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NOCSAE Summer Meeting Recap

Rules • July 25, 2023

By Marty Maciaszek 
NSGA Director of Communications 

Here is a recap of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) summer standards meeting July 21 in Chicago: 

Dr. Robert Cantu, the chair of NOCSAE’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), gave an update on a possible shoulder pad standard for football. In the NFL, 17 percent of concussions come from contact with the shoulder pad area. A study of 212 concussions suffered by high school football players determined that 30 (11.3 percent) came from contact with the shoulder and three occurred with individuals practicing without shoulder pads. 

Cantu said the conclusion of the NOCSAE SAC was no additional study was needed at this time and there was no recommendation from the group to have NOCSAE pursue a standard for shoulder pads. The general feeling was a shoulder pad standard should focus on the best protection for the shoulder and more data was needed for a recommendation that a shoulder pad standard would make a meaningful decrease in concussions. 

There were some concerns discussed about shoulder pads going the wrong direction from a safety standpoint as have less padding as athletes do everything they can to be lighter, faster and quicker. Cantu said there can be more deliberation and review of the issue. 

A summary of discussion points from the last several NOCSAE meetings on a possible non-contact football helmet standard was given: 

  • Soft headgear doesn’t provide adequate protection 
  • Traditional football helmets aren’t likely to be adopted in organized play 
  • Significant differences between flag and 7-on-7 football 
  • More youth playing flag than tackle 
  • Single impact vs. traditional multi-impact helmets 
  • Are traditional helmets appropriate 
  • Virginia Tech ratings include 22 headgear models with varying amounts of coverage 
  • Would wearing a hard-shelled helmet with a faceguard create a hazard to other players not wearing any other protective equipment besides the helmet? 
  • What injuries occur? What injuries should be prevented? 

NOCSAE executive director Mike Oliver also said he’s received some phone calls asking if NOCSAE is going to develop a football commotio cordis standard in response to the cardiac arrest episode the Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin suffered in a game in January. 


Shoulder pads Robert Cantu Commotio Cordis Damar Hamlin Mike Oliver Equipment NOCSAE Helmets Football Rules