The Riddell SpeedFlex

It’s here. I repeat. It’s here. Holy smokes does this helmet look and feel incredible. As people obsessed with football gear, we have been impatiently awaiting the arrival of the Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet because it’s the most exciting helmet release in recent history. With new protective tech and design aspects we’ve never seen before, Riddell has built a game-changer.

Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet Images

If you’re looking for the nitty-gritty details, features, and specs, head on over to our SpeedFlex page for more specific information on the Flex System, Composite Energy Management, new Ratchet-Loc retention system, and other crazy cool tech. We will be getting in all sorts of colors (including matte colors) and sizes so that you’ll be able to find the exact helmet you want and need. We actually stock these helmets right in our warehouse so that they can ship out the same day if ordered before 3 PM ET because when you buy a SpeedFlex, you get it quickly.

One of the coolest new features about the SpeedFlex is the new Ratchet-Loc retention system that helps you adjust your chinstrap quickly and easily. With ridges in the straps that lock into place with proprietary tech from Riddell, you can just tug on the strap until it is in the proper position and keep moving. This helps with getting the helmet to fit right on your head and comfort in the chin. Safety is by far the most important aspect of the game in our eyes and getting your chin strap in the proper position consistently helps make your helmet safer for you.

Additionally, this helmet passed “The Test” and by that we mean the Virginia Tech Helmet Study. SpeedFlex got a 5-star rating, and although the VA Tech Ratings system has its flaws, it is sure as heck better to score 5-stars than not.

We can’t wait to see these out on football fields all over the world this spring, summer, and right into the season this fall.


Jingle Jingle Jingle – Holiday Sale

We’re keeping our holiday sales rolling with our Jingle sale this week where you can save $5, $15, or $25 depending on how much you spend at SportsUnlimited.com. These sales don’t last forever, so get your holiday shopping done with guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery.

If you’re struggling to figure out the best holiday gifts for your friends and family this year, check out our Holiday Gift Guide for great gifts at any price range. Some of our favorite gifts to give are North Face Jackets, Under Armour ColdGear, and Fan Gear from the NFL, NCAA, MLB, etc!


LEAGUE WEEK: A New Deal Every Day

It’s League Week here at Sports Unlimited, which means that there is a new deal every day on NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL products. Our Fan Gear section of our site has tons of incredible gifts for sports fans. Whether you are looking for a personalized MLB jersey, a tiny Penn State Christmas Ornament, or something to hang in the Man Cave, we’ve got thousands of options.

Check in each day for the rest of the week to see what we have in store! Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is next week and wouldn’t it be nice to have your Thanksgiving meal without having to worry about what gifts you’re going to buy this year? Get it all done now with League Week.


Isaac’s Bonus Gift Tip: If you know a college football fan, get them a a full-size NCAA helmet from their favorite team. Best_Gift_Ever for a football fan.

EvoShield – The Future is Cool, Welcome to It

EvoShield uses dispersion technology with their custom molding shields to defend your body better than traditional protective gear.  This advancement in protection has rapidly changed the way players of all sports protect themselves and shows no sign of slowing down.  It is hard to believe that something so lightweight and thin can protect you as well as these Shields can, but RG3 knows it.  The cutting edge is pretty sharp these days and that is what makes EvoShield so exciting. Learn more about EvoShield’s technology here.

EvoShield at SportsUnlimited.com

Click on the big image to check out EvoShield products at SportsUnlimited.com

By Isaac Clark

Isaac is a dude at SportsUnlimited.com

5 Things to Know About New 2013 NCAA Lacrosse Head Regulations

Know the latest NCAA lacrosse rules for stringing your lax head in 2013.

In September of 2012, the NCAA announced plans to update and change a number of lacrosse regulations, all of which go into effect at the start of the 2013 season. For some, this might be old news, but I’ve found that many parents and players are still unaware of, or confused by the changes.

So here’s what you need to know;

1. Shooting strings can no longer extend more than 4″ from the top of the crosse.

Basically, this rule attempts to prevent really low shooters, and makes any V or U shooting strings illegal, restricting players to two basic two cross shooting strings. This ruling may seem frustrating, since most players are used to stringing their lacrosse heads with a V or U shooting string, but the NCAA’s aim was to prevent unfair pocket hold, and not directly outlaw V stringing.

2013 NCAA Lacrosse Pocket Rules

2. Only one sidewall string is allowed on each side of the head.

This rule keeps additional strings off the sidewalls, reducing excess hold on the ball.

3. All lacrosse sticks are subject to a reverse pocket test.

Reverse Pocket Stick Check

When any pocket is stick-checked, in addition to tipping the crosse forward and backward, referees must also ensure that the ball can come out of any pocket, when placed in the back of the pocket, and pushed in to create a reverse pocket.

Refs will hold the lacrosse shaft parallel to the ground, face down, and then push the pocket through to create a reverse of the pocket. With the ball in the deepest part of the reverse pocket, the ball must come out when turned 180 degrees.

4. Any lacrosse stick deemed illegal during a game cannot be used again in the game.

If any lacrosse stick fails a random stick check, the team gets a 1 minute foul, and the stick is kept at the scorer’s table until the game is over. This is different than previous rulings, which allowed a player to fix his pocket, to meet regulations, and then return the stick to play.

5. All of these rules currently only apply to NCAA men’s lacrosse, or any high school league, club, or team that follows NCAA rules.

It’s important to note though, that while the new rules may not directly apply to all high school lacrosse players, many clubs and colleges across the country are now encouraging younger players to re-string their heads to meet these NCAA rules, to prepare them for upper levels of play.

 

In all, these new lacrosse rules make it easier, or at least more reasonable, to knock the ball out of the pocket, with the aim of maintaining fair play, retaining the merit of the game, and keeping players safe.

The NCAA and other officials noticed that attackers and middies were continuously running through traffic without ever losing the ball, despite significant pressure from the defense. It quickly became obvious that ball handling lacrosse skills were not solely to blame for this, and that some modern stringing methods were basically making it nearly impossible to dislodge the ball from the pocket.

What these new 2013 NCAA lacrosse rules attempt to accomplish is a game that focuses more on moving the ball than moving with the ball, while at the same time, trying to prevent escalation as defenders learn to check harder to get the ball out of deep pockets.

Reactions:

As with most rule changes in sports, there are people on both sides of the argument. Some players and coaches find the changes erroneous and arbitrary, and believe they will do little besides slow down the game and confuse players and parents. Others see this as a step forward to making the game fairer, and faster with more ball movement.

However, there are still others who have almost no opinion at all, and have simply changed and moved on, understanding that rules change and players adapt. Most believe, that at some point, master stringers and kids will find news ways of stringing their heads within the new rules, to develop the same solid hold they could get from low shooters and multiple side wall strings. For them, it’s only a matter of time.

But how about you? What do you think of these new lacrosse rules, and what do they do for the game as whole?

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Go As Your Favorite Sports Star This Halloween!

Grab the best NCAA, MLB, and NFL uniform sets for the best Halloween your kids have ever had! Dress up as your favorite sports star this year!

As a kid, the highlight of my year was always Halloween night. But there was no way, no how that I was leaving the house unless I was dressed as my favorite sports star! Since I grew up in Philadelphia in the 90’s, that meant I could be Randall Cunningham for a night, and to me, there was no greater honor.

This year, give your kids those same feelings of joy and distinction, as they run through the neighborhood in search of free candy. Get them a Halloween sports costume, and see their faces light up as they take on the roll of their favorite NFL, NCAA, MLB, or NHL all-star. Skip the same old scary ghost, NCAA Football Uniform Setsbored bouncing goblin, tired super hero, and trendy zombie costumes this year, and give them someone real to idolize, with a sweet youth uniform set from Sports Unlimited.

No matter your favorite team, we’ve got a full line of NCAA and NFL Youth Uniform Sets by Franklin, complete with a football helmet, chin strap, pants, and pads! The polyester mesh jersey comes in your team’s colors with an official logo, and even includes iron-on numbers to complete the look. Sized for 4-6 year olds, and 7-9 year olds, we have a Halloween football uniform set for every kid on the block.

Have a little baseball fan in the house? We offer a full array of MLB uniform sets by Franklin, each complete with a team baseball jersey, wristbands, and batting helmet. Now your little ones can emulate their favorite major league sluggers with pride this Halloween…even if they’re, say, a Pittsburgh Pirates fan!

NCAA Football Helmet and Jersey SetsHigh quality, and made to look just like the real thing, these kid’s uniform sets make great gifts, and even better Halloween costumes. And thankfully, they’ll last longer than my fleeting love for Cunningham and the Eagles of the early 90’s.

Check back soon for our collection of kid’s NHL hockey jersey sets!

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Today’s Best Football Helmets: Riddell 360 vs. Schutt Vengeance

Compare the design and features of the Riddell 360 and Schutt Vengeance football helmets, to decide which is the best football helmet today!

A lot of people have been asking, lately, what is the best football helmet; the Riddell 360 or the Schutt Vengeance, and I’ve found it a really tough question to answer!

Both of these helmets are the absolute pinnacle of performance and protection, from two companies at the top of their game. Schutt and Riddell have spent decades dominating the football equipment industry, and each of their next-generation football helmets are the end result of vast experience, endless experimentation, advanced research and development, and countless hours of on-field testing and hit-analysis. They both not only protect the player better, but with the latest facemask and shell designs, create a more aggressive look than ever before. And while it’s hard to say which the best football helmet is, what I can say is that both are really impressive!

To give you a better idea of what each football helmet offers, and help you decide which the best football helmet is for you, we’ll delve deep into each new helmet, investigate their advanced features and technologies, and review their designs. So without further ado, I give you the Schutt Vengeance vs Riddell 360:

Riddell 360Riddell 360

In a Nut Shell:

After analyzing over 1.4 million helmet collisions with their HITS impact-severity recording devices, Riddell concluded that many of the impacts that result in concussions are caused by massive forces to the front of the head. So with major re-designs and improvements to the traditional helmet, the 360 utilizes new features and technologies to not only protect the entire head, but shifts the focus of protection to the front of the helmet and the jaw area.

Most Interesting New Features:

Flex Impact System: To improve frontal protection, Riddell’s new Flex Face Guard, combined with new facemask hinge clips, absorbs more impact force, reducing the shock felt by the player and the force transferred to his head.

Enhanced Facial Frame: Expanded to protect more of the front and jaw areas, Riddell improved the face frame of the polycarbonate shell, reducing impact force from side hits.

360 Hexagon LinerHexagonal Liner System: One of the most noticeable new features of the 360, the unique hexagonal helmet liner not only looks cool, but is made of energy-managing foam that absorbs more impact force, while improving and securing helmet fit, and delivering comfort and stability to the helmet. This liner is extended around the sides of the football helmet and the jaw areas, adding even more protection to the front of the head.

Occipital Lock: Placed in the back base of the helmet, this new feature cradles the back of the head, creating a more secure fit, and improving comfort and helmet stability. It also helps protect the head in the case of backward falls and tackles.

All-Points Quick Release Facemask System: You saw the Quick-Release face guard system in the Revo Speed. Now the 360 steps it up a notch, giving you quick-releases at each of the four facemask attachment points, letting you remove the new facemask faster and more easily than ever before.

Our Impressions:

This is a serious helmet for serious players. If you liked the Revo Speed, you are going to love the 360. It is definitely heavier than the Revo Speed, but the new liner and frontal protection, along with the lightweight facemask make up for the added weight. It delivers a stiffer, more secure fit inside as well, so you’ll feel almost indestructible. The increased shell offset and more aggressive shell detailing are really impressive too, and give you a great look on the field. Because of its price and weight, I’d suggest it to high school, college, and pro-level players, although it also comes in a lighter-weight youth 360 version, which is great for really serious younger, middle school players.

Schutt Vengeance

Schutt Vengeance Adult HelmetIn A Nut Shell:

Three words; Dual Compression TPU! Years of clinical and on-field research showed that football concussions can result from consistent low-impact collisions, as well as less-frequent high-impact, violent collisions. So Schutt went about improving the popular TPU cushioning system, found in the ION 4D and DNA, to protect the player from both levels of impact force. DCT adds a second layer of less-dense TPU, on top of the traditional stiff TPU cushioning, designed to protect you from both the typical, low-impact hits, and the infrequent hard, high-force collisions, changing helmet protection forever!

Most Interesting New Features:

Two-Layer TPU: An outer layer of stiffer, harder TPU cushioning, and an inner layer of softer, less-dense TPU, protects the player from every type of impact on the field. TPU never compresses, cannot be cracked, won’t break down, and resists heat, mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Vengeance Mechanical Cushioning AttachmentsMechanically Attached Padding: Different than any football helmet before it, the Vengeance TPU cushioning system is now attached directly to the helmet shell with screws instead of Velcro. These mechanical attachments stabilize the TPU cushioning and keep it exactly where it needs to be, even after hard hits.

Aggressive Mohawk Shell: With the largest shell offset of any Schutt football helmet, the Vengeance packs more Dual Compression TPU in, for enhanced protection without a significant weight or profile increase. The aggressive shell also features a new Flexural Resistant Shelf, which makes for a stronger, more impact-resistant back-of-the-head.

Vengeance FacemasksNew Vengeance Facemask: In a radical move, Schutt completely re-designed the traditional football facemask, creating one of the most innovative, high-performing, and aggressive-looking facemasks ever seen. Its larger offset, flexible design and arched brow take the place of the popular Energy Wedge system, and absorb even more impact force than before, while also providing an incredibly wide field of view. Also, by not using the energy wedges, Schutt lets you use existing DNA and XP XL facemasks on the Vengeance as well as the specially designed face guards.

Fit Liner System: High-impact foam inside the football helmet’s liner increases impact protection to the front and crown, helping to improve force-absorption in critical and vulnerable hitting areas.

Our Impressions:

The Vengeance is a bold, aggressive, and unique looking helmet, that delivers inside and out. The new two-layer TPU is incredibly cool and seems to really absorb a wide variety of impact forces, while the new liner and foam system cradle the head and feels secure and comfortable. The new facemask takes some getting used to, but it looks sick, definitely absorbs more force, and gives you crisp and wide field visibility. Overall, it’s a heavier helmet, but with the aggressive new look and vastly improved protection features, absolutely perfect for upper-end high school, college, and pro players.

There you have it, my review of the top two helmets in football today. I hope this has helped you gain a greater understanding of what these helmets have to offer, and maybe answered the question for you, which is the best football helmet.

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

 

Field Hockey Olympian Katie O’Donnell Talks Sticks, Shoes, and Summer Camp with SU

Katie O’Donnell, 2012 field hockey Olympian, visited Sports Unlimited to talk about her incredible accomplishments, most memorable moments, and her long history with SU. She talks at length about the equipment she uses as center for the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team, and gives great advice to other athletes on choosing field hockey sticks, field hockey shoes, and even colleges for student athletes!

Between her rigorous training schedule, and packing her bags for London and a date with Olympic destiny, U.S. Women’s Field Hockey center Katie O’Donnell recently found some time to stop by Sports Unlimited for a day of interviews and reminiscing.

Before becoming an international field hockey sensation, joining the U.S. Women’s Team, beating first ranked Argentina in the 2011 Pan American Games, being named Sports Woman of the Year in 2010, and dominating the game at the University of Maryland (bringing home 2 NCAA championships in the process), Katie was just a little kid playing around the original Sports Unlimited store, and hanging at our Field Hockey Summer Camps.

“I remember her running around the fields while games were going on, and that blond pony tail was bobbing up and down.” said Sports Unlimited CEO Don Ball. “We used to run camps for field hockey and lacrosse during the summer, and Katie’s mom was our camp nurse the one year. Katie was too young to participate, but we let her take part anyways, and she was a star waiting to happen then.”

With a great start in the game, and an endless drive to push herself and her skills further, Katie took the high school, college, and international field hockey worlds by storm. She shattered records at Wissahickon High School, and later at the University of Maryland, competing in tournaments around the world and leading the pack time and time again.

It was at the University of Maryland, after a tournament, that she received the news from her coaches that she’d be going to the 2012 London Olympics with the U.S. Womens Field Hockey Team.

Advice for Field Hockey Players

Talking with Sports Unlimited, Katie was happy to give out some personal advice to our wide audience of field hockey players.

When it comes to field hockey sticks, Katie prefers something a little longer, for extra reach, and high carbon content, for a strong hit. She plays with Princess field hockey sticks, but admits that in most cases, the most expensive stick is not necessarily “the best stick.”

Elite-level sticks are typically stiffer, with high carbon content, to give top players like Katie, more power in their hits. These sticks are incredible in the hands of a professional, but for developing players, or players with softer hands, expensive, top-level sticks can actually be a detriment to your game.

Katie also shared some insight into choosing field hockey shoes, explaining that your playing surface should determine which shoes to choose.

Flats are typically better suited to indoor field hockey, while turf shoes or cleats should be used on grass or turf fields. Always preferred playing in Asics field hockey shoes, Katie and the rest of the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team are taking to the Olympic fields in Asics Lethal Shot Turf shoes.

To help develop field hockey skills, Katie suggests some great drills everyone can perform in their own backyard. She hones her stick handling skills by using a golf ball, and challenges herself to improve ball lifting and 3D skills by putting obstacles (including her dog) in the way.

Finally, Katie left us with some amazing advice to the next generation of field hockey stars. She’s been through it all, and believes kids should diversify their athletic life, to avoid single-sport burn out. At the end of the day, sports should be fun, and for her, it’s always been important to keep that in mind. Challenge yourself, push yourself, do it all, and take it all seriously, but at the end of the day, have fun doing what you do!

From all of us here at Sports Unlimited, we want to thank Katie for coming back and taking the time to talk to us, tell some stories, dispense advice, and share her expertise with our staff and customers everywhere. Good luck in London Katie! We hope there’s a bit of gold around your neck the next time we see you!

brandon porter
By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Pop Warner Limits Contact During Football Practice

New rulings in Pop Warner leagues restrict contact drills to 1/3 of practice time, ban full speed, head-on tackling and blocking drills at 3 yards, and forbid head-to-head impact. All of these rulings are designed to protect young players during practice, and prevent repetitive and high-force head impacts, which can cause concussions and brain injuries over time.

In an effort to spark changes in football from the bottom up, Pop Warner is introducing new rulings which will officially limit contact between players during practices. The first of their kind across a nationwide football league, these changes go into effect at the beginning of the 2012 season, and are three fold;

Pop Warner Football

  • Coaches must limit contact drills to no more than 1/3 of weekly practice time, or no more than 40 minutes during a single practice.
  • Full speed, head-on blocking and tackling drills, where players line up more than three yards apart, are officially restricted – angled hits are still acceptable.
  • All head-to-head contact is banned.

All designed to prevent brain injuries, concussion, and long-term health issues, Pop Warner is working with coaches to ensure each ruling is followed.

Pop Warner LogoAs the oldest and largest national youth football organization, Pop Warner has over 83 years experience training kids age 5 to 15, in the art of football. Leagues exist in 43 states, and stretch abroad to Germany, Russia, Japan, and Scotland. It’s also estimated that over 70% of all current NFL players started in Pop Warner programs. So needless to say, a change of this magnitude, in such a powerful and influential organization, was not made lightly, or without purpose.

“There are times when people and organizations have to evolve, and this is that time,” said neurosurgeon and chair of Pop Warner’s Medical Advisory Board, Dr. Julian Bailes. “For the future of the sport, we need to morph it now and take the unnecessary head contact out of the game.”

These rule changes seem to be the natural reaction to a slew of research, studies, and media exposure revolving around the long- and short-term effects of concussions in football players. Major impacts and minor repetitive hits caused by players of all ages and sizes, have been shown to have serious negative effects on the brain, especially those of developing children. Sub-concussive forces are even believed to cause degenerative brain disorders such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the disease found in the brains of many former NFL, and even some teenage players. Research into the area has also found that most concussions, in youth and adults, occur during practice.

So is it surprising that organizations like Pop Warner are seeing a slight decrease in enrollment? Is it shocking that, with all of this information gracing the headlines, parents are becoming more and more reticent to drop their kids off at football practice?

Football DrillsDr. Bailes believes that “if parents were considering allowing their child to play football, this (rule change) should assure them.” But he and Pop Warner are also hopeful that these rule changes will trickle up, making the game safer for players over time. After all, if players are trained from an early age to rely on their hands and bodies, instead of leading with their heads in constant contact drills, they’ll take those skills into high school, and on to college. Some may even take them on into the NFL.

“We’re not trying to fundamentally change the game.” Bailes said of the rulings. “We’re trying to ensure its survival by reducing the potential for injury in practice.”

With more and more information surfacing on the long-term effects of concussions, the serious lawsuit brought by high profile players against the NFL, and in light of the recent suicide of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, it seems that changes like these are becoming increasingly necessary, if our favorite sport is going to last.

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

Licensed Lacrosse Rebounders Bring the Big Game Home

Brine LAX Wall licensed lacrosse rebounders from teams like the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils let you train like your favorite players!

Lax TrainingIn the world of lacrosse, success means staying two steps ahead of the competition. That’s why serious players of all ages are always looking for the latest and greatest lacrosse gear.  It’s also why players train year round to develop their skills and keep them razor sharp.

But let’s be honest, it’s near impossible to get the entire team together every day for a full practice. That’s why the lacrosse gods, aka “Brine,” developed the ultimate lacrosse rebounder to let you train on your own time, anywhere you can. Lacrosse rebounders, also known as lacrosse walls, are the best lacrosse training aids around.

Brine Lacrosse rebounderSimple, yet ingeniously designed, they feature a durable target mat, tightly strung onto a lightweight metal frame. Like playing wall ball, lacrosse walls bounce any shot right back to you with plenty of force, keeping you moving, and practicing your shooting accuracy, power, and catching abilities, all at once. But unlike stable walls, Brine Lacrosse rebounders are light and a heck of lot easier to move! That means you can take them anywhere, and get your game on without having to scuff up any walls…especially the ones in your Mom’s house. Rebounders also easily adjust to almost any angle you need, and toss shots up to 30 feet, so shots you throw at the target get sent up high or dropped down low, keeping you on your toes and making for some versatile sessions.

Brine LAX Walls are the 1# best selling lacrosse training aid, used and trusted by over 25 college lacrosse programs across the country! Now, thanks to Brine and SU, you can train like your favorite college team, with a series of licensed lacrosse rebounders! Sharpen your passing accuracy, improve your shooting power, and stay two steps ahead with Brine lax rebounders from the North Carolina Tar Heels, Syracuse Orange, Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, or Duke Blue Devils. They also make incredible gifts for the lacrosse fan in your life!

Brine Duke Blue Devils Lacrosse RebounderBrine North Carolina Tar Heels Lacrosse RebounderBrine Syracuse Orange Lacrosse RebounderBrine Johns Hopkins Blue Jays Lacrosse Rebounder

The licensed team thing not for you? Don’t fret! We’ve still got you covered with Brine LAX Wall rebounders in Carolina blue and black.

Perfect for outdoor drills, but complete with rubber pads for indoor practice, Brine Lacrosse Wall Rebounders are the ultimate training aids for a reason! Grab one today and don’t fall behind!

By Brandon Porter.Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.