Your safety while playing a particular game or sport depends on your sports gear, and one of the most important parts of a sports gear is the helmet. Although it has been made compulsory for all athletes and players to wear helmets during playing, especially in football games, there are people who have doubts about the importance of football helmets. Not only is the helmet a symbol of the team, it also protects an athlete’s head from getting damaged. Therefore, understanding the importance of wearing a helmet during a football game is essential.

The Design Changes in Helmets
Since the time sports helmets were manufactured, there has been a considerable change in the design and the look of these helmets. Following the different changes over the decades will give a better idea as to how innovation in every decade has added to the design of the helmet.

1893: Players and athletes realized the possibility of head injuries quite early. Therefore, some of them hired shoemakers to make protective leather caps that helped prevent such injuries. Although it was not that effective, it served the purpose to a large extent. This kickstarted the trend of wearing helmets during different playoffs. There were also many athletes who hired different horse harness makers to make leather caps with straps around the chin, to protect their ears from getting damaged.

1917-1920: This period witnessed football players seeking protection from head, ear, and face injuries. This propelled many helmet makers to come up with the ZH design. This design helped protect the ears, head, and face of a player with the help of the guard in front of the face. This guard was generally made of iron or steel, which made the helmet a little heavier in nature. While this heaviness meant a little discomfort for the players, they tolerated it to keep their head, ears, and face safe from any kind of injury.

1935-1939: After the ZH design, manufacturers and players realized the probability of a nose injury by a high speed ball, and it was time for another innovation. Another form of these helmets that was like a face mask was invented to prevent any damage to the nose. This mask had a bar attached to the helmet near the ears that was sturdy to bear the impact of a high speed ball and keep the shock of the impact away from the face. This helped prevent players from feeling dazed out or jarred as the impact didn’t reach the brain. As the years rolled by, several playing organizations and authoritative bodies found the need to make helmet wearing a mandate in all games. This was the time when some manufacturers invented the first plastic helmet with proper chin straps and face masks. Although the construction of the helmet was not that good, it paved the way for the modern day composite helmets.

Late 40s-2000: This period saw several improvements in the design and construction of the helmet. The plastic was made a little more compact and internal padding was added to make it more impact resistant. During this period, polycarbonate started to be used to make a helmet, making it light in weight. A few manufacturers also introduced various types of energy absorbing helmets, which actually absorbed the heat produced during the game.

2000-present: As time progresses, innovations and developments continue to take place in the field of helmet making as manufacturers are getting better and better with each day. Now, helmets are made to prevent different types of concussions. Mesh like face masks are coming up, which will help prevent injuries to the face. To ensure that doctors are able to identify the head injury just by looking at the helmet, manufacturers have come up with impact indicator helmets.

With the ever advancing technology, it is evident that the future will see more innovations taking place in the process and design of helmet making. This, in turn, will help make the game safer and more enjoyable for every player.

Sports Pundit member @jmikewalbert

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