2017 Football Equipment Reviews – Youth Pt. II

August is just a few days and away, and football season is even that much closer. Final preparations are being made before camp, as teams and players look to be ready to hit the ground running at the sound of the first whistle. Part two of our 2017 Youth Football Equipment Review takes a look at some of the other gear you might decide to upgrade before the season starts. We covered the essential protection in part one with the helmet, shoulder pads, back plate, and rib protector. But we’ll turn our attention to base layers protection, footwear, and other accessories for this installment. While some of these items may not be as important when it comes to protecting a players, they can be the difference maker when it comes to performance.

Girdle – Sports Unlimited 5-Pad Integrated Girdle 2.0

As one of the most popular items in the Sports Unlimited football apparel line, the integrated football girdle has been redesigned and taken to a new level for 2017. The use of an integrated girdle has become a staple in most football player’s equipment bags.  A newly added lightweight foam with zig-zag pattern has improved the range of motion without sacrificing any protection. Complete coverage is offered with its 5-Pad system, shielding the hips, thighs, and tailbones from heavy impacts.  Its compression fit keeps the pads in place, making sure they are in the right place at the right time. The SU girdle also comes with a pocket for a cup if you wanted to add some extra protection. Works great for youth football, including flag football players that want some addition protection on the field.

Padded Shirt – McDavid Rival Pro 5-Pad Integrated Shirt

Known for making gear that protects better than the rest, the Rival Pro 5-Pad Integrated Shirt from McDavid follows their long tradition. This protective under shirt allows players at any position to give themselves some additional protection, without limiting their mobility. Its 5-Pads cover the area most susceptible to hits, including the shoulders, spine, and ribs. Made from EVA foam, the Flex Air padding was designed with multi-directional vented flex channels for increase air flow to keep you cool. The bio-shape design and compression fit keep the pads in place underneath the shoulder pads. The McDavid Rival Pro Padded Shirt makes for a reliable inclusion to any players game day gear.

Cleats – Under Armour C1N MC JR

Few players in the game can perform as well as Cam Newton does in the spotlight. But thanks to Under Armour, you can get off on the right foot by lacing up his signature cleats, the C1N MC Jr. These youth football cleats let every player feel like they can take on anything that comes at them on the football field. A mold cleat base provides great traction when making turns and cuts. A compression fit sleeve makes these feel light on your feet, and the reinforced upper offers support and breathability. Have your future star stand out with the new Under Armour Cam Newton youth football cleats.

Receiver Gloves – Adidas Adifast 2.0

Build catching confidence from the first practice with the Adidas Adifast 2.0 youth receiver gloves. Designed to make bringing in the ball easier than ever, the scaled down version of the professional gloves give every youth football player an advantage. The palm features the exclusive Adidas GRIPTACK design that help you make the tough catches in any weather. A compression fit is achieved with the a Honeycomb thumb and molded rubber tab, keeping the glove secure and in place. Stand out on the field with both style and performance with the Adidas Adifast 2.0 football gloves.

Visor – Nike Gridiron Youth Eyeshield

No piece of equipment has seen its popularity grow over the years more than the football visor. It seems more players have visors every year, and youth football is no exception. While the style can be appreciated by most, the additional protection cannot be denied. The Nike Gridiron Eyeshield provides players an extra layer of defense from the perils of tackle football. The Nike Max Optics design features a wrapped lens that reduces distortion, giving you a clear view in every direction. The curved shape allows it to fit most helmets, and its polycarbonate construction is scratch and shatter resistant. See the game better than ever with the Nike Gridiron football visor.

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

 

 

 

 

 

Best Football Chin Straps – Top 5

Even the most casual football fans know the importance of a safe and protective helmet when engaged in competition. With the force and speed of the game, it is essential players equip themselves with a quality helmet. But one piece of the puzzle that is often overlooked, even by the most seasoned players, it’s that of the chin strap. Previously only seen as a way of securing the helmet to the head, the role of the football chin strap has transformed into playing a pivotal part in protecting players.

Helmet manufacturers and sports equipment companies alike have all seen the chin strap as an opportunity to provide players another line of protection from the impacts on the football field. Using the latest technology and protective materials, each has developed a product that will not only be more comfortable, but far more valuable in offering another layer of defense. We’re going to take a look at our Top 5 Football Chin Straps, giving you some insight on gearing up for next season.

  1. Schutt Elite Hard Cup

As one of the leading helmet manufacturers, it’s of no surprising that they have also developed a high quality chin strap. The Elite Hard Cup from Schutt is everything you would expect in an upgraded chinstrap. The hard plastic shell offers an excellent shield against the big hits. The foam uni-cup design uses an integrated splitter for extra strength, as well as providing a comfortable custom fit. Available in both Youth and Adult sizes, the Schutt Elite Hard Cup is a great choice when improving your protection.

  1. Under Armour Gameday Armour Pro

Few brands in sports do style and protection as well as Under Armour, and the Gameday Armour Pro chin strap exceeds expectations on both fronts. Designed to perform as good as it looks, the anodized finish sets the bar very high. But the Armour Flex outer shell is incredible durable and withstands the rigors of a tough football season. Also featuring an internal pad that is removable and washable, and a perforated design that improves breathability. This Under Armour Football Chin Strap offers the protection you need with the look you desire.

  1. SportsStar GX-4 Hard Cup

SportStar may be a brand that is unfamiliar to many. But when it comes to chin strap protection, very few can compete. Specializing in the production of chin staps, SportStar has taken a science first approach, looking to make the chinstap as advanced as modern day helmets. Rated as one of the safest chin straps on the market, the GX-4 is constructed from 4 different pieces to help absorb blows and prevent concussions. The patented GelPad disperse energy and offers a custom fit for every player. Also featuring a high density EVA foam and a NASA engineered plastic shell, GX-4 is not short on technological designs. Even with all the protective measures, the SportStar chinstrap is also a stand out in appearance. The GX-4 is fully customizable, allowing you to perfectly match your team’s colors.

  1. Riddell TCP

Like Schutt, Riddell is the maker of the helmets most trusted by the game’s elite. The TCP chin strap is the top level of protection offered by Riddell, making it a serious contender for our top rated chinstrap. Like the other chin straps on this list, The TCP features a hard outer shell constructed from a durable polycarbonate. Also featuring breathable ventilation and soft padding inside that provides incredible comfort. The TCP chinstrap is also available with the Rachet-Loc attachments, allowing you to wear it with the highly rated Riddell SpeedFlex helmet. The Riddell TCP Chin strap is seen every weekend of the fall on the best players in the world for a reason.

  1. SportStar Evolution

When you’ve spent the time and effort in designing a piece of sporting equipment like SportStar has, being seen as the best is the expectation. The Evolution chin strap showcases an advanced design that with layers of protection. Beginning with a hard outer shell and an non-slip EVA foam that is anatomically molded to absorb impacts. Also featuring the GelPad at the base of the chin, to offer a great custom fit. Once you put on a SportStar chin star, you’ll see exactly why more and more professional players are turning to them. Its unmatched level of protection has made the SportStar Evolution our top ranked football chin strap.

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

2017 Football Equipment Review – Adult

As we continue to build up anticipation for the upcoming football season, we take a closer look at the equipment players will be putting on in just a few short weeks. From high school to the pros, athletes everywhere are in their final preparations before football camp begins. This means gearing up with the necessary protective equipment to handle the bumps and bruises that are on the horizon.

The second installment of our product reviews will focus on the ever important Adult or Varsity equipment. These would be the pads and helmets that players in High School, College, Semi-Pro, and Professionals would be strapping on. With the hits being harder and the game played faster, it’s vital that players have the best possible defense.

Helmet – Riddell SpeedFlex Adult

No other piece of equipment is under the microscope more than the adult football helmet. With the increased attention on the effects of head injuries, helmet manufactures are being asked to develop safer products for today’s players. Since 1939 Riddell have been producing football helmets, and their latest effort has again pushed the bar a step higher than the rest. The SpeedFlex Helmet has now been around since the 2014 season, and is regularly found on the heads of the best NFL and NCAA players around. What has made this helmet a stand out is the technological designs Riddell has introduced, aimed at reducing the force at impact. The Flex System has engineered flexibility into the helmet shell, facemask, and clips to help absorb the impact of collisions to the head. The Ratchet-Loc retention chin strap was a revolutionary new way of looking at how the helmet is attached, offering a more secure option than was previously thought of. With other stand out features like quick release facemask attachments and a Five-Point inflation for a custom fit, the Riddell SpeedFlex is an excellent option when looking for an upgraded head protection.

Shoulder Pads – Gear Pro-Tec Razor RZ15 Adult

Continuing with a focus on technology emphasized protection, the Razor RZ15 All Purpose shoulder pads from Gear Pro-Tec do not disappoint. From a glance, these pads look stealthy and high performance. Under the hood they are much of the same. The SAS-TEC Visco Elastic foam absorbs and flexes better than most of its competition. Range of motion is at premium with 12% more freedom than other pads. The RZ15 also comes with a removable liner that is made up of moisture wicking fabric, allowing you to keep cool in the summer heat. Gear Pro-Tec also makes these shoulder pads for Skilled Position players (RZ7) and Lineman (RZ55). These lightweight pads offer exceptional protection without slowing you down a step.

Backplate – Douglas Custom Pro CP Series

When you get into varsity level football, extra protection become less optional and more necessary. The addition of a back plate becomes vital for most players, particularly those who find themselves being tackled. The Douglas Custom CP Series removable backplate is all you could ask for. Douglas being one of the most trusted names in shoulder pads, the CP back plate is part of their pro level protection. Durable padding with a hard shell shields the lower back from those unwarranted hits. Extra grommets allow you to customize where the pad sits, and is available in a 4” and 6” option.

Chin Strap – SportStar Adult Evolution

In times before, little thought was put into what type of chin strap you were using. Often you would just play with whatever came with the helmet, or perhaps upgrade to a hard shell. SportStar burst onto the scenes offering a range of chin straps that are not only comfortable, but remarkably protective. With a built in gel pad that offers excellent protection, comfort, and fit. The non-slip EVA foam is designed to absorb and disperse the impact from a collision. Complete with a hard outer shell, the SportStar Evolution is what you expect to see the professionals wear on Sunday.

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

Making Football Safer with Tackle Rings

The game of football is always progressing. Whether it’s playing styles, coaching techniques, or safety equipment, continued development is essential to success. With the rise in awareness on the impact of concussions; players, coaches, and equipment manufacturers have been asked to change their thinking, and find ways to make the game we love safer. Helmet manufacturers have continued to design, test, and produce safer helmets for players to wear. The issue being, it will be nearly impossible to develop a concussion proof helmet. The fact is that the game is physical, and being played a pace faster than ever before. What may be more important to protecting players is the rethinking of how we teach and play the game.

Leagues from the NFL down to Pop Warner have changed rules to protect defenseless players, and help limit the amount of traumatic collisions. This has seen some success, but it has far from solved the bigger problem. Some innovative thinkers have looked to other sports to find inspiration on how to make the game safer. One place some turned to is the birthplace of football, the sport of Rugby. More popular overseas, rugby is the pad-less version of football that can almost seems barbaric from a distance. But when you dig in a bit further, you’ll see that the lack of padded protection has forced rugby players and coaches to figure out ways to tackle and contest without putting themselves in harm’s way. By introducing helmets and shoulder pads into a tackle situation, what it has allowed football players in the past to do is turn themselves into a weapon. Without the worries of lasting effects, players for decades have launched head first into collisions. But without this protection, rugby players have devised a different tackling style, that focuses on shoulder placement and wrapping of the arms to take down their opponents. This hasn’t removed concussions from the sport of rugby, but it has allowed for less concussions to occur, particularly when compared to the sport of football.

NFL teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, and college programs like the University of Washington and Ohio State have decided to adapt this “rugby style” of tackling, in hopes protecting their players and improving their performance. In 2014, Ohio State decided to full embrace this technique, with wholesale changes to how the taught, practiced, and executed the tackle. This lead to them not only limiting injuries, but also to an improving their defense and a National Championship.

One important part to teaching the rugby tackling technique was the development of new drills and training equipment. A piece of gear that had been used in rugby for years was the tackle ring. The round bag, designed to replicate a moving player, allowed coaches to teach their players how to readjust their body and perform a safer tackle. Traditional football tackling techniques would have players put their head in front of a ball carrier, using it to slow them down. But the rugby tackling method teaches players to place their heads behind the ball carrier, lessening the likeness of a collision directly to the head, and forcing players to rely on shoulder placement and wrapping of the arms. It is one thing to introduce this new technique on a stationary bag, but it’s the making that adjust on the move that leads to its success.  This is where the tackle ring or tackle wheel, plays an instrumental role. It provides safe repetitions for individual players, allowing them to correctly develop or reteach themselves how to perform a safe tackle.

Tackling rings have become an essential part of any teams training regimen. From Pop Warner to the pros, teaching players how to safely tackle will be a crucial step in making football a safer game.

Get football tackle rings and all your other football training equipment from Sports Unlimited.

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

2017 Sports Unlimited Scholarship Winner – Rocket Grade Defense

We know the future is bright, as today’s young minds continue to astonish us all with their ingenuity. At Sports Unlimited, we understand the importance of fostering this brilliance, and continued education is a key piece to this equation. That is why the annual Sports Unlimited Scholarship was created, providing assistance to those who will drive us forward.

Requiring an essay submission on a particular topic, the scholarship is awarded to the individual who best displays creative thinking and resourcefulness. This year’s prompt asked students to identify a piece of gear or equipment currently used in a sport and describe how to improve it and why. Over a thousand essays were sent in, each of which described an innovative vision. Covering a range of sports and equipment from football to fencing, basketball to badminton.

This year’s winner took on the popular topic of football helmet improvement, but was able to pull from a unique source of inspiration. Using the design elements of the space shuttle, Paul Wasuwanich of Orlando, Florida was able to provide a compelling argument for how the football helmet should be redeveloped. And because of this, Sports Unlimited was proud to offer him a scholarship of a $1000, as he heads off to the University of Notre Dame this fall.

Read Paul’s submission, entitled “Rocket Grade Defense”:

Paul Wasuwanich, Timber Creek High School – Orlando, FL

Astronauts and football players have a lot more in common than many might think. They both work in extreme environment and therefore require extreme protection. Astronauts must survive in the harsh environments of space full of deadly radiation, destructive space debris, and freezing temperatures. Football players, on the other hand, must survive on the dangerous football field full of 300 pound opponents ready to tackle them with up to one ton of force, about 4 times the force required to crush a human skull according the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics [4]. To protect from such threats, engineers have devised multiple defenses to keep astronauts and football players safe. One of those defenses is the helmet.

                A football helmet is as important to the player as a space helmet is to an astronaut. Fatality is imminent if that crucial device is absent. It is easy to see how a man would suffocate in space without his space helmet, but harder to visualize the internal damage a football player suffers with each blow to the head. According to statistics from the NFL, there were 271 diagnosed concussions in the 2015 season [2]. Having closely studied the brain with my professor, Dr. Mohtashem Samsam, a neurologist from the University of Central Florida, I understand clearly that the previously mentioned 271 concussions is much more than the number suggests. Concussions result from severe head trauma, but football players receive much more head traumas that do not produce acute effects such as the concussion. A progressive degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) plagues football players who have received severe or multiple head traumas. In a 2014 study from Boston University, of 79 brains from former NFL players, 76 tested positive for CTE [1]. Brains with CTE are similar in appearance and function to brains with Huntington’s disease.

                Today, we are so used to hearing about football concussions that they have become accepted as inevitable, but they are not. Over the years, football equipment has improved, reducing the number of concussions and the severity of brain damage. No helmets became leather helmets, and leather helmets became the modern football helmets we see today. The modern helmet is still not sufficient and can be further improved to reduce the number of concussions even more.

                In space, an astronaut’s first line of defense are walls of his spacecraft which are designed to protect against space debris moving at up to an astonishing 17,500 mph [5]. This technology can be applied to the football helmet. The walls of spacecrafts come in my varieties, but they have the same basic design, multiple layers of a thin, light, hard material (e.g. aluminum alloy) with soft material (e.g. foam) in between [3]. The goal of this defense is not to deflect the impacting object as football helmets do, but to significantly reduce the force of the object so that it would not penetrate the inner walls of the spacecraft. The outer walls of the spacecraft do two things to prevent penetration of the spacecraft, one of those is increasing the time it takes the object to hit inner walls. It is a physics concept shown by the formula:

I = FΔt

I = Impulse or change in momentum

F = Force

Δt = Change in time

In this case, the impulse is constant, so by increasing the time of impact, we can decrease the force of object when it hits in the inner wall. Having alternating layers of hard and soft defenses means the object or shock wave must pass through multiple materials with different properties. It takes a shock wave more time to pass through two different materials than one material of the same amount. The football helmet should be designed as such: A thin outer layer of a hard, light material (e.g. carbon fiber), followed by a soft material (e.g. foam), a hard material again, a soft material again, then a thick hard layer, and finally a soft cushion for the head.

                Other than increasing the time of impact, the outer walls of the spacecraft also deforms. Deformation, unlike deflection, absorbs the energy of the impact. A football player wearing a helmet that deforms on impact will experience less force to the head than a football player wearing a helmet that deflects the impact force. The reason cars crumble in crashes is not because of the force of impact, but because engineers designed the car to absorb as much energy as possible by deforming in order to protect the driver. Although football helmets that deform on impact will have to be frequently replaced, it is worth the improvement in safety.

                Broken bones can heal, torn muscles can be repaired, but dead brain cells cannot be replaced, therefore, head protection in a sport as aggressive as American football is of uttermost importance.

Sports Unlimited would like to thank all of those who submitted an essay for this year’s scholarship. We will be sharing a few of our other finalist’s ideas in the near future. The prompt for the 2018 Sports Unlimited Scholarship will be available soon, so be sure to check back!

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

 

Best Mouth Guards – Top 5

When preparing for participation in a contact sport, one thing you certainly don’t want to go light on is protection. If its football you’re gearing up for, you wouldn’t want to run onto the field without a helmet and shoulder pads. And while some protection is obvious, one the most important pieces of equipment across all sports comes in a small package. The mouth guard, mouthpiece, gum shield, or whatever you want to call it, is essential in protecting athletes heads and their beautiful smiles.

We’re all familiar with $1 yellow mouthguard that you would boil the morning before the game and probably lose before the day was over. They were bulky, uncomfortable, and you couldn’t speak with it in your mouth. But like most articles of sports equipment, the mouth guard has continued on a path of development, making it safer and more comfortable than ever. Today’s mouthpieces are lighter, allow for easy breathing, come in flavors, and can even be a fashion statement with their wide range of colors and patterns. Athletes everywhere, from basketball, football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey, and more are protecting their grills with one of these new mouth guards. With a multitude of options, we wanted to highlight our top 5 standouts that have taken mouthguard protection to the next level.

  1. Battle Digi Camo Oxygen Lip Protector

There are two types of mouth guards, those that provide lip protection, and those that don’t. Many sports, such as football, prefer the lip coverage given the physical natural of play. One disadvantage to lip protection used to be that it was difficult to breathe with. But with Battle Sports new Digi Camo Oxygen, and its 293% larger breathing hole, that problem is no longer relevant. Now you can perform at your highest level with maximum protection.  Available in three colorful digital camo patterns, the Battle Digi Camo Oxygen Lip Protector is a great addition to any player’s game day protection.

  1. Shock Doctor Double Braces Mouthguard

One issue that many youth players run into when search for the right mouthpiece is the addition of braces to the equation. Often uncomfortable on their own, adding a mouth guard to the mix is never a simple solution. But with metal braces covering the teeth, it’s more important than ever that an athlete have this layer of protection. The last thing you want is those expensive braces breaking and cutting the inside of the mouth. Among the leaders in the mouth guard industry, Shock Doctor has developed a product that solves this predicament. The Shock Doctor Double Braces Mouthguard uses an innovative Ortho-Channel to fit around both the upper and lower brace brackets. It will also adapt to changing tooth positions as the braces are adjusted and features a breathing channel in the center to allow for air flow. Now players (and parents) can rest assure that they have full proof protection.

  1. Nike Hyperflow Flavored Mouthguard

Leave it up to today’s minds to design a mouth guard that tastes as good as it protects. Among other brands, Nike has developed their Hyperflow Flavored mouthpiece to provide long lasting flavor game after game. But this mouthguard isn’t just tasty, it also delivers excellent protection with its Dual-Density construction. The Nike Hyperflow also features its O-Flow breathing channels that allow for maximum oxygen intake on the field or court. Available in several different flavor options, the Nike Hyperflow Flavored mouth guards is perfect for anyone’s tastes.

  1. Shock Doctor Gel Max Convertible Mouthguard

Shock Doctor has been at the forefront of advancement when it comes to mouth protection. Offering a range of options that suit any athlete’s particular needs. The Gel Max Convertible mouthpiece is a perfect example of the best they have to offer. Firstly, it comes with an Exoskeletal shock frame that provides excellent protection and durability. A triple layer design with integrated breathing channels allows for breathability when you’re out performing.  The Gel-Fit liner makes for a comfortable fit and the convertible tether lets you use this mouthguard with or without a strap. This all-around mouth guard is available in four different colors, and at a value that is sure to be appreciated.

  1. Sisu NextGen Max Mouthguard

Sisu is a relatively new name to the mouth guard industry, but don’t let that fool you. They have offered a revolutionary design to the moldable mouthpiece that is changing how we think of mouth protection. The one complaint many athletes shared, was that face that a mouthguard was bulky, breathing restricting, and limited the ability to communicate on the playing field. In some cases, players wouldn’t wear them at all because of this, putting their safety in jeopardy. Sisu has designed a mouth guard that is as functional as it is protective. Offering a solution to these previous complaints and providing a protection option to those who refused to wear a mouthguard before. The NextGen Max is incredibly lightweight but built to handle even more impact. The best feature is that this mouthguard fits so securely in the mouth, that it allows athletes to talk, drink, and breathe as if it wasn’t even there. This is possible from a combination of its innovative molding process and the 2.4 mm thick design. Making it 30% thinner and up to 50% stronger than your traditional mouth guard. This new way of thinking is what makes the Sisu NextGen Max our number on pick for best mouth guard.

-Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

Breaking Down the Wilson A2000 Game Model Gloves

There is no arguing Wilson’s place among the leaders when it comes to producing high end baseball gloves. Countless Major Leaguers turn to Wilson for their glove needs, speaking volumes to the quality and performance of their products. When you think of Wilson baseball gloves, the first thing that comes to mind is the A2000. Since it was first released in 1957, the Wilson A2000 has become the benchmark for professional gloves. It was the first of its kind with a large web and broad pocket, and would be the foundation for every glove developed by any manufactures from that point on.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll see the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Miguel Cabrera, and Robinson Canó all wearing A2000’s as they compete with the world’s best. As you would expect, every pro has a particular fit and feel that they prefer. Wilson have always been persistent in acquiring feedback from professionals, allowing them to develop an improved product. Some of the headliners on their roster of MLB players have even been giving their own Game Models, which are produced for the masses. It should come as no surprise that these particular gloves have become some of the most popular on the market. If it’s good enough for these guys, surely it’s good enough for me?

So as you prepare to purchase your very own Wilson glove, perhaps you want to know a bit more about what makes these Game Models different from the standard A2000. One thing you can expect from any of these gloves are a few of the cornerstones that come with any A2000. This includes the premium pro stock leather, selected for its durability and feel. Dual Welting, which adds two strips of leather to back of each finger to provide structure and stability as the glove breaks in. And finally, the Dri-Lex wrist lining keeps the hand dry and free of moisture.

What sets the Game Models and standard gloves apart can usually be broken down into a few categories. Colors, web styles, and fit are the three ways most pro’s make these gloves their own. Color being the simplest to understand, most choose a colorway that matches their team or gives a traditional look. Jose Altuve features navy and orange leather to match his Houston Astros uniform, while Clayton Kershaw has opted for the traditional all-black.

With today’s gloves, there are endless ways to lace up your web. When it comes to the Game Models on the Wilson A2000, each player has chosen their own particular web that suits them and their style of play. Miguel Cabrera has gone with a signature V-Laced pattern on a wider single post web, allowing him to lock the ball in the pocket. Clayton Kershaw has selected a deep and closed 2-piece web that allows him to conceal the ball and any grip changes, granting him the element of surprise.

The final way professional ball players have personalized their game model gloves is with the fit. No one is more particular with this category than Golden Glove Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia. Wilson developed the “Pedroia Fit” specifically for him, as his smaller hands required some custom features. This included a lower finger divider, narrower opening, thin heel pad, and longer laces. The Pedroia Fit is available on three A2000 gloves, one of which features Wilson’s SuperSkin, designed to lighten the glove without sacrificing durability.

While you may not be fielding ground balls at Fenway Park anytime soon, that doesn’t mean your glove is any less important. Described by Jose Altuve as his “tool”, he carries his glove with him on the plane any time he travels. We know you feel the same way about your glove. Check out Sports Unlimited large selection of premium gloves from Wilson, Mizuno, Rawlings, and More, to find the perfect glove for you.

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

Best Youth Catchers Sets – Top 5

One of the toughest decisions made gearing up for the 2017 baseball season is which equipment is best for those behind the plate? As kids continue to grow, sizing always becomes important, not to mention the significance of safety. Today’s top baseball brands all manufacturer youth catchers gear sets to simplify the shopping process. These catchers sets all include a helmet, chest protector, and leg guards. One question that still needs to be answered, what is the best youth catchers set for me?

With such a wide variety of manufacturers and different lines, it can be a bit overwhelming deciding which set of pads to purchase. You can visit our Catchers Gear Buyers Guide to see exactly was size you’ll be looking for. Once you have that, you can review our selection of Top 5 youth catchers sets, to see which best matches your needs.

5. Louisville Slugger Series 5 Youth Catchers Set

The Series 5 youth from Louisville Slugger is everything you need from a youth catchers set. Featuring a hockey style mask that offers excellent protection and a moisture-wicking chin pad that keeps your little leaguer comfortable. The Chest protector is made with a high density foam and quick release over-the-shoulder harness make for east on and off. Complete with the double knee design shin guards for extra protection. The Series 5 youth is perfect for a team set, or someone just learning the position. With a variety of color options and a friendly price point, the Louisville Slugger youth catchers gear set is an excellent value at number 5.

4. Easton M5 Qwikfit Youth Catchers Set

The M5 Qwikfit youth set offered by Easton certainly had parents and coaches in mind during its design process. The greatest feature to this set of helmet, chest protector, and leg guards is undoubtedly the Qwikfit strap system. Developed specifically to make for easy adjustments by the player, no longer are coaches or parents forced to help players get ready to go onto the field. This is particularly important if the set is being shared by a team with kids coming in different shapes and sizes. Offered with a range of other features that you would find on a higher level set, including steel wire cage for improved visibility, multi layer perforations to keep you cool, and a TruBlock anti-roll designed leg guard that increase stability and protection. All of this, plus a reasonable price, make the Easton M5 Qwikfit youth gear our recommendation for the ideal team set.

3. All Star System Seven Youth Camo Pro Catchers Set

The All Star System Seven Youth Camo Pro Catchers Set is everything is sounds like and more. This set offered by All Star is essentially their professional level pads scaled down to fit a youth player. Everything from removable liners and an I-Bar vision cage on the helmet. To moldable protective plates in the chest protector and a Patella Plus gel knee pad in the shin guards. This catcher set has all the bells and whistles, and will outperform most sets like it. It finds itself at number 3 for one simple reasons. This set was designed for serious players, and the pricing reflects that. For most players at the youth level, this is probably more than they need. But if your a serious player on a travel ball club, than the All Star System Seven catchers set is the one for you.

2. Under Armour Junior Pro Youth Catchers Set

Under Armour has quickly become one of the most popular brands when it comes to baseball equipment. The reason for this is their dedication to designing cutting edge products that perform and protect. The Junior Pro catchers set follows in that tradition and provides an excellent option for all youth players. The helmet comes with the I-Bar vision from professional helmets with a sleekly designed ABS plastic shell. The chest protector has plastic inserts for extra protection and a customizable strap and harness system for optimal fit. Triple knee designed leg guards are extremely comfortable with 38 ventilation ports. Carefully designed from head to toe, the Under Armour Junior Pro could easily have been number, but still remains an excellent choice for any youth ball player.

1. Mizuno Samurai Youth Catchers Set 

As our top choice for youth catchers gear, the Mizuno Samurai is easily the most popular set offered by Sports Unlimited. A perfect combination of protection, performance, personalization, and price; it’s no surprise the Samurai is king. All the features you’d expect from a top pick; including 3-Layer EVA foam padding in the helmet, patented detachable wings for a customizable fitting chest protector, and flexible lightweight leg guards. What sets the Mizuno Samurai apart is the wide range of color options. No other set comes with a variety like the 17 colors offered by Mizuno. This allows you to match your team, or stand out. At a price that is competitive with the other top catchers sets, the Mizuno Samurai is our top pick for youth catchers gear set.

Check out all of Sports Unlimited Youth Catchers Gear

Written By Dylan Hamilton, Sports Unlimited

Schutt releases new Air XP Pro Q10 Football Helmet

For the past several years, Schutt has followed a similar pattern when it comes to releasing new football helmets: take a recognizable helmet shell and tweak the padding inside.

While this strategy hasn’t exactly changed the face (or head) of football, it has strengthened Schutt’s position when it comes to helmet safety. The Litchfield, Illinois-based manufacturer now owns five of the top six ranked helmets in the Virginia Tech Helmet Study and has six styles that have earned five star rankings. Those numbers figure to increase in the 2017 study with the recent release of the Schutt Air XP Pro Q10 Adult Football Helmet.

Following on the heels of 2016’s new offering, the Vengeance Z10, Schutt has taken its Helmet Stabilization System and applied it to the classic Air XP shell in the Q10. The system uses both internal and external stabilizers around the jaw area to give players a more locked in feel. Special jaw pads, also used in the Z10, work in unison with newly designed facemasks to provide addition protection to the side of players’ faces by extending above the helmet shell.

Other than the shell design, the biggest difference between the new Q10 and last year’s Z10 is in the front padding. The Z10 uses traditional foam wrapped in a faux leather comfort pad, while the Q10 has shifted away from that and put TPU throughout the entire helmet, including underneath the newly designed front pad. The lighter padding brings he helmet’s weight down to 2.95 pounds without a facemask. That weight doesn’t increase much when you add an included titanium facemask in your choice of style and color.

While the Q10 has yet to be rated by the Virginia Tech study, Schutt’s track record shows that if they’re releasing a new helmet, it’s sure to be given a 5-star rating. Look for the Q10 to start popping up on NFL and college fields during this spring’s mini camps or get your own on SportsUnlimited.com today.

Football Gift Guide: What to get a football player for Christmas

There’s no better place to find a Christmas gift for that special football player in your life than here at Sports Unlimited. We offer the largest in-stock selection of football gear anywhere online and we’re ready to ship it to you with plenty of time to get it under the tree by Christmas day. Here are some of our top picks this holiday season.

A Riddell SpeedFlex under the tree will make any football player's Christmas.
A Riddell SpeedFlex under the tree will make any football player’s Christmas.

1. Riddell SpeedFlex Adult Football Helmet with Facemask

If you’ve been watching football in the last two years – and we know you have – you’re probably familiar with the SpeedFlex. It’s the football helmet with the unique cutout panel in the front of the shell that’s recognizable from the youth field all the way up to the NFL. Aside from its stunning aesthetic, the SpeedFlex is one of the most protective helmets on the market with a specially designed facemask and chinstrap working in unison with the helmet’s shell to keep you safe.

The Schutt XV HD Shoulder Pads could make a nice surprise gift.
The Schutt XV HD Shoulder Pads could make a nice surprise gift.

2. Schutt XV HD Shoulder Pads

Choosing the proper football shoulder pad can be a complex task, but it’s tough to go wrong with the Schutt XV HD Shoulder Pads. Lightweight and protective, the XV HD line is one of the most popular we offer with removable clavicle channel to allow you to customize the fit. Whether you’re shopping for quarterback shoulder pads, lineman shoulder pads, pads for skill players or all-purpose shoulder pads, the XV HD line has a version that’s right for you.

3. Lineman facemask

Schutt ROPO-DW Pro Facemask
Riddell S2BDC-TX-LW Facemask

The past year or so has been tough on linemen. With the NFL, NCAA and some states banning the popular Big Grill facemask, the big guys have had a tough time choosing their look. But the facemask companies have adapted to the new rules and came up with facemasks built to intimidate. Riddell now offer the Riddell S2BDC-TX-LW facemask that has a similar look to the ultra-popular Big Grill 2.0. Schutt also took note, adding a Schutt ROPO-DW Pro facemask style to fit their Vengeance models. The titanium construction keeps the weight down, making it easier to keep your head up during play.

4. Oakley Visor

Oakley’s clear eyeshield makes any helmet look good

Nothing completes the look of a football helmet like a visor and while there are plenty of options on the market, few compare to the Oakley Eyeshield. The most popular football visor, Oakley has tweaked the optics to perfection giving you a clear view of the field and keeping opponents fingers out of your face. With a variety of sticker colors, you can customize the visor to your own team specifications. The clear version is legal in all leagues, making it the safest gift option, but a dark version like the 20 percent grey visor could also do the trick.

5. Douglas Back Plate

A custom colored Douglas Back Plate protects players and looks great
A custom colored Douglas Back Plate protects players.

Extra protection is always a good thing, making the Douglas Back Plate an easy choice for anyone looking for a last-minute gift. Made in the USA by one of the most trusted names in the football business, this back plate is one of the top accessories in the game. It’s available in a wide range of colors to ensure you can match your team’s colorway and attaches to almost any brand of shoulder pad. You can also opt for a four-inch version of the back plate for smaller or youth players.