Each sport gets to determine the type of gear the athletes will wear, and pro athletes can be penalized for not following all the rules. No matter what type of equipment the athletes need, all of their gear is design to help keep them safe.
Gear has changed over time, and it continues to evolve constantly. Scientists and engineers are always working on ways to minimize athlete risk and keep them safer. Check out some of the most recent innovations below!
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With the threat of pee-wee concussions becoming a real concern, football engineers have been looking for ways to improve the helmets the players wear. They analyze the shape of the helmet, the arrangement of the pads inside, the placement and size of the holes in the sides, and the shape of the facemask.
All of these seemingly minor details can make a huge difference when a player gets hit. Next time you watch a football game, take note of how different the helmets are based on the position the athlete plays.
Mixed Martial Arts
Although these talented fighters wear minimal equipment, their gloves are an integral part of MMA fighter safety. They usually wear small, open-fingered gloves that weigh 4 or 6 ounces.
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These provide sufficient padding to protect the fighters’ knuckles and hand during the impact of a strike. But they have another (possibly surprising) safety feature. Receiving a blow to the head with an MMA glove is far safer than with a traditional boxing glove. The latter are much heavier, which would lead to harder blows.
The most important piece of safety equipment for a soccer player are going to be the shin guards. These are usually made out of some sort of padded material designed to absorb the shock of player-to-player contact during the game.
Getting kicked in the shins might not seem like a big deal, but repeated trauma to the bones in the lower leg can lead to stress fractures as well as several types of bone cancer. The shape, length, and amount of padding on the shin guards varies greatly: Scientists are working on designing materials that are lighter and more comfortable but deliver the same amount of protection.
Some professional soccer goalies also wear soft padded helmets. A goalie diving for a ball and striking his or her head on the side of the goal post is not an uncommon occurrence, and some soccer players have suffered concussions or neck injuries. Currently, these are not required, but the leagues may decide to mandate goalie helmets in the future.