EXCEL AND THRIVE (EAT).
The goal of our Excel And Thrive Sports Initiative is to help parents, athletes, and coaches identify the best and safest Tackle Football equipment and accessories on the market. Why? Because, equipment plays a huge role in how well your athlete will perform on the field. Put them in bad equipment, and they will never take to, enjoy, or play the game the way it was meant to be played. But, put them in the best equipment, and watchem' EAT!
THE BEST "YOUTH" SHOULDER PADS.
THE BEST "ADULT" SHOULDER PADS.
THE BEST "YOUTH" HELMETS.
THE BEST "ADULT" HELMETS.
THE BEST MOUTHPIECES.
Q. How do you test the Equipment?
A. All equipment is tested based on our Equipment Performance Scale (EPS).
Q. Are you paid by equipment manufacturers to favorably review then promote their equipment?
A. No. Because, if our EPS determines any equipment to be unsuitable for Tackle Football, I don't want anything to do with it, and neither should you! I am only interested in selling, promoting, or getting behind equipment that I know will help kids EAT!
Q. What is the difference between your testing and laboratory testing?
A. My testing process tests equipment while it's being worn by athletes being asked to play Football! In my testing environment, the equipment is either going to: allow the athlete to do what needs to be done, or it's not. In the laboratory, they're going to simulate the game of Football with expensive machines and attempt to determine how the equipment being tested "might" fair on the field, based on a variety of Football related data collected over the years.
Q. Can you provide me a link to any laboratory testing results?
A. For helmets, yes. Virginia Tech Youth Helmet Ratings: Click here. Virginia Tech Varsity Helmet Ratings: Click Here. NFL Helmet Ratings: Click Here.
Q. What is the difference between the Virginia Tech and NFL testing results?
A. The only difference we know for sure is that, currently, and for whatever reason, Virginia Tech publishes it's methodologies, while the NFL does not.
Q. What is the difference between "Youth" and "Adult" Equipment?
A. The answer to this question depends on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers produce "youth" versions of their adult equipment where the only considerable difference is going to be the sizing of the equipment. However, other manufacturers "youth" versions will incorporate significantly different/ inferior technology.
With helmets, it's typically the shell and padding that are different. Adult shells tend to be made out of polycarbonate or some newer "space age" polymer. While youth shells tend to use ABS plastic. Xenith, Vicis, and Light are the only manufacturers I know of that currently offer the same shell material in their youth helmets as their flagship adult helmets. Riddell and Schutt still utilize ABS plastic in their youth helmets. Polycarbonate has a higher impact resistance and is more flexible (compared only to ABS, not these newer polymers they are creating). ABS is less impact resistant, less flexible, and cheaper. As far as padding goes, there are so many companies producing a variety of different high quality impact materials, it's hard to keep track of what's what. Rule of thumb... stay away from EVA foam padding in helmets. Also, if your purchasing a youth helmet, try to ensure that the youth and adult version of the helmet you're interested in, utilizes as close to the same protection technologies (padding, shell, impact protection system, etc) as possible. Because, if it's too different, even if they share the same name, they are 2 different helmets. And, the youth version will not offer the same level of tested or threshold protection.
NOTE:As more and more helmets move away from the more traditional all-padded impact protection systems, padding is more about comfort than a means of reducing impact and increasing player safety
Shoulder pads are all about the type of padding and whether or not they utilize a flat, cantilever, or some type of arch design technology.
These differences between youth and adult equipment exist because some people believe, given the forces generated at the youth level (which are less), youth equipment does not require the same level of protection as adult equipment. But, in doing this, they fail to recognize threshold: a perceived magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.
For example: Your two year old falls of their bike and skins their knee... it might be the end of the world. But, when your 20 year old falls off their bike (probably moving a lot faster) and skins their knee, it's really not that big of a deal. Same experience, different thresholds. The same can be said for boxers. Except, in boxing they refer to it as "chin". Just because one fighter may not have the "chin" of another fighter doesn't mean he can't win. It just means, to win, he has to protect himself better. And, this is exactly why I started the EAT Sports Initiative, and recommend youth athletes wear adult equipment as soon as they can properly fit adult sizes. Because, regardless of the forces generated, an athletes individual threshold plays a much more significant role than coaches, manufactureres, and scientists in the laboratory currently understand.