance, and safety on the field. Whether you opt for lightweight T-shirts, compression shirts, padded undershirts, or flak jackets, each option offers unique benefits to suit your preferences. As you gear up for football season, prioritize staying cool, comfortable, and protected underneath those all-important shoulder pads.

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