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What to Wear Under Pads for Football

author image Chris Kinsey
Chris Kinsey works as an editor for a medical publisher and has experience dealing with many topics, ranging from athlete's foot to cancer and brain injury. Kinsey has a great deal of freelance experience writing for sports and parenting magazines as well. Kinsey holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California University of Pennsylvania.
What to Wear Under Pads for Football
Football player on the field Photo Credit Pete Saloutos/Hemera/Getty Images

Football shoulder pads are made of foam-like material that rests against the body. While some newer shoulder pads use materials that help disperse heat, it’s still important to wear a layer of clothing underneath the shoulder pads to make sure the padding doesn’t trap too much heat against your body. Also, wearing a layer underneath the shoulder pads can help keep the pads from sliding around when you begin perspiring.


This is perhaps the most popular of the garments to wear under shoulder pads. Most people have an abundance of T-shirts, so it’s easy to find a few to use. Lightweight cotton T-shirts are the best option so you don’t run the risk of overheating in warm weather. Many football players cut the sleeves off of the T-shirts for added ventilation.

Compression Shirts

Also called performance shirts, compression shirts conform tightly to the shape of the body and come in long-sleeve or short-sleeve styles. They are often made from nylon, lycra or polyester, or a combination of those materials. These materials are great for wicking away moisture from the body, which can help keep your core from overheating. An overheated core can lead to fatigue, reduced performance and dangerous heat-related illnesses. Under Armour, for example, uses a patented HeatGear material that uses a special microfiber blend to keep your core dry. Under Armour also uses ColdGear material that traps warmth under the shirt but also continues to wick away perspiration. Other companies that offer compression shirts, as well as warm and cold weather compression shirts, include Easton, Evoshield, McDavid, Rawlings and Nike.

Some performance shirts, like the Grippy shirts manufactured by the company Under Armour, use patented ArmourGrip material on the shirt that help hold shoulder pads in place.

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Padded Shirts

These are shirts that offer extra padding for added protection. Under Armour, for example, sells undershirts that offer padding around the sternum, rib area, underarm area and shoulders. These shirts are made from the same HeatGear material that their compression and performance shirts are made from. Other companies that offer padded undershirts include Champro, Nike, Schutt and McDavid.


Football is considered a fall sport, but practices often begin in August, one of the hottest months of the year. It is therefore important to take precautions to prevent possible heat-related illnesses. Limit clothing to a single layer, and keep that layer lightweight. This is especially important for football players going through two-a-day practices in the heat and humidity of summer. Whatever you decide to wear under your shoulder pads, make sure it is weather-appropriate, meaning you should avoid wearing heavy clothing or long sleeves during warm weather. Players are also encouraged to change sweat-soaked clothing whenever possible.

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