Top 10 Best Youth Football Shoulder Pads To Buy 2022 – Buying Guide

Player safety is one of the most important elements that the NFL and other football bodies are emphasizing in recent years. Not only does safety allow players to have prolonged careers, but the sport is also more competitive, with players taking a few more risks. This is why the best youth shoulder pads are an integral part of the kit.

In this article, we explore some of the many top-rated football shoulder pads that youth players can use to help them improve their game and feel safer. Instead of taking too many risks, players nowadays have the opportunity to play the game at a full pace and resist potential head and neck injuries by dropping the shoulder.

Best Youth Shoulder Pads Reviews 2019

Before we consider the most important features that a player needs to look for, it is important that we look at a few of the shoulder pads first. There are various types and a huge collection that one needs to choose from. However, we have decided to isolate some of the best that players are currently using to ensure you have a lot of confidence on the field:

1. Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads

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Shutt has been heavily scrutinized for their top quality shoulder pads and they are one of the top brands on the market today. The Schutt Sports Y-Flex 4.0 All-Purpose Youth Football Shoulder Pads is a versatile shoulder pad that can be found in a wide range of different sizes for each player. They have been made to give a lot of protection while keeping the weight to a minimum.

The protection area is predominantly on the inside and this features mesh that has been used to cover the padding on the inside. Since it uses dual-density padding, you don’t need to worry about anything else for absorbing shock. It also absorbs shock from various angles that will ensure your body has been effectively protected.

Compared to some of the other shoulder pads, these pads have an extended length. The extended length offers a lot in terms of protection. Having additional protection allows you to ensure that the body has been sufficiently protected and it also stretches down towards the torso for added coverage. The mesh is highly breathable and will absorb most of the moisture from sweat.

Since these pads have been designed for all the positions on the football field, you might note that the padding is a little thinner. When playing in the trenches, one can easily see that these shoulder pads lack some protection that players might need who are blocking or running into their opponents. Additionally, they are lighter and allow more maneuverability.

The color should not matter, but these shoulder pads are fairly stylish and they will look great on most students. They fit to perfection and they allow you to efficiently choose the right size, but it works for all the positions. Shutt is one of the top brands and this is still a reasonably priced shoulder pad that everyone can use.

  • Versatile for all positions
  • Offers big players more maneuverability
  • Fits great
  • Reasonably priced
  • Padding is a little thin for players upfront.

2. Gear 2000 Youth Intimidator Junior Shoulder Pad

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Junior players are at the most risk when playing football. It is not because they are smaller, but many of them do not always possess the right technique immediately. Since they lack some technique, they can benefit a lot from having the right protection for when they tackle or even bump into someone without using the right technique.

Since children need something to get used to, the use of shoulder pads that have a low-profile design seems beneficial for them. These pads are also much flatter than most of the others, which allows you to comfortably slot into them and wear them for prolonged periods if you are a beginner and not used to wearing them.

An effective strapping system has been integrated and this does not stretch. The benefit of this is that the pads will fit as expected and you don’t need to worry about them coming loose in contact. Sturdy pads have been added on the inside, with comfortable mesh that will absorb most of the moisture from sweat and perspiration.

These shoulder pads are mainly designed for smaller players among us. They won’t be comfortable or a good investment for college players due to the lack of size. Since the pads don’t stretch, the downside remains that your child runs the risk of quickly growing out of them when they are growing at a pace.

Since most children need to start somewhere, Peewee football is the answer for many parents. These pads are slightly expensive for the size, but to protect your kids, you can never spend too much money. I would recommend them to players starting from a young age to offer them some excellent protection and comfort.

  • Made for Peewee football players
  • Retains the size and absorbs impact
  • Includes a moisture management system
  • Sturdy design for all positions
  • They are slightly expensive

3. Xenith Youth Xflexion Flyte Shoulder Pads

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If you find your kid playing up in the trenches, they will need some additional protection to ensure the body does not take too many shots. Fortunately, Xenith has been around for a long time and has an established brand in the football industry. The Xenith Youth Xflexion Flyte Shoulder Pads is one of their top shoulder pads for almost every player.

This shoulder pad set might seem intimidating when you look at it, but it is also stylish and you can see all the safety features. It is not heavy at all and only comes in at 4 pounds, but the injection-molded plates are what will offer you the best possible protection for your body. Some of them are also places with padding on the sides for more protection.

Instead of worry about elastic cords that will constantly need to be tightened or readjusted, the use of a belt system is what makes the unit effective for retaining the right position and ensuring that you are perfectly protected. It does come with a pre-installed backplate, but you can also add your own specific backplate for more protection or comfort.

Aside from some people saying that they are a little heavy, there is not much bad to be found about these shoulder pads. They offer a great range of movement and will even absorb most of the moisture. Additionally, the shoulder pads also have a floating sternum plate, which ensures that your sternum is never at risk.

Unfortunately, the price can be a little steep if your child is not serious about playing football. However, the serious children will definitely find that these shoulder pads are well worth the price being asked for them. I would recommend it for the Peewee stars and some of the future NFL stars that will be playing the future.

  • Multiple impact points are protected
  • Floating sternum plate included
  • Absorbs moisture effectively
  • Stylish look and design
  • Expensive
  • A little heavy for small players

4. Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth Football Shoulder Pads

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The Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth Football Shoulder Pads are a little more affordable than most of the others on the market today. These shoulder pads have been constructed from durable materials, but with a minimalistic approach taken by the manufacturer, they have been limited in terms of weight and size.

One of the top features is the foam inserts that have been used to absorb the impact. Instead of using large foam pads, 3 channels of smaller inserts have been used to ensure that your padding on the inside does not deform or lose the ability to withstand impact. The cushioning also extends beyond the protection of plastic and this will ensure more coverage.

Much like some of the others, these shoulder pads feature a universal position and should allow you to use them for almost any position on the field. The padding at the back is also sufficient for when you take a shot to the sternum, but we have considered adding some additional padding. Your elastic strap will comfortably strap you into them.

While the pas has many of these great features, they do lack a fundamental feature that we need in football. Since most of the inserts have not been enclosed with double stitching, you might need to consider doing this yourself. Eventually, the moisture will start to disrupt the stitching and they might feel uncomfortable.

Since you still have to plug up this one weakness, many people do not consider the need to pay too expensive for their shoulder pads. Fortunately, the Sports Unlimited Prospect Youth Football Shoulder Pads are fairly priced and they should not allow you to break the bank. It is some of the best beginner shoulder pads available for football.

  • Universal design for all positions
  • Added protection length
  • Elastic strapping for a comfortable fit
  • Good moisture wicking
  • Really affordable
  • Might lack some overall durability

5. Schutt Sports Youth Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad

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We have already discussed the quality of the Shutt brand, but they were bound to make another appearance on this list. The Schutt Sports Youth Flex 2.0 All Purpose Shoulder Pad is designed for all the positions on the field, but still offers a stylish low-profile design and some additional padding for protection in the trenches.

These shoulder pads also feature a stylish design that has been done especially for the top players on the field. Instead of looking like one of the average players, you will certainly stand out. It also has injection molded plates that will sit in front of the foam pads, allowing the shoulder pads to absorb the maximum amount of impact.

One of the features that have stood out aside from the great ventilation is the treatment of antibacterial properties that have been used with these shoulder pads. This reduces the need for you to wash them and will keep the foul stench from ever appearing when you are playing for long periods with a lot of sweat that builds up.

One of the biggest issues is that once you lock these pads in position, it can be hard to move or adjust them. This might be fine for most players, but when you need to get to something bothering you or when you are prone to chafing, it could potentially aggravate the injury and you will have it harder to get rid of it.

Shutt does not shy away from creating competitive shoulder pads and children nowadays have grown accustomed to the quality and value of the brand. These shoulder pads are a little expensive, but definitely worth it for protection. I would recommend it for serious players that tend to play well into their prime years.

  • Near perfect ventilation
  • Can be used for all positions
  • Locks in place firmly
  • Extremely durable
  • Includes antimicrobial properties
  • Not ideal for hobbyists
  • Can cause some chaffing

6. Riddell Sports Surge Youth Football Shoulder Pad

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Moving onto one of the top or elite brands like Riddell is one thing that we were bound to do. The brand not only features some of the very best footballs and equipment, but their shoulder pads are also slowly making waves among them players. The Riddell Sports Surge Youth Football Shoulder Pad is an excellent option for top players.

It features a fundamental style that has been tried and tested over an over again. Most of the weight has gone into designing the pads and to offer you durability, but the injection-molded plates are hard enough to wave off any bumps. Additionally, the low-profile design will ensure maneuverability for the players and make it more comfortable.

All of the pads are flat in this unit and it makes the unit more comfortable for players when they need to use some agility on the field. These pads are also stylish and they offer a range of versatile aspects that works for all the positions on the football field. Additionally, velvet is added to the collar, which has been known to reduce the potential of chafing.

The PVC belt that is used for holding the pads in position will ensure that they are designed to perfection for every player. The belt has numerous notches that can be used for adjustments and the addition of the backplate offers blindside protection. Unfortunately, they feel a little bulky for some players that need some speed.

One might think that the brand Riddell will be one of the most expensive options on this list. However, this is not the case and all the sizes tend to be the same price. They are affordable and can be used by players of all sizes. If you want to stand out with something effective and durable for every game, this will be the shoulder pads to consider.

  • Velvet collar for reduced chafing
  • Adjustable PVC belt
  • Multiple features that increase durability
  • Flat design for optimal rotation
  • Reasonably priced
  • At first, they feel bulky

7. TAG ALT II 844 Youth Football Shoulder Pad

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The TAG ALT II 844 Youth Football Shoulder Pad is one of my personal favorites. As a kid, it is was one that always seemed to be out of reach, but nowadays, it is becoming more popular. The reason for this is the quality of technology that has been integrated to ensure optimal weight without sacrificing the safety features associated.

These shoulder pads have an extremely low-profile design that will definitely help to encourage some more maneuverability from the player. They have been padded in sequence to ensure that none of the pads are ever bundled up, while the plate design is flat to ensure all players can comfortably move around in them.

Much like the top brands, the inner mesh is not only used to absorb all of the moisture. It has also been integrated to ensure that you have comfort as a player. Since antimicrobial properties are used to control the odors and some of the dirt, it is no secret that many players like it for this versatility and functionality.

Another decent feature is the closure that has been used. The unit does not have a closure that is locked, which means it will be moving around. However, you can lock it at the back and the front to keep it securely in place. The addition of a backplate is only found in the best pads to ensure more protection for all your impact points.

For me, the biggest disappointment is the price. Unfortunately, you won’t be saving a lot of money when you decide to buy them. However, the price is sufficiently justified to ensure that your kid won’t need to worry about another set of shoulder pads. I definitely recommend it for the top players in college and junior football.

  • Protects all impact points
  • Multiple lock points
  • Easy to use for all positions
  • Stylish design
  • Really expensive

8. Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool Youth/JV Shoulder Pads

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Technology has definitely made the world a better place and clothing or even sports apparel has been designed to be a little better. The Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool Youth/JV Shoulder Pads stand out for the ability to keep you looking stylish, while also allowing you to absorb most of the impact that should come from any direction in the game.

A low profile design is once again the focal point and this means that the flat plates make them more comfortable for almost every player of any position. The inner foam has been designed to resist moisture. In fact, the manufacturer claims that it is basically waterproof to wick away all of the sweat you are exuding.

3D air circulation is another technical feature that will keep you cool when you wear them. Instead of having too many breathable holes that could cause structural weakness, the holes will double down and help promote the circulation of air. Now every player can remain cool under one of these top-quality shoulder pads.

Some of the final features that make these shoulder pads stand out are the bead selection that has been integrated with the pads. These beads might not mean much to many players, but when we look at the science, it will move around. Since it moves around in the pads, you have more comfort when shock absorption is needed in specific areas.

These shoulder pads are definitely designed for some of the stars. However, the lack of protection for your sternum means that you do have some vulnerability when you get a shot from behind. Even though the shoulder pads are expensive, we still highly recommend them, but remember to keep your sternum covered from shots or get an additional backplate.

  • Multiple cooling features
  • Will promote the circulation of air
  • Excellent impact absorption
  • Looks stylish
  • Lacks some sternum protection

9. Adams USA Youth Player Shoulder Pad

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Are you a little tight on your budget or do you simply want your kid to test the water of football before making a massive investment? The Adams USA Youth Player Shoulder Pad is the perfect affordable option that still offers you optimal protection and will definitely keep you from ever having to deal with failures.

The shoulder pads have a dual-density foam feature that is stitched together. However, they are still separated to ensure that you don’t lose the ability to absorb impacts after a while. These foam pads are soft to the touch, but they can make a massive difference on the field. This is backed up by the quality of the plates that are used.

My favorite feature is the fact that these shoulder pads are not the normal size. Yes, when you w them, they will still feel really comfortable, but the padding stretches beyond the plates. This gives you additional protection for your sternum, but a backplate has not been added. Even though it has not been added, you still have more coverage than the average person.

The cantilever arch system is not one that most people are aware of. However, this feature enables the player to adjust the height and the feeling of the shoulder pads to make them more comfortable. The ability to do this will make it perfect for almost any position that you find yourself playing on the football field.

We have already mentioned that the price is on your side. The pads are not the lightest that we could find, but with all these features, they can provide excellent protection. All of this protection will cost you a fraction of the price of those elite shoulder pads. However, the lack of maneuverability makes it a tough one to choose.

  • Extremely durable
  • Extended padding features
  • Decent ventilation
  • Really affordable
  • Not ideal for maneuverability

10. Riddell Sports 8053420 Pursuit Youth Shoulder Pad\

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Why not end this list with a bang and feature one of the best brands of the modern era. The Riddell Sports 8053420 Pursuit Youth Shoulder Pad has been designed to give you the perfect combination of top-quality features while striving to keep the weight to a minimum. They have also added some stylish touches to the shoulder pads.

Since these shoulder pads feature multiple padding around the plates and beyond them, they can allow the player to absorb the impact from any location. If you have a shot low, you will also have your sternum fully protected. The use of injection-molded plates can allow your opponents to even slide over you or miss you.

The locking mechanism is a little different and these plastic connectors will definitely hold the unit in place. The only downside is that the plastic will eventually wear and tear and it is not really designed for wet weather. However, the padding on the inside tends to wick away most of the moisture and sweat that is absorbed.

It is really hard to find something hard with these shoulder pads and stick to the statement. In some way or another, all the features will complement each other in the end and ensure that you have optimal durability. My biggest concern is the bulky feeling of using them, which might not be ideal for smaller players out wide.

Once again, Riddell has not crushed us with the price and you can easily pick up a pair of these shoulder pads at an affordable price. Since your kid will be playing with some perfectly designed shoulder pads, it is worth noting that they will stand out. I also recommend these to serious players that need some protection.

  • Multiple pads for optimal protection
  • Decent weight and distribution of weight
  • Injection-molded outer pads
  • Locks into place firmly
  • Might feel a little bulky to some players

Key Features To Consider When Choosing The Best Youth Shoulder Pads

With so many shoulder pads to choose from, it can still be a little intimidating to choose the right one. However, this list might help you narrow down your decisions to find the perfect shoulder pads for your kids. Here are some of the features that we have also used for selecting all of these shoulder pads that feature on this list.


One of the first things that every player will need to look at is the overall design of the shoulder pads. They need to be comfortable and also fit the position that the player is a player. If you take a lot of hits, you might need some additional protection, especially around the back and the sternum. This will ensure that players easily absorb all shots.

Another thing is that the padding should not be too much. While having more padding does ensure more protection, it can also be a little bulky. The player in the wide receiver or even corner positions needs some maneuverability. This maneuverability will ensure that the player does not have to worry about being obstructed by his or her own padding.

Plate Design:

Not all shoulder pads have the same type of plates that they use for protection. Many brands also use bulky plates that will be a little harder to move around with. However, the flat plates are more comfortable to work with and they will ensure that a player can take the impact and the shots without carrying the bulk.

Additionally, these flat plates are injection molded and they tend to last a little longer. The additional durability will make them ideal for longer stints before you need new pads. Some players have also noted that they allow opponents to slide off when shoulder charging for your head. This will help running back break a few tackles.

Inner Padding:

On the inside of the shoulder pads, you will find that foam is generally used for padding. Having foam will allow the pads to absorb the bulk of the impact and return to the same form to make it ready for another couple of shots from your opponents. Foam can also be combined with beads, making it stronger and allowing more impact to be absorbed. These beads are generally made from gel.

Sticking to the inner padding, you can consider the length of the padding or protection. Most shoulder pads will have a lot of protection behind the plates, but occasionally, you might need some additional padding. The top brands tend to have the padding stretch over the plates, allowing it to be more protective for certain shots.

Universal Position Pads:

A common trend nowadays is the introduction of universal pads. These pads can be bought for the entire team and they should allow you to cover each position. However, I did notice that they cannot fully cover all the positions with some having too much and others having too little protection for all the impact that you face.

Often times, it might be better to consider having multiple shoulder pads for each position. This will definitely ensure that the players are sufficiently protected for the positions they intend to play. A running back is one of the only positions that can make use of almost any shoulder pad type regardless of their size.


The size of your child is important and while you won’t easily find shoulder pads that cover all the sizes, you can find a few. I personally recommend following the instructions of measurement that each brand will put out. Once you have these measurements, it should be a walk in the park to find the right shoulder pads for your child.


In the world of football, we have multiple great brands to choose from. All of these brands bring something else to the table, but only the top ones ever survive. Yes, they might be a little more expensive, but they are more reliable as well. When selecting the right shoulder pads, you might need to have a look at these three brands for the quality they provide:

  • Riddell: Riddell is hands down one of the top brands on the market today. The brands not only make shoulder pads, but you also have a variety of different other football products. In terms of shoulder pads, they don’t tend to be too expensive.
  • Shutt: Shutt is one of my favorite brands and the brand has been around for an extended period. If you are ever lost and you don’t know which brand to choose, Shutt is one that you can never go wrong with.
  • Xenith: Xenith is a little more expensive and mostly recommended for the elite players. However, they have found the perfect balance between protection and keeping the weight down.

You might have thought that all the shoulder pads are the exact same, but this is not the case. The top brands have been around the football scene for many years and their quality definitely speaks for itself. These are 3 of the top brands that we definitely recommend for almost any player in the world of football today.

Additional Features:

These are not all of the features and there are a couple more that you can look for. They might cost a little extra, but for serious players, it could make a difference. If you have the funds and you want the very best, here are a couple of extra features that you should also need to keep in mind:

  • Antimicrobial Protection: It might not seem like much, but having antimicrobial protection can reduce the odors of the shoulder pads. This will ensure that you have optimal pads that don’t smell after each stint.
  • Ventilation: ventilation could have easily been added to the top features, but since most of them already have it, you can look at it as secondary. Each brand has its own name for the specific technology that is used though.
  • Moisture Wicking: If you have ever had an issue with building up sweat when you are playing football, you might need to look at the moisture-wicking properties. No one wants to worry about sweat being all over the place.
  • Weight: I don’t consider the weight too important, as having protection is a little more important for most people. However, you also need to keep the weight in mind to ensure the pads are ideal.

These features are only secondary and you need to focus on the main features first. The main features will ensure that you are efficiently protected and give you some great value for your money. Most of the elite pads have these additional features already included.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Football shoulder pads are by no means hard to find and they can be a great find once you understand what to look for and the importance of each feature. With everything being discussed, there are still a few questions that many people have been struggling with. Fortunately, we have done the research to help find the answers:

Are Shoulder Pads Machine Washable?

This is not a feature that every shoulder pad has. However some of them are machine washable, but you will need to remove the plates. By removing the plates, you can efficiently throw them into the washing machine and they should not sustain any damage.

Will The Shoulder Pads Cause Chaffing?

The shoulder pads won’t really cause chaffing, as long as the plates are covered by some cushioning. The chaffing incidents are extremely rare and only occur after a sustained time of playing. Many people also experience rash, but this could be an allergic reaction to some of the sweat.

Can I Use These Shoulder Pads Professionally?

Many people might be able to use their college or high school shoulder pads when they have stopped growing. Unfortunately, not all of us stop growing in high school and once you hit the gym, you might outgrow the shoulder pads a little. It is best to find some professional shoulder pads if you feel that yours is too small.

Final Thoughts:

The world of football is fun and vibrant, but an injury can happen in a moment. The best youth shoulder pads should protect you from these accidents and help to relieve some of the issues with protection on the field. We hope that you have found the ideal shoulder pads for your game and that you can see your kids game or your own game improve significantly.

Learn more about how to choose the best football shoulder pads 2019 with in depth reviews and buyer’s guide.

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