Essential Safety Equipment for Sports

Prevent sports injuries with basic sports safety equipment

Sports safety equipment and gear may sometimes look a little bit odd or unfashionable, but using the right protective safety gear for your sport is essential for preventing serious injuries or reducing the severity of an injury you may receive. After all, the point of a sport is to actually enjoy participating, and getting injured can keep you off the playing field for weeks or more. 

Here are some of the most important pieces of safety gear for athletes of all sports.


Protective Eyewear

TOREGE Polarized Sports Sunglasses

 Courtesy of Amazon

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 90% of all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented with the use of appropriate protective eyewear. This advice definitely applies to athletes or anyone who participates in sports. There are a variety of clear as well as tinted sunglasses and goggles for nearly every sport, so shop around for the ones that fit your style and your face and keep your eyes protected.



Youth trying on safety helmet

Scott Barbour / Getty Images

If you play football or hockey, wearing a helmet is clearly a "no-brainer," but many athletes who participate in sports with a high risk of head injury still see the helmet as optional. However, with the growing awareness of the dangers concussions can cause later in life, the necessity of proper head protection has become clear.

If you cycle, ski, snowboard, skateboard or inline skate you need to consider a helmet as standard equipment. A properly fitted helmet, designed for the specific sport you play, significantly decreases your risk of suffering a serious head injury, and even death.


Mouth Guards

Athlete wearing mouth guard

Michael Dodge / Getty Images

If you've ever been smacked in the jaw by a stray ball or flying elbow while playing sports, you probably know how essential a mouth guard is to keep your teeth where they should be—in your mouth. But mouth guards also help prevent tongue and lip injuries and help reduce the risk of suffering a concussion or fractured jaw.

Mouth guards should be considered mandatory safety equipment during sports that have any risk of injury to the face, jaw or mouth. The most effective mouth guards fit well and are comfortable, but they also stay in place, are durable, easy to clean and don't restrict speaking and breathing.


Safety Pads and Guards

Shoulder pads and helmet

Jonathan Daniel / Allsport / Getty Images

Safety pads and guards are standard sports safety equipment in dozens of activities. If you play certain contact sports, such as football, hockey or lacrosse, protective pads are required, but you should wear pads for any contact sport. The type and style of pads seem endless and include shin, knee, elbow, wrist, chest, neck, shoulder, hip and thigh pads.

Some sports, such as inline skating and skateboarding, include wrist, knee and elbow guards as standard equipment. These hard plastic guards prevent cuts, scrapes, and abrasions and reduce the odds of a major sprain, strain or even a fracture after a hard fall.

Even in snowboarding, knee pads and wrist guards can be a great advantage. A wipeout on a snowboard usually involves you naturally reaching out with your arms to break your fall, and in the process, it's very easy to break a wrist.


Proper Footwear and Athletic Shoes

Soccer/futbol cleats

Jasper Juinen / Getty Images

The type of shoe you wear during certain sports can easily be added to the safety equipment list.

Sports cleats are important during field sports, such as football, baseball, and soccer. The right running shoes can decrease your risk of overuse injuries. Special cycling shoes can reduce foot pain and increase your pedaling efficiency. Court shoes with support and good traction are designed specifically for basketball, tennis, and racquetball.

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4 Sources
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  1. American Academy of Opthalmology. Eye Injury Prevention. Updated March 2019.

  2. Bailly N, Laporte JD, Afquir S, et al. Effect of Helmet Use on Traumatic Brain Injuries and Other Head Injuries in Alpine Sport. Wilderness Environ Med. 2018;29(2):151-158. doi:10.1016/j.wem.2017.11.007

  3. Mantri SS, Mantri SP, Deogade S, Bhasin AS. Intra-oral Mouth-Guard In Sport Related Oro-Facial Injuries: Prevention is Better Than CureJ Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(1):299-302. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/6470.3872

  4. Relph N, Greaves H, Armstrong R, et al. Running shoes for preventing lower limb running injuries in adultsCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;2019(7):CD013368. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013368