Helmet Fitting

How do I know that my child’s helmet is safe?

There are three areas you need to closely examine. First, look for a NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) sticker inside the helmet. In Canada, we know NOCSAE follows the CSA standards, especially for hockey helmets. Second, if there is a sticker that says it has been reconditioned, the date should be within one to two years of the present date. Third, there should be no cracks, chips or defects compromising the helmet. Any defect is unacceptable, and the helmet should not be used.

What does it mean when a helmet has been reconditioned?

There are about 20 companies in the U.S. licensed by NOCSAE to recondition helmets. When a helmet has been reconditioned, it means that it has been taken apart and refurbished if parts were not up to standard. It then undergoes the same testing that a new helmet does and must pass the same tests as it did when it was first assembled.

How are helmets tested?

Testers attempt to mirror what might happen during a game or activity with risk of head injury. The helmets are outfitted with sensors that record impact forces, and then are covered in a half-inch rubber pad and dropped on a steel-covered anvil from different heights. If the forces recorded meet NOCSAE standards, the helmet passes certification.

Are facemasks tested?

Facemasks are not tested and ideally should be switched every year. However, if you see a chip, crack or bend in the mask, it should immediately be replaced. Additionally, the hardware should not be rusted. Rust may make it difficult (if not impossible) to remove the facemask, and in the case of an emergency, facemask removal is critical.

How do I know if my child’s helmet is fitted properly?

The helmet should fit snug against the head. When the chinstrap is snapped, the athlete should not be able to rotate the helmet or move it up and down or back and forth when grabbing the facemask. In addition, the head should move
with the helmet. The back of the helmet should cover the base of the skull. The front should be about three-quarters of an inch above the athlete’s eyebrow, and the ear holes should match up with a person’s ears. Finally, the chinstrap should be centered. For example, there should not be 4 inches of strap on one side
and 6 inches on the other.

Who can I ask to check that my child’s helmet is fitting properly?

Sporting goods stores that sell helmets are a good option. The equipment manager at a local college or university might also be willing to assist. Another option would be to ask a certified athletic trainer. These professionals are trained in this area and pride themselves on injury prevention. In many ways, properly fitted equipment is their first line of defense.

If I do not think the helmet the school provided for my child is safe, what should I do?

If the helmet hasn’t been reconditioned or is defective in any way, don’t let your child use it. Parents must be sure that their child’s helmet meets NOCSAE standards. This may mean buying equipment yourself or sending the helmet to a reconditioning company. Of all equipment a child use for sports, this is one piece that has no room for compromise.

Helmet Highlights

When examining the different helmets on the market, here
are some important features to consider.

  • Ability to customize fit
  • Faceguard attachment
  • Shock-absorption system
  • Foam padding options
  • Sightlines
  • Ventilation/Airfloow design
  • Chinstrap attachment system
  • Anti-microbial features

For more detailed information about these features, including
how they differ from helmet to helmet, research the listed
manufacturer’s web sites or contact your local dealer.


A helmet is the most important piece of protective gear you need for your sport.  A properly fitted helmet will help to keep you safe and comfortable without compromising your performance.

Remember, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t protect.

Get the Pro-Formance Advantage® Custom fitting system for your helmet, available only at Source For Sports®.