12 Types Of Football Helmets [And Which One To Choose]

For someone who plays football, it is crucial to have a high-quality helmet. This helmet is one of the only things keeping athletes from a severe head injury during impacts. As a result, you will want to be aware of what kinds of helmets are out there so that you can buy the most protective one for your position.

They are not all created equally. Youth football helmets tend to be made out of ABA, which stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, which is lighter and easier for younger players to use. However, once someone is older than 14, you will need a helmet made of polycarbonate, which is heavier but offers significantly more protection.

You must know which material your helmet is made of because polycarbonate helmets will damage ABA helmets and potentially cause injury. For safety reasons, you must know which material your league uses to ensure you have adequate protection.

There are essentially 3 types of football helmet classifications to know, based on player level. They are as follows:

  1. Youth
  2. Varsity
  3. Professional

Stick around and keep reading; we'll go into more detail about each of these categories of football helmets. We'll also provide you with tips on how to choose the right helmet for you.

An unrecognizable football player wearing a black helmet, 12 Types Of Football Helmets [And Which One To Choose]



These helmets are designed to be used by youth. Youth helmets are made for players who are in leagues that include children 12 years old and younger.

1. Xenith Shadow XR Youth

This helmet has a polymer shell and is ten percent lighter than competing helmets. The Xenith Shadow XR also has an Adaptive Fit System that allows the helmet to form your head for a nearly flawless fit.

It has Rheon cell technology that limits linear and rotational impacts. In addition to that, it also has an internal shock matrix that spreads the pressure from impacts evenly to prevent any one spot from taking too much.

This helmet is designed for youth players who are in positions that take hard hits, such as running backs. It costs $370 and can be found at Dick's Sporting Goods or online on the Xenith website.

2. Schutt Sports Vengeance A11

To check this helmet out on Amazon, click here.

The Schutt Sports Vengeance helmet has noninflatable liners throughout the helmet designed for comfort and a great fit. Its shell is made of polycarbonate. It has flexural resistance that makes the helmet stronger and more durable.

A TPU cushioning system makes this helmet able to take strong impacts. The raised brow design helps deflect energy from straight-on impacts.

You can find this youth helmet in a variety of position-specific models. It costs between $120 to $270, depending on size, fit, and model.

3. Riddell Victor-I Youth

This helmet is made of ABA and made with lightweight technology to make it easier for younger players to wear. It has a quick-change S-pad and an inflatable bladder, plus an air fit liner to increase comfort.

To protect the wearer from injury, it has patented side impact protection. You can learn more about this patent on Riddell's website.

This helmet is designed for youth players who are in skill positions, like quarterbacks and running backs. It ranges in price from $150 to $200.

4. Schutt F7 LX1

Click here to see the Schutt F7 LX1 on Amazon.

Schutt F7 LX1 comes with inflatable liners designed to help you get a great, custom fit. There is also a helmet stabilization system built in that increases comfort and helps protect you during impacts. This system consists of a larger jaw pad and internal and external stabilizers.

It has three-dimensional tectonic plates that allow areas of high impact to move independently to reduce rotational injuries. This helmet also utilizes a flexural resistance design to improve the helmet's durability as well as strength.

This is a youth helmet designed to be used by people in offensive positions, like wide receivers. You can buy this helmet for between $215 and $400.


Varsity helmets are designed for players older than 14. They are different from youth helmets in that they are usually made of polycarbonate instead of ABS.

5. Riddell Speedflex Icon

To see this helmet on Amazon, click here.

Riddell's speed icon helmet is made with an air-fit liner that is made easier to change out with a quick-change liner attachment system. Like many of Riddell's helmets, this one utilizes the patented side impact protection to prevent injuries.

This helmet is for players over 14 who play as midfielders or other skilled positions. This helmet can be worn by high schoolers, college, and professional athletes alike. It costs between $212 to $320.

6. Schutt F7 VTD

This helmet, while a bit expensive, is well worth it! It has a helmet stabilization system, TPU cushioning, and a radian diffusion system liner to increase comfort and prevent injuries. The radian diffusion liner allows parts of the shell to move individually, which protects against rotational injuries.

Plus, it has synthetic leather padding in the front that helps absorb moisture to prevent sweat from blocking your vision during games. SafetyFirstSports has a bunch of interesting videos that describe the technology used in this helmet.

This helmet can be used at all levels for players older than 14, including college and pro levels. It works well for offensive positions, such as wide receivers, and you can buy it for between $315 and $700.

7. Schutt Sports Varsity Air XP Pro VTD II

To see this helmet on Amazon, click here.

The Schutt Sports Varsity Air XP Pro VTD II is lightweight and comfortable while still providing maximum protection. It uses VTD TPU cushioning and a SureFit air liner.

Adults and pro players use this model, which seems to be usable by all players. It costs $180 to $390.

8. Xenith X2E+

If you want a lightweight helmet that fits well, you may want to consider the Xenith X2E+. This helmet has an internal shock matrix technology that allows it to form to your head for a more comfortable and exact fit.

Xenith X2E+ helmets have single-stage shocks that are designed to reduce linear and rotational impacts.  Xenith's website has a video that discusses this helmet's technologies in detail.

This helmet can be used by adult players who play in positions like linebackers. You can expect to pay between $200 to $370 for this helmet.


The NFL and NFLPA have tested the helmets in this category. Because of this, you can know that they are the best at preventing injuries and maintaining safety on the field.

9. Riddell Speedflex

This helmet has a True Curve liner to give you the best fit. It has a flex system that reduces impacts and patented side impact protection to protect the wearer from rotational impacts.

The helmet shell is streamlined and has five-point custom inflation to assist with comfortability. The five-point custom inflation technology offers five different places of inflation to make sure you can get as comfortable a fit as you need.

College and professional athletes wear this helmet. You can get a custom face mask for the helmet, depending on which position you play. This helmet ranges in price from $425 to over $700.

10. Xenith Shadow XR

Earlier, we discussed the Xenith Shadow XR youth helmet. In this section, we are discussing the Xenith Shadow XR adult helmet. It is built stronger and has an adaptive 360 fit to make it comfortable.

This helmet uses rheon cells, which compress to cushion minor impacts and move from side to side to protect against rotational impacts.

A wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders, Antonio Brown wore this helmet during the 2019 to 2020 football season. Pros wear this helmet, so it should work for most adult leagues. It costs between $495 and $550.

11. Riddell Speed Classic Icon

Not only is this an NFL-approved helmet, but it is built for ease. It has quick change liners and a quick-release face mask attachment system. This makes it easy to change masks and liners.

Like many Riddell helmets, it has patented side impact protection to prevent injuries. It also has air fit liners to ensure stability and proper fit. Growth Of A Game talks more about all the safety features this helmet has, as well as how to pick the perfect size for you.

This helmet is perfect for running backs. It costs between $320 to $350.

12. Riddell Speedflex Diamond

Riddell Speedflex Diamond helmets utilize diamond technology that is designed for high performance and impact absorption. The shell is designed to be flexible to reduce how much of an impact transfers to the athlete.

The chin straps are made with a Cam-loc retention system, which is designed to make it comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. Plus, the face mask is made with a clip that releases easily with one click.

You can learn more about Diamond technology in this video by RiddellSports.

This helmet is used by running backs and skilled players. This helmet is worn by professionals as well as adults at other levels. You can find it for between $499 and $515.

What Helmet Should I Choose?

After seeing the twelve different types of helmets, it can be hard to figure out which one works the best for you. Luckily, we have researched how to tell which helmet is right for you.

You will want to consider your budget, league level, position, safety features, and fit.


The first thing is to decide how much you can spend on your helmet. Youth helmets range usually start around $120, while adult helmets start at $180. Higher quality helmets typically cost about $300 and can go up to almost $1000, depending on their features.

League Level

If you have a child between 5 to 10 years old, they only need a basic helmet without air liners. However, as they get older, they need more protection.

Middle school players between the ages of 10 to 13 years old should still wear youth helmets. However, they should look for helmets with air liners.

Once you reach high school, or ages 14 and up, you will need an adult helmet. Adult helmets are much more protective and necessary to provide the proper protection. Do not use a youth helmet once you reach this age because youth helmets are not built to withstand the hard impacts of bigger athletes.


Depending on the position you play, your face mask on your helmet will change. If you play multiple positions, you will want a different face mask for each position.

Face masks with fewer bars are for skill players like quarterbacks and wide receivers. Linemen need larger face masks that offer more protection.

Safety Features

With age, your competition gets rougher. The youngest players only need basic helmets, but professionals require more complicated and advanced features.

Some of these features help reduce impact, like TPU cushioning and diamond technology. Other features make the helmet more comfortable and improve fit, such as larger chin straps and special liners forming the wearer's head.


Perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider is how the helmet fits your head. Different brands of helmets have different sizes, so make sure you measure your head circumference and compare it to the manufacturer's size chart.

To start finding the ideal fit, take a flexible measuring tape and measure the widest part of your head. This is about an inch above your eyebrows.

To make sure your helmet fits, you will also want to try it on and ensure that it doesn't feel tight or slide around. The brow of the helmet should rest about an inch above your eyebrows, and it should move with the skin of the forehead when the helmet is moved.

Wear the helmet for a few minutes to ensure it doesn't leave any marks on your head. Riddell's website has a fitting guide, and so does the Schutt website.

For more guidance, check out this video by USA Football about how to fit yourself for a football helmet.

Closing Thoughts

There are a lot of different types of football helmets. This article explored only 12 of these and provided a guide on how to choose the best one for you.

If you enjoyed this article, click the links below to explore more posts on this blog:

Do Football Helmets Expire? How Long Do They Last?

Why Do Football Helmets Have Face Masks?

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